Why post-1865 Reconstruction failed for African Americans


1874 cartoon by Thomas Nast, about violence by organisations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League against African Americans in the southern states of the USA

This is an October 1874 cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, by Thomas Nast, about violence by organisations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League against African Americans in the southern states of the USA.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands today:

US government offered little protection to black population

The federal government ignored the rights of the black population after the American Civil War. Historian Mark Leon de Vries discovered that the national government virtually did not help at all. Doctorate ceremony on 23 April.

Terror campaign by the Ku Klux Klan

After the American Civil War (1861-1865) the national government passed a number of laws that should provide far-reaching social and political equality for blacks in the southern United States. This did not happen: a group of conservative whites in the region, the Ku Klux Klan, vehemently protested against this policy and orchestrated a campaign of terror against blacks and whites who supported them.

Government did not maintain its own laws

But not only local opposition was a cause of the sorry state of black Americans. De Vries: “Politicians from the north did little to enforce their own laws in the south. That was because the topic did not really live in the north, where relatively few blacks lived. It did not help the government much electorally to deploy people and resources accordingly. In addition, after some time the recovery of the relationship with the southern states became increasingly important.”

Red River Valley: hotbed of violence

De Vries discovered this by the study of violence against blacks in the Red River Valley, Louisiana. “According to statistics, this was one of the regions where most violence occurred against black people. That was also because the federal court was far away: to get there you had to travel a few days, first on the Red River, then along the Mississippi. When the water was high enough, at least. Law enforcement was done mainly by local sheriffs and judges who disliked the ideas from the north.”

Washington knew of abuses

He believes that compliance with the laws certainly would have had effect on the position of black people. “First, because the violence in the area noticeably decreased in those places where local federal officials themselves took the initiative to enforce existing laws. Because there were abuses in the Red River Valley, Washington heard that too. After a few years, after federal enforcement was greatly reduced, violence flared up again. Second, if the legislation would have brought nothing, why did the southerners there resist it so much?” De Vries was the first historian who through the study of a particular subject area studied how the national government in the United States reacted to violence against blacks.

Echo of the past

De Vries explains on the basis of his research there is a link between the past and the present. “The racial terror and lawlessness of that period reverberates in the recent murders of black Americans.” Does he think that even now the national government should intervene more actively? “That’s a tough question. You can see that now more organs react to abuses. The policeman who recently shot and killed black man Walter Scott will be prosecuted, the police union does not support him. Let’s hope that change in culture will continue.”

In the Walter Scott case, it was extremely important that a bystander made an amateur video. If there would have been no video, then things might unfortunately have gone like in the case of the death of Michael Brown.

Also translated from Leiden University about this:

The prevailing view, often based on research into federal level politics, is that the failure of Reconstruction was a more or less inevitable consequence of the compromises that the Republican party had to make and of, as a consequence, the relatively conservative reforms that they endorsed.

This research suggests, in contrast, that the failure of Reconstruction was by no means inevitable.

It was due to the refusal of the federal government to maintain in practice its reforms, limited as they were. These reforms could have achieved much more if the federal government would have found an adequate response to the violent opposition among the white population. The outcome of Reconstruction was therefore not so much a “compromise of principles,” but overall a capitulation to terror.

Vandalized Michael Brown tree will be replaced in Ferguson, USA


This 20 April 2015 video from the USA is called Michael Brown memorial tree vandalized.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Ferguson officials: Sapling planted in Michael Brown’s memory destroyed

April 20, 2015 – 7:45 PM

FERGUSON, Mo. — Officials in Ferguson, Missouri, say they will replace two recently planted saplings this week, including one planted in memory of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that both trees were found damaged Sunday. They were planted in January in Wabash Park and had been donated by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

One of the trees was dedicated to Brown, who was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in August, setting off months of protests. The second sapling was dedicated by a Ferguson resident to a dead pet.

City officials say both trees were chopped off at the trunk. Concrete plaques placed at the bases of both trees were taken.

