Former President Barack Obama says his two daughters masked up and marched in Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, albeit in a manner that avoided publicity.
OBAMA SAYS SOME REPUBLICANS DRIVE MESSAGE THAT ‘WHITE MEN ARE VICTIMS’
Nineteen-year-old Sasha and 22-year-old Malia joined demonstrations after the death of George Floyd, which created a social reckoning surrounding police brutality against Black people in America, with little guidance from their dad, Obama said in an interview with People magazine promoting his memoir “A Promised Land.”
“They had a very clear sense of what was right and what was wrong and [of] their own agency and the power of their voice and the need to participate,” Obama said. “Malia and Sasha found their own ways to get involved with the demonstrations and activism that you saw with young people this summer, without any prompting from Michelle and myself, on their own initiative.”
BIDEN DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM OBAMA AMID ‘THIRD TERM’ COMPARISONS
“They didn’t do it in a way where they were looking for limelight,” the former president, 59, said. “They were very much in organizer mode.”
“I could not have been prouder of them,” he said.
The girls have largely veered from the limelight since growing up in the public eye during their father’s presidency.
But Obama said they both saw “something wrong” and desired to “fix it,” which motivated them to take action.
“They’re reflective of their generation in the sense they want to make a difference and they think about their careers in terms of: How do I have a positive impact? How do I make the world better?” he said. “What particular paths they take in doing that, I think, are going to change and vary between the two of them.”
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“I think they’re going to want to have an impact and their friends feel the same way,” he said. “It’s interesting when you talk to them in groups, the degree to which, compared to young people when I was coming out of college or you know even 20 years ago, I think people were much more focused on their finances and the perks of a job. And these kids are really focused on — how can I do something that I find meaningful, that resonates with my values and my ideals? And that, I think, is an encouraging sign for the country.”
Week after week, protesters in Belarus have taken to the streets, risking arrest, beatings and sometimes torture at the hands of security forces. Now those scenes are being played out not just on the streets but in playgrounds too.
Soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday, and at least two people were shot, four witnesses told Reuters.
Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders. The unit was disbanded on Oct. 11 but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms.
“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer after the soldiers opened fire. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.
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The condition of those two people was not immediately known. Amnesty International has said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.
While we continue to investigate the killings, Amnesty International wishes to remind the authorities that under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury.
In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki, an upmarket district where the toll gate has been the site of daily protests in Lagos, Africa’s biggest city.
Lagos State Goveror Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the “unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki.”
This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger.
“As the Governor of our state, I recognize the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilize all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” said Sanwo-Olu, adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.
The Lagos state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said began at about 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).
A Nigerian army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Monumental tasks lie ahead for Nigeria’s next president
Monumental tasks lie ahead for Nigeria’s next president
Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot.
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Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot. Ogunsanya, who said lights went out shortly before the soldiers arrived, also said he saw soldiers remove bodies.
Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.
Video verified by Reuters showed men walking slowly in formation toward demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sounds of gunfire.
A Reuters witness heard sirens and gunfire.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday held scheduled talks with the defense minister and the chief of defense staff around 6:15 p.m. (1715 GMT) to discuss national security, two presidency officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A spokesman for the president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Nigerian army was due to begin a two-month national exercise on Tuesday. When the move was announced on Saturday, it denied the move was part of a security response to the demonstrations. Days earlier, the military said it was prepared to help maintain law and order.
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Fiery aftermath of pipeline explosion in Nigeria
Fiery aftermath of pipeline explosion in Nigeria
The weeks-long protests were sparked by a video that began circulating in early October purportedly showing SARS officers shooting a man in southern Delta state. Police denied the shooting.
Authorities on Tuesday imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Lagos as the state governor said protests had turned violent.
It is one of five of Nigeria’s 36 states to have announced such measures in the last two days. The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces nationwide following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said.
(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George in Lagos, and Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Nneka Chile in Lagos and Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Editing by Grant McCool and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Dozens of protesters staged a “die-in” protest in central London on Sunday against police brutality and racism against Black people.
People were lying on the street and blocking traffic.
Protest organiser Ken Hinds said the demonstration was to highlight racial injustice in the UK and to denounce upcoming government spending on prisons.
“What kind of society are we if we can project that we need so much prison spaces? Why can’t we turn that into university spaces by investing in communities so we can get ahead of that predicted curve?” he asked.
The “Million People March” was held in lieu of the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which will air online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street fair, tracing its roots to the late 1950s.
Organisers said the protest is more important than ever amid the worldwide campaign for justice after Black man George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
Thousands of people have gathered to commemorate the historic 1963 civil rights March on Washington, channelling those who took part back then to demonstrate police brutality against black Americans.
