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Why Ben Carson Lacks a Brain, a Heart and a Soul

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

Ben Carson

Ben Carson

On Monday morning, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson,  referred to slaves as immigrants who came to America in the bottom of ships—yet wanting a better way of life, during his address to HUD.  Ben Carson’s remarks show either his ignorance of history or that he has sold his soul to Donald Trump for a cabinet position as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  I suspect the latter.

 

Ironically, the Dred Scott decision was decided on March 6, 1857, some 160 years to the day that Carson made his outrageous statements about slaves being immigrants. Dred Scott went to court to sue for his freedom.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney wrote in the decision that blacks, free or slaves had no rights which the white man was bound to recognize.  Slaves were involuntarily brought to America from various African countries, taken away from their families to work for free in America.   They were not immigrants—they were property with no rights

 

 

Before whites descended upon West Africa, many Africans were wealthy, could speak several languages and conducted business with Europeans—traveling to European countries.  A visit to the African American Smithsonian museum is in order for Mr. Carson.  Everything was taken away from my ancestors once they were ripped away from their countries and taken across the ocean to build this country.  Their culture, religion, money, property, language, name and family were taken away as they became slaves and property of whites in America.   Slaves were sold and treated as less than animals to build the country that we now call the United States of America.  Slaves built this country on their backs.  And they were not immigrants.

 

Ben Carson has become like that family relative at holiday dinners who makes outrageous comments that no one believes while others try to convince him of his lack of knowledge.  But Carson is not that family member. He is a highly educated, trained and world renowned neurosurgeon who appears to have lost his mind, his soul or both.  And his words matter.

 

Carson further reminds me of all the major characters in the Wizard of Oz.  The tin man lacks a heart; the cowardly lion lacks courage. And the scarecrow lacks a brain.  Ben Carson lacks all three. He lacks the intelligence to know that he is being played a fool by a rich old white man named Donald Trump.  I doubt that Carson does not know his statements are false. And therefore social media online comments that he needs to read up on history are probably not necessary.

Ben Carson has become a true Trump spokesperson—someone who prides himself  or herself on “alternative facts” as Kellyanne Conway refers to which are otherwise known as lies.   A lie by any other name is still a lie.

And Mr. Carson’s assertion that slaves were immigrants is a lie.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from University of Pennsylvania.

 

Update:  Later on Monday evening Mr. Carson on Facebook stated:  “Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders,” he wrote. “The Immigrants made the choice to come to America. They saw this country as a land of opportunity. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all their opportunities. We continue to live with that legacy.”

 

Dear Police: Black People are Humans Too

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

 

Black-Lives

September proved to be a killing month of African Americans at the hands of police. Thirteen year old Tyree King running away from police in Columbus, Ohio, Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma with hands upon while being shot, Keith Lamont Scott, suffering with a brain traumatic injury in Charlotte, North Carolina and Alfred Olango, suffering from an epilepsy attack in San Diego County, are the most recent and notable names known in the media. The Guardian and Washington Post have kept as accurate a tally as possible since there is no federal database of police shootings and killings. In 2016, almost 800 persons have been killed at the hands of police. In 2015, it was 990. It averages roughly 1000 lives taken each year by police. From the period of 2005-2015, 54 police officers were charged with either manslaughter or murder. That averages out to 5 police officers charged per 1000 killings each year.

 

It seems as if the recent wave of police killings of unarmed blacks are coming fast and furious in September. It really never seems to let up, leaving many African Americans and those persons standing on the side of justice, swirling with an array of emotions from anger, sadness, sorrow, numbness, stress, tension, anxiety and a host of every other imaginable emotion. I know at times, I have gone through the entire gambit of emotions.
There is much talk and little action being done. While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke on the recent killings, neither said what they would do as President to change the culture of racism and injustice. Trump during the first Presidential debate stated he would bring back stop and frisk. Stop and frisk measures were declared unconstitutional because the outrageous practices racially targeted blacks and Hispanics, in addition to doing nothing to deter crime. Trump proudly announced his endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police which actively supports police officers who have shot and killed innocent persons. And Clinton mentioned during the debate that systemic racism must be addressed. How to stop the killings of unarmed blacks is the big question.

 

The silence among fellow police officers is what is most troubling to me. Silence is the same as condoning the shooting deaths of unarmed African Americans. Charlotte’s Police Chief said the video of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott did not “definitively” show a gun was shown. Few officers ever speak out against injustice. In the shooting death of Walter Scott last year in Charlotte, NC another police officer supported former officer Michael Slager’s account that Scott had a gun pointed. It was not until video taken by a bystander revealed both Slager and his partner lied. Scott was running away at the time with his back towards the officer. More officers need to speak the truth. If as some contend, that it is only a few bad ones, one would think other officers would be more vocal and speak out. The code of blue appears more powerful than standing with justice. Zero tolerance by police departments is another way to bring justice to an unjust situation. Police are being provided with body cameras but many somehow conveniently find it impossible to always wear them or turn them on. There are now police officers who are finding ways to prevent a dash camera from video. If police were given no warnings to wear and turn on body cameras or else termination, perhaps they might remember to wear and use them. Instead police are given free pay and leave time when a killing occurs and placed on administrative duty—a paid vacation or desk duty.

