NEW YORK — Spurred by broad public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, thousands of Black activists from across the U.S. will hold a virtual convention in August to produce a new political agenda that seeks to build on the success of the protests that followed George Floyd’s death.
The 2020 Black National Convention will take place Aug. 28 via a live broadcast. It will feature conversations, performances and other events designed to develop a set of demands ahead of the November general election, according to a Wednesday announcement shared first with The Associated Press.
The convention is being organized by the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 organizations. In 2016, the coalition released its “Vision for Black Lives” platform, which called for public divestment from mass incarceration and for adoption of policies that can improve conditions in Black America.
“What this convention will do is create a Black liberation agenda that is not a duplication of the Vision for Black Lives, but really is rooted as a set of demands for progress,” said Jessica Byrd, who leads the Electoral Justice Project.
At the end of the convention, participants will ratify a revised platform that will serve as a set of demands for the first 100 days of a new presidential administration, Byrd said. Participants also will have access to model state and local legislation.
“What we have the opportunity to do now, as this 50-state rebellion has provided the conditions for change, is to say, ‘You need to take action right this minute,’” Byrd said. “We’re going to set the benchmarks for what we believe progress is and make those known locally and federally.”
The convention was originally planned to happen in person, in Detroit, the nation’s Blackest major city. But as the coronavirus pandemic exploded in March, organizers quickly shifted to a virtual event, Byrd said. The first-ever Black Lives Matter convention was held in Cleveland in 2015.
Recent AP analysis of COVID-19 data shows Black people have made up a third of reported virus deaths.
Initial work to shape the new platform will take place Aug. 6 and 7, during a smaller so-called People’s Convention that will virtually convene hundreds of delegates from Black-led advocacy groups. The process will be similar to one that produced the first platform, which included early iterations of the demand to defund police that now drives many demonstrations.
Other platform demands, such as ending cash bail, reducing pretrial detention and scrapping discriminatory risk-assessment tools used in criminal courts, have become official policy in a handful of local criminal justice systems around the U.S.
Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, which organizes in 15 states, said the 2020 Black National Convention will deepen the solutions to systemic racism and create more alignment within the movement.
“We’re in this stage now where we’re getting more specific about how all of this is connected to our local organizing,” Albright said. “The hope is that, when people leave the convention, they leave with greater clarity, more resources, connectivity and energy.”
The coalition behind the convention includes Color of Change, BYP100, Dream Defenders and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which has 16 official chapters nationwide.
Convention organizers said this year’s event will pay tribute to the historic 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, which concluded with the introduction of a national Black agenda. The Gary gathering included prominent Black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Shirley Chisolm, who ran for president, as well as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.
That convention came after several tumultuous years that included the assassinations of Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and outbreaks of civil unrest, all of which were seen as blows to the civil rights movement.
The upcoming convention builds on more than a century of Black political organizing.
In 1905, civil rights activist and scholar W.E.B. Du Bois formed the Niagara Movement after a national conference of Black leaders near Buffalo, New York. In a written address to the country, du Bois and others decried the rise of institutionalized racial inequality in voting, criminal justice systems and public education.
In the 1950s, William Patterson, founder of the now-defunct Civil Rights Congress, led the effort to charge the U.S. with genocide of African Americans using legal standards set by the United Nation. The resulting petition, “We Charge Genocide,” is an oft-cited document in conversations about fatal shootings of Black people by police in the U.S.
And in 1998, organizers of the Black Radical Congress in Chicago met to strategize ways to beat back attacks on affirmative action policies that helped to diversify higher education and other facets of American life.
Like any large political gathering, consensus is not guaranteed. The National Black Political Convention caused divisions between participating organizations over the Black agenda’s position on busing to integrate public schools and statements on global affairs that some viewed as anti-Israel. Ultimately, the agenda prompted a leader of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, to sever ties with the convention.
