Obadele Visit Ignites Old Fires | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Obadele Visit Ignites Old Fires

Councilman Kenneth Strokes is being lambasted by police organizations and other critics for inviting Dr. Imari Abubakari Obadele to speak to young people at City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 1, in honor of Black History Month. Obadele—formerly Richard Henry, a contemporary of Malcolm X in the early 1960s (but not Nation of Islam) and a black separatist today—started the Republic of New Africa on March 31, 1968, "to free black people in the United States from oppression," and to promote self-sufficiency as well as self-defense.

Calling the South the "homeland," Obadele and followers relocated to Mississippi where they became integral to the controversial black separatist movement in this area, based largely at Tougaloo College. They were demanding land as reparations for slavery and planned to help other blacks provide each other six essentials: food, clothing, education, housing, medical treatment and self-defense.

According to joint research by Brown University and Tougaloo, the FBI targeted the RNA and began raiding their meetings. In August 1971, the Jackson Police Department and the FBI together, without warning, raided the RNA's heavily armed headquarters before dawn at 1148 Lewis St., several blocks north of Jackson State, with heavy arms, tear gas and warrants for four arrests. Jackson police office William Louis Skinner—the father of Hinds Justice Court Judge Bill Skinner—was killed in a shoot-out, and none of the four fugitives were there. Another patrolman and an FBI agent were wounded. Eleven RNA members, including Obadele, who was not there when the raid occurred, were put on trial for murder.

Eight of the "RNA 11" were ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison. Widely considered to be a political prisoner*, Obadele was released after 17 months in jail and the original murder charge dropped. However, federal authorities arrested him again, charging him with conspiracy to assault a federal officer. Witnesses at the trial testified that they had overhead Obadele, on an earlier date than the raid, say to Jackson policemen that he would "be ready" for police if they targeted the RNA house. He was convicted, and served five years.

After his release in 1980, Obadele got his Ph.D. in political science from Temple University. He has taught at several colleges and written a number of books, continuing to uphold the same controversial principles he preached before—calling for reparations for slavery that would enable blacks to establish a separate, self-sufficient "black nation." He also filed a $2.4 million lawsuit against federal officials for eight years of covert spying on him and his organization, including illegal break-ins, telephone taps and attempts to kill members. The lawsuit was dismissed in 1989.

Stokes' announcement that he was bringing Obadele to City Council caused much outrage in the city over the last week. Sheriff Malcolm McMillin released a statement Monday calling Obadele a "racist murderer" and comparing Stokes to Richard Barrett, who tried to honor accused Klansman Edgar Ray Killen at the State Fair last October.

"Mr. Barrett and Mr. Stokes are cast from the same cloth, the only difference being the color of their skin," the sheriff said, calling the appearance "a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer" and emphasizing that Obadele is not a good role model for young people.

There are not easy answers in this conflict; a study of the period shows why emotions still run high—on both sides. The 1960s and early 1970s were a time of great conflict between local police and African Americans in the equality movement.

On May 13, 1970, after several days of student protest at Jackson State over the draft and the May 4 Kent State killings of four student protesters by the National Guard, officers from JPD and the Mississippi Highway Patrol barricaded Lynch Street at both ends of the college. The officers moved in with 38 officers opening fire toward the girls' dorm, Alexander Hall. JSU junior Philip Gibbs, 21, and high school student James Earl Green, who stopped while walking home to watch the protest, were killed, and four students were injured inside the dorm. The bullet holes are still visible in the dorm wall.

After the deaths at Kent State and Jackson State, anti-government and police fervor swept college campuses—with more than 100 demonstrations or student strikes a day. More than 500 colleges temporarily closed.

On June 13, 1970, President Nixon established "The President's Commission on Campus Unrest," which held 13 days of public hearings in Jackson and other cities. But no convictions or arrests of any military or police officer resulted.

Critics of Obadele's scheduled visit this week, including Clarion-Ledger columnist Eric Stringfellow, say that Obadele has the right to speak to students, but not at City Hall and not without apologizing for the death of Skinner in 1971. His supporters say he tells an important story about black history.

* The linked page, from a MIT course, contains a 1978 Newsweek article about "prisoners of conscience" identified by Amnesty International.

Previous Comments

ID
64451
Comment

I was watching the Jackson City Council meeting last night on the public access channel. They showed Dr. Imari Abubakari Obadele talking about how he was set up. Obadele said he didn't have anything to do with the killing of the Jackson Police Officer. Other people saying he was a conspirer in the murder. My thought is if he is guilty then he already served his time for conspiracy, and now he has a doctorate degree. It appears he has turned his life around. The reason why I want to post about this because of the Jackson, Mississippi City Council. I can't understand Councilman Kenneth Strokes of Ward Three saying the people of Jackson are a racist. Kenneth Strokes needs to take a look around. There are only two white folks on the city council and the rest of the board members are black including the Mayor. I just can't see there is a one district in Jackson, Mississippi that is dumb enough to keep on re-electing this man. Kenneth Strokes will call a black person who disagrees with him an "uncle tom." That is wrong! Then in the council meeting Chokwe Lumumba gets up and show his support Obadele which is fine and good. Chokwe Lumumba's time runs out and he keeps on speaking and starts arguing with the board president. Later during the meeting he keeps on interrupting it because he can't get his way. Chokwe Lumumba is a racist lawyer. Chokwe Lumumba would be a good lawyer if he was not so hateful. This is just my view and I hope I didn't offend any readers. Micah

Author
buzzoff
Date
2005-02-03T19:34:40-06:00
ID
64452
Comment

I'll only add that my take on the issue (and I was at the meeting) was the Chokwe was extremely rude, in that he was more than ready to talk at length and share his viewpoint, but the second someone else disagreed with his viewpoint (when sharing their viewpoint), he began to brow-beat them, speak over them, and shout at them. To say the least, I was not impressed. More frustrating was that he made accusations that are very difficult, if not impossible, to refute: e.g., the silent, slick "racism" at play in the county sherriff's department. When the accuser (in this case Chokwe) can't explicitly identify the violater or what it is specifically that the "violater" has done, it's very, very difficult, and as earlier stated, perhaps impossible, to defend it, much less objectively evaluate it. These types of accusations are easy to throw out. They are very hard to confront or evaluate.

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-03T21:35:23-06:00
ID
64453
Comment

some old clarion ledger articles on this issue: April 6, 1971 "Group Wants Its Own 5-State Black Nation" & "Black 'Nation' Seeks Parley" April 11, 1971 "'New Nation' Development Viewed with Keen Interest" And then I think there's an article that the raid & arrests sparked the largest black demonstration in Jackon's history, but I couldn't find the reference in "False Nationalism, False Internationalism" which talks about this case and the RNA's histor. Also, I think that COINTELPRO would've been important to mention in this story (example ). Taking the whole history of COINTELPRO and that it specifically targeted the RNA (it sent anon letters to members charging Obadele with financial mischief). COINTELPRO or not though, the fact is the FBI & police initiated a raid for clearly political reasons (or do they normally raid a building when a snitch tells them a fugitive might be in a house?) and the RNA defended themselves.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-04T08:50:06-06:00
ID
64454
Comment

You're right about Cointelpro being important to this, Jason, as well as the specific efforts that year to break up the black power movement. I had a couple sentences in there, but it just wasn't enough space to do it justice, and I was writing this at the last minute to try to add some more facts to a brush fire; it might have caused more confusion than I could have cleared up, so I took it out. However, we have a bigger piece in the works, and feel free to use this space to provide more information as you wish. The more the better, on this topic. The link above to the 1978 Newsweek piece about political prisoners is one important part of the puzzle for people to consider. But there's so much more. Regardless of what one thinks about groups such as RNA (or white militias and anti-government groups today) barricading themselves inside buildings and taunting the police/feds, it is hard to deny the double standard between people who defend groups like David Koresh and the Ruby Ridge folks for "just trying to protect themselves from the government" and black "militia groups," you could call them, like RNA who could also argue that they were trying to protect themselves from the government. That's certainly a better analogy to me -- again, no matter where you fall on support/opposition to the militia groups -- than the silly Killen-Obadele analogy that is being irresponsibility thrown around all over Jackson. This does, though, provide an opportunity to talk about this double standard. On the one hand there is the belief that (white?) people ought to arm themselves to the hilt (under the Second Amendment, of course) -- to protect themselves against violence, the Feds (remember G. Gordon Liddy telling radio listeners where to aim on ATF bodies? And white conservatives jumping to his defense?) and other people out to get them. On the other, there is the fear of black communities defending themselves -- which, of course, is how Malcolm X scared the crap out of the country in the 1960s. If you analyze his speeches, you'll find very little about armed offensives -- he was talking about armed defensiveness for black folks under siege. I'm not taking a side here -- I don't like guns, after all, and believe violence (and guns) beget violence -- but it is an intriguing mind puzzle, and an opportunity to examine our society's blind spots, to think about this particular double standard a bit.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-04T10:07:25-06:00
ID
64455
Comment

The media articles I have read regarding the 1971 JPD raid on the Republic of New Africa's headquarters in Jackson have left out what is, to me, a crucial fact: what were the four arrest warrants for? A system exists for individuals to "protect themselves from the government," and that system does not involve barricading onesself in a home and shooting police officers. The argument in support of Randy Weaver is, to my understanding, that he was singled out by the FBI as a result of having committed a minor firearms transaction voilation, upon which an FBI sniper shot his wife in the face while she was holding her infant child in her front doorway. That said, I would draw a distinction between that and the conduct of Koresh, who is an extremely unsympathetic individual. I do not know what the members of the RNA were charged with, but the proper response to an arrest warrant, even if one wants to challenge that arrest, is *not* to murder one of the cops attempting to serve the warrant. All of that, to be sure, is beside the real point here: should controversial figures such as Obadele who advocate starkly racist views be hosted or invited by elected city officials (in their official capacity) to speak at Jackson City events? The answer is a resounding no. Do we want Rev. Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church (www.godhatesfags.com) to be invited to speak at City Hall? David Duke? Richard Barrett? Stokes can do what he wants on his own time. But involving public time and property in this fiasco only cements his place as one of the great buffoons of (very) local political history. Sadly enough, however, for a guy as worthless as Stokes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-04T20:16:54-06:00
ID
64456
Comment

to buckallred: The warrents were the supposed reason behind the raid, but it was basically, as i understand it, a military style raid. I am not as famaliar with the details of this case, but similar conduct of the FBI is well documented in other cases, particularly the raid on the black panther headquaters in oakland and chicago, in which the police clearly opened fire first. The RNA did not resist being served warrants, they resisted deadly assault with tear gas and assault weapons. And you ask, "what were the warrants for?" Well, they were for people not even in the house they attacked! They didn't murder a cop however one looks at it, they defended themselves with weapons (unless you say too that everytime a cop defends theirself they murder someone). I agree that racists should not speak at City Hall. Is Obadele a racist though? Nope. After the raid and arrests, he extended he sympathy to all the whites that were supporting the RNA--or at least its defense--and called upon the common interests of humanity in a public letter. see Phelphs, Duke and Barrett all condone the mistreatment and even murder of people because of who they are. Obadele has never done so in word or deed. What Obadele has done is stand up for the rights of black people and tried to defend their rights through a program of black nationalism, which I do not think is the best way to defend those rights by the by.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-04T23:08:25-06:00
ID
64457
Comment

