black agenda report

Reneging on George Floyd Promises: The Minneapolis Police Name-Change Con
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report, Aug 13 2020

At the height of the Minneapolis rebellion a majority of the city council announced they would move towards “disbanding” their police force, in response to BLM “abolition” demands. It turned out that what the councilpersons were actually proposing was a name change, retaining a force of armed cops in a new “Dept of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” with a “holistic, public health-oriented” mission. But even this palliative was too much for the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which voted to delay putting the police reorganization question on the November ballot, effectively killing the measure. The city is currently required to maintain a set ratio in the number of cops per resident. The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J), which was formed in the wake of the police killing of Jamar Clark in 2015, never bought into the city council’s name-change game. The TCC4J’s Jae Yates told a press conference:

The proposed charter amendment was at best a symbolic gesture and at worst lessened police accountability for past and future crimes. In opposition to the charter amendment, TCC4J instead demands community control of police [CPAC], which will meaningfully curtail the as of yet unchecked power of the MPD to terrorize Black, brown and low income communities. The CPAC legislation puts all oversight of police misconduct back into the hands of the communities that are being policed and provides continuous engagement for community members to address grievances. CPAC consists of a directly-elected all-civilian council, and has final authority over discipline, up to and including subpoena power and the convening of grand juries. In short, the CPAC legislation has all of the details that the city council’s proposal lacked.

The Minneapolis coalition was among the 800 activists that gathered in Chicago last year to organize a nationwide campaign for community control of the police, under the umbrella of a relaunched National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Nineteen of Chicago’s 50-member board of aldermen have endorsed legislation to create a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC). Minneapolis organizer Daphne Brown said at last week’s press conference:

Nothing short of CPAC is what we need and demand. We don’t want no Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department! Council members, mayor and government in city hall, we don’t want that piece of shit y’all trying to give us. We do not want it. We want what we demand, which is CPAC. That’s the only thing that’s gonna give us the power back to protect our community, protect our families and protect ourselves.

Brown has been organizing against killer cops since 2013. She doesn’t hesitate to name the Black misleaders that are in on the con. Brown continued:

To the council members that came up with this, you went behind our backs! Andrea Jenkins, Jeremiah Ellison, y’all know that’s not gonna help us. We still got killer cops out here, y’all. How can we accept anything from these people, knowing we still got killer cops on our streets?

Jamal Clark’s sister, Danielle Burns, sees through the “good Council-bad Commission” con game that’s being played to keep the blue army of occupation on the streets of Minneapolis. She said:

It’s these same folks putting forward a fake fix with their city charter amendment. Changing the police department’s name, that’s not justice.

The same hustle-and-jive plays out across the nation, as mainly Demagog city officials attempt to reconcile protesters’ demands with their obligations to the Lords of Capital, the architects of the Pindo police state. When BLM chapters demand “abolition” and “defunding” of the police, rather than community control of the cops, they play into the hands of the charlatans and misleaders on city councils and in the halls of Congress, for the simple reason that no legislative body will totally abolish local armed security forces. Nor would Black communities support measures that would remove the cops without replacing them with some other security force. Since “abolition” of the police is not immediately possible, elected officials are free to “interpret” the intent of protesters’ demands. The result will always be “that piece of shit y’all trying to give us,” as Daphne Brown put it. The Minneapolis Charter Commission is taking it upon itself to fill in the blanks that were left by the city council, and before that by protesters’ simple demands for “abolition” and “defunding” of the cops. As the WaPo reported  on Aug 5, Barry Clegg, a Minneapolis attorney who chairs the commission, said ahead of Wednesday’s vote:

The council says, “Trust us. We’ll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us.” Well, I don’t. We need more time to fill in these blanks so voters can make a decision based on an actual specific plan, and not the promise of one.