Somewhat similarly, the Vision for Black Lives platform and its characterization of Israel as an “apartheid state” committing mass murder against Palestinian people drew allegations of anti-Semitism from a handful of Jewish groups, which had otherwise been supportive the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Black Lives Matter movement’s coalition has more than doubled in size in the years since the first platform, largely because of organizers’ laser focus on issues central to Black freedom, Byrd said.
“That actually is the Black self determination that our politics require,” Byrd said, “that we don’t just respond to the Democratic Party. That we don’t just respond to the Republican Party. We don’t just say ‘Black lives matter’ and beg people to care. We build an alternative container for all of us to connect, outside of the white gaze, to say this is what we want for our communities.”
The August convention will happen on the same day as a commemorative, in-person march on Washington that is being organized by Sharpton, who announced the march during a memorial service for Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck.
The Black National Convention will broadcast after the march, Byrd said.
August “is going to be a huge month of Black engagement,” she said.
Associated Press news researchers Randy Herschaft and Monika Mathur contributed to this report. Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.
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Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.
Black conservatives counter Black Lives Matter ‘systemic racism’ narrative
The Black Lives Matter movement is dominating the headlines. But just as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Black conservatives have never been more visible. From fresh faces like Diante Johnson and Rob Smith to greybeards like Shelby Steele and Robert Woodson, Black conservatives are everywhere, taking on the left and the Black…
The Black Lives Matter movement is dominating the headlines. But just as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Black conservatives have never been more visible.
From fresh faces like Diante Johnson and Rob Smith to greybeards like Shelby Steele and Robert Woodson, Black conservatives are everywhere, taking on the left and the Black Lives Matter narrative in speeches, bestsellers, films, radio shows, podcasts and PragerU videos, as well as regular appearances on Fox News.
Such saturation didn’t happen overnight. Black intellectuals, media figures and activists have been gaining ground for years, but they were uniquely positioned to break out with the eruption in May of mass Black Lives Matter protests on the left spurred by the death of George Floyd.
“I think what caused the profile of Black conservatives to rise on this issue is that we are giving facts, and the media are avoiding facts,” said Larry Elder, a longtime Los Angeles-based radio host also involved in television and documentary filmmaking.
He disputes the contention that Black Americans are being hunted by racist police — “there’s no evidence suggesting they are doing so” — an argument that no White pundit, no matter how skilled, can deliver with the same resonance and credibility.
“Because the media is invested in this ‘systemic racism’ narrative, they can’t tell the truth,” said Mr. Elder, a familiar face on Fox News. “Democrats can’t tell the truth because they want Blacks to remain angry. So it’s up to Black conservatives to get out the facts. How ironic.”
His film “Uncle Tom,” an oral history of Black conservatives, topped the IMDB documentary list when it was released in June, and it’s still ranked in the top 10.
The documentary features a who’s-who of Black conservatives, from sages like Robert Woodson and Allen West, to rising stars like Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum, a former Tucson cop who hosts the popular “Officer Tatum” podcast and operates the Drudge-style Tatum Report.
“I’m happy very happy to see so many young Blacks finally living out of that ethic as individuals,” said Mr. Steele, a Hoover Institution senior fellow. “They’re brave people. They’re truly brave people. And they probably can’t get from one day to the next without five or six arguments with people all around them. But God bless them, they’re the future.”
New organizations are emerging. Four years ago, Mr. Johnson launched the Black Conservative Federation with a focus on Millennials. In 2018, Ms. Owens and Mr. Tatum launched the Blexit Foundation and the #Blexit hashtag, part of an effort to lead a “black exit” from the Democratic Party.
In June, Black pastors founded Conservative Clergy of Color to “call out the systemic racism that lies in the heart and history of the Democratic Party,” and released on Wednesday a corporate diversity training alternative called, “Getting to All Lives Matter.”
In a letter to federal officials using “white fragility” diversity programs, CCC co-founder Bishop Aubrey Shines said that the theory “pushed by self-proclaimed cultural scholars is only going to spread more divisiveness and distrust among your employees.”
