Has Trump Helped Black America in His First 100 Days?

“Today and every day of my presidency I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American…We’re going to bring this country together.”- President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has offered grand gestures, questionable policies, and a litany of promises to skeptical African Americans.

He promised to rid inner cities of crime. He promised to invest in education for black public school students and historically black colleges. He promised to rebuild boarded-up urban neighborhoods. He promised to heal a racially polarized America.

When Trump toured The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. last month, he pledged to confront racism and create a bridge of unity for what he called a “divided country.”

Related: 100 Days of Civil Rights in the Trump Administration

But 100 days into Trump’s chaotic presidency, there are few signs – at least publicly – that Trump is focused on racial healing or any of the pre-election commitments to the nation’s citizens of color.

“President Trump’s promises to African-Americans were nothing more than vapid campaign promises,” Neil Foote, a journalism professor at North Texas University and Editor of PoliticsInColor.com, told NBCBLK.

Consider Trump’s position on criminal justice: Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to stall a federal review of police departments where racial profiling, excessive use of force and racially discriminatory police practices have been exposed.

Image: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference in Washington Image: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference in Washington

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on March 2, 2017. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department began 25 investigations into police departments and sheriff’s offices and resolved civil rights lawsuits filed against police departments in more than 15 cities.

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said Sessions has a legal obligation to investigate troubled police departments.

“He can’t just cherry pick the cases he wants to investigate,” Ifill told NBCBLK.

Ifill said the Trump administration threatens progress to criminal justice reform, education, health care and a myriad of social programs that are on Trump’s chopping block.

“Our first priority is voting rights,” Ifill said. “Voting ensures that African Americans fully participate in the political process—and not just during presidential elections.”

Related: Congressional Black Caucus to Highlight Trump Admin’s Racial Problems With #StayWoke Campaign

But Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for America First, a conservative organization that supports Trump’s legislative agenda urged black folks to give Trump a chance.

Pierson said Trump will help improve the quality of life for African Americans through education, jobs, health care – and building the border wall to crack down on crime, drugs and human trafficking.

“Illegal immigration impacts the black community,” Pierson said. “When illegal immigrants settle in the United States, they don’t settle in gated communities, they settle in black communities and poor communities. You can’t have an honest discussion about illegal immigration without talking about the cost of illegal immigration, financially, socially and culturally.”

Civil rights organizations take issue with Pierson and her conservative views. They believe Trump’s policies are detrimental to the prosperity of African Americans and they are distrustful of black conservatives.

Marc Morial, president of The National Urban League, said Trump wants to cut social programs that benefit black Americans instead of making good on his campaign promise to rebuild urban communities.

“We will resist any effort to cut funding for human programs,” Morial told NBCBLK. “This is not good public policy to gut these programs and shift funding to the military. We will resist cuts to community development programs, housing programs, workforce programs. These are job killers and dream killers.”

Morial said he believes there is a great opportunity to create a bipartisan jobs initiative.

“People – blacks, whites, Latinos – are all dealing with wage stagnation and a jobs initiative could unite America,” he said. “It’s a challenge for urban America. It’s a challenge for rural America.”

This week the Congressional Black Caucus released a report, What Did Trump Do? The First 100 Days #StayWoke List, to make sure African Americans stay informed about the Trump administration policies that impact citizens of color.

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US President Donald Trump meets with the Congressional Black Caucus Executive Committee at the White House in Washington, DC, March 22, 2017. JIM WATSON / AFP – Getty Images

“In general, “stay woke” or “stay awake” means to stay focused on what is really being said and done to and around you, especially as it relates to police brutality and other elements of African-Americans’ years-long struggle to fully achieve the American Dream,” Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, said in the report.

Highlights from the CBC report pull out key budget cuts that would:

  • “… cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget by $6 billion. HUD is responsible for providing housing assistance to extremely low-income families and the homeless, and reinvesting in America’s cities and counties.”
  • “… eliminate programs that help limit children’s exposure to lead paint. According to the CDC, African-American children are three times more likely to have elevated blood-lead levels.”
  • “… eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency, which funds a nationwide network of business centers to help minority-owned business stay competitive and create jobs.”

Related: Black Women’s Roundtable Releases Annual Report

The Congressional Black Caucus has also underscored how racially polarized America has become since Trump won the White House. While Trump promises a new order for black America, hate groups have risen across the nation. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported that more than 400 incidents of harassment or intimidation against blacks, Jews, gays and Muslims occurred in the early days of Trump’s presidency.

Image: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during an event with Governors where U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on education at the White House in Washington Image: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during an event with Governors where U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on education at the White House in Washington

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during an event with Governors where President Donald Trump signed an executive order on education at the White House in Washington on April 26, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Many civil rights activists are also concerned about Trump’s attempts to roll back education initiatives designed to assist students of color.

Trump has pledged to make education a priority for black Americans but Besty DeVos, his Secretary of Education, has been criticized for her steadfast support for privatizing public schools.

Two weeks ago, DeVos further angered educators and parents by appointing Candice Jackson as the acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, as a student at Stanford University, once complained of racial discrimination because she is white. She said affirmative action promotes racial discrimination.

Critics of the Trump administration question how Jackson can objectively oversee claims of racial discrimination from African Americans and other people of color.

Tracey Winbush, the Ohio Republican Party Treasurer, said DeVos is simply trying to fix underperforming schools – many of them, she said, are located in low-income black communities. She said most African Americans are being overly critical of the president instead of trying to work with him.

“President Trump is doing his best to reach out to all people and especially African Americans,” Winbush, who is African American, told NBCBLK. “The president is making good on his campaign promise to move the African American community forward and get the black community out of its present situation.”

Winbush said too many African Americans “are hating on Trump because he’s a billionaire.”

“As an African American Republican, I don’t mind that Trump is a billionaire and his cabinet is the wealthiest cabinet in history, they know how to make money and we can learn from them,” Winbush said. “We have been taught to hate success. Trump is trying to reach out to African Americans but they don’t want to talk to him. We’re losing political clout. Are we moving forward or backward?”

Related: ‘What Do You Have to Lose?’: Trump Meets With Black Caucus

Black conservatives insist that black America is moving forward under Trump’s leadership and they are quick to remind critics that the president only took office 100 days ago.

Kelley Eubanks, Managing Partner for KEE Concrete and Construction, Inc., a woman-owned engineering, construction and construction management business, said she became a Trump supporter because she appreciates Trump’s approach to job creation, economic growth, and his focus on acknowledging the financial burdens facing small businesses.

