Archive for August, 2015

Statement on the Murder of Police Officer Darren Goforth

August 30, 2015

Yesterday in Texas Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman, District Attorney Devon Anderson and Alberto Rivera, past president of the Mexican American Sheriff’s Association, attempted to blame activists protesting racial profiling, police brutality and murder for the killing of Deputy Darren Goforth, age 47, by 30-year-old Shannon J. Miles. Anderson said, “It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement. There are a few bad apples in every profession, that does not mean there should be open warfare on law enforcement.” Hickman said, “This rhetoric has gotten out of control.” Rivera said, “With all the media going on, and the Black Lives Matter, they’re making cops seem bad and we’re seeing it on the streets.”

Every 28 hours, Black people are killed by police, security guards and vigilantes. Over 500 people overall have been killed by police in 2015, a pace that will exceed 1,000 killings in 2015. This isn’t “rhetoric”, these are facts. I will not be silent after watching video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shoot Walter Scott in the back, and University of Cincinnati cop Ray Tensing shoot Samuel DuBose in the head for starting his car.

I will not be silent after hearing Misha Charlton’s story about the murder of her sister Meagan Hockaday by Oxnard, California police officer Roger Garcia. Garcia entered Meagan’s home without announcing himself, then immediately shot Meagan to death in front of her children. I will not be silent after hearing Laurie Valdez’s story of the murder of her husband Antonio Lopez Guzman by San Jose State University police officers. Images from the body camera of Sgt. Mike Santos, who shot Antonio, contradict Santos’ claim that Antonio was charging at other officers on the scene. The full body camera video has not been released EIGHTEEN MONTHS after the shooting.

A report by Samuel Walker found and that police union contract and bill of rights language provide cops who are the subject of death investigations up to 10 days before they have to give a statement. The Community Party’s goal is to repeal this language and other provisions that clearly place bad police officers above the law. Racial profiling, police brutality and murder MUST END. We are not wrong for making this demand. We denounce murder, whoever perpetrates the crime.


David Samuels
Community Party


False Choice: The Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color

August 29, 2015

Trebol Press has published Community Party founder David Samuels’ first nonfiction book on politics. The Democrats and Republicans spar publicly, but the reality is that these two parties have more in common than they have differences. This duopoly is run on corporatist economic policies that benefit the ruling class, at the expense of the workers and the poor. Global hegemony is at the core of the foreign policies of the Dems and the GOP. False Choice is a diary of national and global issues, set against the backdrop of the Connecticut gubernatorial election between incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley that was rated as the most negative in the country in 2014. The book also features commentary on politics at Hartford City Hall, including analysis of the highly controversial baseball stadium deal orchestrated by Mayor Pedro Segarra and City Council President Shawn Wooden. Segarra will face challenger Luke Bronin in a Democratic Party mayoral primary September 16. Visit the Trebol Press website for ordering info.

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

August 29, 2015

Former LAPD officer Alex Salazar will be a guest for the full hour on the next edition of Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio. We’ll host a roundtable discussion with activists Mary Sanders, Arshad Saalik, Donna Jones and Kelly Wick on Alex’s effort to raise awareness about racism and corruption at the LAPD, the Community Party’s police reform and urban policy plan, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s racist claim that “illegal immigrant gangs” were involved in the unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore. Tune in on Tuesday, September 1. 9:00 PM Eastern Time 8:00 PM Central 6:00 PM Pacific

Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

August 29, 2015

Coverage by Democracy Now!:

False Choice: The Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color

August 23, 2015

Commentary on national and global politics, set against the backdrop of a Connecticut gubernatorial election that was rated the most negative in the nation in 2014. Written by Community Party founder David Samuels. On sale now.  Click on the link for more info.

One City Stopped Arresting Drug Addicts, Offers Help Instead… And It’s Working!

August 23, 2015

Gloucester Chief of Police Leonard Campanello declares that the so-called War on Drugs is a failure, and implements a revolutionary program. Visit the Anti-Media website:

Claire Bernish
August 19, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Gloucester, MA — Situated on the coast of Massachusetts, Gloucester’s claims to fame include its status as “America’s original seaport,” as well as being the real-life location on which events in the movie The Perfect Storm (2000) were based. Now, the small town has a new reason to be the center of attention: its police have been granting complete amnesty to drug users who come to the station seeking help, even if they come bearing the remainder of their stash.