The police in any jurisdiction have the authority to serve arrest warrants. The police have authority to use force when the service of those warrants is resisted, as the RNA did in Jackson in 1971. A citizen is not justified in resisting the service of a warrant. Warrants are signed and issues by judges. For example, the late Officer Skinner's son Judge Skinner probably signs warrants on a regular basis. If an individual for whom a warrant is issued wishes to challenge the probable cause or any other aspect of that warrant, the proper way to do that is in a court of law rather than by murdering an arresting officer. is Obadele a racist? He is a "black separatist." Interesting that you consider that to be *not* racist, while any white politician from the days of "separate but equal" would be, presumably, considered the worst kind of racist by you. Racism is not white-on-black only. Jim Giles, congressional candidate (www.rebelarmy.com) calls himself a "white separatist." Would you consider him to be racist?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T00:45:25-06:00
ID
64458
Comment

first, the racist question. Comparing black separatism and white separatism and saying "well they're both racial separatism" is purely formal thinking that ignores the context. For one, you can look at Jim Giles, and even if he weren't a white separatist, there is plenty of racism just on the website. But in general, I do consider white separatists racist, because their position is normally (and as for as I can tell, can only be) based on racist ideas about blacks. Black separatism stems from the material reality of black oppression and seeks to find a cure for it in uniting and forming their own society. Further, it has some material basis in the South in that blacks have according to some formed an internal oppressed colony in the US. I don't think Zionist ideology is inherently racist because it sought a Jewish national to protect Jews. I think it was inaccurate (just as I think black nationalism is inaccurate) and furthermore think that Zionism was twisted and carried out in racist ways, but in no way do I think that someone simply believing in a separate Jewish nation for the purposes of self-defense from oppressive countries makes one a racist. As for your first post about authority to serve warrants: again purely formal, context-less thinking. I'm going to go on a limb and recommend you read The Cointelpro Papers by Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall (yes, I know about Ward's essay, and yes, he does seem to be a dingbat, but no, that doesn't mean his research is invalid, consisting as it mostly does of copies from the FOIA from the FBI). It's actually not clear that the RNA resisted being served the warrants--what seems to have happened is that using the pretext of warrants for someone a snitch had told them was there (i.e. could've easily been a set up by the FBI), they attacked the house. Like I said, the sequence of events isn't exactly clear to me, but it does fit the FBI's MO in parallel cases. (In the case of the Black Panthers' in Oakland, all the papers ran a story with the picture of a bullet hole that was supposed to prove the Panthers fired first. A week later, they were forced to admit it was a picture of a nail and that the Panthers had not fired first and in fact not fired at all--except for one shot into the air.)

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-05T09:41:58-06:00
ID
64459
Comment

So "formal thinking" that includes the crucial "context" provides, to you, a justification for black separatism while whites who want the same thing in reverse are "racists." Tell me, are blacks capable of racism at all? Ever? You destroy your own credibility by making such asinine arguments as that listed above. To quote you, "Black separatism stems from the material reality of black oppression and seeks to find a cure for it in uniting and forming their own society." The "cure" is uniting and forming a black society? Would it be "separate but equal?" Would the "black society" secede from the union? Would there be "white" water fountains and "white" seats on the backs of buses? As for your fantastical post on serving warrants: My "thinking" is accurate in the formal sense, in the contextual sense, and far more to the point in the Constitutional sense. When a judge reads an indictment, that judge decides whether probable cause and other factors justify his signing that warrant. When that warrant is signed, the cops have the authority to serve that warrant, using force if necessary. I don't purport to know the exact details of the RNC raid, but it is clear that the cops attempting to serve the warrants were resisted and in one case murdered.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T11:55:15-06:00
ID
64460
Comment

Interesting points, Jason. Whether or not people agree with you, this widened context certainly belongs in this discussion. OK, to factual questions. We are digging into this case, news reports and court documents to try to understand all the sides better, and aren't done, yet. But I will share a few things that are popping up; understand my disclaimer that this is preliminary,though, and I'm not vouching for the veracity of any of it. The four warrants were for three misdemeanor offenses and one major felony warrant from another state (murder, I think). So it was serious. However, the back story given in some testimony is interesting: It is argued that Thomas Spell (an FBI informant inside the RNA in Jackson; this was a widespread strategy then to break up the black power movement) took the felony fugitive to the headquarters so that police could arrest him there. It is also alleged that the policeóyes in a military-style raidórushed into the spot where they believe Obadele was sleeping, but he was not there. He was in another spot on Lynch Street where the RNA was planning to move its headquarters. The four fugitives were not there, either. Now, what I'm most interested in, and what seems to be a major hinge in this case, is what the evidence was that Obadele was planning a conspiracy to murder police officers. That's what I'm digging into next; my early returns don't show convincing evidence (yet, but it may turn up still) that he orchestrated the police's raid that morning in order to kill Skinner or anyone else (if he did, then the Killen analogy would start making a little more sense). It is important to note, without lessening the tragedy of Skinner's death, that police and Feds were trumping up charges against black activists all over the country at that time--and the same juries that wouldn't convict whites for killing blacks were sometimes willing to act on some pretty flimsy evidence against black activists. That's just a fact. And the Cointelpro files that Jason mentions that have gone public since then make it clear that there was a serious campaign by the federal government, working with local law enforcement, to squelch these movements. Again, that doesn't lessen the tragedy of Skinner's death, but it is important context to look at all this inóespecially before drawing easy analogies between Obadele and a Klan kleagle.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:04:38-06:00
ID
64461
Comment

Buck ... per Randy Weaver: Well, I think it is a decent analogy for this case, although I'm not arguing that they're exactly the same, of course. But it's a closer analogy than the Killen case by far. There was a warrant for the anti-government Weaver's arrest on federal firearms charges -- that he did not believe were legitimate, but there was still a warrant. They barricaded themselves inside with lots of firearms and then the military-style raid went bad. The feds, as with Obadele and rightly or wrongly, wanted him bad, as he had taunted and alluded them thus far. Now ... for what you consider the real point. I see your argument, but I don't think it's an easy one. The truth is, City Hall is a public venue, and if you're going to have a policy of inviting people with various opinions and places in history in there, who is it to say who should be invited and who shouldn't? Now, that doesn't mean you and I are supposed to LIKE everyone who is invited there, but the government can't censor. Here's a good analogy for that one: the Ku Klux Klan marching at City Hall in New York City. Gross, yuck. BUT, they have as much right as anyone else to express their views at a public venue, no matter how distasteful. I was with the ACLU on that one -- who showed up to defend their right to march and even ran alongside them when they bolted for the exit, among thousands of angry New Yorkers who didn't want them there. This is a powerful statement about free speech. And, frankly, the protests AGAINST controversial speech and the discussions that ensue are part of the beauty of our country. We can't start down a slippery slope of censorship. Do I want Fred Phelps at city hall? Hell, no. However, I fear worse a government that tries to squelch controversial speech. I view all these things as "teachable moments" -- it's an opportunity to pause and examine moments in history and beliefs that we may not know enough about. I, for one, am fascinated by the Obadele case and did not know nearly enough to make an informed decision about him (nor, I might add, do any of the other media outlets in town that have been so outraged by his visit). IF we can take it beyond the easy sound bites and sensationalism, Stokesólike him or notóhas created a good opportunity for thought and discussion in the community, as did the Klan that day in Manhattan, or Phelps any time he shows up brandishing his "God hates fags" signs. To me, this is what America is all about: the freedom to have these discussions in the public arena.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:11:47-06:00
ID
64462
Comment

Finally, a quick correction to my story above; I said that Obadele was convicted of murder and served 17 months and the charges were dropped. It looks like he was kept in mail for 17 months on a murder charge and then the charges dropped. Then, as I said, the conspiracy charge was brought and he was convicted of that. If anyone has different info, please share.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:13:24-06:00
ID
64463
Comment

To clarify: I agree that Obadele or anyone else, no matter how repugnant they may be, has the 1st Amendment right to free speech in "public" areas. I would, however, distinguish that from an elected city official using his political position to invite a figure like Obadele to a city-sponsored event. While the debate about Oabdele might be interesting to some, it clearly is not no interesting to many others, notably the family of the late Officer Skinner. This is not a 1st Amendment issue; this is an issue about the poor judgment and leadership (or lack thereof) displayed by Stokes and others in inviting Obadele to speak at a City function. By this logic, we can expect more controversial and racially divisive figures, black or otherwise, to be involved in city events. Is that progress? Does that help anything? To me, the answer is obvious: not one bit.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T12:18:04-06:00
ID
64464
Comment

This is from U.S. v. James, a 5th Circuit appeal of the convictions of the seven RNA members: The FBI kept advised of the developments of the RNA through a paid black informer who posed as a 'citizen' of RNA and was on the 'inside'. On the late evening of August 13, after regular business hours, a teletype message was received by the FBI office in Jackson, from the Detroit, Michigan FBI office on the exclusive wire for FBI communications that on that date a complaint had been filed in Grand Rapids, Michigan charging one Jerry R. Steiner, also known as Sylee Lagondele Omos, I., with violation of 18 U.S.C. s 1073, by unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on a first degree murder charge, and that an arrest warrant, a copy of which was enclosed, had been issued by United States District Judge Engel of Grand Rapids. Steiner was charged by the State of Michigan with the first degree murder of a 17 year old service station attendant, who was shot in the back of the head during a robbery of the station at which he was employed. A state warrant was outstanding against him on the murder charge. The teletype also advised the FBI that Steiner had in the past resisted arrest and should be considered extremely dangerous in view of that resistance and of the first degree murder charge. In mid-July, Agent Holder of the Jackson office of the FBI received information from an unrecalled source that Steiner was in Jackson, and was later advised by a confidential informant 'who had never been found to be unreliable' that on August 17 Steiner was present at the Lewis Street provisional 'capitol' of the RNA and there was no reason to believe that he would soon be leaving that address. Agent Holder first knew that Steiner was a fugitive wanted for murder when he saw the teletype in FBI headquarters on Monday morning, August 16, at the time that matter was assigned to him. The teletype also gave a detailed description of Steiner. The teletype was received and acted upon during the time the RNA was in the process of moving its 'capitol' from 1148 Lewis Street to 1320 Lynch Street in Jackson.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:19:17-06:00
ID
64465
Comment

Thanks for the post Ladd. I had thought there was something about an FBI informant bringing the felony in as a cover (the felony was murder in Michigan). I'm not famaliar with any evidence that Obadele was plotting to murder the police officers (what would he have to gain? as far as I know, after the raid and prison terms, the RNA faded away). And the COINTELRPO files specifically mention action against Obadele and the RNA (not the raid though). buck: "So "formal thinking" that includes the crucial "context" provides, to you, a justification for black separatism while whites who want the same thing in reverse are "racists."" No, "dialectic" thinking (Hegel's revolution in logic) can distinguish between two things that appear the same in a formal sense. Whether or not I believe blacks can ever be racist is beside the point, as I'm arguing that the RNA isn't but not on the basis of "they couldn't possibly be because they're black." You paragraph on black separatism shows you don't understand it at all: "Would it be "separate but equal?" Would the "black society" secede from the union? Would there be "white" water fountains and "white" seats on the backs of buses?" It would be a separate nation, and whites would enjoy full political rights within it. There would be no white seats on the back of buses, that just doesn't make sense. Just like the US in a separate nation from Canada (but US people living in Canada or vice versa aren't assigned separate seats) and Africans have diverse states, there would be a black nation in the south--where the majority of blacks live and which was built with the blood and sweat of blacks. (That's the idea.) The idea of black separatism is for black self-defense and self-improvement (in peaceful coexistence with the whites that live with them), but the ideas of white separatism all based on racist notions of blacks and typically serve as excuses to continue black oppression. "When that warrant is signed, the cops have the authority to serve that warrant, using force if necessary." Let's start here: Do they have the authority to shoot through a wall toward where they believe someone to be sleeping before serving the warrant? Because that's what happened to the Black Panthers, and there's some evidence something similar happened with the RNA raid. Being issued a warrant isn't a license to kill or something, esp. if they plant the person the warrant's for in a place they want to subvert!