“President Trump is bringing his business acumen to government and I’m encouraged by the Trump administration and what it means for African Americans, especially from the perspective of an African American business owner,” Eubanks told NBCBLK.

Eubanks said she is aware that her point of view is not shared by all black voters, but she still plans to support Trump’s economic agenda.

“I know there are African Americans who do not feel their voices are being heard,” Eubanks said. “The president is creating is a path for job opportunities in inner cities and that’s good for black Americans.”

Image: Ben Carson speaks to employees of the Housing and Urban Development agency Image: Ben Carson speaks to employees of the Housing and Urban Development agency

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson speaks to employees of the agency in Washington on March 6, 2017. Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Still, Trump has a serious credibility problem with many African Americans. The president has only appointed one African American to his Cabinet: Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who Trump asked to help lead the mission to revitalize urban America.

Carson has been criticized by civil rights advocates who say the former neurosurgeon is out of touch with the African American community. As an example, the CBC mentioned Carson in its report about Trump’s first 100 days.

“On March 6, in his first speech to Department of Housing and Urban Development employees, Secretary Carson called slaves “immigrants” even though they came to America involuntarily,” the CBC said.

Trump, meanwhile, recently appointed another African American to a prestigious job in his administration. Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams was selected as the nation’s next Surgeon General, but on an interim basis.

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Omarosa Manigault, White House Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. AFP/Getty Images

And Trump also asked Omarosa Manigault, the former reality television star, to join his inner circle. Manigault, one of the most high-profile African Americans in the White House, serves as a liaison between Trump and the African American community.

This week, Manigault defended Trump before a not-so-accepting black audience during the annual conference of The National Action Network, headed by Rev. Al Sharpton.

“I am looking forward to partnering with you, continuing to work on behalf of the National Action Network in Los Angeles but more importantly, the President of the United States,” Manigault said to groans from spectators.

“Oh I’m ready,” Manigault added, when the crowd grumbled after she mentioned Trump’s first 100 days. “I know what I came into and I’m not scared.”

While black conservatives said Manigualt should get credit for speaking at Sharpton’s politically liberal event, Winbush pointed to Trump’s recent White House meeting with black college presidents as an example of Trump reaching out to African Americans.

But Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. described the meeting with White House aides as “troubling.”

Related: OpEd: Trump Must Make Good on his Promises to HBCUs

Wilson and other black college presidents were hoping that Trump would set aside additional funding for historically black colleges. Instead of a substantive meeting, some said, black college presidents were lured into the Oval Office for a hastily arranged photo-op with Trump.

“Showing up and sitting at the table doesn’t always mean you get what you want,” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorofChange.org, told NBCBLK. “Every invitation isn’t necessarily an invitation that you want.”

“There is a deep threat to civil rights policies and we have to respond differently,” Robinson said. “These folks are dismantling the ideals of American democracy. We can’t wait for meetings at the White House.”

Trump, who received eight percent of the black vote during the presidential election, has tried to convince black Americans that he is a champion for their concerns. [Trump fared a bit better than Mitt Romney, who only garnered six percent of the black vote when he ran for president in 2012.]

Meanwhile, Ifill, from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said Trump is signaling that he plans to oppose progressive civil rights achievements.

“We won’t take these challenges lying down.” she said.

Follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Milbank: Trump moves in right direction with Holocaust speech

Dana Milbank is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. Email: danamilbank@washpost.com.

I’ve written a million columns critical of Donald Trump, give or take. This one is in praise.

His campaign was a toxic stew of dog whistles to white nationalists and at times overt anti-Semitism. He continued during his first weeks in office to flirt with the racist fringe; his administration excised any mention of Jews from a statement on the Holocaust; he suggested that the rise in anti-Semitic threats and violence since his election might be a false-flag campaign orchestrated by Jews; he repeatedly hesitated to disavow anti-Semitism; and his spokesman perversely claimed that the Jews Adolf Hitler gassed weren’t “his own people.”

But give him credit for this: Trump’s speech in the Capitol Rotunda this week for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Yom Hashoah remembrance ceremony was spot-on. Some highlights:

“The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people.”

“For the dead and the living we must bear witness. That is why we are here today, to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.”

“The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. … Yet even today, there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil.”

Yes, he was reading from a teleprompter a speech somebody wrote for him. His delivery was prosaic and he occasionally repeated a phrase he liked as if reading the speech for the first time, which perhaps he was. So what? At least he gave the speech.

A change of heart?

I don’t pretend to know whether Trump has changed in his heart. His campaign was so laced with bigotry toward African-Americans, Latinos and immigrants that the anti-Semitism was just one outrage. But his Holocaust speech and similar words in a video and a White House statement suggest that Trump has the capacity to adjust. And that’s welcome news.

His first 100 days have been a disaster: No health care reform, no travel ban, a passel of unmet promises, international confusion, historically low support. He has resorted to creating a fake sense of momentum with executive orders — the kind of governing he and his allies decried when President Barack Obama did it.

But Trump has never been a man of consistent principles, and he has shown that he’s willing to jettison his campaign program, changing his positions on China, trade, the debt, and others. He has apparently backed down from his promise to build a wall, to avoid a government shutdown.

I don’t expect some broad transformation, but if he’s moving even tentatively or temporarily in the right direction — in this case, shifting from his courtship of Steve Bannon’s alt-right nationalists — he should be encouraged.

The Hill absurdly criticized Trump’s Holocaust remembrance proclamation for using “similar wording to the Holocaust Museum website.” But the White House should be praised for echoing the museum’s description of the Shoah.

After a campaign that trafficked in the filth of anti-Semitism — tweeting an image showing a Star of David atop a pile of cash; retweeting messages from white supremacists; refusing to condemn anti-Semitic threats against Jewish journalists; and using an ad showing prominent Jews juxtaposed with warnings of an international banking conspiracy — Trump needed to speak clearly.

This week, he spoke. “Today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth,” he said. “… We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity and freedom.” And, crucially, he added: “Today we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again.”

Well said, Mr. President.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, first African American on New York’s top court, found dead in Hudson River

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African American woman to serve on New York’s top court, was found dead in the Hudson River. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African American woman to serve on New York’s top court, was found dead in the Hudson River on Wednesday, police said. She was 65.

The body of Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington, D.C., was found fully clothed in the river in Upper Manhattan at 1:45 p.m., a day after her husband had reported her missing, according to the New York Police Department. There were no signs of trauma or injury on the body, and the cause of death is still under investigation.