On March 6th of this year, Gloucester Chief of Police Leonard Campanello wrote a Facebook post much like he normally did. But this particular post bemoaned four deaths to heroin and opiates in just two months — for a city with less than 30,000 residents.

Frustrated, and without any forethought, Campanello added what would turn out to be a propitious statement to that post:

“If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.”

The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Where one of Campanello’s typical posts would collect, perhaps, a dozen ‘likes’ — this post garnered 1,234 likes and, according to the Washington Post, “more views than there were people in the city.”

Obviously, he’d hit on the crux of a problem with the different approach that was sorely needed.

The war on drugs is over,” Campanello said. And we lost. There is no way we can arrest our way out of this. We’ve been trying that for 50 years. We’ve been fighting it for 50 years, and the only thing that has happened is heroin has become cheaper and more people are dying [emphasis added].

On May 4th, he posted a lengthy update after considering what he’d stumbled onto with that first extemporaneous post.

“Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their equipment (needles, etc.) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an “angel” who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot. Addison Gilbert and Lahey Clinic have committed to helping fast track people that walk into the police department so that they can be assessed quickly and the proper care can be administered quickly [emphasis added].

Though it was unclear what the repercussions of such a bold move would be, after over 33,000 likes and 30,000 shares for the updated post, there was no denying Campanello had found a better alternative to penalizing those struggling with addiction. Over 4,000 comments sang the praises of the program — a few even compared the approach to Portugal’s success decriminalizing all drugs. Most echoed sentiments like, Well done!andFinally someone gets it right! and even Bravo!! More compassion and humanity in our justice system. You are leading by example. And I think the results will validate your decision [emphasis added].

And validate they have.

Campanello said this week that over 100 addicts have already taken advantage of the opportunity — and one in six have come from out-of-state, including a person who traveled all the way from California to ask for help. It’s certainly a switch to see so many flock to the very police who, in the past, would have arrested and jailed every one of them.

“It’s extremely important for a police department to treat all people with respect,” said Campanello. “Law enforcement doesn’t exist to judge people.”

And as for cost? An update on the “Gloucester Initiative Angel Program” in an August 10th post stated: “$5000 for 100 lives.”

Going even further, Campanello approached a local CVS pharmacy and explained the program and the need for Nasal Narcan, which can reverse an overdose. Without insurance, the drug cost $140, but after hearing about the revolutionary program, CVS made it available for $20 a pack — so Campanello started providing it to addicts free of charge.

“The police department will pay the cost of the Nasal Narcan for those without insurance. We will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers during investigations. We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who take them,” he said.

With so many people taking advantage of the program, Chief Campanello and the Gloucester Police Department, as well as their various partners, have formed a non-profit organization called The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) “to bridge the gap between the police department and opioid addicts seeking recovery.” Its website states, “Rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction, P.A.A.R.I. committed police departments:

  • “Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery.”
  • “Help distribute life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses.”
  • “Connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities.”
  • “Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic.”

Though it is perhaps premature to estimate the program’s overall success, three Massachusetts cities will soon be implementing programs based on Campanello’s model.

What started as frustration and anger about the nation’s growing problem with heroin and opiate addiction hastily posted to Facebook has become a possible future model for police departments around the country — and tangible hope for addicts and their loved ones.

Four deaths in two months in the small coastal town appeared to indicate the continuance of a frightening trend — but in the over five and a half months since, there have been “Just two,” said Campanello.

In mid-June, Gloucester Police wrote another post on the official Facebook page that speaks volumes of the program. It states:

“A reporter asked one of my officers last night: ‘Do you see a common thread in all addicts?’ Without hesitation, the officer responded: ‘Absolutely. They’re all human beings.”

This article (One City Stopped Arresting Drug Addicts, Offers Help Instead… And It’s Working!) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Psychonaught. If you spot a typo, email

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include social justice, police brutality, exposing the truth behind propaganda, and general government accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Ohio. Learn more about Bernish here!