Unless Black community activists spell out precisely how security for communities will be maintained, and to whom those forces will be accountable, the demand to “defund” the police, like “abolition,” is an invitation for officials to engage in word games, obfuscation and lies. As we wrote in the Jul 1 issue of BAR:

Cuts in police budgets may rightly count as victories for the protesters that demanded cuts (or, it may actually be the result of across-the-board cutbacks due to collapse of tax revenues in the Great Depression Two). But diminished budgets do not make the police accountable to the people or allow the people to reinvent policing (or whatever folks choose to call the mechanisms of their security). Transfer of duties previously (mis)handled by cops to more competent agencies is a good thing, but will not result in People’s Power unless those agencies are brought under community control, along with the police.

Thus, not only must we demand community control of the police, but also community control of those social service agencies that purport to serve the community, and to whom police funds would supposedly be transferred under a “defund the police” policy. As Frederik Douglass famously said:

Power concedes nothing without a demand.

Power will also use every opportunity to reshape people’s “demands” that are vague or open-ended, such as “abolition” and “defunding” of the police. Angela Davis, the prison and police abolition scholar most often cited by BLM activists, was on hand for the relaunching of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression last year in Chicago, and is 100% behind its community control of police campaign. Although some of the 14 BLM chapters  in Pindostan have refused to endorse community control, the Chicago chapter  is active in the campaign for CPAC and the LA BLM chapter favors community control of social services, land and all other community resources, including the police. The same democratic and self-determinationist imperatives that require black community control of police are applicable to a broad range of other services and resources, most especially schools. Community control is not a reformist demand, because it calls for real transfers of power from the oligarchs and their politicians, to the people. General demands for “abolition” and “defunding,” however, invite a reformist and trickster response from Power, as we see unfolding in Minneapolis. As we wrote on Jul 1:

’Reforms’ that leave power in the hands of the oppressor and his flunkies succeed mainly in making the enemy look good. It buys the oppressor more time to harm the people – which is what the Democrats were seeking when they adopted the vocabulary of protest and embraced ‘reforms’ they had previously rejected in the face of a Black-led popular insurgency. Movement organizers must avoid providing opportunities for scoundrels, sell-out artists and Demagog Party operatives to pose as friends of ‘the community.’

TikTok and the War on China
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, Aug 12 2020

The seemingly strange Trump administration attack on the TikTok and WeChat platforms are just the latest iterations of an economic, rhetorical and propaganda war against the PRC. Pindostan has dispensed with any pretense of diplomatic niceties and resorted to theft and public bullying in a futile effort to undo China’s economic prowess. But the unipolar moment is over and China will remain a power player in the world. On Jul 22 2020, the State Dept abruptly gave the Chinese government 48 hours to close its Houston consulate. Pindostan claimed that Chinese diplomats were responsible for theft of scientific research and economic espionage. To add insult to injury, the following day Pompeo quite literally insulted the Chinese government in a bizarre 40-minute rant against General Secretary Xi Jinping, his foreign minister, all 100m members of the CCP and even Richard Nixon, who was responsible for the first steps leading to diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Like his boss Donald Trump, Pompeo’s lack of intellect and tact make him unfit for his position. Formerly DCI, Pompeo famously blurted out that the agency taught staff to “lie, cheat and steal.” Of course that is what intelligence agencies do, but most people know better than to admit to dirty deeds. Pompeo’s speech, entitled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future,” was a turgid laundry list of nonsense that hadn’t been uttered since the worst days of the McCarthy era. Pompeo claimed that China sends propagandists into high schools, colleges and even PTA meetings. He called Xi Jinping a “believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology” and said that China must be distrusted. He warned that if his crazy pronouncements were not adhered to “our children’s children may be at the mercy of the CCP.” Not long after Pompeo’s tantrum Trump announced that he was putting the TikTok social media platform out of business in Pindostan. Just as in Pompeo’s screed, the claim was made that the “CCP” was spying on Pindos who want to create their own media for entertainment purposes.