It is not yet known how Abdus-Salaam, who lived in Harlem, ended up in the river, or how long her body had been there. Her death shook the New York legal community, prompting responses from colleagues, judges, and state and local political leaders.

Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on the New York Court of Appeals, was described by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) as “a humble pioneer” and by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) as “a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”

“Through her writings, her wisdom, and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come,” Cuomo, who appointed her to the state’s Court of Appeals, said in a statement.

Abdus-Salaam was born in 1952 to a working-class family of seven children in the District, where she attended public school. As a teenager, she was inspired to enter the legal profession after an encounter with civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, according to a 2013 news release from Seymour W. James Jr., attorney-in-charge of criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City. He commended Cuomo for nominating Abdus-Salaam to the State Court of Appeals, calling her an “ideal choice” based on her vast experience.

“Justice Abdus-Salaam has followed her inspiration by serving the public throughout her distinguished career as an attorney and jurist,” James, then president of the New York State Bar Association, wrote.

Before her nomination to the State Court of Appeals, Abdus-Salaam served as a justice in the First Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, and for 15 years as a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan. She graduated from Barnard College in 1974 and from Columbia Law School in 1977, and spent time working with indigent clients as a staff attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services. She also served as an assistant state attorney general.

Throughout her career, Abdus-Salaam’s colleagues have hailed the judge for her clarity as a writer and fairness as a decision-maker. Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, said in a statement Wednesday that “her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness, and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her.”

“Sheila’s smile could light up the darkest room,” DiFiore added.


Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam, center, receives applause after her confirmation to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals. (Mike Groll/AP)

In one of Abdus-Salaam’s most significant recent decisions, this summer she wrote the ruling on Brooke S.B. and Elizabeth A. C.C., expanding the definition of what it means to be a parent, particularly for same-sex couples. The existing definition, she wrote, had become “unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships.” She ruled that “where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody.”

When Abdus-Salaam was formally sworn in as the seventh member of New York’s top court, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Albany to honor her, his former classmate at Columbia Law School four decades earlier.

“Sheila could boogie,” he said before a courtroom packed with Abdus-Salaam’s legal colleagues, family and friends. “I read that during her confirmation process, Judge Abdus-Salaam received a standing ovation every time she appeared in public before members of the Legislature. Now, as someone who has appeared a number of times before Congress, I can tell you just how extraordinary that is.”

In announcing his nomination of Abdus-Salaam for Court of Appeals, Cuomo called the judge one of the state’s “most respected and experienced jurists” and praised her for having risen from “working-class roots.”

At a 2015 event in Brooklyn celebrating Black History Month, Abdus Salaam credited her mother’s efforts raising her and her siblings in Washington.

“If my mother wasn’t such a smart and resourceful woman, I might have ended up in foster care or worse,” Abdus-Salaam said. “Although she dropped out of school, my mother realized that a good education would help us escape the poverty that we were trapped in.”

In the wake of the news of her death Wednesday, Judge Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, said the court “has suffered a terrible blow.”

“It’s just so shocking,” Lippman said, adding that she was “a lovely lady and judge. That’s why is makes it even more difficult to understand.”

Correction: This story has been corrected to say that Sheila Abdus-Salaam was the first African American woman to serve on New York’s highest court. An earlier version of the story also reported inaccurately that she was a Muslim. That also has been corrected.

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Blacklisted: How The Oakland Police Department Discriminates Against Rappers and Music Venues

click to enlarge Rapper Philthy Rich is known all over the country — but says he’s essentially banned from performing in his hometown of Oakland. - PHOTO BY LANCE YAMAMOTO

  • Photo by Lance Yamamoto
  • Rapper Philthy Rich is known all over the country — but says he’s essentially banned from performing in his hometown of Oakland.

Last year, Philthy Rich’s hometown release-show for Hood Rich 4 was supposed to be a victory lap. The staunchly independent local rapper’s previous album, Real Niggas Back in Style, climbed to No. 5 on Billboard’s “Heatseekers” chart, and Philthy seemed poised to clinch that distinctly Bay Area rap-game ambition: local empire, national reputation.

But on the day before his November 18 gig at downtown nightclub Vinyl, venue owner Oscar Edwards says an Oakland cop visited him personally to tell him that Philthy’s show, advertised for weeks, was a “problem.”

Abruptly, Edwards and Philthy called it off. It was a familiar situation: Edwards said the department edits and censors local hip-hop lineups “all the time.”

For Philthy, it was a costly disappointment. He’d flown in three guest performers, put them up in hotels, and chartered a van with a driver and a security guard to bring everyone to the club. Philthy’s manager, PK (for Prashant Kumar) estimated the loss to be approximately $10,000.

“There’s no way it wasn’t malicious,” PK reckoned of the department’s motive. “‘Let’s let him set up the show — and then cancel it at the last minute.’”

The Oakland Police Department says it “does not cancel shows,” but Philthy isn’t the only local rapper who, following police pressure on promoters, has been removed from lineups or had shows canceled outright.

In fact, several artists, promoters, and club owners who spoke to the Express in recent months described two different approaches to nightlife oversight in Oakland. They say genres besides hip-hop seldom if ever receive police scrutiny, while rap — one of the Town’s most prized cultural exports — is subjected to burdensome, costly regulations that critics call discriminatory.

Oakland rappers aside from Philthy, including Birch Boy Barie and Project Poppa, even have the impression that they’re banned from performing in their home city — a prospect that alarms civil-rights advocates.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Oakland attorney Dan Siegel. “Even if some of these guys have had run-ins with the cops, what does that have to do with whether or not they can play a show?”

The rap shows in question are legitimate concerts at permitted Oakland venues, not underground gigs or secret warehouse parties. And while Oakland city code requires police to provide written explanations for denying special-event applications, venue owners say they’ve never been offered such documents, and police nightlife overseers declined to be interviewed for this article.

San Francisco attorney John Hamasaki, whose defense of Richmond artist Laz tha Boy brought attention to government prosecutors’ punitive use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials, said the opacity with which Oakland police censor shows “indicates that OPD knows they’re infringing on these artists’ right to perform.”

Even the City of Oakland’s cultural affairs manager, Roberto Bedoya, is troubled by the apparent uneven enforcement. “The city’s commitment to racial equity needs to be considered when it comes to how these policies are enforced,” he told the Express. “Any racial bias at play in policing artist speech — that’s worth looking at.”

Philthy, born Philip Beasley, 34, supported Hood Rich 4 with an incident-free, seventeen-date West Coast tour earlier this year. Conspicuously absent was a gig in Oakland, the subject of affection in so many of his songs. Last November, the day after his canceled local show, the rapper and his out-of-town friends handed out 500 turkeys at the Rainbow Recreation Center in his East Oakland neighborhood of Seminary.

