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Lynching Statement by GOP Senator is no Laughing Matter

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Everyday bold racist statements emerge in the media. A recent appalling racist statement was made by Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. She praised support for someone by saying: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” As an African American who is a descendant of slaves, I can never get used to the bigoted statements and bigotry in the U.S.  In response, Hyde-Smith says “any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” She’s running in a run-off election against Mike Epsy, an African American and former Congressman.

I don’t know what Hyde-Smith thinks about a public lynching. But I can tell her that it’s no joking matter—now or never. It is a negative part of U.S. history.   Billy Holliday sang Strange Fruit in which the lyrics describe lynching of Blacks in the south. Those words in part were:

“Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees”

“Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh”

During the 1800’s and well into the 1900’s lynching of Blacks in the south and beyond was almost like a national past time. The forms of lynching varied from hanging, burning, tarring or splitting with a hatchet, to name a few. The purpose was to punish and terrorize African Americans. African Americans were lynched due to hatred by whites and a distorted fear of Blacks refusing to stay in their place.

Senator Hyde-Smith is consciously using her hanging analogy to remind racist white supporters that Espy is not in his place. The lynching of community leaders were most common in the period of 1915 and 1940 to remind Blacks to stay in their place—of below, beneath, behind and after white Americans. That is the essence of white supremacy.

Lynchings often escalated into large-scale violence targeting the entire African American community in places such as Mississippi. The Equal Justice Initiative researched and found 4084 racial terror lynchings in 12 southern states and 300 in other states, including California from the period between 1877-1950. Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings. Counties in Mississippi were sites of mass killings of African Americans in single-incident violence.

Senator Hyde-Smith’s racist remarks harkens back to a time in history when lynchings were mainstream and whites wanted a front row view just to see a Black person lynched. In places like Mississippi, during the height of lynching, public lynchings often held white spectators of 500-1000 and sometimes upwards of 2,000 or more. Hyde-Smith is saying if she lived during this time that she would have been on the front row.

During the high period of lynchings in the U.S., many were carnival-like events, with vendors selling food, printers producing postcards featuring photographs of the lynching and corpse, and the victim’s body parts collected as souvenirs. This is what Hyde-Smith wanted to watch. And during the height of lynching in the U.S., spectators watching included elected officials and prominent citizens while white press coverage regularly a lynching. No one was brought to justice for a public hanging of a Black person.

These killings were bold, public acts that implicated the entire community and sent a clear message that African Americans were less than human. The message behind Hyde-Smith’s statement is clear and resonates with many whites today. These bold racist statements have no place in politics or anywhere else in the U.S. Ever since the election of Trump, many white persons feel emboldened to publicly make such racist comments.

On November 27, 2018 Mississippians should send a clear message to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. The message to Hyde-Smith should be the joke is on her by voting her out of office.

Debbie Hines is a lawyer, legal and political commentator and former Baltimore prosecutor.

Gun Shootings Require Action From Lawmakers–Not Just Prayers

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Two days after the midterm elections, I woke up to the news that another mass shooting occurred–this time in a supposedly safe suburban community outside of Los Angeles.  A white man opened fire in a college bar and grill restaurant killing 12 persons, including a 29 year police veteran.

On Saturday, November 3, I woke up to the news that a gun shooter killed two persons in a yoga class and wounded several others. My initial thought was we can’t even peacefully pray, meditate or practice yoga or dance in this country without the fear of being gunned down. It was just the previous week that I felt the pain of gun violence at a Pittsburgh synagogue killing seven Jewish persons. And yet, many of our powerful lawmakers act powerless in the face of tragedy.  We need more than just thoughts and prayers in these tragedies from our lawmakers.

Tragedy is what propelled Lucy McBath, a gun control advocate, to run for office. McBath appears headed to Congress from Georgia’s 6th district, once held by Newt Grinch. McBath fueled her grief over the death of her son, Jordan Davis, to running for office to end gun violence. Davis was shot down because the white killer acted out his rage against a car of African American teenagers.

