Emails revealed police continued blaming wildfires last year in Oregon on anti-fascist activists after the FBI knocked down those rumors.
Messages obtained by the watchdog group Property of the People show a Washington sheriff and other law enforcement officials pushed those rumors last summer to pin the blame for those wildfires on Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators, although federal investigators found no evidence that was true, reported The Daily Beast.
"One of the methods Antifa is using to start fire's, is to take a mason jar with tinder placed inside the jar, put it in brush with the lid open, so the hot sun light will create a slow start which allows them to be out of the area before the smoke appears [sic]," wrote Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer to officials throughout Washington state.
However, that very same day the FBI released a statement debunking those rumors, which were similar to a campaign hatched earlier in 2020 by conservatives in Australia blaming environmentalists for wildfires there.
"A lot of people on the political right here were retweeting and supporting the theory that the Australian fires were created by arsonists, and in some cases going as far as to blame climate activists," said Mike Caulfield, a researcher at the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. "We saw this narrative coming in January. We knew it was coming, in some form, in the fall."
American right-wingers began stoking similar rumors after the George Floyd protests swept the country, but they gained new power when law enforcement officials appeared to endorse them.
"Especially when so much of the far right is on high alert for supposed subversives, sheriffs spreading baseless rumors about antifa puts progressive activists and the general public in the crosshairs," said Ryan Shapiro, executive director of Property Of The People.
Songer, a self-described "constitutional sheriff" who admitted he never received any evidence that supported his claims about Antifa and fires, accused a woman in that September email of being an "Antifa/BLM" agitator -- months after those same false claims led to her family being attacked during a camping trip.
"The white bus being driven by suspected Antifa/BLM has been spotted at events in Sequim, Seattle, Coeur d'Alene, Spokane and now Moses Lake," Songer wrote, sharing the vehicle's license plate number.
"The bus appears to be an older model timber crew bus. The registered owner of the bus is Shannon Lee Lowe with an address of [Lowe's address]."
The Yakima County, Washington, sheriff forwarded Songer's email to two officers three days later, but reserve deputies in that county were already approvingly circulating videos of Proud Boys "patriots" brawling with Antifa activists.
"This is funny, you must check it out! ," wrote reserve deputy Edward Rivenbark in June 2020. "Patriots kicking the sh*t out of Antifa, enjoy!"
The video shows Proud Boy leader Ethan Nordean, who now faces numerous charges for allegedly coordinating the Jan. 6 insurrection, punching a demonstrator, and Yakima County sheriff Bob Udell said he was disturbed after he was notified about the email.
"As you likely suspected, such an email does not even get close to professional standards," Udell said. "We shall deal with the issue."
OKLAHOMA CITY — This week at the Oklahoma State Department of Education building, I was schooled in how the stealthy, well-orchestrated movement against teaching honestly about America’s racist history operates. It is fast and furious and determined to steamroll over truth in education.
But Monday morning, one Black woman and a Black high school student tried to hold the line. Though they were on the losing side of that steamroll — this is Oklahoma, after all — their courage and resistance in the face of white supremacy deserve to be celebrated.
The occasion was consideration of item 8(b) on the Oklahoma Board of Education’s meeting agenda: emergency rules for implementing a bill passed in May by the Republican-controlled state legislature limiting what students in the state can be taught on race and gender. Notice of the item was publicly posted only last Friday, giving educators and advocates next to no time to organize a response. The actual rules, too, were made available just minutes before the meeting. They included chillingly harsh penalties, such as teacher suspensions and district defunding, for instruction that makes any individual feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”
Carlisha Williams Bradley arrived knowing she would cast one of the most consequential votes of her professional life. The only Black member of the board, she wondered whether she would be removed from her position for pushing back. But the education advocate and former executive director of Tulsa Legacy Charter School spoke truth: that the right-wing’s current bête noire, “critical race theory” — which the legislature claimed to be responding to — means merely the examination of laws and legislation that uphold racism and oppression. Oklahoma’s new education law and harsh punishment, she said, would serve only to generate fear in teaching an accurate history of the United States.
“We are robbing students of the opportunity to have a high-quality education,” Williams Bradley said.
Williams Bradley had no allies on the board, but she found one among the public. “What does critical race theory mean to you?” pointedly asked Sapphira Lloyd, a 16-year-old Black student who attends Millwood Public Schools in Oklahoma City.