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-05T12:20:49-06:00
ID
64466
Comment

On the morning of August 16, Agent Linberg, who was in charge of the Jackson FBI office, read the teletype and asked Jackson Police Chief Tullos for assistance from the Jackson police in attempting to arrest Steiner, in view of the fact that Linberg knew that the Jackson police had outstanding misdemeanor warrants for the arrest of three subjects reportedly staying at 1148 Lewis Street. The FBI and Jackson police considered the RNA to be an extremist organization inasmuch as they knew that it had proclaimed itself to be an independent nation, had openly professed its intention to acquire all of the property which comprised five southern states, had publicly held military-type drills with weapons, and had pointed weapons at police officers patrolling past 1148 Lewis Street. Furthermore, the appellant Henry, the President of the RNA, was reported by the press in Jackson to have threatened to 'wipe out the National Guard of Mississippi' and to set up a separate nation in the United States through the acquisition of the five southern states. ... This part is interesting; it seems to summarize the reasoning for convicting Obadele (born "Richard Henry") for conspiracy--primarily, it seems, because he established the procedures that the RNA members used when the police and Feds raided: [9] Henry. He was the President of RNA. All of the 'security' measures and 'combat-win procedures' were planned and practiced under his direct supervision. He had made public threats of violence against law enforcement officers who might come to the 'capitol'. Within less than a month of the shoot-out, he held a meeting wherein instructions were given RNA 'citizens' to shoot people, especially police officers and FBI Agents, who might try to intrude the 'capitol'. The shoot-out went according to the plan and procedure he had helped set up. While he was at the Lynch Street house to which the 'capitol' was being moved, instead of the Lewis Street 'capitol', at the time of the shoot-out, his presence and participation in the shoot-out were not necessary to support his conviction under the conspiracy count. Posey v. United States, 5 Cir., 416 F.2d 545, 556 (1969), and United States v. Sutherland, supra. In the Posey case, the killings within the contemplation of a conspiracy by members of the White Knights, 'a self-styled militant organization', were carried out. The defendant who was the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights claimed that the evidence was insufficient to connect him with the conspiracy on the ground that he was not present at and did not participate in the killings. The court held that such proof was not necessary. So it is here. The overwhelming evidence shows that this tragedy would not have taken place except for the work of Henry.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:22:03-06:00
ID
64467
Comment

Since Jason posted in between, I should mention that my last post is also from that 5th Circuit appeal. One thing to add to Jason's "separatist" point: I personally do not believe in "separatism" as anyone who reads the JFP well knows. However, it is important to understand what the "black separatist" movement was about, as well as white supremacy. And it is an important point, I think, to remember that white supremacy wasn't usually about true separatism -- that is, many white people still wanted black service workers, maids, drivers and such. I mean, slavery wasn't about "white separatism." It was about free labor. This certainly wasn't what the black separatist movement was arguing for -- they (wrongly, I believe, but I can see why some thought then it was the only option) wanted black people to be left alone to take care of themselves. To Buck re First Amendment: I see your last point, but I still don't quite buy it. That is, if you are going to have this standard for Kenneth Stokes in City Hall, then we'd also need it for, say, the lawmakers at the Capitol who regularly invite controversial figures to talk to committees and in hearings. I know you believe Obadele is too controversial, but that kicks us right back to the First Amendment and who decides what is "too controversial." It seems like the only constitutional response to Stokes' action is to talk about it and convince enough people to vote him out based on who he likes and who he invited -- not to say he didn't have the right to invite him in the first place. I don't think there is any question that he had the right.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:29:00-06:00
ID
64468
Comment

JASON: You paragraph on black separatism shows you don't understand it at all: "Would it be "separate but equal?" Would the "black society" secede from the union? Would there be "white" water fountains and "white" seats on the backs of buses?" It would be a separate nation, and whites would enjoy full political rights within it. There would be no white seats on the back of buses, that just doesn't make sense. Just like the US in a separate nation from Canada (but US people living in Canada or vice versa aren't assigned separate seats) and Africans have diverse states, there would be a black nation in the south--where the majority of blacks live and which was built with the blood and sweat of blacks. (That's the idea.) The idea of black separatism is for black self-defense and self-improvement (in peaceful coexistence with the whites that live with them), but the ideas of white separatism all based on racist notions of blacks and typically serve as excuses to continue black oppression. ìBlack separatism,î as you have described it, doesnít even rise to the level of a fantasy. Best of luck with those plans: secession didnít go so well the first time it was attempted in this country, FYI. Your justification of black separatism while condemning white separatism is as nonsensical now as it was in your first post. Why would the ideas of ìwhite self-defense and self-improvementî be any different than those ideas in a separate black nation? JASON: "When that warrant is signed, the cops have the authority to serve that warrant, using force if necessary." Let's start here: Do they have the authority to shoot through a wall toward where they believe someone to be sleeping before serving the warrant? Because that's what happened to the Black Panthers, and there's some evidence something similar happened with the RNA raid. Being issued a warrant isn't a license to kill or something, esp. if they plant the person the warrant's for in a place they want to subvert! The cops certainly canít shoot through walls at arrest subjects. That ìsome evidenceî may exist as to that sort of thing at the RNA raid is one thing: proving it at a judicial proceeding is quite another. ìSome evidenceî may amount to anything, or nothing at all, which is why not *all* evidence is admitted in a given proceeding. For example, there is ìsome evidenceî that Mumia Abu-Jamal did NOT murder Officer Faulkner in Philadelphia, PA in 1981. However, the weight of the evidence revealed that, beyonf a reasonable doubt, Mumia in fact did shoot and kill Officer Faulkner, and thus the convicted murderer Mumia sits in jail to this day.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T12:38:16-06:00
ID
64469
Comment

One final last thing on this from me at the moment: Remember to read that period's news reports from Mississippi with serious skepticism. The Jackson dailies, for instance, were still owned by the Hedermans and were some of the most race-baiting, segregationist papers in the country. So, yes, study them, but remember you might not get the whole story on controversial race stories.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:39:14-06:00
ID
64470
Comment

Ah, Mumia. I'm not even going to go down that winding road. Buck, I think one of the most difficult parts of these discussions is that it is hard to know for sure what was true from that era (especially) -- we can't necessarily trust the old news reports, the police reports, the judges, government records or the activists themselves to tell the full truth. But I still think it's good to try to see as much of the story and context as possible -- and realize how truly tragic the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow was for us all. And we should still dig at the truth in order to make the history books as accurate as possible -- even when that indicts people we'd rather not see indicted. We can't learn from history if it's whitewashed, by any side.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:44:03-06:00
ID
64471
Comment

Ladd: if any figure has been invited by any lawmaker to be involved in the political process who is is similar to Obadele, I'd like to know about it, and in that event I would agree that our elected officials should have better sense. There is no doubt in my mind as to the competence (read: lack thereof) of Stokes; as the huckster and publicity hound that he is, he has erased any doubt of that from my mind (and that of nearly all non-ward-3 Jacksonians).

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T12:44:15-06:00
ID
64472
Comment

Hmmm, "similar"? How do we define "similar" if people don't even want to discuss what Obadele actually stands for? To many, he is simply a "cop killer," end of story. Actually, you wouldn't believe the beliefs of some of the folks who are invited to speak at the state Legislature; I'm not going there now, because we're working on a story about it. And how do you account for "coded" race rhetoric? Is it OK if it's coded? "Well, I'm not racist, but I don't think that majority-black schools in poor districts deserve any assistance from the federal government." Personally, that would offend me as much as anything Obadele has said. And let's not even get into statements by Trent Lott. Again, Buck, this is a slippery slope. When Barrett invited Killen to the fair, I didn't start a petition to say he couldn't come -- he could; it was his First Amendment right. But I did start a petition calling for his prosecution. That's how you respond to offensive speech -- with more speech. That's the American way, not going around and deciding who is the most offensive and who else is "similar" enough to them to be censored, too.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:50:42-06:00
ID
64473
Comment

1. Obadele's strategy I have a book "False Nationalism, False Internationalism" which looks at different black nationalist movements and white movements relations to them. They analyze Obadele's book "War in America" and note that his strategy was actually a legal one. The military arm was designed for protection from the KKK, not primarily the FBI, army, etc.--as wearing military clothing in public made one a sitting duck to superior force. His plan was that other nations would put diplomatic pressure on the US to make it agree to the black nation's existence. As he wrote later; "in the back of my mind there was a lingering belief that, with fearless and bright lawyers, it would be possible to use the contradictions in their law to defeat them even in their own courts.... ...if the MS Supreme Court would not do it...certainly...the US Supreme Court would do it." (Free the Land!, 1984, pgs. 224-5). 2. Zionism and black nationalism buckallred seems to think that black separatism is necessarily racist. So is Jewish separatism necessarily racist as well? He asks, "Why would the ideas of 'white self-defense and self-improvement' be any different than those ideas in a separate black nation?" Well, you can go read Jim Giles website and see why! White separatists have often claimed not to be racist, but if you read their stuff, white separatism is always based on racist ideas of black inferiority and the dangerous of blacks. That is why it is racist! There isnt' a material need for "white separation"--that's just a mask to hide the oppression of blacks. Black separatism is based mainly on self-defense against racist violence. Racist violence does exist--and certainly did back then. 3. on self-defense So the evidence for conspiracy is that he said to shoot people "who might try to intrude the 'capitol'."? Wow. After police raided one of Malcolm's mosques, he derided the Fruit of Islam (their self-defense unit) for not protecting it (after that public condemnation--and a statement that they would die to a man before letting 'the white man' in, their mosques were not raided again). So was X conspiring to murder government officials? But anyway, considering all the military style action against black groups, arguing for self-defense doesn't seem that crazy, though perhaps technically illegal (little known fact: the continuation of Meredith's 'March against Fear' was made possible, with MLK's assent, by the armed protection of the Deacons for Self-Defense who scouted out ambushes and actually engaged in some gun battles to defend the marchers' camps at night).

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-05T12:51:09-06:00
ID
64474
Comment

And where is the public -- within Mississippi -- outrage at our state lawmakers who pander to the Council of Conservative Citizens, and then pretend that they don't know they're racist? If that's the case, we should send them packing because they're too stupid to research who they're speaking to. BUT we shouldn't say they don't have the right to speak to controversial people. Also, Buck, we have a Mississippi state park named for a governor who publicly called the NAACP, "N*ggers, Apes, Alligators, Coons and Possums." Where does that fit into this discussion of public offensiveness?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T12:55:16-06:00
ID
64475
Comment

So the evidence for conspiracy is that he said to shoot people "who might try to intrude the 'capitol'."? Wow. After police raided one of Malcolm's mosques, he derided the Fruit of Islam (their self-defense unit) for not protecting it (after that public condemnation--and a statement that they would die to a man before letting 'the white man' in, their mosques were not raided again). So was X conspiring to murder government officials? Jason, we may disagree on the answer, but you're bringing up a difficult question that I tried to tease out already: white society's response to the idea of "self defense" in the black community. You're right about Malcolm: for a graduate project, I analyzed media coverage of his speechesówhich were widely derided in the 1960s for calling for violence against whitesóand what I found was an overwhelming emphasis on the need for self-defense, especially in speeches to black audiences. This was in counter to the non-violent principles of the Civil Rights Movement which he and many argued, perhaps rightfully, weren't working so well. Now, it is true that Malcolm -- especially to the white press -- would taunt more about black people arming themselves, and inevitably those are the only quotes that would be used in the stories the next day, including in papers such as The New York times. These quotes got him into the white papes. Before I get too deep into Malcolm, though, I should focus my point: It is worth thinking about our society's double standardóthat was ferocious then and helped feed some really bad actions against black activistsóabout people being able to arm and defend themselves, even against bad government and their law enforcement. Many white conservatives (and others) believe in this wholeheartedlyóbut seem to run into a blind spot when the people holed up and armed against the government were black. NOW, I must add my disclaimer that I'm a non-violent kind of gal, and don't believe that the tactics of Randy Weaver or Imari Obadele were going to yield what they wanted. However, wherever we stand, we should at least apply the same standards to these arguments and be consistent about them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T13:06:23-06:00
ID
64476
Comment