“You are spreading lies that one ethnicity is inherently evil, and moreover, you’ve adopted these teachings out of fear, which is the worst kind of incentive,” said the letter.
‘Proud to be Republicans’
At the same time, the old guard appears to be undergoing a renaissance. In June, Thomas Sowell, a Hoover Institution senior fellow, economist, columnist and author, released “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” — shortly before his 90th birthday.
Other Black conservatives are increasingly prominent, including former Vanderbilt University Carol Swain; civil-rights attorney Leo Terrell; Project 21 chairman Horace Cooper, and Kay Cole James, who took over as head of the conservative Heritage Foundation in 2017.
Then there are radio hosts like David J. Harris Jr., author of the 2019 book “Why I Couldn’t Stay Silent: One Man’s Battle as a Black Conservative,” and SiriusXM’s David Webb, who was famously accused last year of having “White privilege” by a CNN analyst who didn’t realize he was Black.
The move to electing Black Republicans has been slower to follow. Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, and Rep. Will Hurd, Texas Republican, are the only Black GOP members of Congress, and Mr. Hurd plans to retire after the election.
Mr. Steele said that may shift with the next generation. When he was young, he said, it was “inconceivable that you would shake hands with a Republican, and that’s changing.”
“There are Blacks today who are proud to be Republicans, and that’s a healthy sign,” he said.
Mr. Steele released Thursday the trailer to his upcoming documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?” about the 2014 shooting of the 18-year-old Brown, who was Black, by White Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, an episode that touched off mass rioting.
Mr. Steele’s conclusions are unlikely to meet with the approval of Black Lives Matter, which has argued that “systemic racism” is responsible for woes such as poverty, incarceration and police shootings, calling for government reparations and moving funding from police departments to social services.
“Their story line is that we’re all victims. White supremacy. Some esoteric arguments of how we’re all oppressed and demeaned and diminished constantly,” said Mr. Steele. “That’s an attempt to expand victimization.”
High-profile deaths of Black men at the hands of police “all seem to trigger the same sort of reflexive pattern in American life, particularly in the way they’re covered in the media,” he said.
“There’s this rush, this almost desperate frenzy to see the event an example of black victimization, to establish it as black victimization, and that in a sense becomes the argument,” said Mr. Steele on a Thursday press call. “That tells me at any rate that that’s where the power is.”
He contrasted that reaction with the muted response to the 762 homicides in Chicago in 2016, many if not most of which involved Black victims.
“In Chicago, 762 kids in one year killed. No national coverage at all,” said Mr. Steele. “It tells me again one of the ideas we try to bring to bear on these events is the idea of White guilt, which is relatively new phenomenon.”
Mr. Steele, 74, said that when he was growing up, “Whites didn’t feel guilty,” but today they do, and that the “rewards are immense” for Black people pushing the victimization narrative.
“We’ve used that power. The problem with that is that we do that at the expense of our own development as individual human beings in the modern world,” Mr. Steele said. “We continue to decline, and so all we’ve got left is to just work this victim thing as long as Whites will take it. And Whites feel so guilty that they take it.”
He urged Black Americans to identify with their citizenship instead of their race.
“We have to show courage in our own personal individual life,” Mr. Steele said. “Say it and be proud of saying that racism is dead, or damn near. There’s no one holding me back.”
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Black Lives Matter activists loot in Lancaster after cop kills charging suspect wielding knife
The police shooting of a knife-wielding suspect Sunday evening sent Black Lives Matter activists in The Keystone State into a frenzy of looting and property destruction. Lancaster County saw fires, bricks thrown through windows and a new round of looting after a male suspect identified as Ricardo Munoz was shot and killed after cops responded…
The police shooting of a knife-wielding suspect Sunday evening sent Black Lives Matter activists in The Keystone State into a frenzy of looting and property destruction.