I do believe one person can make a difference. And there must be a counter position to that of Donald Trump. Trump thinks that putting guns and armed individuals inside every building in America will solve the problem. A security guard and police deputy entered the shooting today.  Blaming the victims for not having armed guards in their places of worship, schools, malls and everywhere across the country is not the answer. Having more guns is not the solution to the problem. Guns in the hands of more individuals will only cause more deaths. There is a reason why many police departments across the country have gun turn in days where persons can turn in guns to the authorities without any hassle. Many law enforcement leaders know less guns on the streets equal less lives being taken.

Trump also wants Americans to accept that gun violence is a way of life that we must accept. We can’t do anything about death. We all will die. We must accept death. We can do something about gun violence.

Most people want a cure to cancer, Alzheimer’s and most other illness that often take the lives of our loved ones. We accept that cures for terrible diseases are within our reach. Gun violence is a malignancy that is affecting our way of life. And unlike cancer and other terminal diseases, there are no attempts for gun legislative cures being sought. Other countries have found a solution to the problem. Yet, “Make America Great Again” Donald Trump and most of the Republican party have thrown in the towel on fixing senseless gun violence.

Let me give our leaders and future leaders some advice. All is not lost. As a country, we can’t give up or give in to gun violence. We are a country of fixing problems. That’s what will make America great—not succumbing to apathy to gun violence and deaths from it.
First, we can take a lead from other countries where gun violence is relatively low. We can also make it difficult to quickly obtain a gun permit; increase the age requirement; and require more lengthy background checks to investigate a person’s mental stability . The assault weapons ban must be renewed outlawing those military style weapons and high capacity magazines whose sole purpose is to shoot multiple persons at a time—not intended for hunting or sports. In 2017, that bill was voted down.

Just as all cancers are not alike and require different cures, not all gun killings are alike. And there must be different legislative cures for the differences in gun violence. Mass shootings often occur with military style guns that can kill and injure many persons at a firing.

We can also vote in those politicians, like McBath, who have a passion to fix the gun violence plague. After all, any one of us might be the next victim of gun violence. The life you save may be your own.

UPDATE:  15 House Republicans with an “A” rating by the NRA lost in the midterm elections. They were replaced by Democrats who received a “F” rating by the NRA.  Lucy McBath will be joined by others in a quest to legislate for gun control to save lives.

Debbie Hines is an attorney, legal commentator and former Baltimore prosecutor.

Trump’s Days are Dwindling Down

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

 

Some Republicans now state that Donald Trump may not seek re-election. If the unsealed indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and guilty plea agreement of George Papadopoulos are any indication of things to come, Trump may not last the entire first term. The much anticipated hashtag of #MuellerMonday revealed a 31 page, 11 count indictment against Manafort and co-defendant Gates’ indictments for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. Allegations revealed $75 million held in offshore account by Manafort resulting in his use to purchase lavish million-dollar homes, secure loans, purchase a lavish lifestyle of a million-dollar wardrobe in an alleged scheme to evade reporting of income and payment of taxes. It is a classic money laundering scheme as alleged.

After turning themselves in, Manafort and Gates respectively were released on $10 million and $5 million bail, ordered held on house arrest, only to leave for lawyer, doctor and court appearances and ordered to turn in their passports. NPR reported after reviewing unsealed court documents that Manafort had three passports and traveled with aliases. For a man alleged to be worth over $75 million, perhaps $10 million in bail was low. And if the government proves its case, all of the alleged ill-gotten gains will be turned over to the government. Usually, white collar defendants are released on their own recognizance—only having to report to pre-trial. The trial may not occur for over a year due to the nature of the charges.

The real coup of Mueller was the unsealing of the indictment and guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, an alleged Trump campaign foreign policy advisor. Papadopoulos pled guilty to one count of making a false statement. It was the best kept secret in a town that is not known for secrets. According to court papers, Papadopoulos is a cooperating defendant—meaning he is likely wearing a wire to gain and or corroborate information.

The Trump administration denies having knowledge of him, except to say Papadopoulos was a volunteer. The Internet is not as forgetful. In March, 2016, Trump tweeted an Instagram photo of Sessions and Papadopoulos at a meeting with Trump and a few others present. Trump titled it  “national security meeting”—with Papadopoulos present seated two seats to the left of Jeff Sessions.  Trump and Sessions are at the heads of the  table shown in the Instagram photo.