His charity didn’t go unnoticed: The Alameda County Board of Supervisors formally proclaimed November 19, 2016, as “Philthy Rich — H.U.G.S./F.O.D. Thanksgiving Day.” The supervisors also thanked the rapper and his co-organizers for their “philanthropic hearts.”

“I’d love to play Oakland, but I’m not even trying to talk to a promoter about doing shows there,” he told the Express while on the road. “I don’t want to disappoint people when I’m not allowed to show up.”

“It is heartbreaking. Usually tours end in your hometown.”

No More Nightclubs

City of Oakland public records show that there are 46 venues licensed to regularly host live entertainment. Their so-called “cabaret permits” come with many of the same, standard-issue conditions, including: Operators must submit a venue’s monthly entertainment calendar to the police department’s Special Event Unit, inform the unit about events scheduled with less foresight, and acquire an official Special Event Permit for shows that involve non-payroll promoters, or that could require extra police resources.

But operators of five prominent cabaret-permitted venues told the Express that, for them, enforcement of these requirements is lax. For instance, these venue owners openly advertise the use of outside promoters, but never obtain special permits. Some weren’t even aware of the requirement to send monthly calendars to the police, or inform the department of last-minute additions. And multiple independent promoters, who book shows at various venues, confirmed that they never hear from the police about costs and restrictions.

What do these venues and promoters have in common? A lack of rap and hip-hop shows on their calendars.

Edwards, 31, who runs the three-story, 800-capacity establishment Complex on 14th Street near Broadway (formerly known as Venue, Vinyl, and Crate), experiences a very different sort of oversight. He submits his live-music calendar every month, and applies for Special Event Permits any time he works with outside promoters. That precludes a lot of programming, since the special-permit application process is supposed to begin 21 to 30 days before an event. And even shows booked in-house are often treated as “special events,” Edwards said, since SEU often insists his club pay for police security.

What makes hip-hop and rap events “special” seems mysterious to Richard Ali, 40, who owns two popular venues, New Karibbean City and Level 13 (formerly Shadow Ultra Lounge). “Technically, you need [a special entertainment permit] for outside promoters, or when you’re expecting a bigger show,” he said recently during an interview at Level 13. “At New Karibbean City, we’re sold-out all of the time — so what’s a bigger show?”

Special events get expensive. Public records show that, in recent years, the department has repeatedly billed New Karibbean City and Vinyl, along with their partner promoters, as much as $5,000 for individual events — a sum comparable to the costs imposed on much larger outdoor festivals. For instance, the police-security fee for the 2015 rock festival Burger Boogaloo, which drew 10,000 people over two days to Mosswood Park, was also approximately $5,000.

Meanwhile, records show that other popular Oakland venues, ones that forego hip-hop or don’t strongly identify with the genre, paid zero police security-fees in recent years.

Ali said that he sometimes recovers the cost in ticket prices by adding, say, $7 to the cover charge. But more often the estimated security fees, which sometimes require a sizable deposit beforehand, pre-emptively sabotage potential bookings.

In fact, he said that, due to the fees and discouragement of last-minute booking, he turns down twenty-to-thirty national touring acts a year.

For example, the night before Ali spoke to the Express, he wanted to host celebrated Baton Rouge rapper Boosie Badazz. But just a week earlier, Oakland police estimated security fees at an untenable several thousand dollars. Ali and Edwards’ foregone bookings often appear instead in San Francisco — but Boosie Badazz just skipped the Bay altogether.

“It could be that they don’t want hip-hop shows in Oakland,” Ali speculated of the police department’s motives.

One condition of New Karibbean City’s late-night permit, which allows the club to operate until 4 a.m. on weekends, supports his suspicion: It explicitly states, “No Hip-Hop events will be planned for the extended hour days.”

In civil-rights attorney Siegel’s estimation, “The ‘no hip-hop’ condition is an unlawful violation of First Amendment rights, and likely an act of racial discrimination.”

“The police are not here to enforce moral judgments,” he added.

For more than a month, Oakland police spokesperson Johnna Watson declined the Express’ multiple requests to discuss these allegations of racial discrimination and censorship against the department. This past Monday, she wrote via email that she’d forwarded our questions “for review” to OPD’s internal-affairs division and the city attorney’s office.

Edwards says he has turned down artists such as Gucci Mane and Rick Ross, and even an after-party for Lil Wayne, among other mainstream artists, because of the same prohibitive fees and lineup scrutiny. Other locals nixed from Edwards’ lineups after police intervention include longtime West Oakland rapper and Livewire Records founder J. Stalin.

“They’ll say, ‘We have concerns about this artist,’” Edwards explained. “And it is what it is. It’s in my best interests to listen.”

The Express was denied an interview with officer Jorge Cabral and Sgt. Andy McNeil, who according to public records, emails, and nightlife operators are the Special Event Unit members that oversee police security-fees. They also review news reports, department records, and rappers’ social media accounts when evaluating hip-hop clubs’ calendars. Sometimes, they seem to go on hunches, according to venue owners. “I think their main tool is Google,” Ali said.

Police spokesperson Marco Marquez explained to the Express in an email that, when OPD reviews an application, the department assesses “any impact to public safety,” such as “fights, shootings, crowd control management.” Then, SEU officers speak with venue owners and explain their “research.”

Edwards and Ali sometimes appreciate the police vetting their bookings. Incidents, such as a 2012 shooting outside New Karibbean City, have “drastically reduced,” Ali said, since he took more precautions. Last year, for instance, an SEU officer told Ali that there was a shooting in 2013 at an event in Vallejo featuring Atlanta rapper Lil Scrappy (though the artist wasn’t actually present), who was also scheduled at New Karibbean City. In that case, Ali was inclined to call off the show himself.

Most times, though, police concerns are less persuasive. On May 9, 2015, local rapper Birch Boy Barie was scheduled to open for Detroit rapper Peezy at New Karibbean City. But that day, Ali says that an Oakland police officer visited him at the club and insisted he remove the artist. “[Barie] had a new song out called ‘Fuck the Police,’” Ali said. “And I remember they were concerned about the lyrics.” OPD did not respond to an email request to discuss Barie’s exclusion.