 

I know that I am sick and tired of seeing innocent lives taken at overzealous and racist police officers. As Desmond Tutu once said, “ If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” And for most police officers, they have become implicit in the killings of innocent and unarmed African Americans by choosing to remain silent or condoning their fellow officers’ actions. So they have chosen to stand with injustice rather than truth. As long as police are silent and victims appear powerless, there will be more unrest in America until the boiling pot completely boils over.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal commentator, speaker and former Baltimore prosecutor. She frequently appears on MSNBC, BET, CBS, C-Span, PBS among other news outlets. Her Op-Ed articles appear in the Huffington Post, Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

McKinney Police Incident Makes Me Ask if it’s 1950 or 2015

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

police-chase_mediumAs I was attempting to relax and unwind on a Sunday afternoon at my local Starbucks, I happened upon the McKinney, Texas police video taken on Friday, June 5 of excessive force used once again on blacks. This time, it was an out of control police officer using excessive force and treating black teenagers at a Texas community pool as if they were visiting a whites only pool in the Jim Crow south in 1950. The only thing he needed to be truly reminiscent of the 1950’s were the police dogs, batons and hoses. I hope we will not ever go back to those days. The video is set forth here.

The back story is apparently police were called to a community pool for a disturbance. The video shows the clearly disturbing activity was the police and the treatment of young blacks in bathing suits and pool attire. Gawker spoke with the individual filming the video.

There are so many issues that can be addressed by the video starting with the excessive force by an out of control angry police officer used towards what appears to be law abiding teenagers. Then there’s the question of how verbally abusive the police officer acted towards the crowd of black teenagers. And notice in the video that none of the black teenagers acted inappropriately towards the officer at any time shown. There’s the level of lack of respect, profanity and over the top excessive force towards a young girl in a bathing suit. There’s not much threat a tiny teenager in a two piece bikini can be to a police officer. And yet, the officer depicted in the video held her down while she lay crying on the ground with him on top, exhibiting extreme force on her small body. As an African American, it’s difficult to explain the actions of this police officer to black teenagers. How does one prepare black teens for police encounters of this nature? There is no way. The only bright side is no one was killed.

While there may be some that will say the video does not show the entire incident, it shows almost 8 minutes of what I view as despicable behavior by a McKinney, Texas police officer. And it should warrant investigation, suspension and ultimately firing. Of course, the latter is not likely to occur. While others may state this was the behavior of just one police officer, the problem is there are so many officers like the ones in McKinney across the country when interacting with minorities. And I saw comments on Twitter that indicated the teenagers disobeyed a police order to leave the scene. Even assuming if that is the case, there is nothing that justifies the use of force, tackling and out of control excessive force behavior by the officer.

When I see the video through my lens as an African American and a former prosecutor, I see a police officer that needs to be terminated. Unfortunately, there are so many others like him across the country. Many police departments in this country need a total reorganization from top to bottom to weed out the bad actors. When I see incidents like the McKinney one, I see how deeply racism is embedded in this country.  And then I  realize how difficult it will be to rid this country of police brutality towards minorities. I  wonder how everyone is not outraged at how some police officers treat blacks in 2015. And then I have to wonder to myself if it’s 1950 or 2015 in the minds of many police officers in America.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She often appears in the media addressing issues on law and race on Al Jazeera America, MSNBC, BET, CCTV- America, C-Span, NPR, PBS, RT America and others. She often contributes to the Huffington Post.

 

 

Why Can’t Police do Their Jobs Without Killing Unarmed Blacks?

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

GunIn light of the killing of Freddie Gray and charges brought against six Baltimore police,  the  president of the Baltimore police union released a statement that police are now more fearful about being jailed “for doing their jobs properly” than getting shot.   Most police officers in Baltimore and elsewhere never get charged for killing any unarmed individuals and those that do rarely ever get convicted. So there is little to no reason for a police officer to fear being arrested.

 

Police probably have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being charged for killing an unarmed black man.  And if they fear that they cannot do their job as police without killing unarmed blacks, then maybe they should not be police officers. Doing their job properly should not mean a young man dies of a broken spine while riding in the custody of police.  Quite frankly, I am tired of police in Baltimore and elsewhere turning the tables upside down when it comes to killings involving unarmed blacks.  Fear is the first response they utter out of their mouths when faced with the possibility of a charge being brought against them. It is the element of fear of being killed that causes many cases to never be charged by prosecutors.

If Baltimore police fear being jailed, blacks fear being killed by police.  That’s what many blacks feel when confronted by police under what many consider to be non-confrontational circumstances.  Michael Brown ran when initially confronted by police  officer Darren Wilson for jaywalking. And we know that didn’t end well for  19 year old Michael Brown. And Freddie Gray ran when he had done nothing wrong. He ended up with a broken spine and died of his complications.  Eric Garner dared to  stand tall and tell the officers that he had done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, as they held him in a chokehold, and he cried out, “I can’t breathe”, we all watched as he took his last breath at the hands of a police officer.  And Walter Scott ran when he was stopped for a busted tail light on his newly purchased used vehicle. As he ran away for reasons unknown, he was shot 8 times in the back by a North Charleston police officer. And 12 year old Tamir Rice was killed  by a  Cleveland police officer while playing on a playground with a toy gun.   If anyone wants to understand fear of being arrested or jailed, they should talk to an unarmed black person. That is the real story.