Of course, everything that TikTok is accused of is carried out by the surveillance state and corporations here. The NSA has access to every electronic communication carried out in this country. Pindo social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter routinely turn over user information to the CIA and the FBI. The Atlantic Council, an arm of NATO, determines what Facebook will and will not allow to be posted. Data breaches are common and every internet user has given up their private information to scammers. TikTok is surely no more dangerous than any corporation we deal with now. The same can be said for Huawei, which Trump not only banned from Pindostan, but ordered the UK to ban as well. The Trump administration could not accomplish any of its aggressions without the help of its vassals which go along and do as they are told. When Faschingstein ordered Canada to arrest Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer and daughter of its founder, prime minister Justin Trudeau did just that. Pindostan accused Huawei of violating Pindo sanctions by doing business with Iran. The legality of her arrest is questionable but Canada, a reliable puppet state, did as it was told. China retaliated and arrested two Canadians who remain under detention. But Trudeau doubles down and continues the extradition effort.

If Joe Biden were to become president, Pindo policy would be no different. Biden accuses China of “stealing Pindostan’s ideas,” and “forcing Pindo companies to give away their trade secrets.” While the bipartisan consensus is on full display, no one speaks of how China may retaliate. China’s economic growth will not be hindered by desperate actions. Every Pindo attack on China brings it closer to its allies. Pindostan applies what it calls maximum pressure against Iran, and China and Iran reached a $400b trade and aid agreement in response. Dedollarization, ending dependency on the Pindo dollar, is well underway and will only accelerate with every attack and petty, mean-spirited statement. China is increasing the use of its digital currency. Russia and China are amassing large gold reserves. Now that the gloves are off, and Pindostan instigates a new cold war, China and its allies have no choice but to respond in kind. They know that their very survival is at stake. Most Pindos know nothing about dedollarization or gold reserves or even that they are already under the thumb of the surveillance state. When the economic counter-attack takes place, ordinary people will be victims. It won’t matter that they believe the unproven stories of Uyghurs in concentration camps, or that China, the country declared the COVID-19 villain, is the one that conquered the disease most quickly. Ignorance will be no defense, and the economic suffering will happen whether Pindos understand it or not.

ESPN Tries to Draft NBA Players Into Pindo Cold War Against China
Danny Haiphong, Black Agenda Report, Aug 12 2020

The Disney-owned ESPN corporation has joined right-wing Senators Joshua Hawley, Tom Cotton, and Marsha Blackburn in pressuring the National Basketball Association (NBA) to join Pindostan’s New Cold War against China. In an article of 3k+ words, ESPN summarized its “investigation” of the NBA’s relationship with China that began after Rocket’s General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support of the Hong Kong protests back in Oct 2019. While the reporters found it difficult to maintain focus on the subject, the conclusion is clear. According to ESPN, China is everything that Pompeo and the rest of the Trump administration says it is: a country devoid of “human rights” and one that could not possibly tolerate the values of Pindostan’s “democratic” arrangement. However, ESPN’s coverage of China’s supposed wrong-doing relies upon anonymous and unverified sources and reads more like a speech from Mike Pompeo than credible journalism. The report comes at the same time that Pindostan is waging a dangerous and multifaceted New Cold War against China. ESPN’s descent into political innuendo closely resembles the USDA’s warning that “mystery seeds” from China have landed in Pindo mailboxes. The corporation accused Chinese coaches working in NBA training academies of using corporal punishment against players and refusing to provide youth participants a decent education. Less than a handful of anonymous sources allegedly validate ESPN’s claims from direct experience but their observations went entirely unverified. The authors claim that their sources were afraid for their livelihoods. Still, this doesn’t excuse the fact that no true effort was made to obtain evidence in the form of emails, photos, or other forms of leaks to verify their observations.

