At Pride celebrations, protesters chant ‘No Justice, No Pride’

(CNN)At Pride celebrations across the United States on Sunday, a protest movement that aims to draw attention to the struggles of marginalized people within the LGBTQ community made itself heard.

Activists carrying signs declaring “No Justice No Pride” and “Black Lives Matter” appeared in New York, Minneapolis and Seattle, among other major cities. In some they were welcomed and invited to speak; in others, the activists interrupted parades and clashed with police, leading to an unconfirmed number of arrests.
The protests disrupted pride events earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC. Their causes varied — police shootings, violence against transgender women of color, mass deportations, corporate sponsorship of Pride — but organizer Angela Peoples said members of the grassroots movement were united by concerns of the “whitewashing” of the LGBTQ community.
    “There’s a broad concern among LGBTQ folks, especially people of color, that this movement that claims victory around marriage equality has very much left behind those of us who still experience marginalization,” Peoples said.
    Law enforcement’s participation in Pride parades embodies the disconnect, she said, pointing to the arrests of protesters last weekend in Columbus. So does the involvement of corporate sponsors that benefit from mass incarceration and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, she said.
    “This is a true grassroots movement where people are aligning under the notion that there’s no equality and pride for some of us without reparations for all of us,” she said.
    In Minneapolis, protesters waving “Black Lives Matter signs” marched behind a large banner that read “Justice for Philando” in honor of Philando Castile, who was shot to death in a traffic stop. A jury acquitted the officer who killed him earlier this month.
    Protesters blocked the parade route and delayed its start by more than an hour as they called for police to be excludedfrom Pride events.
    Activists in Seattle halted the parade by blocking the road in honor of Charleena Lyle, a 30-year-old woman whom police said they shot and killed because she refused commands to drop a knife.
    In New York, police said 12 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They were detained outside the historic Stonewall Inn as they carried signs that read “No Cops, No Banks.”
    NYC Pride organizers said they have a policy against restricting groups from participating. They said they decided to “authorize” the arrests so the march could proceed after the activists had demonstrated for 10 minutes.
    “There were some 40,000 marchers behind them who needed to have their message (heard) as well,” NYC Pride spokesperson James Fallarino said. “We believe strongly that it’s a free speech event. That has worked on both ends of the spectrum. We have always held the line that any group interested in our march can participate.”
    Fallarino said it was impossible to run an event of Pride’s size without police presence. Parade organizers recognize that police violence is a “major issue” in the United States, he said. They’re trying to address it through a “good working relationship” with the NYPD.
    “As you probably know, this march started after a police raid at Stonewall Inn. We’ve come a long way since then.”
    Indeed, Pride originated 48 years ago in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall riots, a series of uprisings by women of color from the LGBTQ community over the Inn’s raid.
    The significance of Pride’s origins makes it the ideal staging ground for today’s protests within the LGBTQ community, Peoples said. But they will continue after Pride ends.
    “If you truly honor the history of Pride as well as the crisis we’re in, then you will recognize the need for disruption to bring attention to issues of marginalized people,” she said. “This is not a one-off movement.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/25/us/no-justice-no-pride-protests/index.html

    Controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke faces protests Monday

    (CNN)Thousands are expected to take to the streets of Wisconsin on Monday to demand that the governor remove controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a tough-talking firebrand who wants to use his deputies and correction officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