Down the Rabbit Hole: Breaking the Code of Silence of a Vicious Police Culture

August 23, 2015

No Community Party Hartford News column this week, due to the Hartford Arts and Heritage special edition of the newspaper. Alex Salazar will be a guest for the full hour on the next edition of Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio. Tune in on Tuesday, September 1. 9:00 PM Eastern Time 8:00 PM Central 6:00 PM Pacific

Must read piece on former LAPD officer Alex Salazar. Visit the Latino Rebels website:

Posted on August 19, 2015 by Máximo Anguiano

Many people are unaware of just how dark a flourishing and shady police subculture really is. Police brutality has been brought to the forefront of society, perhaps due to the influx of social media usage and smartphones. Today we are catching gross violations of the law carried out by police officers who have been sworn to integrity. There have also been several articles floating around suggesting that police brutality against Latinos doesn’t get the attention or outcry within the community as we have perhaps seen in the Black community.

What those from the outside are failing to realize is that this current movement against police misconduct and the criminal (in)justice system has been growing for years in impoverished communities; the demonstrations and rallying that have materialized, past a boiling point, are from decades of injustice and mistreatment. Our camera phones today are documenting what we’ve known for years. There are people today who lived through the Civil Rights Movement that are experiencing flashes of déjà vu when they see instances of police brutality popping up on their screens.

The Latino community is often inundated by the fight for immigration reform; the media’s focus on this issue overshadows many other policy issues. However the advocacy for criminal justice reform can and should be seen in the same light, because the criminal justice system affects more Latino Americans than immigration does. Furthermore, immigration and policing are correlated when you think of how immigrants are harassed and detained. If we can get riled up by Donald Trump, we also can by the Department of Justice.

As the mainstream media bashes us over the head with another Trump headline, there are several Latino organizations fighting for drug policy reform, fair sentencing laws and the abolishment of private prisons. The Latino community is saying that the current system is unacceptable. And it doesn’t have to manifest itself in the form of rage or anger. We want to discuss the issues. We’re not here to burn down buildings or assault anyone. (Is this the only manner that common people have to delineate our seriousness?)

The criminal justice system, from the police to the courts and prisons, can do better as a whole. The system often steamrolls average people, stripping them of their humanity and leaving them broke. However the subject of this article, policing, is where we must do better, for the simple fact that police are at the ground level of inducting citizens into the criminal justice system. There is perhaps no other entry-level position in the world that carries more power.

Many people would believe that all police officers are good and should be trusted, but this should not be relied upon. There are grim and disappointing realities that are flourishing right now within police units across the country, inflamed from its founding origins of employing privilege to today’s failed drug war contributing to the incarceration of more people than the total population of China.

In reality, the police have been instruments of a government that has largely crippled people of color to the conditions we see today in our barrios. Of course it must be said that poor white people have more in common with people of color, from a socioeconomic standpoint, than Latinos who benefit from white privilege, but that’s another topic.

A police subculture of corruption would probably be seen as hearsay unless we had proof to validate it. Luckily our community has voices like that of Alex Salazar, a former member of the LAPD Rampart Division, to illuminate the truth. Those who have studied policing, and those willing to peel back layers of the onion, know about the Rampart corruption scandal that occurred in the late 90s—an LAPD gang unit found responsible for patterns of unjustified arrests, beatings, drug dealing, witness intimidation, illegal shootings, planting of evidence, theft of drugs, framings and perjury. (Makes you think twice about NWA’s accusations against the police, right?) One of its unit members, Rafael Pérez—the inspiration for the 2001 Academy Award-winning movie Training Day—was arrested in 1998 and spilled the beans on the entire scandal.

Alex Salazar grew up wanting to be a police officer for all of the right reasons. Hearing heroic stories of Mexican revolutionaries from his intellectual father, Alex believed in doing the right thing and standing for justice. After a stint in the military, Alex became a police officer in Los Angeles, which at the time was considered the most elite police force in the nation.