Following police concerns about the lineup for popular hip-hop website Thizzler.com’s 2015 Bay Area Freshmen 10 concert at The New Parish, the promoter rescheduled the show in Walnut Creek. Later that year, records show that Thizzler’s inaugural Thizzler Jam event, at Vinyl, cost approximately $5,000 in police security fees, and the 2016 installment, at New Parish, cost approximately $3,500.

Thizzler has reliably promoted local artists on the brink of stardom, such as Sage the Gemini, IAMSU, and Nef the Pharaoh. But considering the impact of police fees on the company’s bottom-line, founder Matt Werner says he expects to take the next Thizzler Jam to another town.

Promoters such as Werner and Edwards agree that the regulatory burden is driving hip-hop business and cultural activity out of Oakland.

Earlier this year, Edwards decided to replace his second-floor nightclub with a restaurant, Smelly’s Authentic Creole and Soul Food. He’s also changing the first-floor into a coffee shop and smaller events space, called Feral. The top-floor is still available for intermittent concerts, but the shift to food follows Edwards’ long-term sense that incoming residents will silence nightclubs downtown — especially without entertainment advocates in City Hall.

His decision was hastened, though, by the costs and stresses of promoting rap shows in Oakland. “We’re not going back to nightclub activity, because it’s too much of a hassle. I’m going to do concerts that end at eleven, and not work with so many local people,” he explained. “How are we supposed to compete with other cities when even artists who are from here can’t play here?”

Silencing the Sounds of the Flatlands

Birch Boy Barie sat on a bench at the 88th Avenue Mini-Park near Birch Street, his namesake, in the Webster neighborhood of East Oakland. Young kids wheelied on dirt bikes. Friends hollered from passing cars. Barie wore a hat that read “YHGANG,” the company run by his friend and frequent collaborator Young Gully. This writer’s ballpoint pen was fading, so he suggested heating its tip with a lighter, and it worked. “Used to do that all the time,” he said.

This is where Barie, born Jabarie Johnson, 27, grew up with his best friend, Ghost (Rashard Acuna), who was shot to death in Las Vegas in 2014. Barie recalled how Ghost taught him to make a chorus pop; they used to play songs quietly, so that just the beat was audible, and freestyle on top. The video to “Long Live Ghost,” from 2015’s Welcome to Oakland, shows Barie on the nearby stoop of his late friend’s home. The hook goes: “The pain when I wipe my tears away / The pain cus I never see your face.”

“Fuck the Police,” from the same album as “Long Live Ghost,” references high-profile police killings such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Oscar Grant. Barie feels that his struggle to perform at venues in Oakland is a sort of punishment for his circumstances: the fact that tragic violence stalks the disinvested, predominantly Black community that he raps about.

click to enlarge Birch Boy Barie says Oakland police repeatedly target him on local show lineups. “I don’t understand, because nothing has ever happened at my shows.” - PHOTO BY LANCE YAMAMOTO

  • Photo by Lance Yamamoto
  • Birch Boy Barie says Oakland police repeatedly target him on local show lineups. “I don’t understand, because nothing has ever happened at my shows.”

Barie says that police have repeatedly targeted him on local lineups. For instance, a week after being taken off the Peezy show at New Karibbean City in 2015, police also removed him from a gig headlined by Young Gully, at One Fam Community Center in West Oakland. In each instance, Barie recalled how promoters relayed the police’s demand that not only was unable to perform: He couldn’t even attend.

“I think they trippin’ on people who really be outside, talking about where they’re from,” he said of the cops.

Nowadays, Barie mostly plays in other cities. When asked to play in Oakland, he has a script. “I always tell ’em, ‘If you put my name on the flyer, it might get shut down,’” he explained. “‘So if that happens and you lose money, it’s not on me — I warned you.’”

One thing he knows is that it’s only like this for rappers. “I don’t understand, because nothing has ever happened at my shows — and I’ve been rapping for eleven or twelve years,” he said of police concerns over public safety.

Blocks away in the flatlands, it’s the same story. The cover of Project Poppa’s most recent album, War Outside, depicts the trenchant East Oakland rapper with two guns pointed at his head, one held by a civilian and the other by a cop. He’s another young artist who, after difficulties performing in Oakland, now just plays out-of-town.

“They try to say the gang thing, try to label me,” he said, rolling his eyes. “But this is just where I’m from, my whole life. It’s all I know.”

He stood in a strip-mall parking lot at the corner of International Boulevard and 65th Avenue, the main gateway to the public-housing project with a decades-long reputation for violence where he grew up, Lockwood Gardens. Poppa, born Darren Mathieu, 24, wore a jade elephant necklace that twinkled in the sun and a yellow shirt that read “Own Lane,” a motto about self-determination that’s also the name of his own record label.

Poppa’s War Outside encompasses menacing swagger and vulnerable elegies, such as “Nay World,” a tribute to his cousin Reggina Jefferies, a 16-year-old dancer who last year was fatally struck by a stray bullet in downtown Oakland. Like Barie, Poppa thinks that his effective banishment from city clubs stems from the harrowing experiences and observations that color his lyrics.

“It’s frustrating,” Poppa said. “And it fucks with my money.” And, when it comes to police, shows are but one obstacle, he said. “Like, if I was trying to do a music video right here — that’d be a problem.”

Poppa’s friend optimistically interjected. “That’s my little brother and I always tell him, ‘But you got the streets listening,’” he said. “It’s like a blessing and a curse when you from this ‘hood — ‘cus it’s legendary.”
 

Even Too $hort, who last year turned 50, seems to remain a “red flag” to the police, according to Oakland Music Festival founder Alfonso Dominguez. He recalled how, in 2015, SEU officers “basically said ‘Hell no’” to his proposal to book the seminal local rapper as headliner.

“Are they stricter with hip-hop? Yeah,” Dominguez said, adding that he “stopped doing the big outdoor thing [for Oakland Music Festival] because of all the [police-imposed security] fees.”

But even last year, when the festival instead spread throughout several smaller venues, an event at Lake Merritt featuring revered DJ Chuy Gomez prompted an estimated last-minute security fee of $4,000, Dominguez said.

“And we canceled because we couldn’t afford that. It is what it is. … That was supposed to be a free event, all about showing love for Oakland.”

‘An Ongoing Struggle’

The Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium was once the City of Oakland’s center of civic life. It also has the ignoble distinction of imposing a yearlong moratorium on live rap, in 1989. “Looking back, that was real unfortunate, because 1990 was a peak year for Bay Area hip-hop,” longtime culture scribe Eric Arnold once wrote. “You had $hort, Hammer, and Digital Underground all at the top of their game, selling hundreds of thousands and even millions of units, playing sold-out national tours, and they couldn’t even do a show in their hometown.”

