The racist militarization of Ferguson, Mo.

first_img‘Hands up, don’t shoot’, Ferguson, Mo.Aug. 18 — The air was again choked in Ferguson, Mo., with smoke bombs and tear gas. Protesters’ chants competed with bursts of firearms shooting rubber bullets. This was in late evening, after Saturday, Aug. 16, passed into the early moments of Sunday, shortly after the curfew took effect.Residents of Ferguson, a small suburb in St. Louis County that is more than two-thirds Black, defied Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s martial law declaration. It had been made mere hours before, ironically in a Black church, and with Nixon flanked by Black politicians.Many in the audience immediately disagreed with the imposition of police control over the city — not that it would be any different from the condition Ferguson had been in since late Sunday, Aug. 10, the day after 18-year-old Black male Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson cop in broad daylight. His body was then left in the middle of the street for hours. Nixon’s official declaration provided legal cover and suspended habeas corpus, so those arrested could be detained without a hearing until the order is lifted.Martial law was already effectively in place. It began as more than 150 cops from various police agencies descended in full riot gear upon the city of nearly 22,000 people. Justified anger had reached a fever pitch and turned into a mini-rebellion. Since Aug. 10, cops, local, state and other municipalities’ forces have displayed a full array of the weaponry at their disposal: assault rifles, tear gas, concussion grenades, smoke bombs, rubber and bean bag bullets, long-range acoustic devices, armored personnel carriers and Humvees. Their tactics include the declaration of a no-fly zone over the city, denying media access and even arresting some mainstream journalists.Dozens of people had been arrested during the week prior to Nixon’s announcement. Many were arrested, not for participating in the rebellion or refusing to disperse, but because police picked them out of crowds during protests.However, the more repressive the cops became, the more time ticked away without the arrest of the cop responsible for shooting unarmed Michael Brown for the “crime” of walking in the middle of the street. As time passed without the release of the cop’s name, the more the righteous indignation of the people of Ferguson and St. Louis County bubbled over.Around the country, oppressed communities of color, especially Black, Latino/a and Indigenous, seethed with the knowledge that Michael Brown’s killing was not an isolated event. Support poured in from as far away as Palestine, where the people have lived under a constant state of siege since 1948 — at the behest of the U.S., in order to maintain its client state of Israel, which helps to secure U.S. hegemony in the region.In Geneva, the United Nations committee “that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) placed the U.S. record under the spotlight,” reported the American Civil Liberties Union. “The Committee expressed deep concern at the circumstances surrounding Brown’s shooting [and] other recent deaths of unarmed African-American men … at the hands of law enforcement.” (, Aug. 15The strong responses from around the country and around the world are comparable to those following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Then, the conditions of poverty, racism and neglect were laid bare by hurricane winds, as the most vulnerable — tens of thousands of Black residents, especially in New Orleans — were left to suffer for days without safe haven, proper sewerage, food, water or medical care. Some died. Vigilantes and cops set upon the oppressed.Brown’s killing spotlights rampant police brutalityIt is not simply how commonplace police brutality is that illuminates the nature of the state; it also reveals that separate realities exist in the United States. The repressive state — the armed bodies of people, the military, the courts, jails and prisons — stands between poor workers and oppressed communities, on one side, and the elite, superwealthy bankers, corporation owners and their political lackeys, on the other.The U.S., founded by colonial settlers, expropriated the land from Indigenous people through war and genocide and ensnared the people who built this country’s wealth — through slavery.Black people, descendants of the enslaved or recent immigrants from the Black diaspora created by the Atlantic slave trade; those from Africa, as well as migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean; and people of color from around the world have been forced to migrate because of shooting wars or conditions of economic war created by neoliberalism. They live in differing oppressive and sometimes superexploitative conditions in the U.S.In theory, the U.S. is one country, but in practice it is a land of many nations: a dominant white nation, which owes its privilege to the doctrine of white supremacy and the manner in which U.S. wealth was originally accumulated, and many