Veterans Affairs official hung portrait of Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard in his office

Painting of Nathan Bedford Forrest hanging in VA Officer's office, obtained by ABC News

ABC NEWS — A senior official at the Veterans Affairs Department hung a painting of the first Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and Confederate general in his office but removed it after some employees circulated a petition to force him to take it down.

David Thomas, a deputy director in the VA office that verifies small businesses for government contracts, never directly received complaints from his coworkers about the painting, a spokesman for the federal agency said Wednesday.

The portrait depicts Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general turned inaugural KKK leader, posing on the back of a horse. The words “No Surrender” and the date 1862 are written on a title card below the painting.

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Florida governor’s debate gets heated: ‘The racists believe he’s a racist’

ABC NEWS —  A topic now engrained in the dynamics of the Florida gubernatorial debate, both candidates had a lot to say when it came to the controversies regarding racism.

Republican Ron DeSantis was asked about his affiliations with political donors and figures who have at various points made questionably racist remarks, including a donor who once called President Obama the N-word and his own use of the phrase “monkey this up” when referring to Democrat Andrew Gillum, his African-American opponent.

DeSantis got very testy on the topic, at one point saying he can’t know everything his supporters or people he is affiliated with could have said at one time or another. He instead said he would represent all Floridians, regardless of race, but would not participate in political correctness.

Gillum responded saying “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

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Louisiana might finally get rid of its racist jury system

Louisiana State Penitentiary

SLATE — On Nov. 6, Louisiana voters will decide the fate of a Jim Crow–era law that allows juries to convict people on felony charges with only 10 of 12 jurors agreeing on a guilty verdict. Roughly 2,000 inmates are currently serving life sentences as a result of nonunanimous verdicts in Louisiana.

The split-jury rule was adopted in 1898 in response to the equal protection rights awarded to black citizens by the 14th Amendment. To minimize the influence of black jurors, lawmakers made the change. At the constitutional convention where the law was instituted, its proponents made their motivation abundantly clear—white supremacy.

“Our mission was, in the first place, to establish the supremacy of the white race in this state to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done,” reads an excerpt from the convention’s Official Journal of Proceedings.

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Black families are denied victim compensation more often than white families

Handing over a check

REVEAL NEWS – Every state has a crime victim compensation fund to reimburse people for the financial wallop that can come with being a victim.

Florida is one of seven states that bar people with a criminal record from receiving victim compensation.

The laws are meant to keep limited funds from going to people who are deemed undeserving. But the rules have had a broader effect: An analysis of records in two of those states — Florida and Ohio — shows that the bans fall hardest on black victims and their families.

Administrators of the funds do not set out to discriminate. They must follow state law directing who can receive compensation. But critics call the imbalance a little-known consequence of a criminal justice system that is not race-blind.

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John Legend wants Louisiana to remove ‘white supremacy’ from its constitution

CNN reports, that as part of his continued work in criminal justice reform, John Legend is calling on Louisiana to change its constitution.

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post Tuesday headlined “It’s time for Louisiana to strip white supremacy from its constitution,” the singer writes about the state’s continued acceptance of non-unanimous jury decisions, which he calls “a 120-year-old measure put in place to suppress the rights of African Americans.”

Never Stop Fighting for Justice

Police shooting at targets

Once again, another unarmed Black man was shot and killed by the police. His crime? Running away. As articulated by The Washington Post:

“A Pennsylvania police officer’s fatal shooting of a 17-year-old who police said had fled a car that the officer had pulled over Tuesday night in East Pittsburgh is drawing wide outcry, as video circulated showing the teenager gunned down as he appeared to run with his back to the officer.”

As I watched the video, it reminded me of a hunter killing his prey. Although you are not supposed to run from the police, doing so should not result in your demise. Blacks oftentimes run from the police because we are scared, terrified for our lives. Historically, the police have not been there to protect and serve our communities, but rather to control. Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the tragic events that happened in East Pittsburgh. The sad reality is that Black lives appear not to matter. This is evidenced by the routine killing of unarmed persons of color.

What will it take for it to stop? We need to demand accountability and transparency in all facets of our criminal justice system. Contact your legislators, volunteer in your community, and spread the word about your efforts to effectuate change. Above all, never stop fighting for justice. ​​

Melanie Bates is a former NBL member and a contributor to NBL News.

University research reveals flagrant racism in STEM fields

Racism highlighted in the dictionary

KCCI CBS 8 reports new findings from a six-year study conducted at Iowa State University finds that racism is rampant for Black men in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields. Black men face obstacles in areas of higher education because of inequalities and a lack of support from advisers and peers, according to the findings. But the study also shows that Black males students are riding out the storm, despite the extra challenge. Read the full story from KCCI CBS 8.

Video: The racist roots behind the death penalty

death row“The death penalty in the South has roots in lynching,” says University of Virginia law professor and author Brandon Garrett. In a video interview at Salon, Garrett says “there’s a long, ugly history of racial bias in the American death penalty.” Garrett’s latest book is “End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice.” In it, Garrett explains what led to the decline of the death penalty, and how reforms could one day bring it to an end. Read more in this article at Salon.

Law school doesn’t teach engaging with racists

racial justiceLaw school students may sometimes have to defend positions they don’t necessarily agree with. However, a group of Yale law students is disagreeing with the argument that they should have to defend racist points of view. The students are taking issue with a recent opinion piece in Time magazine by a Yale Law School dean. Read more about the story at The Nation.

BMW charged with racism, sexism in EEOC complaint

racial justiceA temporary worker is accusing the BMW division of Mini of racism and sexism in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Michelle Savoy also says the company retaliated against her when she asked about being moved from temporary status to permanent. Ms. Savoy worked as a temp at Mini for ten years. More on the story is available at Automotive News.