Lloyd got an answer from the six women who spoke before her, almost all of them White. One compared critical race theory to bullying. Another said it was reminiscent of the pretext to the Rwandan genocide.
Some of them began to cry at the podium. The teenage Lloyd had the more adult attitude: “We should be able to discuss critical race topics no matter how ugly they may be and teach kids how to handle having hard conversations.”
And she came armed, too, with facts and history, a contrast to the fury and hyperbole on the other side. She knew that less than 10 percent of American high school seniors could identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War, and that students are rarely taught that Thomas Jefferson believed that Black people were inferior to Whites.
Lloyd told the board that she was 8 when she had her first experience of racism. “It seems as though no one really truly cares about my experience … everyone else’s experiences matter, except for my life,” she testified — before heartbreakingly, in a country that often doesn’t allow Black children to be children, referring to herself as a woman. “Why is my having the right to live my life as a Black woman in America looked at as a political game?"
Ultimately, there would be little debate, though Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister acknowledged the lack of transparency with the process and then voted yes on the emergency rules anyway. Once the governor signs off on them, Oklahoma will have the harshest penalties in the nation for the crime of making White people uncomfortable.
“We didn’t ask for this law,” Hofmeister told me with an air of helplessness, arguing that the move was necessary for the sake of clarity. Other officials admitted that they had never received a complaint with regard to critical race theory. In fact, they claimed to be proud that Oklahoma was finally beginning to include its ugly history — this is where the Tulsa massacre occurred, as we were all reminded this year — in its teaching standards. And yet they undermined this progress anyway.
Williams Bradley, the mother of a 2-year-old boy, knew she had done the best she could for him and Oklahoma’s Black children. “White people will not save us,” Williams Bradley said to me, and she was right.
In the end, the rest of the board — despite its duty to safeguard the educational interests of Oklahoma’s children — surrendered to the storm of White panic and ignorance without a fight.
Not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001, my mom accused me of hating my country. By then she had fully fallen into the Fox News world, having married a far-right man late in life. But her position still surprised me. I was, after all, her own daughter. Didn't she have a basic idea of what I thought?
I explained that being against the war in Iraq, opposed to invading Afghanistan and all-out critical of just about everything the Bush administration did was not akin to hating my country. We went around in circles. But there was no convincing her that she held the wrong premise and that critique was not hatred.
That wasn't the only time in those years that I dealt with being told that I hated my country, but it certainly was the most frustrating. Again and again, then as now, those of us who make critical arguments about the United States, those of us who question conservative policies, those of us who point out examples of right-wing hypocrisies, aggressions, abuses and lies find ourselves in the strange position of having to argue against a warped understanding of what we advocate.
My mom and I never discussed what I actually thought about the United States, because the entire conversation was framed by her assertion that I hated it and my efforts to explain that I didn't.
I don't think I fully captured the core of the problem until I recently read an essay in The Atlantic by Ibram X. Kendi on how there is no debate over critical race theory. As Kendi puts it:
Kendi brilliantly lays bare that which many of us have been ensnared in for ages — that pundits and politicians create their own version of many progressive, liberal and leftist views, and then they fight with their version. There is no real debate and certainly no dialogue, because the entire game is to offer up a distorted version of a position, then freak out about it.
Once the pattern is recognized it can be seen everywhere. Kendi refers to the way it has been used with Black Lives Matter, the New York Times' 1619 Project, cancel culture, and critical race theory, but we can see the same play made with almost all progressive political positions. Professors are trying to brainwash students to become socialists, feminists think all men are rapists, abortion rights defenders don't care about life, the gay community doesn't respect marriage, and so on. We can even see it in claims that young people are snowflake whiners.
They distort from the start and then take up all of your bandwidth in fighting their distortion. They don't just set the terms; they singlehandedly define them — for both sides.
It isn't just that the right argues with itself. It is also that they do it really loudly.
There is little question that the vituperative, bullying nature of the right's so-called debating is also a core part of the problem. First, they misrepresent you, then they spin up into an incoherent meltdown. Think for a moment of how we now have such a high-profile chorus of right-wing gasbags, all of whom make their illogical points really loudly. Sometimes, as in the case of Alex Jones, they do so while shouting so intensely that they seem to spit into the microphone.