LADD: Again, Buck, this is a slippery slope. When Barrett invited Killen to the fair, I didn't start a petition to say he couldn't come -- he could; it was his First Amendment right. But I did start a petition calling for his prosecution. That's how you respond to offensive speech -- with more speech. That's the American way, not going around and deciding who is the most offensive and who else is "similar" enough to them to be censored, too. Barrett isn't an elected official. I would distinguish private conduct from that lf elected officials in their official capacities.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T13:54:02-06:00
ID
64477
Comment

LADD: Hmmm, "similar"? How do we define "similar" if people don't even want to discuss what Obadele actually stands for? To many, he is simply a "cop killer," end of story. Actually, you wouldn't believe the beliefs of some of the folks who are invited to speak at the state Legislature; I'm not going there now, because we're working on a story about it. And how do you account for "coded" race rhetoric? Is it OK if it's coded? "Well, I'm not racist, but I don't think that majority-black schools in poor districts deserve any assistance from the federal government." Personally, that would offend me as much as anything Obadele has said. And let's not even get into statements by Trent Lott. Again, whatever Obadele's point is, it centers around "black separatism." I don't have a problem with anyone espousing their views, no matter how unrealistic or repugnant they may be; however, I think it is entirely inappropriate for an elected pfficial to invite such a figure to a city event. For the record, the types of figures I would include in Obadele's category would include anyone affiliates with the CofCC or related groups. That sort of thing needs to exist separate from government and/or public events and property. Do we want white city council members inviting "white separatists" to attend or speak at city events? Does Stokes want blacks and whites to work together to imporve Jackson, or does he want to focus on Jackson being a "black city" that needs a "black mayor?" (that was a purely hypothetical question).

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T14:03:22-06:00
ID
64478
Comment

JASON:Black separatism is based mainly on self-defense against racist violence. Racist violence does exist--and certainly did back then. Does "racist violence" occur now? What makes violence "racist?" Does black-on-white crime occur in Jackson now? Is that "racist?" I ask you again: is it possible for black people to be "racist?"

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T14:08:50-06:00
ID
64479
Comment

I ask you again: is it possible for black people to be "racist?" It seems to me that you need a definition of racism to be able to answer this question. Dinesh D'Souza puts forth two definitions in his book The End of Racism: 1. A theory of biological superiority. 2. Falsely attributing cultural differences to race, i.e. biology.

Author
Justin
Date
2005-02-05T15:49:49-06:00
ID
64480
Comment

Agreed, Justin. This is a perfect place to get people to define "racism" and "racist"; I tried to tease this out on the other thread without "inflicting" my definition first. ;-) But it is important, it seems, to see how people define this--the folks over at Council of Conservative Citizens, for instance, say, "uh huh, no way, we're not racist." Maybe they're not ... by their definition. So, tell me all, how do YOU bloggers define racism and racist? Let's talk about it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T15:54:17-06:00
ID
64481
Comment

I will give one hint about what I think: It makes no impression on me whatsoever whether someone is (a) nice to an individual of another race, (b) "has a friend who is ______" (black, white, etc.) or (c) hires/promotes a person of another race. That has nothing to do with racism.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T15:55:56-06:00
ID
64482
Comment

Admittedly haven't read all of the above, but two points: 1) If the RNA was "seized" or "attacked" as they say, then why is there not a single RNA member who claims he was hurt OR EVEN BEAT AFTER THE "ATTACK"(if there is someone who claims this, I haven't heard of it). 2)Why is it that black separatists from the 60s/70s are viewed differently than white seperatists? Elaborations below: 1) (this is a rather cruel way of looking at things) The FBI and the police department are very, very good at what they do. If they wanted to hurt a group, as the RNA claims they wanted to hurt them, then why is the body count one-sided(not a single member of the RNA was killed)? IF they (police; FBI) wanted to kill them or beat them, then they had more than their opportunity to do so. If the "paranoids" are right, why didn't the police/FBI, take up their opportunity? I think their is merit in the integrity of the officers that they watched one of their fellow officers be killed (regardless of by whom), and yet they showed restraint(to my knowledge). No one mentions this point. No one (to my knowledge) says that after the people in the house were arrested that they were treated harshly. All available data says they were simply arrested. If so, more power to the professional behavior of the police/FBI, and they should be applauded. 2) There would good racial leaders in the 60s/70s, and there were bad. When we speak of a leader from that time who was white, and a seperatist, we rightly call them sick. Why is it that black seperatists from that era are not called the same? Donna asked earlier if Obadele is a racists(and said no, I believe). The answer is yes. I don't care what the history of the people behind the motives are(while they may be more understandable for blacks than whites; the histroy still not justify racism). Racism is still racism is still racism. Don't give me the BS about comparing black racism to white racism. Your right, they are not comparable. That doesn't change the fact that both are wrong. -Matt Allen

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T16:11:19-06:00
ID
64483
Comment

Also, if Imari (or whatever his name is) wants to know where black and whites get along, tell him to get a freaking clue (if you can't tell, I don't like him at all). It's called the United States of America. Yeah, there are exceptions, but they don't outweigh the numerous, numoerous, examples of blacks and whites who get along. My opinion: he (as well as many others) takes the bad examples and paints them on society. True enough, people need to call the violaters out, but there are entirely more good examples than bad, and they are not pointed out. For instance, take the mayor of Jackson and Ben Allen. When they were children they both grew up in Vicksburg. As children and at the movies, Ben sat in the bottom balcony and Harvey sat in the top (because he was black and was forced to). Today, Harvey is the mayor of the capitol city of Jackson (with many white supporters), and Ben is his subordinate (technically, at least). That type of change is rapid (and was long overdue). -Matt

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T16:53:19-06:00
ID
64484
Comment

Whoa, Matt, I haven't said I don't think Obadele is "racist"; I've tried to avoid calling anyone that, or saying they're not, in this discussion. Your point is well-taken about the FBI, although your "paranoids" characterization might be a bit extreme, considering what's come out about what the FBI was doing to even non-violent folks like MLK Jr. and non-violent protesters in the 1960s. The Cointelpro stuff is real, whether it fits our vision of our "free" country or not. So dismissing concerns about how the RNA were "served" as simply paranoid is intellectually lazy. Your point about why the FBI/police didn't just kill or beat everyone is interesting. Again, I haven't all the records and such, yet, but can only say so much about it. I really don't know, and should emphasize AGAIN that I'm not taking a side in this -- just trying to have a smart, well-rounded discussion in context. So, to your question: Truthfully, that question could be asked about many incidents of documented racial violence by the police -- where they beat one activist, or everyday citizen, but didn't kill them, or let the others go. (The reasoning, I believe, was often to send a message.) From what I've ascertained so far about this case (again, way preliminary research here), RNA supporters believe they were trying to get Obadele himself and had rushed the bedroom where they believe he was sleeping. I don't know if that is true. But I believe it is true that in the various operations to break up the black power activist/panthers/separatists, the Feds weren't just going around killing everyone in site. If that had been, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion now about whether they did the right thing or not. It would be patently clear that they didn't. In this case, there seem to be a lot of questions on both sides.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T16:53:23-06:00
ID
64485
Comment

The "separatist" question is complicated. For one thing, you should always ascertain what someone who calls themselves by a certain label means, and then start there. Jason has shared some comments above about different definitions of separatism and, even though it may boggle a mind that wants these things to be easy and black and white, when you get down to it, there are and have been differences--historical, causal and otherwise--between white and black separatist movements. Me: I don't like either one. But I do see that trying to understand the roots of both might help understanding. And accuse me right now if you want of favoring the Obadele crowd, but the truth is, I've befuddled people many times by trying to understand what makes folks like Fred Phelps and Jim Giles, and others less ridiculous-seeming, tick. And I sure don't think we can just close the book on history having learned anything without truly trying to understand the circumstances that lead people to do the awful things they do. For instance, I had a bad argument one time with a very smart black woman who thought I was being easy on Jackson police when I said (of the infamous 1963 Fairgrounds/livestock pen case of how local police treated kids and activists like Rev. Ed King) that it was tragic that white police officers, who might not themselves believe in the violent white supremacy of the period, were forced to enforce it on people and participate in such cruelty as was rampant in Jackson during that period. I was going easy on the white folks! she screamed, or to that effect. I didn't mean the stuff I said about caring about black folks, etc.; I was defending the police, and so on. No one ever said that trying to see the whole picture is easy. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T16:53:47-06:00
ID
64486
Comment

JUSTIN: It seems to me that you need a definition of racism to be able to answer this question. Dinesh D'Souza puts forth two definitions in his book The End of Racism: 1. A theory of biological superiority. 2. Falsely attributing cultural differences to race, i.e. biology. "Racism" means very different things to different people in different situations, which illustrates my point in the above posts. My post was in response to Jason's reference to "racist violence" in his post. I would be interested to hear Jason's definition of "racism," and specifically whether blacks are ever "racist" against whites (or others). Here is the definition of "racism" from the American Heritage Dictionary (note that it is not limited to white people only): n 1: the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races 2: discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race [syn: racialism, racial discrimination]

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T16:56:52-06:00
ID
64487
Comment

[Just In from Ayana Taylor:] Here is a transcript of Obadele's actual comments before City Council Tuesday morning: Dr. Imari Obadele: Good Morning. I am Dr. Imari Obadele and I am delighted to be here. First I want to thank Mr. Stokes and Leslie McLemore and the other members of the council. I don't know all of you names, who voted for and Mr. Mayor who voted for the reparations. The city of Jackson was one of the earliest cities to vote for reparations for our people who have suffered so. Dr. Tillman, the councilwoman from Chicago, came here and was treated well by all of you. She was the one who made it possible or really mandatory for all for people in various cities who wanted to do business with a city to look at their records to see if they had at any time profited from slavery. They found about a week ago that the Morgan Bank in Louisiana had and they are going to pay something for the damage done to people. I am here today to ask the city council to deeply consider that it was not just Mississippi or Louisiana and the other states that did harm to our people, real damage. It was also the United States government and other states who should accept their demons and apologize. Neither Bush nor Clinton apologized to African people for slavery. Clinton, our first ìblackî president, left office saying that he was still thinking about apologizing. So I urge the city council (he was cut off) Ö Margaret Barrett-Simon: Dr. Obadele your time has run out. Kenneth Stokes: Madame President, I have a question. Dr. Obadele when you talk about the apology what do you mean? Dr. Obadele: The apology is to say that we truly regret the actions of those of our ancestors who contributed to slavery and those of us who discriminated against African people. Then we have to have a reconciliation committee. So you can have people coming forth saying, ìHere is what I did when I had Imari working on the railroad. I gave him less pay than the others.î If we have this reconciliation movement it means that those of us who are living today can come and say to black people in this city, in this state, in this country, ìWhat can we do to make an amends?î The wonderful program you just described to today to help people pay their light bill would not be necessary because African people will have money to build a decent house. MORE ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T17:04:00-06:00
ID
64488
Comment