Alex took pride in his job, wanting to protect and serve on one of the finest police forces in the United States. After all, the LAPD founded the prestigious D.A.R.E. program, was the first department to have a S.W.A.T. team and was seen as the standard for police departments everywhere. What Alex soon found out was that the LAPD was probably the most hypocritical and corrupt police force in the country.

In 1991, in only his second year on the job, and in the same year as the Rodney King beating, an incident took place that changed Alex’s life forever. While off-duty and on an errand in Downtown Los Angeles, Alex saw a robbery occurring. A young Latina mother with her approximate 6-year-old daughter was being mugged by a gang member. After detaining the suspect, other members attacked Alex. Alex was able to escape by running into a busy street, where he was hit by an oncoming car. The incident left Alex with a compound fracture of his ankle and mental injuries that couldn’t be detected at the time.

Two months after the incident, Alex returned to the job. He was greeted back to the police department by jeering officers, asking “What the fuck were you doing, you dumb mother fucker?” and “Why didn’t you just shoot them all?” Some inquired with Alex why he even got involved at all. These are the questions that hit home with Alex the most. Alex began to believe that maybe they were right, considering he was the one nearly left for dead. This indoctrination started the onset of what Alex now calls “the super-pig syndrome,” an anger and hatred which replaced his love for serving the people.

In the immediate aftermath of the life-threatening incident, Alex developed severe post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Experiencing personality issues, paranoia and hypervigilance, Alex still had to do his job as a police officer—a highly stressful position in a dysfunctional environment where daily police roll calls instilled into the officer’s mind that today could be your last. One of the after effects of Alex’s trauma was reoccurring nightmares of being attacked by gang members. One night while having a nightmare, he grabbed his then wife and began attacking her.

Alcohol abuse, abuse of his badge and even thoughts of suicide cropped up. After his shifts he would self-medicate by purchasing a large McDonald’s cup of soda, emptying half of it and filling it with Bacardi 151.

Alex went on to work as a “narc” —slang for an undercover officer— and during some instances when he was suspected of being a cop, he was forced to use drugs as the dealers held a gun to his head. One of Alex’s supervisors was even arrested for stealing heroin and having an addiction to the illicit drug. Almost developing an addiction himself to drugs, Alex knew he had to seek assistance, particularly after he saw six of his fellow officers commit suicide.

During visits to the department psychologist, Alex was prohibited from talking about the activities he was taking part in on a daily basis. The reason Alex wasn’t able to talk about the instances of brutality was because he would have been removed from the streets and had his gun taken away from him, placed on the “rubber-gun squad” at the front desk of the station with other officers under investigation or with mental issues.

Instances of him and his fellow officers beating people for no reason, having a white-supremacist mindset and torturing people became part of what Alex calls “the insular culture of the code of silence.” His observations of some officers becoming high-strung, ghetto gunfighters during their careers and developing a “shoot first, ask questions later” ethos of policing became common. Alex knew what he saw during his time on the force and admitted that racial prejudice and bigotry was rampant. Officers were being brainwashed, living double lives; there was and still is today a culture of cops being “badasses,” and officers have to live up to that culture.

Some other revealing quotes Alex admitted to during this interview were:

“I became a monster.”

“No one ever thinks they’re going to become a racist.”

“I didn’t realize I hated what I had become. I became the criminal.”

Alex says that some officers are trained to police in a manner that is incomparable with actual policing. One of the first things that is often told to rookie officers when they graduate from the academy is “Forget everything you learned in the academy, because this is how real police work is done.” Alex says he saw officers becoming sociopathic killers, behavior similar to that of members of the KKK looking down on people of color; other officers became addicted to drugs just like his narcotics supervisor.

Alex also adds that some officers became trigger happy, with phrases like “I’d rather be tried by 12 than to be carried by six”or “When in doubt, take him out” becoming commonplace. Many officers developed severe neurosis and other psychological issues due to being overwhelmed with trauma, fear and addictions of various sorts. A popular rookie initiation prior to Alex coming on in 1989 was being ordered to “Choke that motherfucker out,” a test of toughness by basically attacking an innocent member of society for no reason.

With Alex’s personal life spiraling out of control, he realized that he needed to quit the force. Alex eventually came to the realization and asked himself, “What am I doing here?” In lieu of losing his mind, Alex resigned from the LAPD after almost 10 years on the job.