Take, for example, the recent scare over President Joe Biden's door-to-door vaccine strategy. The White House has noted that there is a growing disparity in communities receiving the vaccine. So, Biden proposes the notion that in some communities it might be beneficial to go door-to-door to spread information about vaccine safety and efficacy in order to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Yet, that's not what the GOP hears. Instead they turn this plan into a sinister strategy, which according to GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), could be used to take all manner of items away from citizens: "They could then go door to door and take your guns. They could go door to door and take your Bibles."
So, what should the White House do? Refute these loony claims? Doing so only allows the right an ongoing platform to repeat them and forces the White House to engage in an exhausting repeat loop of trying to explain themselves. Yet leaving these unfounded accusations out there unchallenged has the real risk of costing lives. It's an impossible situation because it shuts down any form of reasonable exchange.
You can't debate with someone who isn't even listening to your point.
The rub, as Kendi makes clear, is that one simply can't argue with someone who won't even listen. "How should thinkers respond to monstrous lies?" he asks. "[T]alking with people who have created a monologue with two points of view, theirs and what they impute to you, gets old."
But what doesn't get old is finding a way to expose the rhetorical games played by the right. You might not want to bother trying to debate them, but there is much to be said for finding ways to reveal the faulty logic, hubris and bluster that so often characterizes their manufactured outrage.
This, of course, is why irony and satire do a better job of diving into the fray than reasoned critical discourse. Satire can take the absurdity of these right-wing faux debates and expose their spectacle. Think, for example, of how Desi Lydic Foxsplains for "The Daily Show." Even better, check out her takedown of the fake debates staged on cable news. Or consider how Samantha Bee drives home Kendi's point in her bit, " What Are Conservatives Screaming About today?" where she dissects the irrationality of the critical race theory backlash. Trevor Noah underscores the point the right has manufactured their version of CRT with a segment called, "Do Any Republicans Know What Critical Race Theory Actually Is?"
What this critical satire does is both refuse to debate with someone incoherent and irrational, while also refusing to let their claims remain unchallenged. Using irony is often the only way to fight the illogically absurd.
1/2Landscaping was hardly his lifelong dream.
As a teenager, Alton Lucas believed basketball or music would pluck him out of North Carolina and take him around the world. In the late 1980s, he was the right-hand man to his musical best friend, Youtha Anthony Fowler, who many hip hop and R&B heads know as DJ Nabs.
But rather than jet-setting with Fowler, Lucas discovered drugs and the drug trade at arguably the worst time in U.S. history — at the height of the so-called war on drugs. Addicted to crack cocaine and convicted of trafficking the drug, he faced 58 years imprisonment at a time when drug abuse and violence plaguing major cities and working class Black communities were not seen as the public health issue that opioids are today.
By chance, Lucas received a rare bit of mercy. He got the kind of help that many Black and Latino Americans struggling through the crack epidemic did not: treatment, early release and what many would consider a fresh start.
“I started the landscaping company, to be honest with you, because nobody would hire me because I have a felony,” said Lucas. His Sunflower Landscaping got a boost in 2019 with the help of Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a national nonprofit assisting people with criminal backgrounds by providing practical entrepreneurship education.
Lucas was caught up in a system that limits him and a virtually unknowable number of people with criminal drug records, with little thought given to their ability to rehabilitate. In addition to employment, those with criminal records can be limited in their access to business and educational loans, housing, child custody rights, voting rights and gun rights.
It’s a system that was born when Lucas was barely out of diapers.
Fifty years ago this summer, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. Today, with the U.S. mired in a deadly opioid epidemic that did not abate during the coronavirus pandemic’s worst days, it is questionable whether anyone won the war.
Yet the loser is clear: Black and Latino Americans, their families and their communities. A key weapon of the war was the imposition of mandatory minimums in prison sentencing. Decades later those harsh penalties at the federal level and the accompanying changes at the state level led to an increase in the prison industrial complex that saw millions of people, primarily of color, locked up and shut out of the American dream.
An Associated Press review of federal and state incarceration data showed that, between 1975 and 2019, the U.S. prison population jumped from 240,593 to 1.43 million Americans. Among them, about 1 in 5 people were incarcerated with a drug offense listed as their most serious crime.
The racial disparities reveal the uneven toll of the war on drugs. Following the passage of stiffer penalties for crack cocaine and other drugs, the Black incarceration rate in America exploded from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000. In the same timespan, the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew from 103 per 100,000 people to 242.