The rally saw dozens speak passionately about ongoing violence against black citizens in the US at the hands of white people or law enforcement, most recently highlighted by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Mr Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, was among those who addressed the crowds on Friday, telling those in attendance that his own dad was at the original March on Washington.
“I truly did not want to come see you all here today for these reasons,” he said, adding: “But I have a duty.”
Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and family members of other victims who have died or been left injured by police violence also spoke at the event.
It was dubbed the Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks.
The gathering took place 57 years since Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech in the same location and five days after Mr Blake, 29, was shot repeatedly by police officers in the city of Kenosha – in front of his children.
Mr Floyd, Ms Taylor, Mr Brooks and Mr Garner were all killed by US police officers, while Mr Arbery and Mr Martin were both killed by white men who pursued them with guns.
The protesters who took part in the rally stood in queues that stretched for several streets as organisers insisted on taking temperatures as part of coronavirus restrictions.
They were seen wearing masks and also sitting in socially-distant chairs, which had been laid out.
Speaking at the rally, Mr King III said: “Today we commemorate the march on jobs and freedom in 1963 where my father declared his dream.
“But we must never forget the America nightmare of racist violence exemplified when Emmett Till was murdered on this day in 1955, and the criminal justice system failed to convict his killers.
“Sixty-five years later, we still struggle for justice. Demilitarising the police, dismantling mass incarceration – and declaring and determinedly as we can, that black lives matter.”
Later on, Rev Sharpton told the crowd during his impassioned speech: “You act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back. You act like it’s no trouble to put a choke-hold on us while we scream ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times.
“You act like it’s no trouble to hold a man down on the ground until you squeeze the life out of him.
“It’s time for a new conversation.”
He added: “Some say to me, ‘Reverend Al, y’all ought to denounce those that get violent, those that are looting?’ All of the families have denounced the looting. What we haven’t heard, is you denouncing shooting.
“We will speak against the looting, but when will you speak against wrong police shooting?”
Rev Sharpton has called for those in other states to march on their US senators’ offices and demand their support of federal policing reforms.
In June, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, which would ban police use of stranglehold manoeuvres and end qualified immunity for officers, among other reforms.
A former Nova Scotia pastor on the frontline of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States is urging Nova Scotians to keep fighting anti-Black racism because he doesn’t want to see “a George Floyd on the streets of Halifax.”
Rev. Darryl Gray is one of the leaders of Expect Us, an anti-racism activist group in St. Louis, Mo., that’s marching in the wake of police shootings of Black people, most recently Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times, in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
“Don’t think that just because you’re thousands of miles away that you’re insulated because Halifax, you’re not. Deal with it now,” Gray said in an interview with CBC Nova Scotia News at Six on Thursday.
Gray has a rallying call for Nova Scotians, in particular young people in the Halifax area: “Continue to fight the good fight, but do it non violently. Violence has no place in this movement.”
In late June, Gray found himself in a potentially dangerous situation when a BLM march he was leading passed the home of a white couple who pointed guns at them. The couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, have been charged with a weapons offence.
Gray maintained calm and steered the 300 protesters away from the couple. The McCloskeys were included in the lineup of speakers at the Republican National Convention this week.
In the early 1990s, Gray preached at St. Thomas Baptist church in North Preston, and also led civil rights marches in Halifax. He still follows the news in Canada, has three daughters in Montreal and one in North Preston.
Gray said “fear among white males that things are changing” in the U.S. and Canada is what’s causing the pushback against BLM.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
But the details already on public view were enough to prompt Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to say the seven shots fired pierced “the soul of our nation”.
His call for “an immediate, full and transparent investigation” came easily to him.
From the president, it didn’t come at all.
This at a time when the Trump narrative shaped by his Democratic opponents is around a lack of character, empathy and ability to lead.
Systemic racism is an issue threaded through this election campaign – and the president’s silence on Wisconsin will be deafening for a large constituency in America.
No one needs a rush to judgement, but acknowledgement would convey, at least, some sense of commitment to address the incident and its implications.
In an unfortunate juxtaposition, one of the headline contributions on the first night of the Republican convention was from the McCloskeys of St Louis.
They are the couple who waved weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters who marched past the McCloskey’s Missouri mansion in June.
Their appearance at the convention was an accident of scheduling, albeit an accident waiting to happen.
As the human embodiment of the president’s capital letter “LAW AND ORDER” twitter posts, they won’t have been a pretty sight to many Americans, not now.
But Donald Trump might consider that his government isn’t for the many, but for the many others.
The Republican base is his audience-in-chief, and his challenge is to retain the voters at its core and reclaim those straying at its edges.
Donald Trump needs a performance.
Consistently trailing in the opinion polls, his convention began off the back, not only of events in Wisconsin, but of a bruising week that saw the personal ratings of Joe Biden rise after a Democrat convention that clobbered Trump on character and credentials to lead.