More recently, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle owner Geoffrey Pete largely blamed police overtime costs for temporarily driving his storied club out of business in 2009 (it reopened in 2012), which spurred a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Oakland police. The suit was dismissed, but it typified what downtown club owners decried as a shakedown.

In 2011, Pete and operators of other venues, including Luka’s Tap Room, formed an Oakland Cabaret Alliance. Chief among their concerns was, again, police’s selective enforcement against hip-hop clubs — especially punitive use of permits and fees.

Club owners and promoters say those protests led to little reform. And now, amid gentrification and a residential boom downtown, Edwards worries that the impact of uneven regulation will exacerbate the displacement of cultural activity that attracts a largely Black audience.

“There will be no nightclubs left,” he predicted. “It’s not part of the downtown plan.”

After the Ghost Ship fire this past December — which claimed thirty-six lives at a Fruitvale warehouse, all but one attendees or performers at an underground electronic music event — Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an executive order that, among other things, directed the city administrator’s office to convene a special task force to re-evaluate Oakland’s music-and-entertainment permit process.

But it’s unclear if the task force, coordinated by the city administrator’s special projects director Kelley Kahn, will address the concerns of nightclubs such as New Karibbean City. Kahn said the task force is focused on the barriers to legitimately organizing smaller gigs, such as those in galleries or warehouses (read our previous coverage of entertainment-permit red tape: “Critics Say Oakland’s Entertainment Permit Process Too Arduous, Contributes to Unsafe Spaces Like Ghost Ship,” from our January 17 issue).

Kahn declined to share which nightlife operators attended the task force’s preliminary stakeholder listening-session. But neither Ali nor Edwards were invited. Still, notes obtained by the Express that recap the March 7 meeting reflect some of the two men’s concerns, such as the imposition of special-event conditions on cabaret-permitted venues, and “OPD harassment based on race or lifestyle.”

“One of the things we’ve heard clearly is that there needs to be someone in the city who’s on the side of the event operator — someone to work almost as an advocate,” Kahn told the Express.

Civil-rights experts caution that censorship of rap reflects a more systemic set of issues. Records show that Black men in Oakland’s flatlands — particularly those who, as Barie observed, spend time outside — are disproportionately targeted by police in general, such as with traffic stops and surveillance. They say that the resultant accumulation of data and criminal records, coupled with implicit biases, contributes to an outsized, or false, sense of the public-safety risk posed by rappers from East Oakland.

Attorney Hamasaki said that the same process of “criminalizing” Black communities in Oakland that challenges employment and education “also, in this case, prevents people from making a living through their art.”

Underlying law enforcement’s punitive treatment of rap, Hamasaki believes, is their perception of it as literal confession — rather than complicated expression, involving hyperbole and persona, that gleans meaning from delivery and context. Indeed, Hamasaki learned how East Bay prosecutors use rap lyrics as evidence of wrongdoing, often ignoring the traditional distinction between author and narrator (read our feature story “Rap’s Poetic License: Revoked,” from April 2015, for more on how district attorneys use song lyrics and rap videos to prosecute artists).

“That’s been an ongoing struggle in hip-hop, where as a Black artist in America you’re not allowed to be an artist — you’re automatically burdened with all of the ills of the community you come from,” Hamasaki said. “You don’t get to escape through art.”

Attorney Siegel, meanwhile, is troubled by the police’s vague, deflective explanations for “limiting the rights of both artists to perform and venues to host them.” He continued, “The police have to demonstrate something besides fear.”

Poppa — in an understated War Outside highlight — put it differently: “They wanna blackball a nigga / They wanna see me in a cage / They wanna see me in a grave, bruh / Before they see me on a stage.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Annual April Showers Show Benefits Local Art Scene

MORGANTOWN -

Thursday evening in Morgantown, a show was held at 123 Pleasant Street to help the local art scene.

The Day One Lifestyle Band played their 3rd annual April Showers Show. 

All proceeds from this will benefit the Norman Jordan African American Arts & Heritage Academy in Morgantown.

The Academy is a week long art camp held in the summer for children at West Virginia University. 

“It’s just a great way for kids to get to experience the arts. It’s something that we’ve always been a part of. But that’s been my father’s dream, he’s always been an advocate of the arts and this is what tonight’s about,” said Eric Jordan, Administration Partner with the Norman Jordan African American Arts & Heritage Academy.

Live music along with comedy and spoken word were performed at Thursday evening’s show.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Black Fashion Week: stunning setting and showpieces

The lineup of models at Ralph Leroy's show at Montreal Black Fashion Week on May 31, 2015. PHOTO: Pierre Marie Victor Salomon
The lineup of models at Ralph Leroy’s show at Montreal Black Fashion Week on May 31, 2015. PHOTO: Pierre Marie Victor Salomon Pierre Marie Victor Salomon

Part-time Montrealers Ralph Leroy and Helmer Joseph were among a dozen designers to show at the magnificent Église St-Jean Baptiste Friday and Saturday as part of Black Fashion Week. Leroy staged an all-white show with a stunning finale of showpieces, including one ensemble of multiple tiny ruffles that took seven workers 400 hours to create.

Leroy divides his time between Montreal, New York and Haiti, where he opened an atelier in January as a learning centre for young people. “It’s a way to give back to my country,” Leroy said.

Similarly, couturier Helmer (as he and his collections are known) divides his time between Paris, Montreal and Haiti. In Paris, he is under contract for two collections, while in Haiti he is working toward setting up a couture school. Known for his technical wizardry in hand-crafted lace and embroidery, Helmer burst onto the Montreal scene in 2007. He will show his menswear at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week in August.

Black Fashion Week is a production of Adama Paris, which also stages events in Paris, Prague and Salvador de Bahia.

A showpiece by Ralph Leroy that took 400 hours of work, shown at Montreal Black Fashion Week May 31, 2015. PHOTO Pierre Marie Victor Salomon

A showpiece by Ralph Leroy that took 400 hours of work, shown at Montreal Black Fashion Week May 31, 2015. PHOTO Pierre Marie Victor Salomon

Pierre Marie Victor Salomon

A look by couturieur Helmer Joseph shown at Montreal Black Fashion Week May 30, 2015. PHOTO Sachin Shrestha

A look by couturier Helmer Joseph shown at Montreal Black Fashion Week May 30, 2015. PHOTO Sachin Shrestha

Sachin Shrestha

 

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory Fashion News

Arts, cultural groups host events on Detroit 1967 civil unrest

Whether a native Detroiter or transplant, if you live in the region, you’ve likely heard about the pivotal events in the city in July 1967 — events that are still shaping race relations in the region today.