After being confronted last year on social media by one of his former partners about speaking out on police brutality, the former partner taunted Alex by saying, “Why are acting like you didn’t do anything? You’re no angel.” Alex responded back to his partner by saying, “Yeah you’re right. We should both be in the penitentiary for what we did to some of these people.” Not expecting such a candid answer, Alex’s friend backtracked and apologized by saying he was just joking around.

Today Alex seeks to break the denial and shame of the code of silence by speaking out about some of the things he did. He feels it does no good to attack and point the finger because the problems regarding police brutality are systemic and institutional throughout the country in most law enforcement agencies. He speaks of the many current instances of high-profile police brutality cases throughout the country which are finally drawing attention to this age old problem.

Making peace with himself, Alex now works to instill true justice, as a private detective and advocate for victims of police brutality. Alex has traveled to Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Oakland and Selma all within this past year to seek further knowledge and understanding of white supremacy in law enforcement and its inherent vicious contribution toward police brutality.

The aforementioned points are only the tip of the iceberg inside police departments across the country. The following are more notes from my interview with Alex Salazar, which I hope will inform people on how deeply rooted police corruption is inside our nation’s police forces. Furthermore, we can only find solutions to the problems by knowing the issues. And these are issues we need to confront. If you’re an officer or have officers in your family, be a part of the solution.

Why do cops break the law, go rogue? Why do units and officers perform “street justice”?

It gets results. It works. Politicians and those powers that be say, “We’re cleaning up the city.” They want their cities to be safe and free of drugs and crime. We don’t often see police misconduct until later on down the line, as we did with Rampart, so politicians don’t care. It gets put on the backburners.

It becomes the “criminals’” word versus the cops’. After that, there’s nothing you can do about it. Combine it all with everything officers see, their mental health and a weird sub-culture, we get grave results.

One of the main issues we see now is “contempt of cop,” when officers go from 0 to 100 on routine incidents in a matter of seconds. If a citizen gets an attitude with an officer, the officer can potentially display excessive measures to correcting the issue. And these incidents often become overblown in police reports; an instance of “resisting arrest” or “failing to obey a police officer” on the books may have resulted from a simple misunderstanding. It only grows bigger and deeper the further you get into law enforcement. Does the Sandra Bland traffic stop ring a bell?

Are there any good cops out there? Are all police racist?

The problem with the so-called “good cops”: they know who the bad cops are. “Good old-fashioned police work” is often synonymous with street justice. Good officers are not going to tell on their partners. There are some good cops who don’t buy into the “blue wall of silence,” but many others do. There’s an unwritten code of having your partner’s back, and if you don’t, you’re seen as an outcast.

[We saw this story displayed in Hollywood’s Serpico. Alex tracked down and became an acquaintance of Frank “Paco” Serpico.]

Joe Crystal was a cop in Baltimore who testified against two of his partners who beat a Black man. It was thought within the department and the community that he did the right thing; the chief was happy with his decision, but within the force no one had his back. In fact he was ran out of town, literally—facing many threats, he had to quit his job on the force and move to Florida. Officers put a dead rat on his car, and they might have done more. Truth be told, it is very hard for a good cop to exist. This is written into the culture.

Also deep within the fabric of the United States history is a system built on slavery. the Civil War, Jim Crow and theft of land are all issues that were considered legal and just in their day. Today the Black Lives Matter movement reaffirms what didn’t matter in the past. Today we also see a Justice Or Else movement because people are tired of the same old, same old. Not all police are racists, however many policies and practices are rooted in racism.

Why can’t the police utilize street justice? What’s wrong with that?

The problem with street justice is that once you start breaking the law —using coercive methods, intimidation, brutality— what’s next? Police will then stop at nothing to “solve crime,” including using unethical and extreme measures.

I once had a supervisor who became a heroin addict. During one of his buys in his younger days, he was forced to shoot up. This supervisor asked me to lie in police reports, which would effectively frame an innocent man. These things occur much more regularly than people know or would like to acknowledge. Police and pro-police supporters are ashamed of a secretive culture that everyone knows exists. My supervisor was later arrested, by the way, for theft of heroin.