oppressed nations.The situation that has unfolded in Ferguson is indicative of the separate realities that exist in this country. Cops there were already on alert, and more than 100 cops were on hand from different police agencies, prepared with full tactical riot gear. They could all be deployed shortly after the rebellion began.The heavy-handed police response has been used time and again in poor, oppressed communities. Cops in Anaheim, Calif., responded the same way two years ago when the community rose up to protest the killings of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo.Throughout U.S. history, repression has occurred when the cops or National Guard have been called in. Every day, these communities look like occupied zones. If the constant police surveillance and patrols are not enough, neighborhood-specific ordinances, such as New York’s “broken windows” policing, give cops extra powers to profile and harass residents.These “quality of life” ordinances are meant to scare people away from the neighborhoods in advance of real estate developers — or while they are buying land and building residences for new middle- and upper-middle-class whites who seek to live closer to city centers where many oppressed people live. If the period of the 1970s to the 80s was considered an era of “white flight,” then the years from the mid-1990s until today can be characterized as an era of “white invasion.”In Oakland, Calif., during the Occupy movement and in Ferguson — up until now — the National Guard was not needed. But the armaments being displayed and employed and the tactics being used by police mirror what federal troops would do. The show of force is a sign of the increased militarization of police agencies across the U.S., aided by funds from the Department of Homeland Security. The Pentagon has also sent military vehicles and weaponry to the police force in Ferguson, and several others around the country. (USA Today, Aug. 14)The conditions for rebellion are ripe in oppressed communities, and they existed in Ferguson before Michael Brown was fatally shot. His killing was just the catalyst.In recent weeks, there have been many police killings of oppressed people in the U.S. John Crawford III, a Black man, was shot in a southwest Ohio Walmart, while holding a toy air rifle he had picked up in the store. Los Angeles police fatally shot Ezell Ford, an unarmed Black man, who suffered from mental illness, and beat to death Omar Abrego, still wearing his work uniform. Staten Island, N.Y., police choked to death Eric Garner, a Black man, for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. There are surely more such deaths, with the victims unknown to the public.In addition to the killings are the conditions of poverty and unemployment that prevail in oppressed communities. They are highlighted now in Ferguson, where the effects of gentrification and growing suburban poverty are clearly seen. The city’s demographics changed, as it went from being an 85 percent white enclave in 1980 to a 67 percent Black community by the period 2008-12, reported Brookings Institute on Aug. 15.The institute explains, “But Ferguson has also been home to dramatic economic changes in recent years. The city’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to over 13 percent in 2010-12. For those residents who were employed, inflation-adjusted average earnings fell by one-third. The number of households using federal Housing Choice Vouchers climbed from roughly 300 in 2000 to more than 800 by the end of the decade.“Amid these changes, poverty skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2010-12, Ferguson’s poor population doubled,” reported Brookings. By 2012, “roughly, one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,402 for a family of 4 in 2012), and 44 percent fell below twice that level.” More than half of Black people living in suburban communities live in areas that have a more than 20 percent poverty rate.Along with the growing poverty and uncertainty in the U.S., because of the unstable nature of the capitalist system and its inability to contain crisis, neoliberalism is growing. It is manifested in attacks on unions and workers who are organizing, assaults on the right to quality public education and drastic slashes in social welfare programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. With cuts to food benefits invariably come rising food prices.Conditions for rebellion ripe in oppressed areasPolice agencies in every locality and at the state level have been preparing for social explosions. Preceding the dramatic infusion of federal monies to cities and states after 9/11, the “War on Drugs” began in an era with a great increase in the incarceration of Black people. Black men, in particular, but also Black women, make up the fastest growing demographic in the prison system.The mammoth prison-industrial complex today includes the marriage of the prison construction industry with the private prison industry, the use of prison labor, and vast numbers of prison vendors, telephone and surveillance companies that have contracts with private, state and federal prison facilities. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world at 2.4 million. Yet, the numbers incarcerated do not even include the many hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrant workers held in detention centers.The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed during the Clinton administration, limits the amount of appeals that a person on death row can file. A host of laws hampering civil liberties were enacted, including mandatory sentencing and increased length of prison terms to be served.These measures, along with laws signed under the Bush and Obama administrations, which include advanced combat training and massive arming of police, point to an increasingly militarized state.What’s happening in Ferguson shows these repressive policies in action. The police there are showing what police forces will do in oppressed communities which protest their terrible living conditions. Ferguson is what national oppression looks like.The police chief and the media have been slandering Michael Brown, even releasing a video that allegedly shows him stealing cigars — although this had nothing to do with why cops stopped and harassed him. But this is not surprising. This demonization is nothing new. Showing this video was calculated to nullify anger at Michael Brown’s killing that might have arisen in white communities.It is not just the oppressed communities that need to fear the growing militarization of the police, but all workers. Police agencies are being trained in military tactics, as they are armed with high-tech and advanced military hardware for crowd control and squashing social unrest.The police tactics used to try to suppress the Occupy Wall Street protests should have been an eye opener to all progressive forces. Increasingly, the repressive state apparatus is preparing for greater social unrest and upheavel. Although the powers that be anticipate struggle will arise in the oppressed areas, they expect that it will spread and become broader and more generalized.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Two journalists no longer held by their kidnappers

first_img Afghanistan : “No just and lasting peace in Afghanistan without guarantees for press freedom” May 3, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Afghanistan Organisation to go further News AfghanistanAsia – Pacific AfghanistanAsia – Pacific News Receive email alerts RSF_en News News Help by sharing this information September 21, 2005 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Two journalists no longer held by their kidnappers Journalists Mohammed Taqi Seraj and Baseer Seerat and a civil servant, Shah Jan, are free after being held for six days in the northeastern Nuristan region by abductors who were believed to be the followers of local warlords.Seraj said they were not tortured. He said they managed to get away at night as their abductors were sleeping and were eventually picked up by a vehicle of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) near Jalalabad. Situation getting more critical for Afghan women journalists, report says March 11, 2021 Find out more __________________________________________________________Journalists abducted, arrested and threatened in pre-election violence17.09.2005Journalists have been targeted in violence in the run-up to parliamentary and provincial assembly elections on 18 September 2005.While dozens of people have been killed, three journalists have been kidnapped, two of whom are still being held, at least two have been arrested and many others have been threatened in the past two weeks.Reporters Without Borders is particularly concerned about the plight of journalists Mohammad Taqi Siraj and Baseer Seerat, who have been abducted in the eastern province of Nuristan.“While the Afghan media have played a key role in the preparations for these elections, they have been singled out for attack by Taliban groups and those linked to certain warlords,“ said Reporters Without Borders.“If these attacks do not threaten the forthrightness with which the Afghan media has reported ahead of this historic poll, these outbreaks of intimidation threaten effective media coverage of voting in some Afghan regions,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.Armed men seized Mohammad Taqi Siraj, editor of the weekly Bamyan and assistant director for the Kabul Film Production Company, and Baseer Seerat, cameraman for the same broadcast company, in Wigal district in the Nuristan region on 15 September. They were snatched, along with a female local official while they were making a documentary for the Afghan women’s minister. A female election candidate, Hawa Alam, who is also a journalist, was injured during the kidnapping.The kidnappers wore military uniforms but it is not known who they were or what their motives might have been.Elsewhere henchmen for a local warlord in Jalalabad seized Ezatullah Zawab, correspondent in Nangarhar Province for Pajhwok Afghan News and editor of the local bi-monthly