The article reveals that the investigation was not as fruitful as ESPN would like it to appear. Much of the article regurgitates State Dept talking points on everything from Hong Kong to Xinjiang. The ESPN investigation supposedly found that Xinjiang was repressive for Uyghur players and foreign NBA staffers alike. While the anonymous sources claimed that participants in Xinjiang’s NBA training academy were packed eight to ten in a room, they somehow could not verify whether the so-called “government crackdown” on Uyghurs affected players at the academy in any way. All readers are left with is a fairy tale image of an evil China where a child-beating, surveillance-obsessed CCP rules. Ironically, the ESPN article is written by a pair of brothers, one of whom, Steve Fainaru, has written extensively on the impact of Pindo mercenaries and military contractors in Iraq. Fainaru conducted his investigation by embedding himself in Crescent Security Group and witnessed the atrocities of war first-hand. In his article for ESPN, Fainaru abandons such journalistic rigor in place of State Dept talking points. Xinjiang is painted as a “police state” where millions of Uyghurs are detained in camps. Fainaru’s passion for the plight of Uyghurs did not compel him to reach out to Reuters or the scores of foreign journalists from 24 different countries who visited Xinjiang on two occasions in January and Jul 2019. One may understand the hesitancy, of course, since the Pindo political establishment immediately set out to suppress the content of the visits and demonize them as “choreographed” by China’s central government.

Perhaps even more ironic is the fact that the majority of official reporting on Xinjiang’s so-called “Uyghur concentration camps” is the product of shoddy research conducted by Adrian Zenz, a far-right evangelical “scholar” who believes he is on a mission from god to take down China’s government. While he has recently become the primary source for all things Xinjiang in Faschingstein his broader work includes outright support for corporal punishment himself in the form of “spiritual spanking” and the comparison of hate crime legislation to the anti-Christ. His conclusion that one million Uyghurs are detained in “concentration camps” stems from a singular report from the Turkish-based Isqital TV, which possesses deep ties to the separatist group ETIM responsible for the thousands of terrorist attacks committed in China between the years of 1990-2016. Zenz is also a member of the Pindo government-funded Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and routinely cites Radio Free Asia, another Pindo-funded foundation that was created by the CIA. Zenz and his supporters in the corporate media have provided cover for Pindostan’s New Cold War against China. Constant speculation about the condition of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang inspired the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act late last year. This bill arms the Pindo president with the power to sanction Communist Party of China officials should reports from the Pindo Agency for Global Media (the parent agency of Radio Free Asia) compel him to do so. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, also passed last year, requires Pindostan to sanction entities and individuals in China related to “human rights abuses” in Hong Kong. Over 50% of all Pindo military assets reside in the Asia Pacific, including over 400 military bases  that conduct thousands of operations in the South China Sea alone. ESPN’s investigation clearly demonstrates that the NBA is a key battleground for Pindo journalists and their political allies in Faschingstein to fuel Pindostan’s New Cold War against China and the racist demonization campaigns that make it possible.

NBA players and fans alike have many reasons to oppose Pindostan’s New Cold War against China. Over 70% of NBA players are Black. Support for the uprising against police brutality from players such as Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon ultimately pressured the league to adopt measures that appeal to the movement’s principles. Many players grew up in and remain connected to Black communities under constant surveillance from police departments that harass, brutalize, and kill Black people each and every day. The corporate media and the political class that speculates about “concentration camps” in China never condemns the very real concentration camps that exist in Pindostan. Over 40% of the 2m people locked in prison and/or solitary confinement are Black, and this includes dozens of political prisoners. Allegations of “repression” against nations that Pindostan does not like thus ring hollow to many whose ancestors were taken captive, enslaved, and then forced to live in a modern apartheid regime that continues to this day. NBA players such as Lebron James were every bit correct not to interfere in China’s internal affairs and pledge their support for the Pindo-backed Hong Kong protest movement or any other policy of the New Cold War. In a period where DHS’ BORTAC is disappearing protestors, Black communities are being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic , and trillions of dollars are spent waging wars abroad , NBA players and their working-class fans should be wondering why so much outrage is being leveled at China and not these critical homegrown issues. Neither Hawley nor Pompeo have paid any attention to Black Pindostan and when they do it is to condemn the movement for Black lives. China hawks have derided NBA players for placing their business interests ahead of “human rights.” Just as Black activists have been condemned by ruling elites as dupes of Russia and China, so too have NBA players been painted as greedy hirelings of China’s business plantation.