Why is it that we can’t talk about these things? It seems pro-police supporters are intimidated by this talk, as if they can’t acknowledge it exists.

Fear. People don’t want to talk about this stuff, but we shouldn’t be angry. There shouldn’t be any hesitancy in talking about this content if we want to get anywhere. We need to make progress and get away from this stuff. Things have to change, and it starts with all of us. I have been one of a handful of former police officers in the country to talk about this issue of the insular culture of the code of silence. We can’t keep quiet anymore. I don’t like talking about my scandalous behavior, the things I did as a cop, but I can’t ignore it. A lot of officers are ashamed because they’ve done some really bad things. Many hide behind their [state’s] police officers’ bill of rights as they commit flagrant violations of the law.

Are you afraid of retaliation due to your speaking out?

I used to be afraid several years ago and slept with a shotgun. I still get death threats, but I’m a more spiritual person rather than a religious zealot type. I’m living life to the fullest. I’m definitely not perfect and still have my issues and deal with my demons of PTSD. But with respect to the topic of police racism and brutality, I feel what I’m doing is right. I’m speaking out and helping more cops who are willing to break the code of silence. I’ve unfortunately been accused by haters and cops of being an informant, but it’s not true. I’m proud that my work in talking about police brutality. My work speaks for itself. I’m in touch with upwards of 100 cop whistleblowers who are out there doing the right thing. We’re not perfect people. We just want to do the right thing for the people.

Why aren’t Latinos advocating against this sort of stuff? Immigration has been labeled as a “Latino issue” but not police brutality.

The Black community has had their Rodney Kings, Trayvon Martins, Oscar Grants and Michael Browns. We have had ours too, but the media as a whole has not reported on them, nor have we been infuriated about it at all. Overall it is my humble opinion that La Raza has failed the people with their complacency, and when it comes to our leadership, we are divided.

However it has to be said that immigration is not the only topic Latinos are concerned about. That’s the topic that has been designated as the issue for Latinos (which in itself is a problem for other immigrants from Asian, European and other countries). So in a sense we are being ignored. If it’s not immigration, then it’s a non-issue. That’s a disservice to all. Imagine if all those voices from all the groups suffering the injustices of police brutality were to be heard. Well, perhaps that’s the fear. If you keep all the issues segregated, then it’s manageable and the issues are dealt with through the respective police departments. Adversely if the outcry came from all groups, on one topic (police brutality in this instance), well, then the flood gates would open against law enforcement and the politicians.

In the 1970s, Ruben Salazar was a journalist who wrote about police brutality. In the 60s, all you had to do was look at a cop crosseyed and they’d whoop your ass. Salazar was called into the police department in Los Angeles by then Chief Ed Davis and was told to “stop writing bad about our officers.” After he disagreed to stop reporting on police brutality issues against immigrants during the Chicano Moratorium which he was covering, Salazar was shot in the head and killed.

Andy Lopez was a 14-year-old boy killed in nine seconds by a police officer and former Iraq vet in 2013. Lopez was carrying a toy AK-47 and was shot 7 times. We protested then for justice.

The bottom line is the police aren’t always right nor are they always your friend.

More info on Alex Salazar can be found at


Maximo is a writer, creative and mobilizer based out of San Antonio. Follow him on Twitter @blurbsmithblots

How To Hold Prominent Movement Figures Accountable – With A Private Phone Call or a Public Discussion?

August 22, 2015

Black Agenda Report commentator Bruce Dixon responds to backlash he has received for his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. Visit the BAR website:

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 08/12/2015 – 11:33

I’ve been asked why I didn’t pick up the phone to talk personally to #BlackLivesMatter leaders before critiquing their published statements. Last year I was asked the same about Jesse Jackson, and years before I was asked repeatedly why I didn’t contact President Obama and find out what he really meant before publicly examining his public statements. The question is always the same, and so is the answer.