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri say a memorial to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed African-American man killed by a local police officer last August, was vandalized over the weekend. The tribute has since been replaced: here.

A tree planted in Ferguson, Missouri, in memory of Michael Brown—the teenager fatally shot last year by a local police officer—was ripped in half last weekend the day after it was planted. The Black Caucus of ALA [American Library Association], which donated the tree, said it would not be deterred by vandalism: here.

A haunting video from last year has surfaced of a black man killed by St. Louis County police officers Friday night. On August 17, St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist David Carson recorded 23-year-old Thaddeus McCarroll chanting with a group of young men and women during a protest near Ferguson, Missouri. It was eight days after Officer Darren Wilson had killed Michael Brown. The group is holding signs and chanting the phrase, “I got my hands on my head … please don’t shoot me dead.” Eight months later to the day, McCarroll was killed by police: here.

Michael Brown memorial tree cut down in Ferguson, USA


Michael Brown memorial tree in Ferguson, USA, before and after vandalism

From inquisitr.com in the USA:

Memorial Tree Planted In Michael Brown’s Name Is Cut Down In Ferguson

A memorial tree for Michael Brown Jr. was found cut in half less than 24 hours after it was planted. The memorial stone that was placed under the tree is also missing.

On Saturday morning the living tree memorial was planted in Michael Brown Jr.’s name at the January Wabash Memorial Park located in Ferguson. The tree was donated by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, reports WSMV TV.

“The tree dedication ceremony to honor Michael Brown, Junior, represents just one of several social justice issues that BCALA champions,” a representative for the group said on Saturday, reports Fox 10.

After photos of the tree before and after being vandalized were posted to KMOV TV‘s Facebook page, hundreds of followers left comments.

“I had a feeling this would happen, it is a shame MO people have to live through such hate. I am glad I was brought up knowing, we do not hate, we are all equal, and no violence, I think some people need to learn this,” Barb Carpenter O’Keefe wrote.

“Mike was someone’s son. None of us are perfect. Let his family grieve and have a memorial for him. You may not love him but his family and friends did. Really is sad to me that some ignorant person took time out to cut a tree!!” wrote JoAnn Moser.

“That’s horrible.. No matter what happened, whoever planted that tree did so for a reason. Leave it alone. That’s the whole problem no one wants to let this whole thing go…they are working hard to put things in place to help these issues out, let them have time to work,” posted Shelly Prince Jones.

Not all of the comments on the post were kind and many worry that this recent act of cruelty and vandalism could spark a new round of issues in Ferguson.

Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Brown was only 18-years-old when he was shot by Darren Wilson, 28, of the Ferguson Police Department. … The protests lasted more than a week and resulted in nightly curfews.

The shooting also sparked vigorous debates about law enforcements relationships with African Americans.

Police officials in Ferguson are currently looking into the vandalism at the park and have yet to make any statement other than an ‘investigation is ongoing.’

[Photo courtesy of KMOV 4’s Facebook Page]

‘We can’t even mourn': Michael Brown memorial tree cut down in suspected vandalism incident: here.

Michael Brown’s memorial tree ‘cut down’ after one night in Ferguson: here.

The city of Parma, Missouri, has seen mass resignations among the local police force after the city’s first black female mayor, Tyrus Byrd, was sworn in on Tuesday: here.

Florida, USA: Study Finds Tampa Police Gave 80 Percent of Bike Tickets to Blacks: here.

Eric Harris shooting: Sheriff offers apology to family of man killed by reserve deputy: here.

A new civil rights movement may emerge in US in the wake of police shootings. The protests over police shootings of unarmed black men may signify a new kind of civil rights movement based less on spectacle and more on social media and data: here.

FBI false evidence in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover‘s “Suicide Letter” to Civil Rights Leader

18 November 2014

It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the “most notorious liar in the country.” Hoover made the comment in front of a group of female journalists ahead of King’s trip to Oslo where he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient of the prize.