CONT.... Councilman Bo Brown: Dr. Obadele, I was a young teacher coach in Jackson when you were here in the 1970's with the RNA and part of your main policy was not as much about reparations as much as it was about separation of the races. Is that what you want now? No, what was said was that when the United States passed the 13th amendment they said, ìYou are freeî but who were they freeing? They were freeing the descendants of people who had been kidnapped here. The point is that the Dred Scott decision came about two years before the start of the war. In the Dred Scott decision, Justice Taney said. ìLook at our law and you will see that no African can be a citizen of the United States. We don't care if you vote in New Orleans or vote in New York. No state government can make an African a citizen. Only the President can do that. If you want Mr. Scott to be free and a citizen then change the constitution.î So then the 13th amendment came but it did not change the constitution as far as rights of citizenship. It just said you all are free. Now they should have asked us what we would like to do. That would have been self determination; instead two and half years later the 14th amendment comes. And they say now you all are citizens. Really, without asking us? So what we said in the 1970's was we have the right to be an independent country. We did not come and shoot up anybody; they came and shot up our house. Who did we attack? We were in our house. They came and attacked us and they lost the gun battle. Now would you rather have us killed or do we have the right to defend ourselves? We did not start anything. Kenneth Stokes: You said a little while before that you spoke to this council before and I am glad you mentioned that because Dennis Smith at Channel 3 who tried to get all this started made it seem like this is your first time coming to Jackson. Dr. Obadele: No it is not my first time. And I do appreciate the work of the council for passing the reparations but I hope that you will go the next step. And say to Bush and to the government here that there should be an apology and a reconciliation which is peaceful. And we did not start any fights but just think of yourself. If it is 6:30 am and they shoot up your house, what would you do?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T17:04:17-06:00
ID
64489
Comment

I looked back throught the entries, and my sincere, sincere apologies, Donna. You didn't say that. I'm afraid I'm guitly of that age old sin of the blood boiling when politics (or religion or race) come to the table. Thought: why is it that Imari poses the issue in term of "we were attached." For a second there, I thought we were in the US and there was such a thing as an arrest (and it not be, from what seems to be Imari's accusation, an attack on a foreign, sovereign nation). That guy had the gall to say that a gun fight erupted and "we won." Really - and the FBI couldn't hurt someone when given then chance. Give me a break. This guy is a demagoue and is feeding off the real instances when police officers did take advantage of blacks. And that's what pisses (sorry for the verbage) many people off.

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T17:24:34-06:00
ID
64490
Comment

It's OK, Matt. Thanks for the apology, though. I fully realize that in such a tough discussion, we all project what we think we're hearing on others from time to time. I've certainly done it. But it's why I keep emphasizing throughout here what I AM NOT saying. I am making no apologies for anything Obadele or anyone else has done, and I believe this was a tragic situation, and feel sincere sympathy for the family of Louis Skinner. But I do think it merits more thought and discussion than "he's just like Killen." That's incredibly off mark in this case. It's just not the same thing. Re your "thought": I suspect the RNA members truly believe they were "attacked," just as the Randy Weaver family and the folks holed up in Waco did/do. Are we absolutely positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they weren't? Now, they could have been "attacked," but with justifiable reasons, or not. But a pre-dawn raid on a houseful of armed people seems like an extreme way to serve a warrant, doesn't it. The FBI had a plant inside the house (not disputed) -- is it not possible that they could have gotten their guy to take Steiner to an appointed place where it was less dangerous to arrest him? Not second-guessing them; just posing things to think about. God knows I would never be a cop, or an FBI agent, or holed up inside a house with a bunch of armed revolutionaries -- at least not by choice.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T17:58:03-06:00
ID
64491
Comment

LADD: But a pre-dawn raid on a houseful of armed people seems like an extreme way to serve a warrant, doesn't it. The FBI had a plant inside the house (not disputed) -- is it not possible that they could have gotten their guy to take Steiner to an appointed place where it was less dangerous to arrest him? With all due respect, how else are police officers supposed to serve warrants? One of the warrants was a felony (murder) charge against a member of the RNA who was a fugitive from justice and known to be "armed and dangerous." Do you think cops enjoy or look forward to attempting to serve warrants against armed, violent criminals? The only thing that was "extreme" was the RNA members' resistance of those warrants, resulting in the violent murder of Officer Skinner. What a great example for Jackson's youth!

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T18:03:52-06:00
ID
64492
Comment

Do you think cops enjoy or look forward to attempting to serve warrants against armed, violent criminals? No, I don't. I have dear, dear friends who are/were police officers. However, that's not the point. Matt asked how they could feel "attacked." Also, I know a lot police officers who might think that serving the warrant in that way might not be the safest for anyone involved. Doesn't it seem the least bit ill-considered to you to do it in that way without trying an alternative first (which I'm not aware of if they did; will share if I find out that they tried to get Steiner in a different way first)?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T18:08:21-06:00
ID
64493
Comment

The only thing that was "extreme" was the RNA members' resistance of those warrants, resulting in the violent murder of Officer Skinner. Also, Buck, would you apply that same standard to the Randy Weaver family, who went to great lengths to resist his arrest on firearms charges?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T18:09:59-06:00
ID
64494
Comment

" However, that's not the point. Matt asked how they could feel "attacked."" Don't give a damn if they felt "attacked" (of course I do care for the overall stuggle of black rights, but I don't think this particular incident should be painted in terms of some black struggle - it didn't require it - e.g. MLK) - and this is a huge point - that type of logic can justify virtually anyone who is ticked at the gov't, has a gripe, and wants to stage an attack agaist the "attackers" when law enforcement comes to enforce the law. We are forgetting here that (despite the fact that the RNA members were black, and therefore part of an oppressed race; which I think is why so many people are gunshy to call this out) these "people"(please, do not accuse me of using "people" as a synonymous term to blacks) had a gun fight with the police/FBI. What right-minded citizen does (or did) that? Especially one invited to City Hall?

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T18:28:50-06:00
ID
64495
Comment

I would defer to Randy Weaver as to whether he would, in hindsight, do things differently if given another chance. I would also defer to the JPD or any other law enforcement officer on the best way to serve a warrant. Warrants exist to bring accused criminals to trial; they aren't much good for anything at all if they go unserved. Weaver was accused of a minor firearms violation; when he did not turn himself in, an FBI sniper shot his wife in the face while she stood in his doorstep with her infant child in her arms. Weaver's 14-year-old son was also murdered during this raid. For this illegal and unnecessarily violent conduct on the part of the FBI, Weaver won a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the FBI. In contrast, in the RNA raid the JPD was serving 4 warrants, at least one of which was for a murder charge against a fugitive. Thus the crime was much more serious in the RNA raid. That being said, I am always in favor of requiring all law enforcement entities to act lawfully. The proper way to do this, as Weaver did, is through the judicial process, rather than murdering a cop as the RNA members did.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T18:34:28-06:00
ID
64496
Comment

Don't give a damn if they felt "attacked" Then why did you ask the question--"why is it that Imari poses the issue in term of 'we were attached'" five posts above? ;-) I'm not trying to throw your words back at you, Matt, but either you wanted to discuss that question or you didn't. My ensuing comments assumed you did. This incident certainly was a major incident in the "black struggle" movements as they unfolded. You are right, though, that the black power movement was not part of MLK's non-violent Civil Rights Movement. But it did gain major momentum after he was gunned down in Memphis. And, no, you cannot understand black history in this country very well if you only study the Civil Rights Movement. True, history is not always pretty, but it is history, and we can't just push it aside because we don't like what's in it. To be completely factual, Matt, the person invited to City Hall last week did not have a gunfight with the police/FBI. You can argue that he caused it by telling followers what to do if the police "attacked" (their/your word), but he was not there when it happened.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T18:37:51-06:00
ID
64497
Comment

"Buckallred" - love you(which is exactly why you we'll hate me for the panzee crap salutation). Not many "conservitves" on this board; one of many reasons why this conversation is great.

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T18:43:06-06:00
ID
64498
Comment

Will respond later; risk divorce (just kidding) if I don't go now...

Author
MAllen
Date
2005-02-05T18:45:26-06:00
ID
64499
Comment

First, Buck, I agree with you that the Weaver case was mishandled. That's not the reason I brought it up (or perhaps it was) ... You wrote: Weaver was accused of a minor firearms violation; when he did not turn himself in, It's important to know that the law enforcement/government did not--at the time--believe it was a "minor" firearms violation. They made bad decisions, and they helped cause a tragedy. In that case, had it been an officer and not Weaver family members killed, would history be treating the case differently? Would that, automatically, mean that the law enforcement were in the right because one of them was tragically killed? Factually, by the way, in the RNA, it was definitely *one* felony warrant and three misdemeanors (and none against Obadele). See court document quoted above earlier today for some more details about the felon, who I agree sounds like needed to be off the street and fast. I still wonder, though, if the police/FBI chose the best way to execute that warrant (a la Weaver), or if their motives were only to execute that warrant. It's not a stretch to say that, over all, neither the Jackson police of the time, nor the Feds, were angels. Obadele's group certainly don't appear to have been, either. My point all along is that the whole thing here was a powder keg waiting to blow with way too many guns aimed toward each other. That is a very different scenario than what happened in Neshoba County. And as someone pointed out somewhere on the blog, Obadele did serve time and, apparently, expressed remorse -- other things he does not have in common with Killen. Does that mean he is my hero? Hell, no. But I still don't think that he should be banned from speaking at a public forum in Jackson. Why, we wouldn't have had this delightful battle of wits had he been! ;-) And I say all this with utmost respect and condolences for the Louis Skinner family. The whole thingóand every other death that resulted from the curse of slavery and Jim Crowówas an absolute tragedy.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T18:49:17-06:00
ID
64500
Comment

Actually, me, too, Matt -- and I'm not married. ;-) My nephew playing ball in 55 minutes; must get booty to Canton. See ya later.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-05T18:50:17-06:00
ID
64501
Comment

MAllen asks, "What right-minded citizen does (or did) that [gunfight with FBI]? Especially one invited to City Hall?" Maybe oppressed citizens whose comrades were being assaulted by the FBI? Buck says: ""Racism" means very different things to different people in different situations, which illustrates my point in the above posts. My post was in response to Jason's reference to "racist violence" in his post. I would be interested to hear Jason's definition of "racism," and specifically whether blacks are ever "racist" against whites (or others)." the worst kind of racism is the oppression of a group based on race. there is also 'prejudice' against other races, which is wrong, but depending on the power of the person or group prejudiced not as bad/dangerous as others. So blacks can definitely be racist in the prejudice sense, and Affirmative Action is racist in that sense as well, but that kind of 'racism' (which some prefer to call racialism) can actually be good (to correct wrongs). but i emphasize even going with the dictionary, that black separatism isn't racist, as it does not even abusive behavior nor the belief in inherent racial superiority (well, some black nationalists do believe blacks are a superior race, but they haven't put forward the idea that whites should be enslaved because they're 'inferior'). as for the question 'if the FBI was racist, etc., why didn't they beat more RNA members?' Well, for one, COINTELPRO was real and they did beat, imprison, and kill blacks for political reasons, and so saying, "well, they didn't do the same thing to this group" doesn't say much. two, the raid engendered the largest black demonstration in jackson's history. what do you think would've happened if they had beat RNA members? the police and FBI were certainly aware of the situation, and could only do so much. further, as ladd pointed out, they weren't just indiscriminately attacking people, but singled out leaders, etc.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-05T19:19:31-06:00
ID
64502
Comment

If anyone out there wishes to see the transcript of the March 9, 1976 trial of Richard Henry [Obadele] or the complete police reports of the actual incidents, I have them and they are available over the internet as well. Over 60 armed officres participated in the raid. 7 people were arrested. 2 individuals were shot....1 fatally. No RNA suspeacts were injured. Does anyone really believe, with the end result as it was, that law enforcement, if motivated to do so, could not have completely destroyed the enclave? As to Richard Henry, go to Google and search for him and his "lifelong "credentials...then draw your own conclusions. Kenneth Stokes acheived what he personally wanted to...and left hurt, hate, insensitivity, anger and disgust in his wake.