    Among other concerns, organizers of the march in Milwaukee are critical of Clarke’s desire to join the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which essentially deputizes local law enforcement agencies to operate as federal immigration agents.
    The Department of Homeland Security wants to expand the government’s ability to empower state and local law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers.
      “Sheriff Clarke, right off the bat, really waved the flag to say we’re going to bring it to Milwaukee County,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, the immigrant rights group organizing the statewide march, said Sunday of the 287(g) program.
      “It basically legalizes racial profiling because you can be stopped and questioned and put in detention based on how you look,” she said.
      Neumann-Ortiz called Milwaukee the “national epicenter” of the fight against 287(g) because of the level of resistance to Clarke’s plan to bring the program to the community, and because of his notoriety nationwide. A February march in opposition to Clarke’s push to join the federal program drew thousands.
      Clarke, a surrogate for President Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, is being considered for the position of assistant secretary of the DHS’ Office of Partnership and Engagement, Politico reported.
      Organizers of the Wisconsin “Day without Latinxs, Immigrants and Refugees” are also critical of Clarke’s management of the Milwaukee County Jail, where local prosecutors say inmate Terrill Thomas, 38, didn’t have access to water for a week and died of dehydration in his cell in April 2016. Three other people, including a newborn baby, have died in the Milwaukee County Jail since last April. The deaths are under investigation.
      “Part of what we believe needs to be exposed his disgusting record of human rights abuses,” Neumann-Ortiz said.
      Clarke’s spokesman could not be reached on Sunday nor could a spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker.
      The Wisconsin march coincides with a nationwide Day without Immigrants that falls on May Day, which recognizes the contributions of workers. Activistsare demanding economic and racial justice and rights for workers and immigrants. Marches are planned in other cities.
      In Wisconsin, more than 140 mostly Latino-owned business are expected to close, including about 100 in Milwaukee alone, organizers said.
      Jorge Huerta, 36, a Mexican-American owns Solos Automotive, one of the Milwaukee businesses that plans to close. He said he wants to support the Hispanic community, and he hopes to be an example to other immigrants.
      “I was illegal when I came here. I’m a business owner,” said Huerta, who became a citizen through marriage in 2001. “America is just a great country ….There is nothing that can hold us back as long as we do the right thing and speak the language and educate yourself.”
      Buses are scheduled to leave from 12 cities throughout the state and converge on Milwaukee. The march will end at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
      Organizers say “tens of thousands” are expected to strike and withdraw their children from schools.
      Neumann-Ortiz said the organizers are also advocating for restoring driver’s license to undocumented immigrants who don’t have social security cards. Currently, the federal REAL ID Act forces states and territories to demand more proof and identity before issuing state IDs, including driver’s licenses.

      Who is Sheriff David Clarke?

      Clarke, who is African-American, is known for his unapologetic, blunt commentary, particularly on the subject of crime. He made news during the presidential campaign for his opposition to Black Lives Matter activists, whom he said would join forces with ISIS.
      In a heated interview last summer with CNN’s Don Lemon, Clarke said he had predicted the police shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others.
      “I’ve been watching this for two years. I’ve predicted this,” Clarke said. “This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer.”
      He called the Black Lives Matter Movement “purveyors of hate,” and blamed it for inspiring violent crimes against law enforcement.
      When pressed, the sheriff didn’t offer any specifics to support his claims.

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      Clarke was elected in November 2002 to his first four-year term and is currently serving his fourth term, according the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office.
      He is up for re-election in 2018.
      In a letter to Thomas D. Homan, acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Clarke expressed his desire to be part of the 287(g) program.
      According to a recent DHS memo, eight new additions to the 287(g) program were approved to move forward last month, and up to 68 more agencies may follow based on interest.
      The 287(g) program has seen its share of controversy.
      In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a class action lawsuit against then-Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio over the immigration raids his department conducted under the 287(g) agreement. The suit alleged that Arpaio abused his power.
      The Justice Department later found that Arpaio’s deputies has “engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminated against Latinos,” according to a December 2011 letter of finding by the department.
      Arpaio was later found to be in criminal contempt after he and three members of his office continued to detain people they believed to be in thecountry illegally after a federal judge ordered them to stop.
      Arpaio, who founded Tent City, the infamous outdoor jail in Arizona where inmates wore pink underwear and shuffled around in chain gangs, was voted out of office in 2016. Last month, officials said the jail would close.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/30/us/milwaukee-protest-against-sheriff-david-clarke/index.html

      From Syria to Black Lives Matter: 3 ways WWI still shapes America

      (CNN)He stood 5-foot-4 and weighed 130 pounds. An angular, baby-smooth face made him look even less intimidating. Henry Johnson was at first just another railroad porter who toted luggage and smiled for tips.