There was the arrest of former adviser Steve Bannon and then, at the weekend, news emerged that his older sister Maryanne, a retired judge, called him cruel and without principles in a secretly recorded conversation.
The bad news rolled into convention day one, as the president stepped on stage to accept his party’s renomination during the opening event – the New York attorney general was revealing a new investigation into financial dealings at the Trump Organisation.
No matter, he had a crowd.
“Four more years,” they chanted, as a fist-pumping president lapped up the rare luxury of a live audience.
For a politician who feeds off a crowd, the party preserved the renomination segment as a live event at the venue in Charlotte, North Carolina, with space for a few hundred delegates.
He had promised an upbeat, optimistic week, but went straight to grievance in an opening 50-minute salvo targeting mail-in voting at the 3 November election.
Once again, without evidence, he claimed it would lead to the “greatest scam in the history of politics”.
Republicans are pinning their hopes on this week being a pivot in a campaign that hasn’t yet cut through to the extent they need.
Donald Trump has cast himself centre-stage. Not for him the notion of being dripped, sparingly, into the content – this president will speak every night, touching up his self-portrait as a custodian of the American dream.
The sense of a one-man show has only been reinforced by the Republican Party’s decision to abandon the traditional process of laying out a new policy platform on which candidates will run.
Rather, it has issued a statement that it will “reassert the party’s strong support for President Donald Trump and his administration”.
A president and party reaching out to its base and beyond will use this week to define its Democratic challenger as a hostage to the far left, who would deliver anarchy and chaos.
It will hammer the issues it believes can reinforce the core vote and claw back wavering Republicans – immigration, rebuilding the economy and in mounting a rearguard defence of its performance on the coronavirus pandemic.
There will be a wide spread of contributors, but not as famous as the collection of famous faces gathered by the Democrats last week.
The Republican event is less household name, more household Trump.
Across the four nights, we’ll hear from Donald Jr, Melania, Eric, Tiffany, Ivanka and Lara Trump.
The president will deliver his closing address from the grounds of the White House and the party has been given permission to launch fireworks over the Washington memorial after he’s finished speaking.
It’s the made-for-TV ending of a convention fortnight that coronavirus has forced onto the small screen in a Donald vs Joe reality show – a contest in which we all have a stake.
Increasing video evidence hasn’t stopped police brutality, but it’s getting much harder to ignore.
The principles which many police forces and individual officers bring to their work are being laid bare, in graphic moving imagery. It isn’t pretty. What is apparent to all who are willing to see is what the minority victims of policy brutality have been telling us for, well, ever.
I wrote last week about a seemingly strange phenomenon, clearly observable in the Surry Hills incident when a NSW police officer was filmed violently taking down an Indigenous teenager who had given him some (inexcusable) lip. What struck me was the officer’s unconcern about the fact that he was being recorded, leading to the conclusion that he must not have been worried at all about facing consequences for his actions.
The same thing is being noticed around the world, especially in America. It has been remarked that Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was very comfortable being filmed for the whole eight minutes and 46 seconds spent pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck, as were the three other officers who stood by watching.
That incident was examined in detail by the MIT Technology Review last week, and it made an interesting point: our instinctive assumption — that the stark obviousness of the video evidence of such an atrocity will result in both consequences and meaningful change — has no basis in fact.
This, when you think about it, is undeniably right. In March 1991, a group of Los Angeles police officers were filmed pulling Rodney King, an African-American man they had stopped for drink-driving, out of his car and beating him nearly to death. The internal Los Angeles Police Department review concluded he had been struck at least 53 times by batons, and he had been tasered as well.
Four officers were charged with police brutality and all were acquitted, causing the 1992 LA riots. The video is sickening; it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to do what those men did to another human, and impossible to accept that they acted within the law. But that was 29 years ago.
As we know, 437 Indigenous Australians have died in custody during the same period, yet no one has been convicted. In many cases, there is video evidence of what happened; most notoriously, in the case of David Dungay. There is no evidence, however, that anything has changed.
As the MIT article points out, the emergent ubiquity of video evidence has not made any appreciable difference to the incidence of police brutality. That is equally clear with respect to deaths in custody here.
The reason posited is that information and power are two completely different things. It is all well and good to be able to prove what happened, but it doesn’t matter if the power structures don’t care.
There is, as it turns out, no reason to expect that the existence of evidence of atrocities will on its own reduce the likelihood of their occurrence (or recurrence). It’s not the fact of being immortalised that deters the perpetrators. In a sense that is not surprising, because acts of racist violence are expressions of hatred and distorted pride.
That is not to say that the evidence will not have an effect. It will not enlighten the minds of those who commit racist acts. They already know that their behaviour stands outside the bounds of ordinary human decency, and they are fine with that.
