Author: lafocus

“Stop Killing Us:” Activists Bring Their Pain to State Capitol

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media 

            Last week, several California social and criminal justice organizations, as well as community-based groups, gathered for a rally at the state Capitol titled “Stop Killing Us.” Oakland-based All of Us or None (AOUON) organized the event — with the help of other partners across the state — to condemn police violence against African Americans. 

            AOUON is a project of Legal Service for Prisoners With Children (LSPC), a nonprofit civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families. 

            Their demonstration was peaceful — done with official permission — and less spontaneous than recent explosive protests and riots triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minnesota, at the hands of police officers.  

            But it was charged with strong convictions and a solemn sense of grief, much like those protests.  

            “You mess with our children, I’ll come running,” said Yolanda Banks, the mother of Sahleem Tindle, who a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer killed on Jan. 3, 2018. He was 28.  

            “I have to march,” Banks continued. “We fight together.”  

            Banks frequently joins other grieving African American families from around California who have lost loved ones to police violence for rallies and vigils like the one AOUON held in Sacramento.  

            Participants arrived from Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Vallejo, Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco, and other places in the state. Most of the people in attendance were people who have been impacted by police violence. 

            On the front steps of the State Capitol, large black-and-white photos of people of color who have been victims of police deadly force were on display. According to AOUON, police violence has claimed the lives of 600 people in California over the last five years 

            Asale-Haquekyah Chandler (pronounced “Ah-SAH-lah”)  made the trip east to Sacramento from San Francisco to support Banks and the other families involved with “Stop Killing Us.” Chandler is hosting the “One Life Walk: A Silent Walk Parade Protest” in downtown San Francisco July 28.  

            Chandler, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 10 seat in 2018, has also been affected by violence, but not at the hands of law enforcement. Her 19-year-old son Yalani Chinyamurindi, while on a lunch break in San Francisco, was shot and killed, along with three individuals he knew.  

            The young men 20, 21, and 22 years of age were giving her son a ride back to his job when four gunmen surrounded the car they were in and opened fire. 

            Locally, around the Bay Area, the crime, which took place on Jan. 9, 2015, has been dubbed the “San Francisco 4.” Chandler said she and Banks (the two women knew each other well before their sons died) attended the event because see themselves as “fighters of justice and equality for all of our lives,” she said. 

            “We were fighting way before these children were murdered,” Chandler said. “So, the uniqueness we’re bringing to the table was meant to be. Though I hate to say it — because we lost (our children). My child was killed by the community and her child was killed by the police. We didn’t want to be in this club (mothers of children violently killed). But we are the right ones to be in this club.” 

            Banks, who lives on a rural farm in Calaveras County, told California Black Media (CBM) that the events that AOUON stage are “painful but therapeutic.” 
            The pain and passion expressed by Banks, Chandler, and other participants (who each read aloud the names of the departed) was evident.  Several lawmakers emerged from the State Capitol to support the event and stand with the families. They included African American legislators: Sen. Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Sen. Steven Bradford (D- Los Angeles), and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). 

            McCarty authored a constitutional amendment, ACA 6, which will be on the general election ballot in November. Known as the “Free the Vote Act,” ACA 6 will seek voters’ approval to restore voting rights to former inmates on parole.  

            AOUON and LSPC’s policy director Ken Oliver said the prison inmate-support organizations side with ACA 6. 

            “Yes, we support ACA 6,” Oliver told the large crowd at the rally. “We have 40 thousand people out here who can’t vote. So, understand when we talk policy. I have 80 thousand sitting behind the wall right now, I have eight million in California that have felony convictions, I have neighborhoods that are suffering. People can’t get jobs, and I have people out here getting killed by the police. That’s going to change.”

Protesters Mourn the Loss of Robert Fuller in Palmdale Park

By Stephen Oduntan | Staff Writer

Several dozen protesters descended Thursday evening on Poncitlan Square in Palmdale, questioning the circumstances surrounding Robert Fuller’s death and demanding justice for other victims of police brutality against African Americans.

Fuller, 24, was found hanging from a tree last Wednesday less than a fortnight after another black man was found dead in a strikingly similar manner about 45 miles east of Palmdale.

But if that initial tragedy wasn’t enough, a second tragedy occurred when the half brother of Fuller, was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in a shootout Wednesday, officials say.

“This afternoon I had to notify the sisters of Robert Fuller that their half-brother Terron Jammal Boone was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Kern County,” said Hicks in an email released to the press.

Now, both deaths are under investigation.

“The system isn’t built for us, and it’s got to change,” said National Action Network’s Jonathan Moseley. “That’s why we have representatives across the country so that they can have some sort of comfort in knowing we’ve got their back.”