      Johnson was a US sergeant standing sentry one night in a French forest when a German raiding party attacked. The swarming Germans shot Johnson in his lip, head and side. Yet Johnson kept shooting back. When his rifle jammed, he grabbed it by the barrel and clubbed more Germans. Then he used the bolo knife to stab and disembowel another enemy soldier. He kept throwing grenades until he fainted from blood loss.
      When his comrades found Johnson the next morning, they discovered he had killed four Germans and wounded about 20 more. They could still see the bloody trails of wounded Germans who had crawled into the woods to escape Johnson’s fury. Johnson had been wounded 21 times but somehow survived the hourlong battle.
        “There wasn’t anything so fine about it,” Johnson would say later when praised for his gallantry. “Just fought for my life. A rabbit would have done that.”
        Johnson’s story is featured in PBS’ “The Great War,” a stirring account of America’s entry into World War I. The three-part “American Experience” film, which begins airing Monday, devotes six hours over three nights to explaining why the nation decided to enter “the war that would end all wars” 100 years ago this month.
        Johnson’s story captures what’s distinctive about the film. He was a black soldier who faced something even more lethal than German bayonets when he returned home. He discovered an America that was also at war with itself. Some of the most ferocious battles during World War I took place not in Europe but on the streets of America — and some are still being fought today.
        What should the President do when a foreign dictator is accused of murdering women and children? Does the US welcome too many immigrants? Are corporations too powerful? Are women treated like second-class citizens? Those might seem like questions ripped from today’s headlines, yet they literally provoked riots and lynch mobs during World War I, the film shows.
        Few people today, however, know how relevant the war remains because it seems so distant, trapped forever in wobbly black-and-white silent film, historians say.
        “The First World War is the most important event that most people don’t know about,” says Dan Carlin, a historian whose “Hardcore History” podcast examines World War I. “It’s a Pandora’s box. We’re still ironing out what it unleashed.”
        Here are three battles from “The Great War” the United States is still waging:

        No. 1: Fighting the enemy among us

        They speak in funny accents and don’t care about fitting in. So many are pouring across the border that they’re threatening the American way of life. They’re not real Americans.
        That’s what many Americans thought of German-Americans during World War I.
        If you think political battles over immigration are tough today, they were vicious when America entered World War I, “The Great War” shows. A wave of hysteria aimed at German-Americans swept the nation as it struggled to assimilate what was then its largest ethnic group.
        America didn’t just declare war on Germany — it waged war on German-American culture. Newspapers warned of “German troublemakers” and “German traps.” People refused to drink German beer, and children were instructed to rip German songs out of music books. In one Ohio town, officials slaughtered all dogs belonging to German breeds.
        A German-American coal miner accused of being a spy was even attacked by a mob, stripped of his clothes and hanged from a tree, the film reveals. The Washington Post applauded the mob’s actions.
        “Big parts of the American public lost their minds about the nature of the society they live in and the threats they faced from their neighbors who happen to have German names,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy says in the film.
        It was a time of demographic panic. When World War I erupted in Europe in 1914, the United States had a population of about 100 million immigrants. Millions of other Americans had parents who were born abroad.
        Those citizens who didn’t fit the definition of a “real American” faced persecution and torture. One of the most wrenching segments in the film looks at the story of three US citizens who became conscientious objectors to the war. They were David, Michael and Joseph Hofer, otherwise known as the “Hofer brothers.”
        The three South Dakota men were members of the Hutterites, a group of Christian pacifists. Hutterite men already drew suspicion because they wore long beards and hair and spoke German.
        When the Hofer brothers were drafted, they refused to fight or wear a uniform. They were imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and brutally treated. They were denied food and water, forced to stand in freezing temperatures with scant clothing, and chained in a cell for up to nine hours a day. Two of them died. But none recanted their religious beliefs.
        “It’s really torture,” Michael Kazin, author of “War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918,” tells the film. “It has to be called that.”
        As a final indignity, the body of one of the two brothers who died was dressed in the military uniform he refused to wear when he was alive.
        Brutality wasn’t confined to the trenches of Europe. There was plenty of it in the streets of America.