It’s never been up for debate whether it’s appropriate that police should treat people of colour more harshly or violently because of their colour. It’s always been, in polite society, wrong. But society tolerates multiple layers of indecency, all the time. We allow the justice system to brutalise Aboriginal people in ways that we would not tolerate for one second for anyone else.
Within that system, the brutalisers learn that they are protected by that wilfully blind complicity.
However. The sheer preponderance of video is smacking our consciousness in the face, and it’s getting very hard to ignore. The evidence of discriminatory violence is piling up. This pricks us to discomfort with what is being done for our sake by the people we put in uniform. As is happening more often with war crimes, we’re starting to say about police conduct that it is not acceptable in terms of ordinary human decency.
The trick is forcing the power structure to take notice. It is fascinating that, in the US at least, there is a serious conversation beginning about defunding, disarming and even disbanding police forces. This reflects the growing divide between the police culture’s perception of itself and the community’s perception of its actual social value.
Ultimately, as with all institutions, the authority of the police is an article of faith. They may well not change, and all the videos in the world can’t make them. But the evidence, which we cannot unsee, is forcing itself between the police and the policed and undermining the basic assumption of legitimacy that is the sole foundation of their power.
How can we stop police brutality? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say section.
Police have a racism problem, and social media is helping expose that.
Social media has exposed what many people of colour have known for years: the police force has a racism problem, with some officers far too keen to issue a beating.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become platforms for seeking justice for what’s unjust but obscured from public view. Through social media we’ve also learnt just how many officers are complicit in the brutality of their peers.
These images and videos have converted the powerlessness often felt by people of colour into action. Rather than hearsay, bystanders can now contribute evidence by live streaming police violence and showing us what police would rather be kept hidden.
The viral eight-minute video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, killing him as he said, “I can’t breathe”, has sparked three weeks of protests.
The sense of order and authority the police have come to represent was dismantled by justifiably angry protesters who lit buildings on fire, looted stores and destroyed colonist statues.
Much like the bystanders who told police, “he’s not moving” and they should check his pulse, we felt a deep sense of powerlessness witnessing Floyd’s death through our screens.
But without that video and the protests that followed, ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers could have very well gotten away with their involvement in the killing.
Floyd’s death was sadly reminiscent of the police killing of Eric Garner in 2014. Footage filmed by a bystander showed the 43-year-old father being wrestled to the ground in a chokehold by a police officer before turning limp. Like Floyd, he said, “I can’t breathe”.
After a grand jury failed to indict the officer, protests erupted in New York, again thanks to the power of the image — and social media.
The brutal bashing of Rodney King in 1991 might have been the first viral video of police brutality. In the video, more than 20 officers responded to alleged speeding. Ten of those officers stood around and watched King get beaten with batons and kicked on the ground. What followed was riots across Los Angeles.
Australia isn’t immune to systemic racism in the police force — you just have to look at the fact there have been 437 Indigenous deaths in custody since 1991 and not a single conviction.
Footage of a police officer kicking an Aboriginal teenager’s legs out from under him, making him fall face first, caused outrage as thousands marched in the country’s Black Lives Matter protests over the long weekend.
And forever seared into the Australian memory are those images of Dylan Voller in Don Dale Detention Centre strapped to a chair, with a bag over his head. They sparked global outrage and prompted a royal commission.
Social media is a crucial tool to expose injustice but these images also prompt the question: what goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling?
The brother of George Floyd made an emotional appearance before the US Congress on Wednesday, appealing to lawmakers to ensure that his brother didn’t die in vain.
Philonise Floyd told the House Judiciary Committee he wanted justice for his late brother, and asked Democrats and Republicans on “to make your names mean something”.
The House of Representatives is considering a package of reforms that would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents, and ban police choke holds, among other changes.
Floyd told a silenced hearing room that he was there to ask Congress to “stop the pain” and make sure his brother is “more than another face on a T-shirt” and a name on a growing list of black men killed by police.
“I love my brother. He’s still here in spirit right now. And we need justice and we demand justice,” Floyd said.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family, told reporters on Capitol Hill that Floyd’s death offered the “best opportunity” he had seen to “get real change, systematic reform to affect how police treat people of color, especially black people”.
Philonise Floyd’s appearance came a day after funeral services for his brother, the 46-year-old Minnesota man whose death has become a worldwide symbol in demonstrations over calls for changes to police practices and an end to racial inequality and injustice.
Four police officers have been charged, one with second-degree murder, following George Floyd’s death on May 25 on a Minneapolis street.
Video of the scene went viral after a white policeman knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest.
His brother told Congress that watching the video “felt like eight hours and 46 minutes”. “I just think about that video over and over again,” Philonise Floyd said. “My family, they just cry, and cry every day.”