While Hoover was trying to publicly discredit King, the agency also sent King an anonymous letter threatening to expose the civil rights leader’s extramarital affairs. The unsigned, typed letter was written in the voice of a disillusioned civil rights activist, but it is believed to have been written by one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan.

The letter concluded by saying, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” The existence of the so-called “suicide letter” has been known for years, but only last week did the public see the unredacted version. We speak to Yale University professor Beverly Gage, who uncovered the unredacted letter.

By Kate Randall in the USA:

US admits FBI falsified evidence to obtain convictions

20 April 2015

The US Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that over a more than two-decade period before 2000, nearly every FBI examiner gave flawed forensic hair testimony in almost all trials of criminal defendants reviewed so far, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The cases examined include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, 14 of whom have been either executed or died in prison. The scandal raises the very real probability that innocent people have been sent to their deaths, and that many more wrongfully convicted are languishing on death rows across the US due to FBI analysts’ fraudulent testimony.

Testimony involving pattern-based forensic techniques—such as hair, bite-mark, and tire track comparisons—has contributed to wrongful convictions in more than a quarter of the 329 defendants’ cases that have been exonerated in the US since 1989. In their pursuit of convictions prosecutors across the country have often relied on FBI analysts’ overstated testimony on hair samples, incorrectly citing them as definitive proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project are assisting the government in the nation’s largest post-conviction review of the FBI’s questioned forensic evidence. The groups determined that 26 of 28 examiners in the elite FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.

The nation’s courts have allowed the bogus testimony, masquerading as definitive scientific evidence of defendants’ guilt, to railroad innocent people and consign them to decades in prison, life in prison, or death row and the execution chamber.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in 2012 after a Post examination found that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people nationwide since at least the 1970s. Defendants in these cases were typically charged with murder, rape and other violent crimes.

The scandal involves about 2,500 cases in which FBI examiners gave testimony involving hair matches. Hair examination is a pattern-based forensic technique. It involves subjective examination of characteristics such as color, thickness and length and compares them to a known source.

There is no accepted scientific research on how often hair from different people may appear the same, and any hair “matches” must be confirmed by DNA analysis. However, the Post ’s 2012 review found that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of matches of hair found at crime scenes to the hair samples of defendants. The FBI gave flawed forensic testimony in 257 of the 268 trials examined so far.

In 2002, a decade before the Post review, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing revealed that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time.

In Washington, DC, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have carried out an investigation into all convictions based on FBI hair testimony, five of seven defendants whose trials included flawed hair evidence have been exonerated since 2009 based on either DNA testing or court appeals. All of them served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

In an interview with the Post, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results of the DC investigation reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system. “The tools don’t exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” he said.

Those exonerated since 2009 in DC include:

* Donald Eugene Gates was incarcerated for 28 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student. He was ordered released in December 2009 by a DC Superior Court Judge after DNA evidence revealed that another man committed the crime. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of an FBI analyst, who falsely linked two hairs from an African-American mail to Gates.

* Kirk L. Odom was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 22 years for a 1981 rape and murder. He completed his prison term in 2003, but it was not until July 2012 that DNA evidence exonerated him of the crimes. A DC Superior Court order freed him from remaining on parole until 2047 and registering as a sex offender.

* Santae A. Tribble was convicted in the 1978 killing of a DC taxi driver. An FBI examiner testifying at Tribble’s trial said he had microscopically matched the defendant’s hair to one found in a stocking near the crime scene. In 2012, DNA tests on the same hair excluded him as the perpetrator, clearing the way for his exoneration.

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in those cases where FBI analysts gave flawed forensic testimony. However, in some 700 of the 2,500 cases identified by the FBI for review, police or prosecutors have not responded to requests for trial transcripts or other information. Biological evidence is also not always available, having been lost or destroyed in the years since trial.

Although defense attorneys argue that scientifically invalid testimony should be considered a violation of due process, only the states of California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant their testimony or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence given at trial.