Today, Trump says Papadopoulos was a low level volunteer. Court papers allege a meeting was held in March, 2016 on seeking assistance from Russia on dirt on Clinton, in the campaign. In addition to Trump, Attorney General Sessions may now be in legal hot water. Of course, both will continue to deny involvement—and attribute everything to fake news.

Special Prosecutor Mueller, a former George W. Bush FBI director appointee, has been diligently working on the Trump Russian investigation for months now. By all legal accounts, he is methodically investigating the involvement of Russia into our 2016 presidential election. And the end game for Trump may likely be death by Mueller, whether by indictment, impeachment, resignation or 25th amendment. But mark my words, Trump’s days are numbered.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer who represents white collar defendants and a former Baltimore prosecutor.

Trump, Kim Kardashian and White Women Voters Who Love Them

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Kim Kardashian via Instagram

Kim Kardashian via Instagram

In the one week since the historic election of Donald Trump, I like many others have been left wondering why or how the era of Donald Trump arrived.  And just one way to look at it is from the face of the most popular reality show—Keeping Up with the Kardashians and white women voters.  At least 53% of white women voters voted for President-elect Trump; whereas 94% of African American women voted for Hillary Clinton.  And 68% of Latino women voted for Clinton. This begs the question as to why there is such a great disparity between white women and women of color voters.

 

For white women voters, it is not so easy just to analyze them solely on the theory of the economy and the rural areas of the country—middle America doing poorly in relation to other parts of the country. One factor, not addressed before, is the Kim Kardashian reality show factor.  Kim Kardashian and the Kardashians are followed by many white women.  I don’t honestly know many black women who look up to Kim Kardashian or keep up with any of the Kardashians. There is a large segment of white women who follow the Kardashians. By way of background, the Kardashian factor came into popularity upon a 2003 leaked sex tape with Kim Kardashian and singer Ray J in 2007. It propelled her and her family members into almost instant success when their reality show began later in 2007—and hasn’t stopped since then.

 

 

Hillary Clinton and Democrats spoke of Donald Trump’s lewd 2005 sexist statements with Billy Bush, those about grabbing pu- –y anytime he wanted, his comments about Rosie O’Donnell being fat and ugly, ditto about a former Ms. Universe, in an attempt to resonate with women voters.   Some online supporters of Hillary Clinton posted nude modeling photographs of Melania Trump posing with nude women before her marriage. The obvious attempt was to compare Melania Trump’s image to that of Michelle Obama.  And another reason was to malign Melania Trump as a potential First Lady.

 

And here’s where the Kim Kardashian effect comes into play.  Any attempt at shaming Donald Trump  on his sexist remarks  or body shaming his wife  failed with some white women voters.  There was an overall  disconnect with the segment of white women voters who faithfully follow Kim Kardashian either on air, on Twitter with  her 47 million followers,  Instagram with 78 million followers or Snapchat. Kim Kardashian, a married mother of two children, constantly posts selfies of her almost and sometimes naked body in an attempt to “break the Internet”.

 

Reality shows have become a way of life for many TV watching persons.  I would surmise that more people faithfully watch reality shows that the news driven media.  Next time, a reality star runs for any office, national or local, or for that matter any political candidate, it would make sense for candidates, pollsters and political scientists to research reality shows and their effect on the population. It will give a glimpse into how our reality show driven nation and its voters will vote and why.  Those Kim Kardashian supporters could likely care less about Trump’s sexist remarks or nude photos of Melania  Trump as  many voted for Donald Trump.

 

 

Unfortunately, there is no reality in Trump’s Apprentice show or Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  There are only real life consequences for actions taken by the future President. If Hillary Clinton had appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and been endorsed by Kim Kardashian, she might have won the white women vote—and maybe the election.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She frequently appears on air on MSNBC, Al Jazeera, BET, CBS, Fox 5 DC, PBS among others. Her op-ed articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Baltimore Sun.

How Will Hillary Clinton New Emails Impact Election?

