NC CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS HAIL
AHMAUD ARBERY VERDICT
By Cash Michaels
In February 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia, a 25-year-old African-American man named Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death after being confronted while jogging through a predominately white neighborhood by Gregory and Travis McMichael. The encounter was videotaped by a third white man, William Bryan, who helped to chase Arbery down before his death. Over two months later, the three men were arrested and charged with murder. They claimed they were protecting their neighborhood from a suspected criminal, but last week, a predominately white Georgia jury didn’t buy that, and all three were convicted of murder.
Now all three await a federal trial in February amid federal hate crime charges.
Two North Carolina perspectives on the Ahmaud Arbery verdict in Georgia last week from two veteran civil rights leaders who agree that though monumental, the jury decision of eleven whites and one African -American could have just as easily gone the other way, because racism in America is nowhere near dead
First, a legal perspective from Law Professor Irving Joyner of the North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, who maintains that the prosecution did an excellent job of presenting evidence that Arbery’s senseless murder was unwarranted because he posed no threat nor committed any crime:
The irony in this case is that the most compelling evidence against these defendants was the presence of a video tape of the killing which was recorded by Defendant Bryan and was arrogantly circulated by him or intentionally leaked to the public by someone who received it. Without this video, it is highly unlikely that this prosecution would have occurred or been successful. The recording of this incident was brazen and its circulation to others evidenced the highest level of racial arrogance.
From the community perspective, it is clear that African Americans still need to be vigilant, watchful and concerned about the environments in which we choose to engage in public activities. These verdicts are encouraging, but do not isolate any person of color from the very real potential harm and danger which continue to lurk around us in the real world. It is critical that we remember that these three defendants almost got away with these crimes. It took 74 days before these charges were lodged against these defendants and those charges only resulted after the public posting of the “leaked” video which was recorded by one of them. Along the way, law enforcement officials and prosecutors refused to arrest and charge them for the crimes which they committed. As such, “jogging while Black” remains as a dangerous activity.
The second NC civil rights perspective is from former NC NAACP President Bishop William Barber, currently cochair of the National Poor People’s Campaign, and president of Repairers of the Breach. Bishop Barber was interviewed on CNN shortly after the verdict was reached:
It’s a good and powerful day for justice. Three vicious killers convicted for killing an unarmed young black man for running in the wrong place, according to them, but it's a sad and ridiculous day that we even had to have a trial like this, that a person would be shot down in this way, that a life would be wasted in this way, that Ahmaud can't be with his family.
It's a sad day that we had to hear the mother even today say I never thought this day would come, that she didn't even think justice was possible, and it's a complicated day. It's a complicated day because we had to go through a lot… to get here. It's not as though this case went straight to trial. it's a complicated day because the mother and the father had to fight vigilantly to get the case to even be heard in the first place, and it's a complicated day because we have to ask questions like what if the killers had not videoed themselves, and we look at America, now the cases that are successful, George Floyd and this case, are all cases where there has been video. What if there weren't video, what lies would the defense have told if there wasn't video?
What does this say about us the only time you can get the justice you ought to have is when there's a video, and in this case if the killers had not been so arrogant in their racism, and the lawyers had not been so arrogant, we can't imagine? It's a good day, a sad and ridiculous day, and a complicated day in America, and it's far from over in terms of us dealing with racial justice and violence.
Bishop Barber also praised the strength of Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, who fought valiantly against at least three prosecutors who initially wanted to bury the case:
Wanda Cooper prayed the initial prosecutor out of the way. Now, I think that prayer is very powerful, and that's important, however, that shouldn't be your only line of defense, and it sounds like for Wanda Cooper, for a long time, it was. You know, she's standing in a serious tradition. Sojourner Truth said “I pray and I stand in the truth, I have no fear because the truth is all powerful. A lot of people …., myself, even, we weren't there. she fought a lot of this by herself. She kept pushing. she prayed with her feet and with her soul.”
NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS IMPACT
OF COVID-19 ON POOR COMMUNITIES
By Cash Michaels
With disturbing reports increasing everyday about a new, more contagious Omicron coronavirus sweeping the globe, and Pres. Biden cautioning Americans to be on-guard to protect themselves against another opportunistic, more aggressive virus, a new report on the impact of previous COVID-19 infectious diseases on low income communities is gaining attention.
The report from the North Carolina Community Action Association titled “Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Low Income Households and Communities in North Carolina” (https://s39337.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Assessing-the-Impact-of-COVID-19.pdf) gives a stunning review of just how affected the poor are in the midst of the pandemic, and gives warning to how worse it can be amid the new Omicron pandemic.
The August 2021 report is issued by acclaimed demographer, Dr. Jim Johnson, Jr., the Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the UNC Kenan-Flagler School at UNC - Chapel Hill, and a research team.
The illuminating report found the following:
1 - The toll in terms of COVID-19 disease contractions and death were disproportionate for North Carolina poor communities.
2- Poor families were forced to make tough choices between maintaining employment amid the pandemic, and personal safety.
3- The requirement of poor families to rely on remote learning shed light on the need for greater broadband access in low wealth communities.
4- The level of stress among families and individuals in poor communities undeniably increased during the pandemic.
5- The demands on government social safety net programs increased during the pandemic, but may times those programs came up short.
6- Poor families and individuals were forced operate outside the box when it come surviving the pandemic.
7- Nonprofit groups did their best to help poor families in their pandemic survival efforts.
8 - Despite highly-touted warnings about the need for COVID-19 vaccine compliance, many poor families and individuals, some out of fear, did not.
Scientists across the world are still studying the new Omicron variant, and more definitive information is expected by next week, but this much is known:
1 - Initial symptoms, based on South African studies where it was first discovered, are “extremely mild,” though the eventual damage to the body still is not known.
Those symptoms include fatigue, body aches and pains, and a headache along with a scratchy throat. However, thus far, there has been no loss of taste or smell, as with Alpha and Delta coronavirus patients.
2- The disease is cultivated mostly among the unvaccinated, and spread rapidly.
3- it is not known definitively whether the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines fully protect against the Omicron variant, but doctors say it is still better to have gotten them - plus the booster - than have not, to assure some semblance of viral protection.
The World Health Organization calls Omicron “a variant of concern” because there is a lot about researchers still don’t know. Doctors recommend still wearing your mask, especially inside, and washing your hands.
And please get vaccinated, if you haven’t already.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR DEC. 2
NCDHHS SEC. MANDY COHEN ANNOUNCES SHE IS LEAVING JOB
[RALEIGH] Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, has announced that she is her post effective Dec. 31st. Gov. Roy Cooper has chosen Chief Deputy Sec. Kody Kinsley to replace Dr. Cohen as of January 1st. 2022. Cohen has been NCDHHS Sec. for five years, and is best known for leading the state’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic across the state. “Mandy Cohen has shown extraordinary leadership during her tenure and she has worked every day during this pandemic to help keep North Carolinians healthy and safe,” said Gov. Cooper in a press release.
LT. GOV. ROBINSON CONFRONTS DEMOCRATIC SENATOR AFTER SHE DENOUNCES “VERY HATEFUL STATEMENTS”
[RALEIGH] Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson made clear Monday night that he would not tolerate anyone calling him out on his alleged “hate speech” against members of the LGBTQ community when he openly confronted a Democratic senator outside of the state Senate chambers after she made a speech denouncing recent disparaging remarks made by Robinson. Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-Buncombe) didn’t call Robinson out by name, but she said enough for him to feel slighted, and angrily confront her outside the Senate chamber. Robinson has made it known that he is seriously considering a 2024 run for governor.
CHARLOTTE MAYOR VI LYLES ANNOUNCED 2022 REELECTION BID
[CHARLOTTE] As part of her Thanksgiving holiday message, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced in a 30-second video that she is running for third term in 2022. Lyles, a moderate Democrat, is the first Black woman ever elected mayor of the Queen City.