        No. 2. Crushing popular dissent with patriotism

        When President Donald Trump dispatched Tomahawk missiles to an air base in Syria last week after the country’s ruler was accused of launching lethal chemical attacks, he was operating from a script first penned by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I.
        It was Wilson who said America should enter the war to make the world “safe for democracy.” The notion that America had a moral responsibility to respond militarily to atrocities abroad began during World War I, “The Great War” shows.
        “The modern version of the United States is born in this war,” says Carlin, the “Hardcore” podcast historian.
        “The Great War” also shows how the idealism of war can be used to crush populist movements.
        World War I occurred during a surge of progressive activism in the United States. The labor movement was powerful, and socialists, communists and anarchists were common figures in public life. Women were leading the anti-war effort as well as crusading for the right to vote.
        Yet much of this progressive momentum was halted by a crushing of popular dissent by the federal government, the film shows.
        During the war, Wilson signed the Espionage Act and Sedition Act, which made it illegal to say almost anything against the United States or its war effort. Criticism of the US became dangerous. American internment camps didn’t begin with the Japanese in World War II. The US government created them for political prisoners during World War I, the film shows.
        That suppression even targeted one of the most famous progressive leaders of the time, Eugune Debs. Debs was the Bernie Sanders of his day. A socialist labor organizer and presidential candidate, he was arrested in 1918 for giving an anti-war speech and sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Espionage Act.
        Wilson ultimately paid a price for his clampdown on radical and liberal groups. After the war ended, he tried to create a League of Nations that would mediate international disputes and prevent another world war from erupting. But he couldn’t get the US Senate to agree to join the League, in part because his crackdown on anti-war activity had alienated or weakened any potential progressive allies.
        Wilson would die of a stroke just six years later. He is depicted in the film as a tragic figure — idealistic but deeply racist, a gifted politician who could have seen his League of Nations succeed if he had just bent a little to his political opposition.
        “There comes a time when bitterness overtakes shrewdness, and to the end of his life he was a very bitter man,” Yale historian Jay Winter says of Wilson in the film. “I don’t know anyone who can tell me why it was that Wilson didn’t compromise. And as a result, he loses it all. He loses everything.”

        No. 3. Debating whether all lives matter

        She was born to a prosperous Quaker family in New Jersey but spent her life reviled by much of the American public. She was attacked by angry mobs and force-fed in prison after going on a hunger strike. Once, prison officials even tried to declare her insane.
        Nevertheless, Alice Paul persisted.
        One of the revelations of “The Great War” is the prominence of American women in the debate about World War I. It was a time of surging women’s activism that would culminate in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
        Paul is one of the most fascinating characters in “The Great War.” She would have fit right in with the massive Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump was inaugurated. She placed relentless pressure on Wilson by asking how America could fight for democracy abroad while denying women the right to vote at home.
        Black American soldiers fought some of the same battles to proclaim their humanity, the film points out.
        When many entered the war, they were initially kept from the fighting by being assigned to clean latrines pits and unload supplies. Some were paired with French fighting units, who treated them with more respect than their white counterparts. Some of the most moving images from the film show black soldiers smiling and bantering easily with French troops.
        That experience transformed many black soldiers. Some historians even trace the beginnings of the modern-day civil rights movement to those black soldiers who returned from World War I determined to assert their rights. In the film, Adriane Lentz-Smith, a Duke University associate professor of history, describes the metamorphosis in black soldiers who served in France:
        “Folks didn’t think about the etiquette of white supremacy any more than a fish thinks about the wetness of water. But when you step out of a system that people have told you is the only way, and then you look around and there are these people in the world working under a different set of rules, it changes people’s imagination.”
        White America, though, wasn’t ready for this New Negro. When these black soldiers returned home, many were greeted by the “Red Summer,” often described as a wave of deadly race riots that swept through at least 25 American cities in 1919.
        Calling them race riots, though, doesn’t fully capture what happened, says Lentz-Smith, author of “Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I.”
        “You say riots and people think breaking shop windows and stealing stuff,” she says. “They don’t have a sense of what white mob violence really looks like. This is going into a black community on a rampage, trying to destroy black wealth, trying to hurt or kill black people. Folks say they’re more akin to pogroms in the Jewish communities than any kind of riots we’re seeing now.”
        This is the world Sgt. Johnson returned to after his heroic exploits in France. The French army awarded him its highest medal for valor. But the US Army didn’t mention his 21 wounds in his discharge papers or give him disability pay. He returned to his job as a railway porter in Albany, New York, but his injuries made it impossible to continue.
        Johnson’s health faded as he descended into alcoholism and poverty. His wife and children left him, and he died in 1929 at age 32. His descendants believed he was buried in a pauper’s grave.
        But Johnson’s story still had a surprise or two left.
        A son, Herman, would join the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and eventually lead a campaign to commemorate his father. Politicians got involved. A monument was built in Albany to honor Johnson. And the US Army awarded him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
        But the Army’s highest decoration for valor came with a strange twist. During its research, the Army discovered that Herman Johnson wasn’t actually related to the man he thought was his father. The Army attributed Johnson’s mistake to “historical inaccuracy, not fraudulent representation.”
        Then something else happened.
        It turned out Johnson was never buried in a pauper’s grave. Someone remembered the soldier known as “Black Death.” He had been buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for famous American soldiers such as Gen. George C. Marshall, President John F. Kennedy and World War II hero Audie Murphy.
        Henry Johnson started as a railroad porter, then became the “Black Death.” Ultimately the Great War left him with one last title:
        American hero.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/09/us/3-ways-wwi-shapes-america/index.html