Author
Ben Allen
Date
2005-02-05T19:32:38-06:00
ID
64503
Comment

JASON: the worst kind of racism is the oppression of a group based on race. there is also 'prejudice' against other races, which is wrong, but depending on the power of the person or group prejudiced not as bad/dangerous as others. So blacks can definitely be racist in the prejudice sense, and Affirmative Action is racist in that sense as well, but that kind of 'racism' (which some prefer to call racialism) can actually be good (to correct wrongs). An interesting and (I believe) sincere answer. "Racism" seems, to jason, to be an incremental sin, based on the "power of the person or group prejudiced [perhaps he meant 'prejudicing']." Which reminds me: The City of Jackson has a majority black population, close to 70% as I recall. It has a black mayor, and several black city council members, one of which publicly stated that Jackson is a "black city" that needs a "black mayor," and which does not need to annex Byram due to the resultant white voters that would become Jacksonians. So, minority (white) Jacksonians: are you experiencing jason's "racism" yet?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-05T19:32:40-06:00
ID
64504
Comment

this will probably be my last response to buckallred or benwa, as i think my comments should be clear enough to most people and i'm going tired of debating this thread. buckallred asks, "So, minority (white) Jacksonians: are you experiencing jason's "racism" yet?" No, they're not. A black mayor doesn't equal oppression of whites. As those whites in general probably receive better city services than do blacks in general (road maintenance, fire protection, um police 'protection'). The problem with the South's past wasn't that the mayor was white, but that blacks were oppressed (and the mayor being white was largely b/c of their political disenfranchisement). Making the mayor and police chief black doesn't just reverse 400 years of oppression and exploitation--if only it were that easy. In fact, it doesn't necessarily change anything but the face of things. MS has more black elected officials than any other state--but that doesn't make it better for blacks here than in any other state, and it certainly doesn't make it worse for whites. benwa: "Does anyone really believe, with the end result as it was, that law enforcement, if motivated to do so, could not have completely destroyed the enclave?" Of course they could have--like they did to the MOVE house in philly. Or the whites did to the black part of town in Tulsa (i think that was the city). What's your point? That just b/c they didn't cut lose that it wasn't a politically motivated assault? Non sequitur--it does not follow. Further, Ladd and I both gave specific reasons for disputing that point--and you ignore them to just restate the same thing (which is either the fallacy of ignoring what we're saying or argumentum ad nauseum). Ladd wrote: "It is worth thinking about our society's double standardóthat was ferocious then and helped feed some really bad actions against black activistsóabout people being able to arm and defend themselves, even against bad government and their law enforcement. Many white conservatives (and others) believe in this wholeheartedlyóbut seem to run into a blind spot when the people holed up and armed against the government were black." Exactly--and this has been ignored by the other posters. i mean, the southpark movie lampoons this rather well actually (i mean, simplistically but still). cali had liberal gun laws and then tried to change them because of the panthers.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-05T20:13:26-06:00
ID
64505
Comment

Buck: So, minority (white) Jacksonians: are you experiencing jason's "racism" yet? I'm confused: Is this a serious question? (I've had a couple beers, after all, so I may miss something.) If it is, then the answer is no; I haven't felt any significant racism directed toward me in Jackson -- per the definitions given above any way. That is, nothing that affects my ability to be who I am, live equally, earn a living and so on. In fact, I've experienced the exact opposite -- people with open arms who want the races to work together Sure, I meet black folks who think I'm too white, and white folks who think I'm too, well, black (remember Barrett's "hip-hop editor" label of me), but those sticks and stones don't bother me. They're just words, their opinions and are usually meaningless. They are not systematic attempts to keep me from voting, and achieving economic and social equality, or to take away my access to a good education. That would be racism if it was being done toward white people for those reasons. And, no, I haven't experienced that here -- not even in the presence of that ole bear, Kenneth Stokes. I've never for one second felt that he thought less of me because I'm white, and in fact he has shown me immense respect. As have you, Ben. However, if I were to just to decide whether either of you was "racist" based on innuendo on radio shows and in publicly televised council meetings and the like, I wouldn't think highly of either one of you. Fortunately, political theater doesn't have much effect on me, no matter which direction it comes from. I try to get past the drama and words uttered for the sake of various agendas and political supporters and such and try to see the real person back there. And both of you are damn fine at political theater. Unfortunately.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T00:27:13-06:00
ID
64506
Comment

Also, Jason is right. Y'all-who-despise-Stokes are skating past some kinda important discussion points in your haste to bolster your points. And you're stating as fact some things that at least warrant more discussion before they're chiseled in stone, so it does leave folks trying to air it out more feeling a bit like you just want to make your own point, rather than try to achieve some level of greater understanding. That's not to say that this discussion hasn't been very good, but the logic is starting to be circular. And, yes, Ben I'd love to see all the transcripts and police reports. I've found some of it on the Internet, but not all of it. And I've Googled both "Richard Henry" and "Imari Obadele" and the findings contribute to my belief that this is much more complex than some of y'all are saying it is. Again, I'm not a supporter of Obadele or his agenda, but it is also clear that the FBI of the time had their own agenda. This ain't a one-statement-and-it's-all-said kind of deal. And why try to do that anyway? All that does is cement a divide between you on one extreme and the people who think that all police of the time were bad on the other (and there are many of them as well). But if we try to discuss it and get at the truth, no matter what it is, there is a chance of bridging the divide. If we don't try to see the whole picture, we're no better than Ben accuses Stokes of being, IMHO.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T00:34:59-06:00
ID
64507
Comment

Also ... yes, Jason, it was Tulsa.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T00:45:39-06:00
ID
64508
Comment

LADD:I'm confused: Is this a serious question? (I've had a couple beers, after all, so I may miss something.) If it is, then the answer is no; I haven't felt any significant racism directed toward me in Jackson -- per the definitions given above any way. That is, nothing that affects my ability to be who I am, live equally, earn a living and so on. In fact, I've experienced the exact opposite -- people with open arms who want the races to work together Sure, I meet black folks who think I'm too white, and white folks who think I'm too, well, black (remember Barrett's "hip-hop editor" label of me), but those sticks and stones don't bother me. They're just words, their opinions and are usually meaningless. They are not systematic attempts to keep me from voting, and achieving economic and social equality, or to take away my access to a good education. That would be racism if it was being done toward white people for those reasons. And, no, I haven't experienced that here -- not even in the presence of that ole bear, Kenneth Stokes. I've never for one second felt that he thought less of me because I'm white, and in fact he has shown me immense respect. As have you, Ben. My comments were directed at jason and his "definition" of racism as somehow being directly proportional to the "power" of a given race. By that logic, whites could be suffering 'racism' as defined by jason, as whites are now the minority in Jackson. I would observe that "racism" is a fairly common occurrence or situation between many and varied races/nationalities. It is not reserved for white people only. I have read that some black americans consider it impossible for a black person to be racist ever under any circumstances. As ridiculous at that notion is, some do profess it in all seriousness. I was wondering whether jason espoused that belief; apparently he does not. Good for him. Ms. Ladd, I enjoy your publication and respect your opinion. However, to be blunt, your credibility is lessened in my eyes when you deny the overt and nakedly racist statements made by Mr. Stokes. And this he has done on many and varied occasions and in his capacity as a city official, no less. If Jackson and, indeed, all of Mississippi is ever going to move past these types of racial conflicts, players like Stokes will need to be retired- by their constituencies- to the annals of history. This reader will not hold his breath waiting for that sort of progress. City Council meetings are not the proper forum for civil liberties experimentation or for contests to see which council member can invite the more racially inflammatory speaker. Do they have the right to do that? Certainly they do. Is it in the best interests of the city for them to do that? As we have just seen, it certainly is not. But then, asking someone like Stokes to consider the greater good, or to have a modicum of respect for others (read: non-Ward 3 citizens) would be an exercise of utter futility.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-06T00:54:40-06:00
ID
64509
Comment

Barrett isn't an elected official. I would distinguish private conduct from that lf elected officials in their official capacities. Just saw this statement, Buck. Again, we're going in circles. I've already made arguments as to why I believe both the statement that (a) Stokes shouldn't have the right to invite Obadele and (b) that Obadele should not be allowed to speak in a public forum are faulty. See my comments above. And I still can't for the life of me see how one could believe that Stokes couldn't invite a "racist" to a public forum, but that white politicians should be allowed to speak to a "racist" forum. How in the world are they different? Or, I will add, no one dealt with my question about how all this translates into it being OK that public parks and reservoirs and Federal buildings are named for known "racists"? If we're going to apply this high standardóno connection whatsoever between public officials/forums and "racists"óshouldn't the rule be applied across the board? If not, who makes the rules?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T00:55:45-06:00
ID
64510
Comment

It is not reserved for white people only. Agreed, Buck. I've never said any different. Ms. Ladd, I enjoy your publication and respect your opinion. Thanks, Buck! However, to be blunt, your credibility is lessened in my eyes when you deny the overt and nakedly racist statements made by Mr. Stokes. When exactly did I do that, Buck? I haven't said whether or not I think Stokes is a racist; I said I have never felt him direct racism toward me. I think you're trying to argue that because I'm not on here declaring as many of you have that "Stokes is a racist! Stokes is a racist!" that I must, must feel that way. Again, I'll remind you that I am purposefully not saying who I think is or is not a "racist." I'm trying to have/lead a discussion that gets past finger-pointing. If that lessens your credibility in me, I do hate that, but there is not a lot I can do about it. I happen to think it's important to have a race discussion that is more nuanced and complex than we usually get. If Jackson and, indeed, all of Mississippi is ever going to move past these types of racial conflicts, players like Stokes will need to be retired- by their constituencies- to the annals of history. This reader will not hold his breath waiting for that sort of progress. I can understand your sentiment. I ask you, are there any particular white politicians in the state that you feel the same way about? Or, do you think it would help racial progress in the state for the public to demand removal of names of blatant "racists" from our public institutions?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T01:01:34-06:00
ID
64511
Comment

I can understand your sentiment. I ask you, are there any particular white politicians in the state that you feel the same way about? Or, do you think it would help racial progress in the state for the public to demand removal of names of blatant "racists" from our public institutions? There are almost certainly white elected officials in MS that are "racist" by any definition of that word. But, unlike Stokes, they do not (to my knowledge) go publicly spouting off at the mouth with asinine, racist comments like Stokes does. Stokes fans the flames of racism; it must please his childish ego to do so. Real leadership in the black community, perhaps that of Charles Evers or Frank Melton, are what is sorely needed in Jackson. That is not to say that closeted rasicm is any less wrong than Stokes' variety, however. A sincere discussion on race would be an important part of moving beyond these issues. Would Stokes be a part of any such discussion in a productive way? No. Would he make asinine statements and shout down others for the limelight and publicity? Of course, that seems to be the sole reason for his existence. I am in favor of a nuanced and complex discussion on race; I appreciate your wanting to get past "finger-pointing" and "name-calling." If you are opposed to those things, then, why do you fail to condemn the antics of the most obnoxious name-caller and finger-pointer of them all: Stokes?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-06T01:15:14-06:00
ID
64512
Comment

Does someone have Cliffs Notes to this thread?