Lancaster County saw fires, bricks thrown through windows and a new round of looting after a male suspect identified as Ricardo Munoz was shot and killed after cops responded to a 911 call.
BLM rioters are aggressively pounding on the police station in Lancaster, Pa. in response to the police shooting of a Latino man who charged at a cop with a knife. Video by @livesmattershow: pic.twitter.com/j4mZFSrkEx
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 14, 2020
“The caller related that her brother was reportedly becoming aggressive with his mother and was attempting to break into her house,” Lancaster City Police Department wrote in a statement. “Several officers from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police responded to the call and the first officer arrived at 4:24 pm. The first officer on the scene walked to the front of the residence and made contact with a woman, who was identified as a family member. A male subject then exited the front door of the residence and began chasing the officer.”
Body cam footage released by the department shows the suspect chasing the responding officer with a large knife in his hand.
Warning: Strong Language.
Black Lives Matter instigators geared up in Kevlar are talking about how there will be no peace until they get results “one way or another” in Lancaster. pic.twitter.com/NG64Qc3qHy
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 14, 2020
A local NBC affiliate detailed the unrest that followed the incident, which also spread across social media.
“People on the ramp, W. Chestnut St. and the park adjacent to the station threw water bottles, glass bottles, rocks, bricks, gallon jugs of liquids and parts of plastic road barricades at Officers,” the station reported. “OC spray was also deployed at protestors that refused to move from the ramp and were physically challenging Officers that were moving to clear people from the ramp.”
More than 100 people gathered before the riots broke out.
BREAKING: looting has started in Lancaster at Villa athletic store approximately 1 hour 50 minutes ago according to the shop ownerGroups of rioters are roaming the city breaking windows and stealing merchandiseIt was too dangerous to follow them since there are no police pic.twitter.com/FQIH57hccy
— ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) September 14, 2020
Munoz also made headlines in March 2019 when he was charged with four counts of aggravated assault in connection with another stabbing; four victims were injured.
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Black Lives Matter protests drive Black police chiefs off the job
Two more high-profile Black police chiefs announced this week that they plan to step down amid protest unrest, spurring more questions about whether Black Lives Matter is hurting rather than helping Black Americans. In New York, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Wednesday that he refused to “sit idly by while outside entities attempt to…
Two more high-profile Black police chiefs announced this week that they plan to step down amid protest unrest, spurring more questions about whether Black Lives Matter is hurting rather than helping Black Americans.
In New York, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Wednesday that he refused to “sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character.” Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall submitted her resignation Tuesday after coming under criticism for her handling of anti-police protests.
They are departing a month after the retirement of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, the city’s first Black female chief, who fought for months to squelch protest rioting as the City Council, which has no Black members, voted to cut the department’s budget.
Black conservatives were quick to point out the irony. “There was a time in this country where systemic racism existed; and you couldn’t find a black police chief,” tweeted Allen Sutton, founder of Stewardship America.
“Now, black police chiefs are being forced out; by no less than the liberal establishment and Democrat party leaders,” he said. “Seattle? Rochester? Who’s next?”
Kentucky State University associate professor Wilfred Reilly associated Chief Hall’s resignation “at least in part to criticisms over how she handled interactions with (inevitably, majority white) #BLM protesters. This would be ironically hilarious, if it weren’t actually quite sad.”
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County issued a statement criticizing the City Council after Chief Best retired. “Racism is racism,” it declared, but such views among protesters are in the minority.
The group Free the People Roc responded to Chief Singletary’s retirement by declaring “our movement for justice is winning,” while critics said the left’s objective is no longer promoting Black role models or law enforcement diversity.
“The race of the police chief is irrelevant if the endgame is that White people give Black people ‘their stuff,’ the chant recently made by street protesters in Rochester, New York,” Los Angeles radio talk show host Larry Elder said in an email.