How To Hold Prominent Movement Figures Accountable – With A Private Phone Call or a Public Discussion?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“…these are not private and personal conversations, they are the collective property of the movement…”

I’ve been asked by many the last few weeks, including some who should know better, why I didn’t pick up the phone and call the leaders of #BlackLivesMatter before publicly quoting and critiquing their written statements actions and interviews on July 23 and August 6. It’s not the first time, not even the tenth time.

I was asked the same question in August 2014 when I criticized a letter from Rev. Jesse L. Jackson apparently penned on behalf of his corporate sponsors, and many other times. The answer is the same today as it was last year and ten years before that. Public interviews, speeches and writings are just that, they are public. Particularly when written or stated by prominent figures in what we call the movement, these are not private and personal conversations, they are the collective property of the movement, available for us all to agree or disagree with, to learn from or to dismiss.

Sure, I could have called Jesse or Ms. Garza or others and asked them privately what they meant. But if one has to contact everybody one quotes, presumably to give them a chance to review and re-interpret privately for you what they wrote publicly, one sets up a situation in which no public figure ever needs to mean what she says or say what she means.

Imagine some public figure telling you privately, over the phone,

“Yeah I SAID that, I WROTE that, but that’s not what I meant. You s’posta ASK me what I mean, not just use my words…”

Imagine a public figure saying something completely different in private from their public statement, but with no intention whatsoever of publishing anything to correct the original statement. The prominent figure can then call me a liar and someone abusing a trust for publicly critiquing their public statement. It’s a door I’d rather not open.

There’s a name for people who call you up and hang on the phone with you for hours to convince you to do the right thing, to tease out the correct position. These people are called your personal friends, and everybody needs them. But there are other important roles to play as well. As a movement journalist I’m not Jesse’s personal friend, nor Ms. Garza’s. My obligation is to help others question and understand the public record so they can make informed decisions instead of simply following leaders or tweets or stuff that comes to them over the corporate media.

More so than other grownups, prominent persons in the movement ought to be responsible for what they speak in interviews and write for publication. Taking those conversations private hides them from the eyes and ears of those who might learn something. Restricting questions about the actions and writings of movement figures to private conversations makes the prominent person less accountable, not more accountable for his or her stands.

“…prominent persons in the movement ought to be responsible for what they speak in interviews and write for publication…”

Those who care about the state of the movement which our young people are urgently trying to rediscover have to help them insist on raising up accountable leaders and fashioning structures of accountability within the movement, including within the #BlackLivesMatter formation. That means there has to be plenty of deep debate and study, lots of informed and public back and forth principled disagreement and discussion about what the movement is, about how it does and should operate, about what its goals and guiding principles are, what its relationship is to electoral and other politics is, whether and how its prominent figures are accountable to its rank and file, and what lessons can be learned from history and recent practice.

This is something that’s been seen before. Without this kind of open and public back and forth debate and discussion within the movement, organizations become the personal vehicles of their leaders. It happened to all the old-line civil rights organizations, it happened to the Nation of Islam. It even happened to the Black Panther Party, and it can happen to #BlackLivesMatter.

Many tendencies are represented under the #BlackLivesMatter flag, from those who are ready for Hillary to others who are ready for revolution. A few are just ready to get funded. They all need to come out and put their cards on the table, to reveal and discuss and debate their positions, if we are going to build a new movement and a new world.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

The plot to destroy Shaun King: How Breitbart turned a ludicrous conspiracy theory into national news

August 22, 2015

Commentary on the Shaun King hit piece by Visit

The right’s campaign to take down a Black Lives Matter leader is transparently bogus. So why did CNN take the bait?
Jack Mirkinson

Shaun King, a columnist for Daily Kos, an active and widely-followed Twitter user and a prominent member of the Black Lives Matter movement, was forced yesterday to share some of his most painful family secrets with the world. This is thanks to a monumentally squalid series of articles by conservative site Breitbart that questioned whether or not King was actually a black man—an assertion that was thoroughly discredited by King. Normally, I’d advise you to avoid reading any further, but the King saga is a perfect symbol of some of the worst tendencies currently found in both the dankest corners of the conservative media and the shamelessly trigger-happy world of the mainstream media.