In a statement responding to the new scandal’s eruption, the FBI and Justice Department vowed that they are “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance” and that are “also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

The scandal over fraudulent testimony, however, only reveals the corrupt and anti-democratic character of the US prison system as a whole. The United States locks behind bars a greater proportion of its population than any other country, topped off by the barbaric death penalty that is supported by the entire political establishment.

Thirty years in jail for a single hair: the FBI’s ‘mass disaster’ of false conviction. A ‘dirty bomb’ of pseudo-science wrapped up nearly 268 cases – perhaps hundreds more. Now begins the ‘herculean effort to right the wrongs’: here.

Missouri man executed after faulty hair testimony was convicted in St. Louis County: here.

Norwegian wolf poachers on trial


This video says about itself:

Wolf pups (Canis lupus) – Wolf behavior

30 May 2012

There were four adorable woulf pups, just one week old. The entire pack works together to care for those young pups.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Norwegian court to rule on six men accused of illegal wolf hunt

Landmark case pits survival of one of Europe’s smallest wolf populations against Norwegians’ cherished hunting rights

Elisabeth Ulven and Tone Sutterud in Oslo

Sunday 19 April 2015 15.33 BST

Six men charged over hunting some of Norway’s last wolves will learn their fate this week when a court rules on a landmark case that has gripped the country.

Illegal hunting of wolves is thought to be extensive in Norway, driving down population numbers to perilously low levels.

Now, for the first time, the authorities have prosecuted an alleged hunting team, charging the six men with environmental offences and organised crime, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 11 years.

“It’s such a serious offence that we were given almost unlimited investigative powers by the state attorney,” says Tarjei Istad, a prosecutor in the case.

The indictment includes attempted illegal hunting, firearms offences and organised crime. The prosecutor has asked for a five-year ban from hunting, which is something most Norwegians see as a birthright. The defendants are pleading not guilty.

All European countries except the UK and Ireland are believed to have a population of wolves, ranging from the largest in Spain, with an estimated 2,000 animals, to Norway, which has one of the smallest populations, with perhaps as few as 30. The grey wolf is listed by Cites as endangered regionally, though not globally.

“This is a question of attitude in certain hunting teams and communities,” said Istad, referring to audio surveillance of the suspects that revealed a lot of boasting about their hunts. He believes this court case is important to get the message across that Norway will not take illegal hunting lightly.

Petter Wabakken, an internationally acclaimed expert on wolves, agrees.

“Our research shows that half of all wolves felled in Norway were killed by poachers,” he said. “This is disturbing, especially considering that we have the smallest wolf population in Europe. Government policy has been to allow three breeding female wolves within an allocated area. This is not enough to sustain a healthy population.”

Norwegians are deeply divided over the management of wolves. Urban communities are generally positive about having large predators in their vicinity, while people in the countryside see them as much more of a threat.

Wolves tend to be targeted because of conflicts with human interests, such as competition for game, human safety and depredation of livestock.

“We can only conclude that poachers take the law into their own hands. It’s not licensed but illegal hunting that regulates the Norwegian wolf tribe,” Wabakken said.

Bahrain, torture and Formula One news


This video says about itself:

Western hypocrisy on human rights for Bahrain

11 February 2012

Maryam Al-Khawaja, of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, warns of a violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists over the coming days amid a media blackout.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters take to the streets in a peaceful rally calling for the release of political prisoners ahead of the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: video here.

The 2015 Formula One World Racing Championship kicked off in Bahrain on Friday amid opposition protests calling for the event to be cancelled: here.

From the International Business Times:

Bahrain: Dissidents in Jaw Prison ‘subjected to mass torture’ in nightmarish building No. 10

By Gianluca Mezzofiore Senior Foreign News Reporter

April 17, 2015 18:20 BST

A recent riot at the infamous Bahrain’s Jaw Prison, south of capital Manama, where political and criminal prisoners are held, has led to a bloody crackdown with harrowing episodes of mass torture by riot police, according to a human rights group and testimony exclusively seen by IBTimes UK.