Gilberto Gonzalez, a retired special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration who worked for more than 20 years taking down drug dealers and traffickers in the U.S., Mexico and in South America, said he’ll never forget being cheered on by residents in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood near Los Angeles as he led away drug traffickers in handcuffs.
“That gave me a sense of the reality of the people that live in these neighborhoods, that are powerless because they’re afraid that the drug dealers that control the street, that control the neighborhood are going to do them and their children harm,” said Gonzalez, 64, who detailed his field experiences in the recently released memoir “Narco Legenda.”
“We realized then that, along with dismantling (drug trafficking) organizations, there was also a real need to clean up communities, to go to where the crime was and help people that are helpless,” he said.
Still, the law enforcement approach has led to many long-lasting consequences for people who have since reformed. Lucas still wonders what would happen for him and his family if he no longer carried the weight of a drug-related conviction on his record.
Even with his sunny disposition and close to 30 years of sober living, Lucas, at age 54, cannot pass most criminal background checks. His wife, whom he’d met two decades ago at a fatherhood counseling conference, said his past had barred him from doing something as innocuous as chaperoning their children on school field trips.
“It’s almost like a life sentence,” he said.
Although Nixon declared the war on drugs on June 17, 1971, the U.S. already had lots of practice imposing drug prohibitions that had racially skewed impacts. The arrival of Chinese migrants in the 1800s saw the rise of criminalizing opium that migrants brought with them. Cannabis went from being called “reefer” to “marijuana,” as a way to associate the plant with Mexican migrants arriving in the U.S. in the 1930s.
By the time Nixon sought reelection amid the anti-Vietnam war and Black power movements, criminalizing heroin was a way to target activists and hippies. One of Nixon’s domestic policy aides, John Ehrlichman, admitted as much about the war on drugs in a 22-year-old interview published by Harper’s Magazine in 2016.
Experts say Nixon’s successors, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, leveraged drug war policies in the following decades to their own political advantage, cementing the drug war’s legacy. The explosion of the U.S. incarceration rate, the expansion of public and private prison systems and the militarization of local police forces are all outgrowths of the drug war.
Federal policies, such as mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses, were mirrored in state legislatures. Lawmakers also adopted felony disenfranchisement, while also imposing employment and other social barriers for people caught in drug sweeps.
The domestic anti-drug policies were widely accepted, mostly because the use of illicit drugs, including crack cocaine in the late 1980s, was accompanied by an alarming spike in homicides and other violent crimes nationwide. Those policies had the backing of Black clergy and the Congressional Black Caucus, the group of African-American lawmakers whose constituents demanded solutions and resources to stem the violent crack scourge.
“I think people often flatten this conversation,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit organization pushing decriminalization and safe drug use policies.
“If you’re a Black leader 30 years ago, you’re grabbing for the first (solution) in front of you,” said Fredrique, who is Black. “A lot of folks in our community said, ‘OK, get these drug dealers out of our communities, get this crack out of our neighborhood. But also give us treatment so we can help folks.’”
The heavy hand of law enforcement came without addiction prevention resources, she said.
Use of crack rose sharply in 1985, and peaked in 1989, before quickly declining in the early 1990s, according to a Harvard study.
Drug sales and use were concentrated in cities, particularly those with large Black and Latino populations, although there were spikes in use among white populations, too. Between 1984 and 1989, crack was associated with a doubling of homicide victimizations of Black males aged 14 to 17. The increases tapered off among Black men in older age groups. By the year 2000, the correlation between crack cocaine and violence faded amid waning profits from street sales.
Roland Fryer, an author of the Harvard study and a professor of economics, said the effects of the crack epidemic on a generation of Black families and Black children still haven’t been thoroughly documented. A lack of accountability for the war on drugs bred mistrust of government and law enforcement in the community, he said.
“People ask why Black people don’t trust (public) institutions,” said Fryer, who is Black. “It’s because we have watched how we’ve treated opioids — it’s a public health concern. But crack (cocaine) was, ‘lock them up and throw away the key, what we need is tougher sentencing.’”
Another major player in creating hysteria around drug use during the crack: the media. On June 17, 1986, 15 years to the day after Nixon declared the drug war, NBA draftee Len Bias died of a cocaine-induced heart attack on the University of Maryland campus.
Coverage was frenzied and coupled with racist depictions of crack addiction in mostly Black and Latino communities. Within weeks of Bias’s death, the U.S. House of Representatives drafted the Anti-Abuse Act of 1986.