        Holiday bomb threats target 5 Jewish centers in US, Canada

        (CNN)At least five North American Jewish centers reported bomb threats Sunday as Jews observed the religious holiday of Purim.

        None of the threats proved real in the latest wave of intimidating acts targeting the Jewish community.
        For some centers, though, it was not their first ordeal.
          The Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center in Rochester, New York, was evacuated Sunday morning for the second time in less than a week.
          The center was hosting a “warming center” for people whose homes had lost power when the bomb threat came, Executive Director Arnie Sohinki said.
          It reopened without incident a few hours later after receiving an all-clear from law enforcement, Sohinki said. he would not provide further details, citing the police investigation.
          “We are open. We will remain open. Whoever is doing this doesn’t realize this only makes us #stronger, ” the center said in a Facebook post. “All are welcome to join us at the JCC.”

          Threats in the US and Canada

          The Rochester JCC was one of several Jewish institutions to receive a bomb threat on Sunday. The threats coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festive commemoration of the defeat of a plot to exterminate Jews in ancient Persia.
          Other locations reporting similar threats included Indianapolis Jewish Community Center in Indiana; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada; and The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All reopened a few hours later without incident.
          The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston also received a bomb threat — its second in three weeks, Executive Vice President Joel Dinkin said. The center, which received the threat via email, was not evacuated.
          The threats were the latest acts in a recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. Museums, houses of worship, advocacy groups and cemeteries have been targets of bomb threats and vandalism as federal officials work with state and local authorities to find those responsible.
          One person has been arrested in connection with a small portion of the calls. The head of police intelligence for New York City said he believes one person is responsible for most of the nationwide calls and the rest are the work of copycats. CNN was unable to confirm or corroborate his theory. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials have said they believe many of the threatening calls originated overseas.
          Sunday’s incidents bring the number of threats since January in the United States and Canada to 154, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

          FBI investigation continues

          The Louis S. Wolk JCC also received a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 7, the same day another center in Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters received threats. No devices were found at the locations and the centers reopened soon after.
          After the first bomb threat, the Rochester center had opened its doors to those who lost power in a winter storm blanketing the Northeast. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bomb threat “despicable” given the center’s service to the community.
          New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “cowardly,” especially on a holiday weekend celebrating “the resiliency of the Jewish people.”
          “Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a statement.
          Cuomo said he would direct state police to investigate the bomb threats in conjunction with federal officials. Last week, Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio increased a reward for information on hate crimes — not just bomb threats — to $20,000.
          The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division vowed to investigate possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.
          “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time,” the federal agency said.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/12/us/jcc-rochester-ny-bomb-threat/index.html