Author
sny guy
Date
2005-02-06T07:45:40-06:00
ID
64513
Comment

Now, Buck, I'm not going to allow you to derail this discussion by jumping defensively to your bait. Rather than deal with some of the questions I am trying to raise, you seem to ignoring any points other than the one you originally raised: which I read as that you hate Stokes and think that he should be condemned without further discussion. What else is there to say then? Note the logical fallacy in saying you are "in favor of a nuanced and complex discussion on race" -- as long as it starts and ends with what you want: an immediate condemnation of Stokes. I, on the other hand, have avoided condemning anyone here and have chosen to try to have that nuanced discussion, believing strongly that good discussion does not begin nor end with condemnation. I'm going to stay with my strategy here because I think it could accomplish more in the long run. I hope you will stay with us. Now, back on point ... Would you be willing to name any of those racist white politicians so we can discuss them in the context of trying to define and pinpoint racism in Mississippi? It could be very interesting to compare their instances of "racism" with Stokes' -- not to see who is more "racist" but to try to draw out some perspective on this, and help us define "racism" -- and to perhaps spotlight some of the unintended hypocrisy in all of our viewpoints, whether black or white. Or, we can all just choose to keep shouting each down with accusations of "racist!" and see where that gets us: I'd suggest a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, as is usually the thrust of the condemnations of Stokes. I think, instead, we can create the opportunity to use Stokes' confounding words and habits to move us to a greater understanding of race politics in the state. Maybe not, but it's sure worth trying. Also, Buck, I've asked you a couple times now if your standard of keeping "racists" away from public institutions would extend to removing the names of known and unapologetic white supremacists (whose public records include downright horrifying comments and actions) from public institutions. I'd really like to know your answer to that, as I think it is pertinent to the argument you brought up earlier. It is intriguing to wonder what the outcry would be if someone like Stokes tried to get a building named after, say, Obadele. Suddenly, then, I bet the import of who a building is named after and what it symbolizes would be headline news.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T10:45:52-06:00
ID
64514
Comment

Sny is right that this thing needs Cliff's Notes: there are many directions to flow! However, we haven't really discussed those dictionary definitions of racism that Justin and Buck shared. Why don't we go that direction as well? D'Souza: A theory of biological superiority. 2. Falsely attributing cultural differences to race, i.e. biology. American Heritage Dictionary: n 1: the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races 2: discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race [syn: racialism, racial discrimination] What could be interesting here is to dissect the Stokes/Obadele discussion by giving specific examples of what they have said that you believe prove that they follow the various definitions here. For instance, if you know of comments by Stokes/Obadele that indicates they believe blacks are biologically or intrinsically superior to other races, please share those. Or share comments that indicate that they are pushing for blacks to discriminate or be abusive toward other races. That's probably the easiest one to come up with possible examples for -- and then we could discuss those examples. Also, feel free to quote other politicians and figures in Mississippi of whatever race here -- but let's stick to direct quotes, not paraphrases that tend to get twisted.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T10:57:20-06:00
ID
64515
Comment

LADD: Now, Buck, I'm not going to allow you to derail this discussion by jumping defensively to your bait. Rather than deal with some of the questions I am trying to raise, you seem to ignoring any points other than the one you originally raised: which I read as that you hate Stokes and think that he should be condemned without further discussion. What else is there to say then? Note the logical fallacy in saying you are "in favor of a nuanced and complex discussion on race" -- as long as it starts and ends with what you want: an immediate condemnation of Stokes. I am not attempting to derail any discussion. However, in my opinion, and ìnuanced and complexî (your quote) discussion of race should most importantly be an *honest* discussion on race. And any honest discussion on race in Jackson, no matter what side you are on, would involve acknowledging the obvious: Stokes is an obnoxious, bigoted fool who is possibly the most significant impediment to racial progress in the Jackson area. After all, if true racial reconciliation or progress thereto were ever reached, Stokes would be out of a job. The condemnation of Stokesí ridiculous antics, which those antics so richly merit, would be a necessary first step to any sincere and honest discussion of these issues. If we canít agree that Stokes and his stunts are patently ridiculous, then there is very little hope of meaningful discussion in this area. What good is any ìnuanced and complexî discussion if it intentionally avoids obvious conclusions or upsetting volatile personalities? It would be, at very best, empty rhetoric. As for potentially ìracistî white politicians, with apologies to Jim Giles, I am not going to make any potentially defamatory statements about any politician based on my own speculation or conjecture regarding that politicianís potential race bias. As stated before, I know of no current white politician who has said, paraphrasing Stokes in reverse, that Jackson or Mississippi is a ìwhite cityî or ìwhite stateî that needs a ìwhite mayor/governor.î To answer your statements regarding state or local structures that are named for racists of the past, they certainly should be changed. In time, they certainly will be, in my opinion. I would point out the contradiction between your frustration with those structures being named after infamous racists, while you see Stokesí starkly racist comments as an ìopportunity . . . to move us to a greater understanding of race politics in the state.î Racism should always be condemned, no matter the color of the individual propounding it. Stokes would no doubt shout me down as a racist for the comments I have made on this board. Would you condemn him if he did?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-06T12:14:00-06:00
ID
64516
Comment

You're big on the idea of "condemnation," Buck -- except that you seem to think that "condemning" white politicians for "racism" and "racist" comments and actions would be "defamation." I'm sensing a bit of inconsistency here. You can accuse me of a "contradiction" if you want, but if you do, you're not listening to me very well. I have, in the past, criticized (I prefer that word to "condemn"; condemn sounds like it should be left to a greater authority than I) Stokes for his comments both in print and to his face, and will again, I am sure. Therefore, your focus on whether I am "condemning" him to your satisfaction, I would respectfully submit, is avoiding the bigger questions that I am trying to pose. You will note that I have not called publicly for the name of any building or park to be re-named -- unlike what you are doing by calling for me to condemn Stokes on your terms or be condemned myself. Buck, I am trying to have a discussion, pure and simple. I said when I started this discussion that I was not going to stoop to name-calling and that I was going to play the devil's advocate a bit to ask questions to try to use this opportunity to get to another level of understanding about a very difficult period in Jackson's history that people (including myself) know way too little about. You don't have to like my strategy, but it doesn't mean that your simplistic characterization of my motives and feelings are accurate. To me, they just mean that you've made up your mind and don't want your view to be challenged in any way. That's your perogative, but it doesn't change my belief about the bigger discussion that desperately needs to happen. Again, I hope you will continue to participate.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T12:42:21-06:00
ID
64517
Comment

Also on the racist-name point, Buck, the most important thing to me is that people understand who these institutions are named for and their place in history--and then to decide honestly if they should reject the names or not. If Ross Barnett or Paul Johnson Jr. or James Eastland were still alive, I think it would be amazing for them to come to City Hall or anywhere else and explain their actions in the 1960s to a group of young people, and how/if they've changed their minds now and why/why not. To me, that would be living history, no matter how much I despised their words/actions. Now, I still think it would be very interesting to quote comments from Stokes and any other PUBLIC officials and see where they fit into the "racist/ism" definitions. Buck, you could start with the Stokes quotes that you think are the most outrageous, perhaps?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T12:49:12-06:00
ID
64518
Comment

LADD: You're big on the idea of "condemnation," Buck -- except that you seem to think that "condemning" white politicians for "racism" and "racist" comments and actions would be "defamation." I'm sensing a bit of inconsistency here. Truth is an absolute defense in a defamation action. Quoting Stokes for racist comments that he made publicly are not defamatory: in contrast, for me (or anyone else) to single out white politicians whom I think *may* be racist (by any definition) would very likely be defamatory. If I knew of any racist statements made in public by a current white elected official, I'd say so, but I do not know of any. Thus there is no inconsistency in my statements above. I was not aware that you have criticized Stokes before; that was not mentioned in this thread. Your statements above seemed, to me, to be bending over backwards to avoid criticising him. To the extent that you have criticized his antics, I retract my statements regarding your credibility. Stokes' modus operandi is laughably simple: to browbeat others into being too frightened of him to criticise him. Let's not encourage that sort of thing. Stokes' asinine, racist public statements have been posted in this or other thread before. I will leave it to others to dig them up; is there any serious question as to whether those statements are "racist" by any definition?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-06T13:04:04-06:00
ID
64519
Comment

Truth is an absolute defense in a defamation action. Of course it is. However, a major factor if sued by someone for calling them a "racist" would be the fact-checking part. "Racist" isn't in itself a given fact; it's a chacterization based on facts you would have to provide. What you're doing is bringing your assumption (which may well be true) to the table, then "condemning" Stokes for it, in turn, using very inflammatory, ad hominem attacks of him -- which is what you accuse him of doing. However, you cannot assume that a jury would agree with your initial premise that Stokes is "a racist" -- without you proving why. That's what I'm trying to get at here, by asking for you to provide the actual quotes that prove this, and then we can talk about it. As it is, it just sounds like you're doing the same thing he does: spewing insults. Of course, you say that your insult is "obvious"; well, so does he. A real discussion would get past the insults. in contrast, for me (or anyone else) to single out white politicians whom I think *may* be racist (by any definition) would very likely be defamatory. Wait, I'm not following your logic. If the comments are "racist," what difference does it make whether it's Stokes or a white politician. Following your logic, wouldn't your comments be libel/defamation-proof on their face because the politicians are, well, obviously "racist"? And that's a "fact." Based on your argument, you wouldn't be defaming them, just sharing what everyone knows to be true. As you can probably tell, I definitely see inconsistency in your statement, Buck. And I also see inconsistency in how you might be defining "racist." But we can't discuss that unless we talk about actual quotes that you find "racist." Thus, my request.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T13:53:57-06:00
ID
64520
Comment

I was not aware that you have criticized Stokes before; that was not mentioned in this thread. Your statements above seemed, to me, to be bending over backwards to avoid criticising him. That's what you're reading in, Buck, probably because all you really want me to do is "condemn" him; you've said that already. And it seems to confound you greatly that I have refused to "condemn" him (or anyone else) in this discussion for being "a racist." Frankly, there are plenty people doing that; I'd rather see if we could take something a bit more intelligent from this dust-up. And, I don't mean this rudely, but I don't mind whether you retract what you said about me or not, especially based merely on whether I've criticized Stokes. It's kind of ironic to me that we hear so much about journalism outlets needing to be "fair and balanced," but often when we try to do that with controversial topics/people, we get "condemned." Frankly, I'd rather history note that I tried to encourage wider conversations about tough topics, especially race, rather than follow the herd into easy condemnations of certain people and not others. I will leave it to others to dig them up; is there any serious question as to whether those statements are "racist" by any definition? A defamation trial would think so. Besides, the point here (at least mine) is not to hang Stokes -- it is to have a wider discussion about race and "racism." It's hard to do that if we can't even talk specifically about what people think is "racist" and what they don't. Frankly, some of the "racist" comments I hear attributed to Stokes don't actually seem "racist," although they may be obnoxious or insensitive. Others seem more "racist," at least on their face. The same could be said, of course, for other elected officials. I learned something important when I studied Malcolm X: Even as he often used rhetoric such as "white devils" to get attention, there was also brilliance buried beneath the rhetoric, and he represented desperate cries for help from people who weren't heard from very often. I'm not saying Stokes is "brilliant," mind you, but I am saying that there is more going on here if people will pay attention. At the very least, figure out how/why he got his power in the first place. If you don't want a Stokes in power, then you need to figure out what created him and then go fix that problem -- go "upstream," so to speak. Same for Malcolm, same for Obadele, and same for Jim Giles, Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond. Extremists can teach us a lot about ourselves and our society if we allow them to. But we have to get past the sound bites first.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-06T13:57:18-06:00
ID
64521
Comment

I have submitted a definition of ìracism,î cited above, with which I am more than glad to stipulate to for these purposes. If Stokes wants to sue me for calling him ìracist,î then I am glad to defend myself in that suit. And I will win. After all, his on-the-record assertions that he opposes the annexation of Byram because the influx of white residents would "dilute black voting strength," that Jackson is a ìblack cityî that "needs a black mayor" is far more than that which would be required for me to defend myself in referring to him as a racist. Many equally asinine public statements by Stokes are available for those who need more evidence to determine whether he should be considered ìracist.î Anyone who is interested should do his or her own research. Additional references are available under sny guyís thread dated Feb 02, 05 6:13 pm at this link: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/comments.php?id=3705_0_27_0_C Further, what is or is not a ìfactî in a defamation suit would be a matter of much contention. Of course, Stokes would be a great help to me on this issue by his having made so many racist statements on public record, as referenced above. There are the quotes you requested, Donna. Now letís talk about them. As they are available on your newspaperís website, I find your request that I re-post them to be somewhat less than sincere. Incidentally, my ìattacksî on Stokes, which you characterize as ìad hominem,î are based on statements that he made publicly as well as his invitation to Obadele to speak at a Jackson City Council meeting. Thus my position on Stokes, while not flattering, relate only to his pathetic and embarrassing conduct per his official position as a member of the Jackson City Council and is by definition not an ìad hominemî attack. As to what comments I consider ìracist:î see the above public comments made by Stokes, including those incorporated by reference. If any currently-serving white politician has made comments similar in any way to those made by Stokes, I am not aware of them. To this point, I repeat my comments form an earlier post: BUCK: I would point out the contradiction between your frustration with those structures being named after infamous racists, while you see Stokesí starkly racist comments as an ìopportunity . . . to move us to a greater understanding of race politics in the state.î Racism should always be condemned, no matter the color of the individual propounding it. You have condemned politicians of decades past for being ìracists,î as they no doubt were. I only ask you to turn that same scrutiny to racists of the present, such as Stokes. Your refusal to acknowledge the obvious and publicly-displayed racism of Stokes reveals your own bias, no matter how well-intentioned it may be.