The law, passed and signed by Reagan that October, imposed a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of 20 years, and a maximum life imprisonment, for violation of drug laws. The law also made possession and sale of crack rocks harsher than that of powder cocaine.
The death of Len Bias could have been one of the off-ramps in Lucas’s spiral into crack addiction and dealing. By then, he could make $10,000 in four to five hours dealing the drug.
“One of the things that I thought would help me, that I thought would be my rehab, was when Len Bias died,” Lucas said. “I thought, if they showed me evidence (he) died from an overdose of smoking crack cocaine, as much as I loved Len Bias, that I would give it up.”
“I did not quit,” he said.
He was first introduced to crack cocaine in 1986, but kept his drug use largely hidden from his friends and family.
“What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a different type of chemical entering my brain and it was going to change me forever,” Lucas said. “Here I am on the verge of being the right-hand man to DJ Nabs, to literally travel the world. That’s how bad the drug did me.”
By 1988, Fowler’s music career had outgrown Durham. He and Lucas moved to Atlanta and, a few years later, Fowler signed a deal to become the official touring DJ for the hip hop group Kris Kross under famed music producer Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def record label. Fowler and the group went on to open for pop music icon Michael Jackson on the European leg of the “Dangerous” tour.
Lucas, who began trafficking crack cocaine between Georgia and North Carolina, never joined his best friend on the road. Instead, he slipped further into his addiction and returned to Durham, where he took a short-lived job as a preschool instructor.
When he lacked the money to procure drugs to sell or to use, Lucas resorted to robbing businesses for quick cash. He claims that he was never armed when he robbed “soft targets,” like fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
Lucas spent four and a half years in state prison for larceny after robbing nine businesses to feed his addiction. Because his crimes were considered nonviolent, Lucas learned in prison that he was eligible for an addiction treatment program that would let him out early. But if he violated the terms of his release or failed to complete the treatment, Lucas would serve 12 years in prison on separate drug trafficking charges under a deal with the court.
He accepted the deal.
After his release from prison and his graduation from the treatment program, Fowler paid out of his pocket to have his friend’s fines and fees cleared. That’s how Lucas regained his voting rights.
On a recent Saturday, the two best friends met up to talk in depth about what had largely been a secret that Lucas intentionally kept from Fowler. The DJ learned of his friend’s addiction after seeing a Durham newspaper clipping that detailed the string of robberies.
Sitting in Fowler’s home, Lucas told his friend that he doesn’t regret not being on the road or missing out on the fringe benefits from touring.
“All I needed was to be around you,” Lucas said.
“Right,” Fowler replied, choking up and wiping tears from his eyes.
Lucas continued: “You know, when I was around you, when there was a party or whatnot, my job, just out of instinct, was to watch your back.”
In a separate interview, Fowler, who is two years younger than Lucas, said, “I just wanted my brother on the road with me. To help protect me. To help me be strong. And I had to do it by my damn self. And I didn’t like that. That’s what it was.”
Not everyone was as lucky as Lucas. Often, a drug offense conviction in combination with a violent gun offense carried much steeper penalties. At the heights of the war on drugs, federal law allowed violent drug offenders to be prosecuted in gang conspiracy cases, which often pinned murders on groups of defendants, sometimes irrespective of who pulled the trigger.
These cases resulted in sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a punishment disproportionately doled out to Black and Latino gang defendants.
That’s the case for Bill Underwood, who was a successful R&B and hip hop music promoter in New York City in the late ’70s through the ’80s, before his 33-year incarceration. A judge granted him compassionate release from federal custody in January, noting his lauded reputation as a mentor to young men in prison and his high-risk exposure to COVID-19 at age 67.
As the AP reported in 1990, Underwood was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole for racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and narcotics conspiracy, as part of a prosecution that accused his gang of committing six murders and of controlling street-level drug distribution.
“I actually short-changed myself, and my family and my people, by doing what I did,” said Underwood, who acknowledges playing a large part in the multimillion-dollar heroin trade, as a leader of a violent Harlem gang from the 1970s through the 1980s.
Underwood, who now is a senior fellow with The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit pushing for an end to life imprisonment, testified to Congress in June that his punishment was excessive.
“As human beings, we are capable of painful yet transformative self reflection, maturity, and growth, and to deny a person this opportunity is to deny them their humanity,” he said in the testimony.