Hundreds of prisoners were subjected to tear gas, shot from close range, beaten and rounded up and taken outdoors, where they were stripped naked and left for three days. Then, they were crammed inside a tent for 30 days with no access to toilets or showers. Inmates were called one by one and taken to infamous building number 10, where further torture took place.

Reports of alleged torture and human rights violations come just days after Amnesty International issued a damning 79-page report accusing the Bahraini government of rampant abuse by security forces on dissidents – with documented episodes of torture and mistreatment of detainees, continued jailing of activists and bans on protests in the capital.

They used tear gas and gunshots. One guy was shot at a very close range. Everyone was beaten and asked to stand down”
– Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei

The outbreak of violence started on 10 March due to poor conditions and overcrowding in the prison, whose capacity is 450 but currently contains 1020 prisoners.

A government newspaper reported that the unrest was the result of violence by prisoners after a row between prison guards and three visitors. However, local rights groups said security forces used excessive force against prisoners.

The reaction of the Bahraini government was to bring in the feared riot police, formed by Pakistani and Jordanian guards, which surrounded the main buildings of the prison and then broke inside.

“Then the torture started,” Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of Advocacy at Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, who collected the testimonies, told IBTimes UK. “They used tear gas and gunshots. One guy was shot at a very close range. Everyone was beaten and asked to stand down.”

Then, the prisoners were rounded up, taken outside the prison facility and stripped of their clothes. They also had cold water poured on them. “Riot police used broken table legs and wood bars to beat the prisoners,” Alwadaei said.

Held outside for three days

The inmates were allegedly forced to stay outside for three days, during which they were regularly beaten by the riot police.

“People were called by name and taken to building number 10, where torture was conducted in much more horrific way,” Alwadaei said.

One of the witnesses reported seeing a man with who suffered further injuries to his head after being beaten where the stitches had been placed.

Another prisoner had his nose and leg broken and was subjected to “psychological and physical torture”, according to the transcript of a testimony seen by IBTimes UK. He was also banned from accessing the toilet and had overnight cold water dropped on him while sleeping.

“What is happening now in Jaw prison is even worse than 2011,”Alwadaei said. “We were shocked about the details.”

Families of some inmates at the prison were allowed no contact with them for more than one month, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which issued a statement earlier in April:

The wife of the human rights activist Naji Fateel said she has not heard from her husband since March 10. On March 24, she attempted to make a scheduled visit but said she was told by a member of prison staff that visits were “suspended indefinitely.” Fateel, who is also held in building 4, is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly establishing a group that aimed to change the constitution.

The Bahrain’s police media centre at the Ministry of Interior denied any torture allegations when asked by IBTimes UK.

“No, these are all false rumours,” a spokesperson said. “We don’t use torture in Bahraini prisons. These are all lies… who told you this? It’s all lies”.

The testimonies of the alleged violations have been submitted to the UN for breach of international human rights and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Amnesty report

After the crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising in 2011, led by Saudi forces, Bahrain has plunged deeper into sectarian conflict between the wealthy ruling Sunni-al-Khalifa minority and the Shia majority.

King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has pledged to implement recommendations by an independent commission of inquiry but reforms are progressing slowly and reconciliation talks have stalled. Violence between riot police and protesters is a weekly occurrence.

Decrees approved by Hamad include up to seven years in jail for criticising him. All protests, sit-ins and gatherings in Manama are banned indefinitely.

The Amnesty report documented dozens of cases of detainees being beaten, deprived of sleep and adequate food, burnt with cigarettes, sexually assaulted, electrocuted including on the genitals and burnt with an iron in order to try and force them to “confess” to crimes.

The Amnesty report added: “One such detainee told us he was struck with the claw of a hammer on several parts of his body. Another said he was raped by having a plastic pipe inserted into his anus.”

Formula One Voices Support For Human Rights, Ignores Abuses In Bahrain: here.