No one disputes the events took place. But beginning with the words people use to refer to the civil unrest — riots, uprising, rebellion — interpretations and truths vary with perspective.

More than 60 local arts and cultural organizations are striving to foster greater understanding and common ground through exhibitions of pictures, home movies, oral histories and art created by people living in the city at that time or influenced by the events, as well as  discussions, panels, performances and other events.

The first of the events kicks off Thursday night with “12th Street, Detroit, 1967: Employment, Housing, Policing and Race Relations in Evidence,” at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

The exhibition will provide the public with access to details that may have only been known by historians and academics up until now, with materials from the library’s 40-plus archival collections on the uprising. It will help visitors learn how to analyze archival material and see it as a community asset and will be accompanied by a web exhibit and document sets for use in K-12 classrooms. It runs until January.

Enabling visitors to learn first-hand about the circumstances in Detroit at that time is a way to help them create their own insights based on evidence, the library’s outreach archivist Meghan Courtney said in a recent post on the Reuther website.

Also on display now through winter at the library is an exhibition of previously unpublished photographs of Detroit’s 1967 civil unrest by photojournalist Tony Spina.

Spina, chief photographer for the Detroit Free Press at the time, was reportedly awoken on the morning of July 23, 1967, by a call from City Editor Neil Shine, telling him “the city was on fire” and asking him to hurry to the newspaper. Over the next five days, Spina shot pictures from the ground, air, military vehicles and the middle of firefights, documenting one of the worst examples of civil unrest in American history.

On Friday, the Detroit Artists Market’s exhibition, “Now and Then: Artists Contemplate the Summer of 1967,” opens.

The exhibit will bring together a wide range of voices and perspectives represented in artwork to help understand the impact of that time. The exhibit runs through May 27.

Those exhibits and others planned by five other major cultural groups in the city are laid out in a “passport” brochure developed by the Detroit Historical Museum as a memento of the 50th anniversary. Visitors can pick the brochure up at the library, DAM, Detroit Historical Museum, Michigan Science Center, Detroit Institute of Art, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

The Detroit Historical Museum’s “Detroit 67: Perspectives” opens in June. As part of visual components and oral histories collected over the past two years, the exhibition will include a look at the perspectives indicated even by the words used to describe the uprising.

In every discussion the Detroit Historical Museum has had over the past two years as it developed the exhibition, the issue of what we call it comes up, said Rebecca Salminen Witt, chief development and communications officer

The DIA and Wright Museum coordinated their exhibitions to run concurrently starting July 22 and complement each other.

The DIA exhibitions focus on the art created by mostly African-American artists working collectively and independently at the time of the uprising and beyond, and artists working in later decades who were inspired by art from the civil rights movement. The Wright exhibition compares the uprisings of the past to the upheavals during the 21st century and features 40 national artists, whose works illustrate tragedy and transformation when people rebel.

The DIA and Wright teamed on content creation, focus groups, interpretation and marketing for the exhibits, marking what DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said he hopes is the first of many collaborations to come between the two.

“Artists are often at the forefront of examining issues that require change,” Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Wright Museum, said in an email.

“Both the DIA and the Wright are using this art to tell a story of a period of great disparities, injustice and tremendous change. By coming together we are able to tell the story much more in depth and with much more clarity.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Maxine Waters: ’92 L.A. Rebellion Was A ‘Defining Moment’ For Black Resistance

It’s been 25 years since the Los Angeles rebellion, but Rep. Maxine Waters remembers it like it was just yesterday.

The California Democrat was traveling on business when Rodney King was brutally beaten by LAPD officers on March 3, 1991. She told HuffPost that she remembers watching the footage from her hotel bed.

“I sat straight up and all I could say, ‘Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Look at this,’” Waters said. She and black Americans across the country shared the same outrage. 

King, who was pulled over after a high-speed chase with the LAPD, was released from jail without being charged. But black people’s anger increased as they witnessed the 17 cops who did nothing but watch as their colleagues beat King walk free. The residents of Los Angeles reached their boiling point on April 29, 1992, however, when a mostly white jury acquitted the four white cops who assaulted King. That is when the city rebelled.

Kirk McKoy via Getty Images
Critics say police gave up when the uprising started in 1992, letting big chunks of the city burn. Street cops say commanders held them back, fearing violent clashes would produce an endless stream of Rodney Kings.

America has seen iterations of this play out in BaltimoreFerguson, Missouri, and Charlotte, North Carolina, in recent years, with a similar narrative. Though Los Angeles of 1992 saw much more blood and destruction ― more than 50 killed, 2,000 injured, 9,500 arrests and $1 billion in property damages ― the reality of black Americans being denied justice when brutalized by the state strings these events together. But Waters said the L.A. uprisings were a milestone in the history of black people demanding justice.

“These were people who had been basically forgotten,” Waters told HuffPost in March. “And because of Rodney King’s beating and the current emotion that was stirring in that, it was like people were saying, ‘We’re here. You can’t do this to us. Look what you’re doing, look how you’ve been. Not only have you been with this consistent police abuse but the same people don’t have access to opportunities and jobs and health care and on and on.’ So it was a defining moment in this country and I think a defining moment in the way that black people resisted.”

The acquittal of King’s abusers, along with the 1991 killing of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, set the stage for the L.A. rebellion. It started at the intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues and spread throughout Los Angeles like a wildfire. People were killed and injured, stores were robbed and destroyed, and the city was literally burning and seemingly abandoned by police.

Jean-Marc Giboux via Getty Images
Then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton takes a tour of South Central Los Angeles with U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters on May 4, 1992.

 “When the insurrection broke out, I rushed to L.A. and went straight into public housing developments,” Waters recalled. “The streetlights were out, the stores were closed down. [I was] working to try and get food to children and milk to kids and diapers.”

Waters, who represented California’s 29th District at the time, held a press conference the day after the acquittal. At that point, the death toll was at nine and dozens of people were injured. Waters gave context to why residents had a right to be mad and criticized investigators for not handling the case with urgency and failing to persecute the officers involved.

“There are those who would like for me and others and all of us to tell people to go inside, to be peaceful, that they have to accept the verdict,” she said, standing alongside representatives from the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP. “I accept the responsibility of asking people not to endanger their lives. I am not asking people not to be angry.”