But if the police truly fear being jailed more so than of being shot, as the Fraternal Order of Police President Gene Ryan alleges, that fear means that they cannot correctly do their job.  And for those police officers who cannot properly under the law, do their job, they should resign.   Imagine if a pilot is afraid of flying or a firefighter fears being charged with arson in a fire, one cannot effectively do their job. Fear is a subjective feeling. But when the fear interferes with one’s ability to do their job, it’s time to get a new job.  And if Baltimore police and those elsewhere fear that they cannot do their job without killing unarmed blacks and others, they need to find another vocation. While I understand that being a police officer is a difficult job,  I seriously question if police are fearful of being jailed.

 

 

What the police need are extensive ongoing racial sensitivity training in dealing  with minority communities, community policing where police come from the community they serve, body cameras, re-training on the law and firing of those who cannot properly do their jobs. And many Baltimore police need to take a long look in the mirror and rid themselves of any racially motivated actions towards the minority communities they serve.   Unfortunately that’s not likely to happen anytime in the near future. For now, the Baltimore police union and its officers should stop whining and do their work without killing unarmed black individuals—just like they do when arresting whites  in white neighborhoods.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.  She appears on Al Jazeera America, MSNBC, BET, C-Span, PBS, NPR, CCTV- America, Fox 5 (WTTG) and TV One among others, speaking on legal news and issues.

 

 

 

 

America is so Post Racial Since Selma that it Hurts

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

UnionRallyGroupThere is no denial that the U. S. has changed for the better in terms of racial relations since the Selma March 50 years ago when blacks were tear gassed, beaten with bully clubs, bitten by dogs  while some lost their lives fighting for the right to vote.  For those who deny that racial change has occurred in 50 years, listen and speak with Congressman John Lewis as he challenges those to walk in his shoes over the last 50 years.  There is a difference between racial change and racial harmony as the “post racial” word suggests.

 

I first heard the term post racial when President Obama was first elected in 2008.  And even before his election, there were clear signs that while America would elect an African American president after the failed Bush years, they would not always  respect him on account of the color of his skin.  The racially polarizing politics of the country since President Obama’s first election have made it possible for many Americans to express publicly their racist views and attitudes.

 

The national Republicans leaders in both the House and Senate failed to attend the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma, except for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who attended at the last minute.  Others did attend as former President George W. Bush, Senator Rob Portman (R. OH) and Senator Tim Scott (R. SC) were in attendance. The problem with the GOP is their failure to realize that race relations are American relations.  And improvement of race relations is a benefit to everyone in this country.  It is not just a black “thang”.   In order for the U.S. to ever become post racial, all Americans must realize that the progress of race relations is progress for America and its ugly racist past.

 

The Republican Party is responsible for helping to enact restrictive voter ID laws in the majority of states since 2008 which infringe on the rights of many minorities to vote.   And the Supreme Court Justices appointed by Republican Presidents overturned Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which made it impossible for many jurisdictions to enact voting law changes without first obtaining pre-clearance from the Department of Justice due to past violations of voting rights for minorities.  Most, if not all Republicans, refuse to offer support to bills that would re-instate the full Voting Rights Act protections for minorities and prevent disenfranchisement.

 

The wave of recent police shootings and killings of unarmed blacks from 12 year old Tamir Rice, Michael Garner to the latest one of unarmed and naked Anthony Hill outside Atlanta sends shock waves through every black American that has a brother, father, sister or mother.   The criminal justice system that cannot prosecute for these crimes is yet another reminder that we are not post racial—or even close.  Attorney General Eric Holder who  determined that the Department of Justice could not federally prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown or George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, as the standard for hate crimes and violations of one’s civil rights was too high a standard. He spoke about lessening the standard.  I don’t think lowering the standard is necessarily the problem or the solution.  Grand Juries and juries made up of mostly whites will still likely side with a white police officer as in the cases of Rodney King (the first trial) and Eric Garner. Both of those cases were on videotape and still juries failed to convict in the Rodney King first trial or bring charges in the Eric Garner case.

 

And just last Saturday, the racist use of the “N” word  at a fraternity celebrating its Founder’s Day on the  University of Oklahoma proclaiming with rampant chants that you can hang a “N” from a tree but he can’t be a member of their fraternity.  The fraternity was immediately suspended. We are so un-post racial that it hurts me to hear the word “post racial”.   We have moved from the days of Selma fifty years ago.   We still have a huge gap to fill before we are post racial. For me, hearing the word “post racial” is almost like hearing the “N” word.  It hurts me to hear both of those words.

 

Washington, Dc based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst, speaker and former prosecutor.  She is seen frequently in the media addressing issues of race and gender in the law.  She appears on Al Jazeera America, Arise TV, BET, C-Span, Fox 5, Sky News, RT America and TV One.