Sympathy for people like Underwood can be hard to come by. Brett Roman Williams, a Philadelphia-based independent filmmaker and anti-gun violence advocate, grew up watching his older brother, Derrick, serve time in prison for a serious drug offense. But in 2016, his brother was only a month out on parole when he was killed by gunfire in Philadelphia.
“The laws are in place for people to obey, whether you like it or not,” Williams said. “We do need reform, we do need opportunities and equity within our system of economics. But we all have choices.”
Rep. Cori Bush of St. Louis, following similar action by several members of Congress before her, last month introduced legislation to decriminalize all drugs and invest in substance abuse treatment.
“Growing up in St. Louis, the War on Drugs disappeared Black people, not drug use,” Bush, who is Black, wrote in a statement sent to the AP. “Over the course of 2 years, I lost 40 to 50 friends to incarceration or death because of the War on Drugs. We became so accustomed to loss and trauma that it was our normal.”
The deleterious impacts of the drug war have, for years, drawn calls for reform and abolition from mostly left-leaning elected officials and social justice advocates. Many of them say that in order to begin to unwind or undo the war on drugs, all narcotics must be decriminalized or legalized, with science-based regulation.
Drug abuse prevention advocates, however, claim that broad drug legalization poses more risks to Americans than it would any benefits.
Provisional data released in December from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show overdose deaths from illicit drug use continued to rise amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. And according to the latest Drug Enforcement Administration narcotics threat assessment released in March, the availability of drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and cocaine remained high or plateaued last year. Domestic and transnational drug trade organizations generate tens of billions of dollars in illicit proceeds from sales annually in the U.S., the DEA said.
“Many people think drug prevention is ‘just say no,’ like Nancy Reagan did in the ’80s— and we know that did not work,” said Becky Vance, CEO of the Texas-based agency Drug Prevention Resources, which has advocated for evidenced-based anti-drug and alcohol abuse education for more than 85 years.
“As a person in long-term recovery, I know firsthand the harms of addiction,” said Vance, who opposes blanket recreational legalization of illicit drugs. “I believe there has to be another way, without legalizing drugs, to reform the criminal justice system and get rid of the inequities.”
Frederique, of the Drug Policy Alliance, said reckoning with the war on drugs must start with reparations for the generations needlessly swept up and destabilized by racially biased policing.
“This was an intentional policy choice,” Frederique said. “We don’t want to end the war on drugs, and then in 50 years be working on something else that does the same thing. That is the cycle that we’re in.”
“It has always been about control,” Frederique added.
As much as the legacy of the war on drugs is a tragedy, it is also a story about the resilience of people disproportionately targeted by drug policies, said Donovan Ramsey, a journalist and author of the forthcoming book, “When Crack Was King.”
“Even with all of that, it’s still important to recognize and to celebrate that we (Black people) survived the crack epidemic and we survived it with very little help from the federal government and local governments,” Ramsey told the AP.
Fowler thinks the war on drugs didn’t ruin Lucas’ life. “I think he went through it at the right time, truth be told, because he was young enough. Luke’s got more good behind him than bad,” the DJ said.
Lucas sees beauty in making things better, including in his business. But he still dreams of the day when his past isn’t held against him.
“It was the beautification of doing the landscaping that kind of attracted me, because it was like the affirmation that my soul needed,” he said.
“I liked to do something and look back at it and say, ‘Wow, that looks good.’ It’s not just going to wash away in a couple of days. It takes nourishment and upkeep.”
And after WW2, all those white men got to get a nice federal loan and get their slice of what would become the middle class by buying a home in the suburbs. Then building a highway right through this neiborhood, ruining the wealth that was being built up (highways = lots of cars nonstop ruins the ability to have a nice pleasant city home when they rip out all the places you could walk to on a night out).
Which shows up in the prison population stats.
And to be sure that the suburbs keep the power, they gerrymandered the power away from the cities and made sure that their taxes were not used to improve Detroit.
And now the Republicans in our state are pushing to try to get a voting initiative that the Republicans could then pass that our Governor would not be able to veto to steal away our ability to easily vote in non-gerrymandered districts.
The largest Black Lives Matter Facebook page had 700,000 followers and had raised some $100,000 to support the prominent racial justice group.
And it was a complete fake.