Breitbart’s “scoop” about King came from Vicki Pate, a blogger who runs a truly startling website called “Re-NewsIt!” The site is the kind of typo-ridden bile factory that would normally be dismissed without a second glance. Its sole aim appears to be to “expose the truth” about the nefarious charlatans at the heart of the Black Lives Matter Movement, as well as to smear any black victims of crime.

Pate has had multiple Twitter accounts suspended. When she still had access to Twitter, she used the platform to do things like harass the mother of Kendrick Johnson, a black teenager whose dead body was found rolled up in a gym mat at his high school. For good measure, Pate also posted leaked autopsy photos of Johnson on her website and accused his father of “trying to win the race-hoax lottery.”

Pate has also been obsessively trying to take Shaun King down for some time, and suddenly it seemed that she’d struck gold in the form of a birth certificate that listed both of King’s parents as white.

Most outlets would probably stay away from such a clearly fetid swamp, but Breitbart happily dove in, highlighting her efforts on its much larger platform and driving the King story to the top of the news agenda. That’s perhaps to be expected when Milo Yiannopoulos, the reporter who wrote the King story, is a man whose past gems include “16 Movements Less Ridiculous Than Black Lives Matter” and “Donald Trump Would Be the Real First Black President.” Racial provocation, not rigor, is the goal here.

Let’s be very clear about why Breitbart decided this was a worthy story to pursue. It’s the same reason that Fox News was so reluctant to call Charleston shooter Dylann Roof a racist. Some people in America find the idea that there is such a thing as white supremacy–or that white people are in any way to blame for the racism in our society–so terrifying that they would rather concoct a huge racial conspiracy theory wherein ghoulish black activists run roughshod over a cowed white populace. To Breitbart, the Shaun Kings of the world are the ones with all the power, exploiting a weak and politically correct society for their own personal gain.

It is all self-evidently insane, of course, but white people have been deluding themselves about the racial state of play in America for centuries, so why stop now?

Some will jump to compare King’s story to that of Rachel Dolezal, and ask what the difference is. Here’s the difference: Dolezal only became a story because her own parents told reporters their daughter was faking her identity, because it became clear that Dolezal had completely altered her appearance over the years, because she’d sued Howard University for anti-white discrimination, and so on and so on and so on. It didn’t come from a patently wacko racist blogger hell-bent on trying to destroy a civil rights movement, and there’s been absolutely no evidence presented that Shaun King has ever changed the story he’s told about his racial background, unlike Dolezal. The only conceivable reason to target him is because he’s an easily identifiable figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, and Breitbart would like him to be rendered somehow illegitimate.

That explains why Breitbart was so eager to “expose” King. What defies all comprehension is why reputable news outlets ran with this sorry excuse of a story. CNN’s Don Lemon–who always seems to be at the center of the network’s most journalistically dubious decisions–breathlessly told his viewers that family members had sworn exclusively to him that King was white. (Never mind King’s own statement that his family was a complex, tangled ball–making it entirely possible that some family members didn’t know what the hell they were talking about when it came to his racial background.) The Daily News ran multiple stories with headlines like “Rachel Dolezal 2.0? Shaun King, activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, outed as a white man.”

It’s bad enough that sites like Breitbart are peddling this nonsense. But for CNN to use its still-considerable authority to drive such a clearly malicious smear campaign forward is something else entirely. CNN should have taken one look at both the Breitbart story and its source and known to stay away. That it chose not to do so is basic journalistic malpractice.

To the surprise of virtually nobody, Breitbart’s crack reporting fell apart almost instantly—but not before King was compelled to disclose that his father is not the man listed on his birth certificate, but is in fact a black man who he has never met. Thus, faced with the near-total refutation of its wildest claims, Breitbart… declared victory.

Anybody looking for a scintilla of contrition for the way the site sliced open some of the deepest wounds in a man’s life for no reason would be disappointed.

Truth be told, it would be too much to hope that Breitbart or its ilk would learn any lesson from this shabby affair. My real hope is that the rest of the media thinks twice before it validates such appalling behavior again. I’m not holding my breath.

False Choice: The Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color

August 22, 2015

Commentary on national and global politics by Community Party founder David Samuels. On sale now. Click on the link for more info.