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThis election has more twists and turns than any novel could ever imagine. And now with 11 days before the election, FBI Director Comey claims to have found new emails as a result of a search involving Anthony Weiner and Clinton aide, Huma Abeden.  No information is really known except for a short 2 paragraph letter from  Director Comey to Republican leaders.   Everything in Washington, DC is political.  And I  have to admit the revelation of any “pertinent” emails at this timing is likely politically motivated.  Despite what many people might say otherwise, everything is really political.

WUSA 9 anchor Bruce Johnson interviewed legal analyst Debbie Hines on Friday, October 29, 2016 on the Clinton new emails and their significance to the 2016 election.  Watch here:  Legal analyst Debbie Hines examines what this latest email probe could mean for Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

http://www.wusa9.com/mb/opinion/editorials/off-script/how-do-new-clinton-emails-impact-campaign-/343991838

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Black and Hispanic Folks: We Must Prove Trump Wrong

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
Photo Courtesy of Color Lines- 2012 Early voters

Photo Courtesy of Color Lines- 2012 Early voters

 

Donald Trump is casting himself as seeking the African American vote. He even put Omarosa Manigault, formerly of his Apprentice show, in charge of reaching out to African American voters. Many African American voters, that voted at the highest rate of every single group in 2012 to re-elect President Obama, are not feeling Hillary Clinton. To say that many blacks are not feeling the burn or energized by Clinton is an understatement. And by watching a few focus group reports, there are actually some young undecided black voters who appear wavering over Trump versus Clinton. And I understand the lack of excitement for Clinton. Let’s face it, Clinton is not an exciting political candidate. And her many years of baggage which amounts to distrust for many voters doesn’t help her either.

 

Donald Trump made clear his intentions in the first debate. As Maya Angelou once stated, when people show you who they are, believe them. His intentions are to keep blacks and Hispanics in their place—not to help uplift them but to trounce them. In reality, Donald Trump’s promise to go back to unconstitutional stop and frisk laws makes clear that he intends to use racist tactics that were outlawed by the federal courts to reign in blacks. Stop and frisk laws disproportionately targeted blacks and Hispanic persons, mostly men. Statistics show that from 2002 until August, 2013 when stop and frisk tactics were ruled unconstitutional, over 5 million persons were subject to it. Nine out of ten persons stopped committed no crimes. The overwhelming number of the 5 million stopped and frisked in New York City were Black and Latino men.

 

And Trump’s statements of failing to pay workers and small businesses who did work for him, failing to pay taxes and filing for bankruptcy 4-6 times shows he is not going to help the economy. His only help will be putting the U.S. into bankruptcy.

 

Trump is not targeting black or Hispanic voters. He intends to show that Hillary Clinton is not a good candidate so minorities will stay at home. This is where blacks and Hispanics must prove him wrong. It’s not going to be a love fest this election. Mitt Romney felt that blacks would stay home and not vote. And as I said then, we needed to prove him wrong. There is a reason why Romney and Trump want blacks and Hispanics to stay home. Neither can win a Presidential election if minorities stays home. That’s why Republicans have passed restrictive voter laws to help assist in lowering the minority voting base—under the ill-conceived and bogus guise of protecting the election laws. People stand a better chance of getting hit by a lightning bolt than voter fraud occurring.

 

I am not a Hillary Clinton surrogate. I supported Bernie Sanders during the primary. I have issues still with Hillary Clinton—mostly in the category of trust. But I cannot be silent anymore. I must do all that I can do to ensure that Donald Trump doesn’t take us backwards, figuratively and literally. For Hispanics, his efforts to build a wall and deport everyone who he deems to be a non-citizen entering the U.S. without papers should be enough to get out the vote against him. But I understand that Clinton’s issues also weigh on voters’ minds.   For African Americans and Hispanics, with the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, loss of Pell college grants, re-instituting the unconstitutional racist stop and frisk practices, self-describing himself as the law and order candidate –which code means putting blacks and Hispanics in jail or worse, this is no time to be complacent.

 

This is the time to prove Trump wrong by voting at the highest possible levels we can muster. Failure is not an option. Our lives and our children’s lives depend on it—figuratively and literally. We must take away Trump’s “trump” card. He is counting on blacks and Hispanics to stay home in November. We must prove him wrong.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst, speaker and former Baltimore City prosecutor. She is frequently seen as a legal/political commentator on MSNBC, BET, CBS, PBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC to name a few.