Asked if he believed the official report from the sheriff’s department that “Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide,” Moseley immediately and unequivocally answered, “I don’t believe it. African-Americans do not commit death by hanging. Under no circumstances. It’s just not our culture.”

At the protest for Fuller that was hosted by the Let Me Catch My Breath movement, people voiced concerns that Fuller may have been lynched and believe investigators failed to follow proper procedures by considering alternatives, such as the possibility of a hate crime.

The proof is all around them some said.

Pointing out that racism is rife in the high desert city where confederate flags hang from front poles in people’s yards, on bumper stickers and T-shirts.

“A significant number of white people that are here are just southerners who moved to California for a quote-unquote, better way of life,” said Moseley. “That’s why you have the same Jim Crow attitudes in pockets of areas like here.”

But the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there was no evidence of foul play in the death of Fuller and deemed it a likely suicide based on preliminary findings but vowed to continue to look deeper into the case.

“Investigators have been in contact with Mr. Fuller’s family and are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Fuller’s death,” Palmdale officials wrote in a statement.

Still, the message of Thursday’s gathering echoed those taking place around the country: Stop police brutality against the black community. Organizers said the protest was originally meant to honor George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed last month while in the custody of Minneapolis police. But they decided to hold a peaceful gathering to remember Fuller because he was found dead hanging from a tree in a park in the city.

They filled the Palmdale park holding signs that read “Black lives matter,” “Say their names” and “I can’t breathe” as Bob Marley’s song “War”, and Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy” played from a loudspeaker.

“We lost a brother who should still be with us,” said Isabel Flax, one of the protest organizers who urged the crowd to channel their energy as a collective front united on one accord. 

“We might never get justice in Robert Fuller’s case because we possibly won’t ever know who killed him, and so justice for us is going to be changing policy.”

Arthur Calloway, another one of the organizers and speakers, said the city would’ve responded with the full weight of law enforcement, had a police officer been found hanging from a tree.

“They’d had been 600 cops scouring the neighborhood,” he said. “Kicking down doors and getting every ounce of video they can scrape. Doing everything that they can to find out who did it.

“But when Robert Fuller died, it was considered a suicide immediately. It’s indicative of a system that does not value all life the same.”

And this added Calloway, “is why it’s important to vote.

Stressing that part of policy change is making sure people can be put in office and push the reforms that extend to the black community. “We need to go out and vote because that is what’s going to stop us from getting lynched on a tree.”

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One on One: T Boz

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Big Break: A chance meeting former singer and music executive Perri “Pebbles” Reid and her then-husband L.A. Reid

For all its success, TLC has endured a roller coaster of ups and downs over the last thirty years, the biggest blow being the loss of group member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in a 2002 car cash, and taking away one-third of the lightning in a bottle that made them the biggest selling girl group in music history, taking home four Grammy awards and selling sixty-five millions albums, worldwide throughout their career. Resolute in their will to go on, T-Boz and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas have continued to record music and tour, most recently co-headlining a tour with Nelly and Flo Rida which continues through this summer. These days T-Boz is reveling in the most recent chapter of her life as a mom to daughter Chase and son Chance, author of the 2017 memoir, A Sick Life, and co-creator of her newly launched line of CBD-infused health and beauty products, TLCBD.

Is there a prominent memory or flashback from your life, whether it’s a really great memory that you love to re-visit, or even something that wasn’t so great, that helped shape you?
I always think about the first time I saw each of my kids and that’s a feeling you can’t really describe.
No matter what’s going on in my life, that will give me a good feeling and a smile. Anytime I’m having a terrible time, I try to think about what the best thing in my life is, and that is my two kids.

Were you happy with the way TLC’s final album (the group’s fifth and final album, titled “TLC” was released in 2017) turned out? Do you feel it was a good swan song?
No, I don’t. I feel like it wasn’t worked good enough. I don’t even like the song Haters; I’m going to be honest. I think that was a terrible choice as our second single. I believe there were better songs we should’ve gone with, that were deeper. We have a song called American Gold. It was right before Trump came into office and there was all this uproar with black men who were dying and being abused and killed by the cops, including my cousin who was murdered by cops and shot 18 times with an AR15, and he was mentally ill. The reason that song is so important is because we hit on all of that, and you know how you bleed and die for your American gold? Just being American is tough these days, especially when you’re black. That song would have really hit home in a lot of places, kind of the way Waterfalls did, if the right visuals had been put to it.

What do you have faith in?
God! That’s pretty much it. Period.

How do you define God for yourself?
I know I have a relationship with God, and I know that God exists for me. I don’t push my beliefs on anybody else, but I know when people, and even doctors, walk out of the room and they can’t explain why I’m still here (referring to her sickle cell disease). I know there’s something up there higher than me that made it possible.


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