On Monday, a CNN investigation revealed that the page was a “scam with ties to a middle-aged white man in Australia,” named Ian Mackay. Mackay is an official with the Australian National Union of Workers and is not affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
In addition to the Facebook page, Mackay was also allegedly connected to a Black Lives Matter Facebook group that had nearly 40,000 members. The fake page was previously highlighted in a December 2017 blog post by Jeremy Massler, a freelance investigator.
Mackay had also reportedly created other pages focused on black rights, including blackpowerfist.com, created in April 2015, which operated as a “Reddit-like discussion forum.” Another website, blacklivesmatter.media, was also registered by Mackay. CNN noted that Mackay used the Facebook page to direct traffic to these other sites.
Mackay also reportedly used the Facebook page to run fundraisers and promoted the sale of Black Lives Matter branded merchandise. The fundraisers were hosted on a number of digital platforms, including Donorbox, PayPal, Patreon, and Classy. At least some of the money raised was transferred to Australian bank accounts.
Mackay denied creating the page, and told CNN that “my domain name buying and selling is a personal hobby.”
The story gets weirder: According to CNN, the fake Black Lives Matter page remained active even after Black Lives Matter Global Network co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors told the social network that the page was fake. Mackay’s page had twice the number of followers of the one run by the official group, and the fake page was only removed after CNN reporters contacted Facebook.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Black Lives Matter Global Network noted that the fake profile issue was not limited to Facebook, saying that Twitter had also failed to address fake accounts connected to the group.
“For months after noting the fraudulent profiles, the Black Lives Matter Global Network and many of our allies reached out to both Twitter and Facebook to request the fake profiles be deactivated and taken down,” the group said. “Unfortunately, our requests received no adequate response and many supporters continued to be misled.”
“It’s extremely important that platforms like Facebook and Twitter do their due diligence with users so that supporters of our movement, and movements like ours, aren’t misled and that resources aren’t misappropriated,” the group added.
News of the fake Facebook page comes at a difficult time for the social media giant, which is facing criticism that the platform is not doing enough to protect user data and prevent the spread of misinformation, especially in the wake of reports that the Cambridge Analytica political consulting firm accessed the Facebook information of some 87 million people. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is slated to testify before members of Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
This latest incident raises new questions about Facebook’s handling of false and misleading content targeting minority communities.
This isn’t the first fake Facebook campaign targeting minorities
In February, special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election, revealed that Russian operatives were running several social media accounts aimed at stoking racial tensions and discouraging African Americans from voting in the 2016 contest.
It was confirmation of something that media outlets and researchers had observed for months. In January, research from the University of Washington found that Russian accounts actively used the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, and #AllLivesMatter, and keywords related to police shootings in an effort to appeal to both left-leaning and right-leaning individuals.
Last fall, several media outlets reported on the ways that the Internet Research Agency, the Russian group mentioned in Mueller’s statement, and other groups sought to connect with African Americans and racial justice organizers, building upon a history of Russian groups targeting already existing racial divisions in the US.
Last September, CNN reported that two different social media accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency under the handle “Blacktivists” aimed to connect with black audiences and “regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage.”
”Black people should wake up as soon as possible,” one post read, according to CNN. “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men,” read another. At least one ad was specifically targeted to audiences in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.
According to Mueller, the Russian trolling campaign was not limited to Facebook, but the platform has faced the most scrutiny. The controversy has finally led to some changes, including a requirement that people running large Facebook pages be verified. And with Zuckerberg’s upcoming testimony, it is likely that the large reach of fake Facebook pages will be a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill.
There is profit in disinformation and the internet is international, this appears to be a con and nothing more, a way to make money off someone else's issues and fame, identity theft. His objective was to sell his made in China merch and not much more from what I can gather, motivated by greed more than malice is my take.
You seem really confident that this would end there. All that data on the people who cared enough about social justice to order something from them is out there adding to the information that foreign dictators and their puppets had to attack our citizens.There is profit in disinformation and the internet is international, this appears to be a con and nothing more, a way to make money off someone else's issues and fame, identity theft. His objective was to sell his made in China merch and not much more from what I can gather, motivated by greed more than malice is my take.
Were those people warned that they were part of a scam, and let them know which friends they have from that group that might be potential trolls attacking them with some other scam.
Here is a interesting raw video of the aftermath.
All old bullshit. The Right wing propaganda machine must be scared shitless of having to run against Biden again to try to rehash all these loser talking points by spam troll.