Mr. Elder, who produced the 2020 documentary “Uncle Tom” about Black conservatives, noted that many major U.S. cities have Black mayors and police chiefs, but that “when there is a ‘questionable’ police shooting, people protest, and sometimes riot.”
“It should be abundantly clear by now that the protesters’ goal is not racial diversity within the police department,” Mr. Elder said. “Indeed, Black cops are denounced as Uncle Toms and sellouts. The goal is reparations, the redistribution of resources from one group — Whites — to another group, Blacks.”
Black police chiefs are hardly alone. More than a dozen chiefs have announced their departures since the start of mass protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. In New York City alone, hundreds of officers have reportedly sought to retire early or leave the force.
Heading a police department is a stressful job, “particularly during this period of BLM where protesters are demanding police departments address the poor training of officers and procedures related to citizen review or oversight of complaints against officers,” said Portland State University professor Shirley Jackson.
“Black police chiefs are in an especially difficult position because they are in very visible positions at a time when police departments are under heightened scrutiny,” she said in an email. “While they may have their own individual reasons for resigning or retiring from their positions over the last few months, it is not improbable that they have different opinions about now necessarily what is to be done but how it is to be done.”
Black officers face uniquely stressful situations, as recounted in July by Portland Police Officer Jakhary Jackson, who said he had been called racial slurs by White activists and protests where Black cops outnumbered Black demonstrators.
“You’re at a Black Lives Matter protest. You have more minorities on the police side than you have in a violent crowd, and you have White people screaming at Black officers, ‘You have the biggest nose I’ve ever seen,’” Officer Jackson said at a July press conference.
For activists, the departures of Black chiefs and officers has the benefit of improving protest optics.
“All of these people get in the way of the narrative,” Fox Nation host Lara Logan said on “The Ingraham Angle.” “The narrative is that the entire police force is racist and needs to be abolished, so having a Black female police chief just gets in the way of that propaganda completely and makes a mockery of it.”
In fact, she said, Black police chiefs “who are a powerful symbol of what progress has been made in this country, those are the ones that have to go. They have to be targeted.”
On the other hand, Mr. Reilly said, many of the young activists probably have no idea as to the identity of the police chiefs but view law enforcement as “a vague edifice made up of wealthy white lords.”
“It is only in this context that the argument only Whites can be racist because only Whites hold power makes sense, after all,” he said in an email. “I’d guess the majority of protesters in huge cities like Dallas or Seattle were unaware that the [chiefs of police] and many top city brass were non-White, and would probably see them as ‘tools of the White power structure,’ or some such, if they knew this.”
‘What they want is Marxism’
Those who view Black Lives Matter as an effort to improve Black opportunity and achievement should remember that its roots are in the revolution, said Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez.
“They don’t care about the individual and individual success. They want to change America. They want to change the American narrative,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “They’re on the record as saying they don’t want individual striving. They don’t want individual improvement. They don’t care about that. They think collectively.”
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of what is now the Black Lives Matter Global Network, said in a 2015 interview that she and co-founder Alicia Garza were “trained Marxists,” while the agenda of the Movement for Black Lives includes defunding the police, defunding prisons, and reparations for prostitution and drug criminalization.
In a Sept. 4 article in Law & Liberty, Mr. Gonzalez quoted Ms. Garza speaking at a Zoom meeting in August with, among others, New York Times 1619 Project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“Frankly, what we are able to do in this moment, that maybe weren’t as well-positioned to do four months ago, is use the opportunity of crisis to actually usher in a new way of being with each other,” Ms. Garza said, which would include “the ability to distribute resources in such a way where nobody gets left behind.”
Translated, “what they want is Marxism,” said Mr. Gonzalez, a goal he described as deleterious for Americans of all races.
“What they want is Marxism, and Marxism has a perfect record of failure,” he said. “It has not succeeded anywhere, and where it has been tried, everyone has been much worse off. It doesn’t help anybody of any color.”
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