Meena on 2 September. He was found alive but unconscious six days later just outside the city.At the beginning of September, the Nangarhar provincial governor summoned the correspondent in Jalalabad of an international station, who has asked not to be identified, and complained to him about a broadcast of a report on the murder of an election candidate and two police officers in the province.The governor suggested to the journalist that he could suffer the same fate as an Afghan reporter for the BBC World Service, Mirwais Jalil, who was murdered by the Mujahideen in 1994 – if he did not work to promote the interests of the local authorities. Another Jalalabad journalist, Noorullah Noori, was reportedly threatened with reprisals by the authorities.At the same time, a journalist in Takhar, in the north of the country, was sacked from his job as a result of threats issued by a local warlord.A reporter in Kabul with the Afghan Voice Agency (AVA), Salim Wahdat, was beaten and then detained on 8 September by members of the secret service Afghan national security agency while he was covering a ceremony organised by the Afghan education minister.Another AVA journalist, Ruhullah Jalali, was held in a secret services cell after trying to visit his detained colleague. They were both released eight hours later and after the intervention of a representative of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association. Salim Wahdat said the secret service agents had accused him of taking photos for al-Qaeda. RSF asks International Criminal Court to investigate murders of journalists in Afghanistan June 2, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

The Swedish Per Anger Prize awarded to young female journalist in Afghanistan

first_img to go further Najwa Alimi was nominated for the Per Anger Prize by RSF Sweden, the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders. In 2017 Reporters Without Borders opened the first center for protection of women journalists in Afghanistan, Committee for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) who gives support to women media workers in Afghanistan. – This prize comes at the right time. In the ongoing peace negotiations the importance of the protection of journalists and women´s rights can´t be underestimated as the key for a sustainable and long lasting result that will benefit all of Afghanistan. There is a need for more journalists like Najwa Alimi putting a spotlight on the often brutal and extreme violations of press freedom and women´s rights, says Erik Halkjaer, President of RSF Sweden. Najwa Alimi will be presented with the Per Anger Prize on 17 October at a ceremony held at the grand theatre Göta Lejon in Stockholm. The prize will be presented by the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Amanda Lind. The prize winner will be available for interviews in Stockholm on 14–16 October.The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish government’s international prize for human rights and democracy. The prize was established in 2004 to draw attention to diplomat Per Anger’s great work during the Second World War. The Living History Forum has been commissioned by the government to award the prize each year.Nine international organisations participated in the nomination work for the Per Anger Prize: Afrikagrupperna, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Diakonia, ICJ Sweden (Swedish Section of the International Commission of Jurists), Kvinna till kvinna, RSF Sweden (Swedish section of Reporters without Borders), the Church of Sweden, and Swedish PEN. For more information, please contact: Living History Forum’s press officer at: +46 70-259 38 19 or press(a) Widmark, RSF Sweden director, at: +46 72-308 05 23 or reportrarutangranser(a) More information about the Per Anger Prize can be found at and about the work of RSF in Afghanistan at  I want to demonstrate that women can work in an industry considered taboo for them. I realised that journalism was the quickest way if I wanted to reach women all around Afghanistan, and that it could serve as a platform to fight for women’s rights, says Najwa Alimi.Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, but also for women in general. Najwa Alimi is 25 years old, and she currently works as a reporter for the Afghan TV channel Zan TV, the only channel in the country that employs only female reporters and editors. She has made a name for herself as a fearless reporter, raising topics preferably avoided by other journalists, including social vulnerability, homelessness, drug addiction, and women’s rights.