Pindostan’s New Cold War against China provides NBA players with an opportunity to break with the dominance of Pindo exceptionalism and corporate discipline in Pindo sports culture. For decades, sports leagues like the NBA and their corporate sponsors have given ideological support to Pindo military adventurism by painting Pindostan as the most progressive and “civilized” society on earth even as they punished players like Craig Hodges, Mahmoud Abd’ul-Rauf and Colin Kaepernick for attempting to hold Pindostan accountable to its supposed values. China offers more than just a business opportunity for NBA players; it offers respite from Pindo hypocrisy. Dozens of current and former NBA players are connected to China’s 300m-strong basketball community and have witnessed the progress of the anti-poverty campaign inside of the country. In Xinjiang alone, 2m Uyghurs have been lifted out of poverty in the last five years, and cities across the region have become hubs for tourism. NBA players should talk more openly about their experiences in China and urge Faschingstein to abandon its New Cold War against the country. This would go a long way toward the development of a peace movement in Pindostan that could strengthen the movement against police brutality and racism at home. NBA players who have been inspired to fight racism should be encouraged to become global citizens who fight for a justice that includes peace. ESPN’s “investigation” is an attempt not only to break the NBA’s business dealings within China but also to sow divisions between the movement against racism in Pindostan and nations around the world confronting the threat of Pindo militarism abroad. Internationalism, or the principle that oppressed peoples and nations must unite and offer concrete solidarity to each other in the struggle against global imperialism, has been a significant component of the Black freedom movement in Pindostan since its inception. On this Black August, NBA players becoming increasingly active in movement politics must condemn Pindostan’s New Cold War against China and learn about the Black political prisoners in Pindostan who reside in actual concentration camps because of their just fight for a society that signifies the principles of internationalism and social justice in the flesh. The Black Alliance for Peace, No Cold War, and the Jericho Movement are good places to start.

NBA Game Changer? “Black Homes Matter”
Ann Garrison, Black Agenda Report, Aug 12 2020

LA Lakers forward Anthony Davis, center, before a game against the Houston Rockets
in Lake Buena Vista, Aug 6 2020. (Photo: Kim Klement/AP)

On Jul 30, the National Basketball Association (NBA) began scrimmages in the “NBA Bubble,” a self-isolation resort inside Disneyworld in Orlando. The Bubble has strict rules to protect players and other staff from the COVID-19 pandemic as they close out the 2019–20 season and playoffs in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The whole production is costing $150m, but that’s a small price to pay given that the NBA playoffs generated $932m in advertising in 2019 and hundreds of millions more in basketball apparel sales and endorsements. But it all goes down the drain if there’s a coronavirus outbreak; the season was suspended after one member of the Salt Lake City Jazz tested positive on Mar 11. Two players who tested positive upon their arrival were quarantined, and no-one has tested positive since. Players, coaching staff and Bubble personnel are all tested every other day, and anyone who leaves for whatever urgent reason is quarantined for four days upon their return. Virtual fans fill virtual stands via video link, and when sitting on the sidelines most players and coaching staff wear masks, as do most referees, even as the players climb over and crash into one another fighting for the ball, shooting, and blocking shots.

Los Angeles Clippers star Lou Williams left the Bubble for a funeral, and was famously quarantined for 10 days after someone took his picture in Atlanta’s Magic City strip club and posted it to Instagram before his return, even though he and his pals all seemed to be wearing masks in the picture. Williams claimed he’d just stopped by to pick up some of the best chicken wings in Atlanta, but wisecrackers responded that he’d gone for the legs and the thighs, and several girls at the club said he was a generous tipper. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers might have been angrier if the team had lost their second spot in the NBA standings while Williams was in quarantine. BioReference Laboratories, the Bubble’s official COVID-19 testing service, reportedly has around 100 staff members living and working inside the Bubble. They control every aspect of testing, from taking swabs to analyzing samples in a lab about an hour outside of Orlando, all of which facilitates a fast turnaround. A 72-hour window is standard for the company to report results, but many in the Bubble are getting results even faster.