She continued: “I am angry and I have a right to that anger and the people out there have a right to that anger. There are some angry people in America and young black males in my district are feeling, at this moment, if they could not get a conviction with the Rodney King video available to the jurors, that there can be no justice in America.”

Waters remained a champion for her city over the six days of the uprising and beyond.

In addition to sending disaster relief supplies like food and diapers, Waters pounded the pavement to bring peace to South Central. She demanded the resumption of vital services like electricity and water to the area. Along with Jesse Jackson, Waters urged the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against the four acquitted cops.

When the city issued a curfew and authorities and news outlets painted the black people who were rebelling as “thugs,” Waters actively worked to shift that narrative. It wasn’t just a matter of semantics ― it was about privileged and powerful people using dangerous and racially charged language to belittle the longstanding concerns of residents of color. She opposed Mayor Tom Bradley’s use of the word “riot” to describe what was happening ― she urged him to describe it as “an insurrection.”

Cheryl Chenet via Getty Images
Along with Jesse Jackson, Waters urged the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against the four acquitted cops.

“I guess every day, I was out, the TV cameras were out,” Waters told HuffPost. “And I’d get up early in the morning, go to the TV stations trying to explain to them the difference between rioting and people who’ve been dropped off of America’s agenda and find themselves in a situation where the kids are hungry and the place is burning and at that time, everybody was being seen as a ‘robber’ and a ‘thug’ and someone who was responsible for the burning. … What I tried to do was take it out of the discussion of ‘these are just no good, crazy rioting people’ and to talk about what I call an insurrection, which made a lot of white people mad.”

She took on a more understanding tone than others when addressing her constituents. She sent a letter to them, reprinted by the Los Angeles Times, to remind them to keep hope alive and urge them to end the destruction and violence:

When the verdicts come down, there will be thousands of police, sheriffs and National Guard on the streets. If you take to the streets with a Molotov cocktail in hand, a gun in your belt or a brick ready to throw, you give the police the legal right to kill you.

Our anger and frustration must not drive us to the streets. We must use our minds and our God-given talents and our legacy of perseverance and struggle. We must fight our battles in the courtroom, and in the halls of power. We must organize and rally and protest. And, through it all, we will celebrate living ― not dying.

I wish we could make life better for everyone, today. I wish we all had jobs, and happy, loving experiences each day of our lives. I wish we had peace of mind. And, if I could, I would give it to you.

Each day brings a new opportunity, a new possibility. I love you and will fight for you. I need you to stand with me to make this a better place. Let us get smart ― it’s time to chill!

Kirk McKoy via Getty Images
A cop uses his baton on a protester at the corner of First Street and Broadway on April 29, 1992, in Los Angeles.

Even in the aftermath of the uprising, Waters’ work continued. She settled a rowdy crowd (something LAPD failed to do) at the local Social Security office to expedite community members getting the resources they needed.

She did her fair share in advocating for her community in Washington, D.C., too. When she found out that President George H.W. Bush was to hold a meeting to discuss “urban problems” that following May, Waters invited herself.

“I’ve been out here trying to define these issues,” she told Speaker Thomas S. Foley. “I don’t intend to be excluded or dismissed. We have an awful lot to say.”

Waters’ work against police brutality during and long before the rebellion helped to get LAPD Police Chief Daryl Gates, a longtime opponent, fired in June 1992. Two out of the four cops were convicted for violating King’s civil rights nearly a year later.

Fighting for her community gained Waters national attention and it became a turning point in her career. But, according to her, one of the biggest impacts the rebellion had was on black resistance to injustice.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory 

News at Noon: Hot Wheels, Part 2; NFL draft tonight; Scientology takes aim at aquarium; PolitiFact reviews Trump’s first 100 days

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.

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COPS, TEEN CAR THIEVES AND A DANGEROUS GAME

The kids call him “Horny Dave.” Tim Brown, a St. Petersburg detective, is not sure why they think his name is “Dave,” but he hears “horny” means he’s always in their business, desperate to know what they’re up to. Brown, 52, has spent more than a decade going after kid car thieves. He knows they’ll be out of juvenile jail as soon as he catches them. He’s still got to catch them. In Part 2 of the Times’ Hot Wheels series, we go on duty with Brown to chronicle a seemingly never-ending job.

NFL DRAFT TONIGHT: WHAT WILL THE BUCS DO?

Rumors are swirling that the Bucs will make a trade, moving out of the first round. Then again, it wouldn’t be surprising if they made a trade to move up. Or maybe they won’t make a trade at all. Maybe they’ll stick with the 19th pick. If they do, what should they do? What player should they take? Columnist Tom Jones offers some ideas. Columnist Martin Fennelly says Tampa Bay can’t go wrong drafting a safety or tight end. You can keep up with the draft tonight on tampabay.com.

SCIENTOLOGY TAKES AIM AT CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM

The Church of Scientology has launched a statewide campaign blasting the ethics and financial practices of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a move that follows the aquarium’s recent decision not to sell the church a prized downtown property.

POLITIFACT: WHAT TRUMP HAS DONE IN HIS FIRST 100 DAYS IN OFFICE

While the Trump administration hasn’t accomplished more than past administrations in the first 90 days, it has delivered on some campaign promises. We offer an overview of what President Donald Trump has done and not done so far, and how he fares on PolitiFact’s Trump-O-Meter, which tracks more than 100 promises he made on the campaign trail.

FLORIDA REPUBLICANS COOL TO LATEST OBAMACARE OVERHAUL

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A HIDDEN TAX ON HARD-WORKING MOTORISTS? TAX COLLECTORS THINK SO

Did the state House just impose a new hidden tax on cash-strapped motorists in Florida? No, say lawmakers. Yes, say Florida’s elected tax collectors. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, was included in the same bill that includes a cut in the business rent tax, back-to-school sales tax holidays and other forms of tax relief.

BIG NAMES AMONG LAYOFFS AS ESPN RESPONDS TO CHANGING MEDIA MARKET

ESPN began laying off about 100 employees Wednesday as the sports network adjusts to a media landscape reshaped by the loss of millions of cable TV subscribers. Several well-known names are out of work, including athletes-turned-broadcasters Trent Dilfer, Len Elmore and Danny Kanell, and reporters and anchors, including Ed Werder, Brett McMurphy and Jay Crawford.

MOVIES IN THE PARK BEGINS TONIGHT IN ST. PETERSBURG

St. Petersburg Preservation’s annual Movies in the Park begins its 2017 season of free movies tonight with the 2012 feature about World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, at the garden of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Check out the rest of the spring movie schedule, which includes Top Gun and Princess Bride, our Feed blog.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.