– As a journalist, Najwa Alimi has been shot at and threatened. To keep fighting for women’s rights to be seen and heard takes great courage. Najwa Alimi gives hope to a new generation of Afghan girls and boys, says Ingrid Lomfors, Director of the Living History Forum and chairman of the Per Anger Prize jury.The conditions for women in Afghanistan are slowly improving. But progress is slow, and many women are subjected to both violence and discrimination. More and more women enter the workforce, but harassment and the lack of education still present major obstacles for many of them. Last year, 14 journalists were killed, more than in any other country in the world, and so far this year four journalists have been killed. As female journalists grow in numbers, taking up more space, the threat against them increases. – Receiving the Per Anger Prize makes me even more convinced that I’m on the right track, that I should keep doing what I’m doing, and work even harder, says Najwa Alimi. Organisation SwedenAfghanistanEurope – Central AsiaAsia – Pacific Events News Help by sharing this information RSF_en Respect judicial independence in cases of two leading journalists in Serbia and Montenegro, RSF says News SwedenAfghanistanEurope – Central AsiaAsia – Pacific Events Newscenter_img June 7, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Europe – Central Asia RSF calls for a fully transparent investigation after mine kills two journalists in Azerbaijan June 8, 2021 Find out more News With her life at stake, journalist Najwa Alimi challenges Afghanistan’s traditional view of women and men. In a country where women are seldom allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, she can be seen on television as a reporter on the Afghan TV channel Zan TV. Nominated by the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders, Najwa Alimi is awarded the Per Anger Prize for her fight for freedom of expression and women’s rights. The Per Anger Prize is the Swedish government’s international prize for human rights and democracy, awarded by the Living History Forum. September 16, 2019 – Updated on September 17, 2019 The Swedish Per Anger Prize awarded to young female journalist in Afghanistan “We’ll hold Ilham Aliyev personally responsible if anything happens to this blogger in France” RSF says Receive email alerts June 4, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

Sean poised for finish and place in history books

first_imgLinkedin Print Advertisement WhatsApp NewsLocal NewsSean poised for finish and place in history booksBy admin – April 29, 2010 718 Facebookcenter_img Twitter Previous articleGardai won’t be corrupted – NoonanNext articleSpain plays host to repeat of ‘05 and ‘06 as Munster battle Biarritz admin Email SPEAKING to the Limerick Post and with just 180 miles to the finish of his epic solo rowing voyage across the Atlantic, Limerick’s Sean McGowan is poised to be the first Irish man to complete the mammoth task of rowing the ocean.Emotional, but still able to draw on the huge support that has followed him, Sean told this journalist just what it was like as land and the finish line loomed. Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up “It has been much harder than I thought, my body is wrecked and mentally I am reaching the end. I’ve been away from my family for too long but I have come so far, I have to keep going. Big waves crash over the boat in my face constantly and it is like a washing machine here at times.”The “highlight” of each day comes when his wife, Lorraine, sends messages of support to his satellite phone from those that know and even those that don’t know Sean. “Lorraine would type out the messages and send them by text to the sat phone and when I was feeling low I could read them in the morning and the evening. People I don’t even know were sending messages and my brothers have been great keeping the campaign going to raise money for  the charity. That has kept me going.” Battling a swirling current that has kept him perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Sean notes the milestones that he must reach in order to make history. “The magic number is 59 degrees 26 minutes and when I hit that I will have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and after that it’s like threading a needle to the finish line as i have a tricky route in to follow. I am aiming to be finished by Monday but this Thursday I’m hoping to cross that magic line and make history.|. But his finish is not without danger and Sean is only too well aware of that. “Two boats have already had to be rescued after running aground on reefs. I’m still in the middle of the ocean and can see nothing but water. I’m not there yet.”With over 115 days rowing at sea, Sean will have one day to ready his boat to be shipped home when he finishes in English Harbour in Antigua. “Tuesday and Wednesday, all going well, I will get the boat ready to ship home and then I hope to land in Shannon next Friday. I will miss my daughter’s confirmation, but Lorraine will be there to support her. This has been so hard for them and I really can’t wait to get home to them”.Earlier this week, Mayor Kevin Kiely told  a meeting of the city council that everyone in the city is rooting for Sean McGowan and that he will be inviting him into City Hall to a special reception when he returns to Limerick.Click the tracking image on the right to follow the final stages of Sean’s epic journey and click his profile picture on top to send messages of support to his facebook page. last_img read more