Basketball trivia aside, the elaborate precautions taken in the NBA Bubble should validate those arguing that widespread, systematic testing and contact tracing could stop the spread of the virus, but as we all know, that’s not happening out here in the rest of Pindostan. The federal government is instead pouring vast sums into pharmaceutical corporations to develop vaccines and cures while their stock prices yo-yo up and down with every bit of good or bad news, and politicians argue about how much the cures and vaccines should cost. Nothing as meticulous and self-contained as the NBA Bubble could be constructed for the rest of us, but if coronavirus, rather than Russia and China for example, were defined as a national threat that we need to defend against, some number of billions of the $800b military budget could be redirected to testing and contact tracing and the virus would likely be contained. The same billions or more could be devoted to keeping the 28m to 40m Pindos now facing loss of their homes through eviction or foreclosure due to the depression caused by the lockdown. Facing the loss of your home for whatever reason causes incomparable stress, and I can’t imagine it leaves anyone with time or energy to worry about Russia or China. To quote Public Citizen:

Canceling evictions is national security.

75% of NBA players are Black, and “Black Lives Matter” has been painted on all the courts. Every sweatshirt worn by every member of every team bears the same message. Players speak to the press about social justice, and we see film of them calling for justice and chanting “Black Lives Matter” with bullhorns at the head of demonstrations in their respective hometowns. Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard said that he had expected a crowd of Black people at the first protest after George Floyd’s gruesome death, but when he saw as many or more white people there he thought the movement could have some success. LeBron James, the biggest name in basketball, told the press that he and the league are now most concerned about the arrest of the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March. He said:

Us as the NBA, and us the players, and me as one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know, and I want the State of Kentucky to know, that we feel for her and we want justice. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and this is wrong in my eyes and a lotta other eyes.

LeBron asked whether it would take a video of Breonna’s death to see justice:

Well, it’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video, to see it. I mean, is that what we need, to see a video of Breonna bein’ killed, for people to realize how bad the situation is? I don’t even believe they was at the right place, right? Cops wasn’t even at the right place. They just knocked down the wrong door and started doing what they do at that time, and that’s just shootin’ away. And that’s just not OK. I seen a video today of a Black man inside like a Walmart or a Target or whatever tryin’ to buy a bike for his son, and the cops was called on him. He had a receipt and everything and the cops was called on him, and they arrested him inside the store and took him outside. I mean it’s just heartbreaking, man, you guys don’t understand, unless you’re a person of color, you guys don’t understand. I understand that you might feel for us, but you can never really truly understand what it’s like to be Black in Pindostan.

LeBron was one of the players who chose not to replace the family name on the back of his NBA jersey with one of the 29 social justice messages approved by NBA officialdom, the NBA players association, and Nike. Like his teammate Anthony Davis, he said that option simply didn’t resonate with him, though he also said he would have liked to be among those who chose the 29 approved messages: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; I Can’t Breathe; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Education Reform; Mentor; and Group Economics, which seems to mean Black patronage of Black businesses.

Nike, the largest sports apparel manufacturer in the world and the one who made the custom jerseys, is infamous for its exploitation of Indonesian and Asian sweatshop labor, and there were no messages of labor solidarity or respect for labor among the options. There was no approved “Defund the Police” message, and I haven’t heard any of the players voice that either. LeBron endorsed Biden at the beginning of the restart, and a lot of players are wearing the “Vote” message on the back of their jerseys. But whomever these celebrity ballers endorse or vote for, they have enormous influence on the culture. Now, with 28 to 40 million people, a disproportionate number of them Black people, facing eviction or foreclosure through no fault of their own, I’d like to see “Black Homes Matter” on the backs of their jerseys. It might even be a game changer, so to speak.

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