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-07T00:41:14-06:00
ID
64522
Comment

DONNA: Frankly, I'd rather history note that I tried to encourage wider conversations about tough topics, especially race, rather than follow the herd into easy condemnations of certain people and not others. It is easy to ìencourage wider conversations about tough topics.î What is difficult is to take an informed and unbiased position from a perspective of fairness and reality. As for ìeasy condemnations,î Stokes is his own worst enemy in this regard by making nakedly racist statements on the public record and in his capacity as a city official. Would you blame me (or anyone else) for condemning a statement by a public official that is racist on its face? As for what I consider ìracist:î I have agreed to abide by the definition listed above. What about you? What do you think? My position is eminently clear: can you say the same thing?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-07T00:41:42-06:00
ID
64523
Comment

I'll try to keep this concise. Any elected official who invites an individual convicted in connection to a shooting death of an on-duty police officer -- one who by all accounts was a very respected police officer -- is bound to receive a mountain of criticism. If Stokes wanted to conduct a civics lesson in a city council meeting, he could have invited a historian familiar with the incident to share the perspectives of Obadele and the law enforcement community of that era. To me, by inviting Obadele, Stokes demonstrated indisputably poor judgment. I'm disappointed that Donna, and especially "Jason", seem so intent on playing devil's advocate with regards to Obadele's actions in the past. I think most of us can agree that creating an independent black nation in the deep south is neither a realistic view nor one conducive to mending the fissures of race and class. The possible double standard between black anti-government citizens and white anti-government citizens and the naming of a state park after an elected official who made racist comments are issues that should be taken up in another discussion. It's irrelevant when discussing whether Obadele's invitation to the meeting and his comments at the meeting should be commended or condemned. I think it's pretty clear they should be condemned. I'd love to hear a cogent argument the other way. And please don't respond by saying, "well ... so and so in the legislature ... or so and so in this city invited this terrible person to speak." Because other elected officials have invited divisive characters to speak doesn't mean Stokes should be given a free pass. Too often, commentators on this board try to justify questionable behavior of one person by pointing out similar questionable behavior by someone else. It still doesn't make either party less wrong or less culpable.

Author
sny guy
Date
2005-02-07T01:25:27-06:00
ID
64524
Comment

sny_guy, I'm not trying to justify what Stokes did by pointing to anyone else and I am definitley not playing devil's advocate. I am defending Obadele from attacks, but I do not support his political program of black nationalism. I your seemingly 'sny' dismissal of forming a black nation and its ability to cure race and class problems doesn't seem well thought out frankly. There are strong arguments for black nationalism, but I think it fails in the US because it is typically based either on the black petty bourgeiosie (which Obadele is, check out family background) or based on the sincere desire for liberation and mislead into the black nationalist current (most blacks followed Garvey not to go back to Africa but to achieve freedom here, which I think is the correct program). However, you seem to dismiss the theory out of hand. Why? You say it's not "realistic." I agree in one sense, but I'm wary of avoiding the un"realistic" as for instance, the abolition of slavery was unrealistic for a time. As for why it wouldn't mend fissures of race and class--I think that if blacks did constitute a separate nation, it would heal some fissures, but I also think it wouldn't by itself because nationalism is a bourgeois program that can't meet the needs of the oppressed. However, I doubt that's your reasoning. Any, that's all to say I'm miffed by your casual dismissal of black nationalism, esp. as it's followers have respected the most radical and most hopeful fighters for black freedom.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-07T08:14:48-06:00
ID
64525
Comment

What is difficult is to take an informed and unbiased position from a perspective of fairness and reality. I agree, Buck. That is part of the point of this discussion -- to reveal that on all sides. And it certainly has done that, I think. We're going around in circles; I think you're refusing to try to process what I'm saying, in your haste to condemn me for not condemning Stokes to your satisfaction, and that's your perogative. But I'm not going to keep repeating myself. I've explained my motives in this discussion very clearly. Sny, you're not reading what I said very closely, although with this sprawling thread you have a good reason. ;-) I brought up the naming issue in response to Buck's, I believe faulty, reasoning about why Obadele shouldn't have been invited to speak at a public Black History forum -- that such disgusting racists shouldn't be connected to public venues in such a way. And your point about Obadele having been "connected" to a heinous crime could be good, all other things being equal. But they're not. You know as well as I do that many of the white "heroes" of the past here were very connected to race crimes, even helping facilitate the distribution of license plate numbers to the Klan (via the Sovereignty Commission) so that crimes could be committed. Just because juries in that era were willing to convict some criminals and not others does not, therefore, exempt those white "heroes" who are honored every day on our public institutions. My main point here is to try to highlight the double standards that are used in race discussions, and I think this thread (and the other one Buck linked with quotes from Stokes) is doing a fine job of that. That's not to "condemn" anyone here; it's to point out that everyone is coming at these race questions from a position of bias; thus, we have a whole lot of work and discussion to do before we can pack this history away. In fact, the first step is learning more about it. Also, I think a vital point here is, in fact, the definition of "racism." I've given hints about what I think (has a lot to do with the "-ism" part), but I wanted to let others discuss that point more before imposing my views. I brought a book in today that I will post an excerpt from a bit later, but right now I have folks waiting for me. It's press day, and I can't blog much. Meantime, though, all, feel free to keep talking. I'd really love to see a focus on what "racism" and "racist" mean to different people. Finally, I thank you all for a great dialogue. This isn't supposed to be easy, and people are doing a fine job of being respectful while disagreeing, I believe. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-07T10:12:54-06:00
ID
64526
Comment

I just read Donald Cunnigen's "Bringing the Revolution Down Home: The Republic of New Africa in Mississippi" from Sociological Spectrum, 19: 63-92, 1999. Pgs. 73-5 deal with police repression of the RNA. Before the raids, one member's house mysteriously burned down, and in Bolton, there were police raids on members' houses. "The blatant disregard for innocent black lives [the raids took part in a residential black area] was of great concern to many Black Jacksonians. Consequently, a group of citizens formed the Black Jacksonians for Justice...." (pg 74). Apparently, the FBI & police raided two RNA buildings. In one, "the presidential residence, there was no fight: "Without issuing warnings, the chief...ordered the inhabitants to leave.... The fact that witnesses confirmed the presence of shotguns, a tank, tear gas, and an ambulance was not a minor factor in the group's compliance." [at the headquaters] "Although the FBI/Jackson police initially fired into the RNA headquaters without any indication of weapons [after ordering them to vacate], their gunfire was returned by RNA members in self-defense. The FBI/Jackson police continued to fire...without receiving additional return fire. ...the RNA emmbers had escaped through a tunnel...." Sources: "Black Jacksonians for Justice." No date. Jackson, MS. Perkins, Shirely. 1974. "Student Recalls RNA Confrontations." Harambee (Tougaloo College Student Newspaper), Tougaloo, MS. "Mississippi...Old and New." 1971. Southern Conference Educational Fund. "The Repression of the RNA". 1971. Black Scholar 3: 57. The Republic of New Africa--a Short Chronological History. No date. Jackson, MS: The Republic of New Africa. Obadele 1974. "The Struggle of the Republic of New Africa." Black Scholar 5:32-40.

Author
jason
Date
2005-02-07T17:29:35-06:00
ID
64527
Comment

Errr . . Felix who? Just kidding. I have not spoken to him in some time. Who is this?

Author
buckallred
Date
2005-02-09T10:59:17-06:00
ID
64528
Comment

Here's an example of some of the stellar "information"-sharing that spewed forth in the early hours of the recent Obadele dust-up. Alan Lange, the grand distributor of anything related to Jackson crime, "broke" the story over on his blog. He posted: Posted by alange at 04:38 AM | Comments (0) January 30, 2005 EXCLUSIVE - INVITE TO RNA 11 LEADER An exclusive to JacksonCrime.org Attached is the invite to Dr. (Prince) Imari Obadele. For those of you who don't know Dr. Obadele, he was the a leader of Republic of New Africa 11, which supports among other things the emergence of a seperatist black nation headquartered on property already purchased years ago in Bolton, MS. Now why would someone focused on crime care? He and others from the RNA 11 group were convicted in federal court 30 years ago for the murder of then JPD Lt. Louis Skinner. Lt. Skinner is the father of current Judge and former Officer Bill Skinner of Hinds County. Basically, what we have here is the city of Jackson (Mayor and City Council) rolling out the red carpet for a CONVICTED cop-killer. I will have more on this story as it develops. In the meantime, post a comment and let your views be known here. A few additional facts: Dr Imari Obadele is actually Denis Paul Shillingford. He is a retired political science professor at Prairie View A&M University The problem here, of course, is not whether you like Obadele or not. It is the sheer number of major factual errors that were put out to fan these flames. For one, Obadele is not a "convicted cop-killer." He was convicted of conspiracy against federal officers. He was not convicted of murder. Also, and most egregious is this statement: Dr Imari Obadele is actually Denis Paul Shillingford. Uh, no he wasn't, and isn't. Denis Paul Shillingford as one of the RNA members actually in the Lewis Street house when this transpired. Obadele (real name Richard Henry) was not, although he was convicted because the people there, including Shillingford, followed the plan he had established for them should the police raid the house. I'm sure that Alan got this information from the headers of one of the court documents that wrongly listed Shillingford as "aka Imari Obadele." However, had he read further down in that document, he would have quickly seen his error. "Facts" such as these do not help a thing in such controversies. Apparently, even people who helped put this information out there initially have realized the error of their ways (that's how I know about this "exclusive") -- but as far as I can tell, as of right now, Lange has not corrected his "exclusive." And this is someone who complains about the media not getting things right. Tsk, tsk.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-15T16:23:32-06:00
ID
64529
Comment

Neat how you flaunt fair use considerations when it meets your needs but groan and moan when others don't just excerpt. Errors or not, you posted Lange's stuff verbatim and didn't even provide a link. Pot-kettle-black.

Author
Proud To Be Right
Date
2005-02-15T16:48:51-06:00
ID
64530
Comment

"Flaunt"? Oh, Proud, you're so angry at me all the time, aren't you? Actually, per Fair Use, my understanding is that pasting a short blog entry that's part of much longer thread/document (it has 14 comments) is OK. If you want to share an updated rule, let me know, or perhaps Alan will if he's offended by my posting his exclusive entry. And you got me on the link; I forgot to post it. Thanks for adding it, and I'm glad to see it shows the comments as well. Now, would you like to discuss the substance of my posting, or are you here simply to harangue the messinger?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-15T16:58:30-06:00
ID
64531
Comment

By the way, my kettles are mod little red things, and my pots, well, I have no idea. I don't cook.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-02-15T17:19:54-06:00

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