Critical Updates on the Alex Nieto Killing by SFPD | Special Election in Jackson, Ms

Alex NietoHard Knock Radio 04-07-14: Today we sat down with local activist and Professor Ben Bac Sierra, who was best friends to Alex Nieto. Alex was the honor student and security guard at El Toro Nightclub was slain by SFPD as he sat eating in a park in neighborhood in Bernal Heights..

According to police, they were responding to reports of a man acting ‘erratically’ carrying a gun. Alex was in the park walking back and forth, praying out while carrying his job issued taser which strapped to his side. Police showed up, stood 75 feet away and shot Alex after he pointed the taser at him.. That’s according to their reports. That account has been widely disputed.

Ben gives us a blow-by-blow account of the incident following the timeline put out police. He also explains that the caller stayed on the phone with police dispatchers as they approached Alex and noted that he was sitting on a bench eating when police approached him..

He also talks about how the SFPD visited Alex’s parents hours after he was killed and attempted to get information about his mental well-being in the past. The parents were unaware their son had been killed. They were under the impression Alex was in some sort of trouble with the law which in itself was shocking because he had whistle clean record. They cooperated with police as best they could. His parents do not speak English. The police demanded to search the house, Alex’s father refused. It was after the police questioned the parents that officers informed them they had shot and killed Alex…

Ben also relayed how SFPD Chief Greg Suhr publicly promised to pay for Alex’s funeral during the widely watched police town hall. After the cameras were gone Suhr called up the family the next day and reneged on his promise. The family had to hold a fundraiser to get money for Alex’s funeral.

Ben concluded our interview by noting the support they have been receiving by hundreds of residents all over Bernal Heights and the Mission as well as by local supervisors David Campos and John Avala.

In recent days SFPD have announced they are on high tactical alert because they had received an anonymous death threat. Local organizers feel this is the police’s way of demonizing Alex’s friends and family who have been peaceful in all demonstrations and outings.

Chokwe Antar LumumbaLater in the show we talk with longtime activist and Malcolm X Grassroots leader Kali Akuno about the special election in Jackson, Mississippi for Mayor that’s scheduled for Tuesday April 8th. He talks to us about the political landscape in the wake of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s death. His son Antar is running and trying to succeed his father and continue implementing the Jackson Rising people’s plan…

Kali noted that many of the candidates initially had pledged loyalty to the late Mayor’s historic Jackson Rising plan. Its enormously popular among Jackson residents. Once Antar entered the race, those same candidates have been working overtime to dis it.

In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling where campaign contribution limits have been lifted, millions of dollars from outside the city and state have poured into the election making it the most expensive in Jackson’s history. The bulk of the money has been coming in from developers and republicans in the overwhelming Democratic City. Kali noted that there is a strong push to gentrify Jackson.

Hard Knock Radio: White Vigilantism, Stand Your Ground & Jordan Davis – Meet The Lumpen (02-18-14)

Kali Akuno

Kali Akuno

Hard Knock Radio (02-18-14) We speak w/ Kali Akuno, Special Projects and External Funding Director for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi and member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Our conversation starts off with reaction to the Michael Dunn/ Jordan Davis trial verdict and its larger implications.

We spoke with Kali about connecting the dots and looking at the larger issues connected with what seems to be an uptick in vigilante style killings of Black people at the hands of ‘scared’ white folks who than try to hide behind Stand Your Ground laws that now exists in 26 states.

Kali had unique perspective to this incident because he did organizing work in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina where there were a number vigilante killings involving mobs of white folks literally hunting Black people.

Ground zero was the Algiers section of New Orleans, but there were also disturbing incidents on the Gretna and Dezanger Bridge where Black people seeking dry ground were shot and killed. In the last couple of years we’ve seen high profile cases with the murders of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis.. A lot of this was highlighted in the documentary Katrina’s Hidden Race War and the explosive article by AC Thompson for the Nation Magazine.

Katrina vigilantismIn our conversation Akuno noted that many of these incidents seem to borrow from the same play book with vigilantes claiming they were frightened and felt threatened by unarmed Black people who they thought were armed.  The same excuse is used by police who have been gunned down unarmed and innocent Black people.

Kali pointed out this history of fear is rooted white supremacy and the notion that the Black people who have been killed were somehow not in the ‘right place’. Their presence is deemed out of the ordinary which leads to folks becoming ‘suspicious’ and acting with malice..

We talked about ways in which people are organizing to combat this and what organizing will look like ideally as more people step up and push back.

We also asked Kali to put on his other hat as Special Projects and External Funding Director and give us some insight as to how people in his city of Jackson are organizing and protecting themselves given the sordid history of Mississippi and that it too is a Stand Your Ground state.

Kali noted that is organization has gotten a number of calls to investigate troubling incidents that have gone down in the state, primarily in rural areas. With respect to whats going on in Jackson, the Lumumba administration has been carefully laying down groundwork to enact bold, progressive initiatives that has gotten many people excited and simultaneously gotten many in power upset.

Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

He noted that the state legislature is one of the most reactionary in the country and have put forth a bill similar to Michigan where the governor can arbitrarily appoint an Emergency Manager. Dubbed the ‘Takeover Jackson Bill‘, this would allow one individual appointed by the governor to come in and usurp the power of the Mayor, City council and other local elected officials. The Emergency Manager would have the power to set budgets, oversee the police, hire and fire administrators as they saw fit etc.

Kali noted that such moves were to be expected and that their response as an administration is not be shocked and surprised but instead apply their skill sets and years of fighting in the trenches to organize and employ strategies and counter measures of their own.

Kali noted one of the first steps is to raise awareness and make sure folks are in the loop as to whats happening. The second step is to organize folks on the ground and get them prepared for the latest attack and attempts to oppress folks..

Hopefully news outlets like Democracy Now Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC Roland S. Martin of TV One to name a few take up this matter and shine a glaring spotlight on this…

As Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress recently noted whats taking place is that many of these new laws are being put in place with Black People being used as training ground.. Once the proverbial kinks are out they are then applied to everyone else who is deemed a threat or ‘the other’.

Far too often everyone ignores these laws when its hitting the Black community and literally sweep it under the rug until it’s too late.. That’s one hard lesson folks should’ve learned with the fight around mass surveillance. It was ignored when it was being used in the Black community for a couple of decades under the banner War on Drugs..

The Emergency Manager tactic was ignored and even justified by some who should know better when it was impacting cities like Detroit and Flint. Some rationalized that such places were run down and needed a change..Now they are directing it at Jackson, Ms toward a progressive Mayor who hasn’t even been in office 6 months.. Who will be next and how are we prepared to fight?

The Lumpen

The Lumpen

Later on in the show, we hear excerpts from an hear a panel discussion featuring author/scholar Rickey Vincent and members of the Black Panthers Funk band The LumpenWilliam Calhoun, Clark Bailey and James Mott speak about their experiences as revolutionary rank and file members of the panthers and what led to them forming a band. They note that its important to keep in mind they were Panthers first before ‘rock stars’..

right click the link below to download or  stream the HKR Intv

right click the link below to download or
stream the HKR Intv

hkrfullshow_02-18-2014 Kali Akuno- Meet the Lumpen

Jackson Rising: The Bold Agenda of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba for 2014

Chokwe Lumumba

Chokwe Lumumba

One of the most overlooked stories of 2013 was the election of Chokwe Lumumba is Jackson, Mississippi where he garnered over 75% of the vote. The former lawyer of the late 2pac Shakur and former political prisoner Asaata Shakur is considered in many circles to be the nation’s most progressive and radical mayor.

He was an integral part of the Republic of New Afrika which called for Black people to establish a nation within a nation, looking at 5 key southern states Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina as the base.

He was the founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement which has chapters all over the country and has been focused on a number of issues facing the Black community including the plight of political prisoners and police accountability among other things..

We sat down and spoke with Kali Akuno who does political outreach for the Lumumba administration to get an update as to how they have been doing in their 6 months in office and what bold plans and initiatives they intend to put forth in the upcoming new year..

Kali Akuno

Kali Akuno

For those who say we need change and we need to create a world where we ‘do the right thing‘ and take the proverbial bull by its horns and go to work’, then your attention and energy should be focused on Jackson, Mississippi. They are taking steps to do many of the things I’ve heard people say we should be doing in meeting after meeting, convention after convention and gathering after gathering.. Jackson is ground zero. If you are African-American, Jackson should really be watched considering the city 80% population, history and current day-to-day challenges.

In our conversation with Akuno, what stood out is the city laying critical ground work to be self-sustaining from top to bottom. They are changing the infrastructure of the city so that its green and ecologically efficient. They have aggressive entrepreneurial plans. They aren’t begging big corporations for jobs, they are creating them.. They have radical approaches toward social justice.. And they are putting forth an incredible conference in May called Jackson Rising..

Listen to the Hard Knock Radio interview below. You will be inspired..

Jackson Rising

Editorial: Understanding the Secessionist Movement

Earlier this week, I republished an article on secession and made raised the question as to whether or not Black and Brown folks should also consider secession. I pointed out that we have a history of wanting to detach ourselves from a country that has systemically oppressed us.. you can read that article HERE

My good friend Kali Akuno of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement pointed out that its important we not confuse the fights waged by people of color for self determination and liberation with the fight waged by racists and xenophobic types who types who want to secede because they want to get away from people of color or remain in position whee they can colonize or enslave.. Below is an article penned by Kali which originally appeared in the Praxis Project website…

-Davey D-

Understanding the Secessionist Movement

Since the reelection of President Barack Obama, United States “citizens” from over 30 states have filed petitions to formally secede from the Union, and more than 10 have reached the signature requirements that necessitate a response from the Federal government.

While the secessionist movement is not a new social phenomenon, in fact many of its modern roots go back to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, its present mass resurgence should be something that gives pause to progressive forces. Not because the secessionist movement will likely succeed (at least in short-term), but because it is a reflection of deep white reaction to various demographic and political transformations in the United States empire that will have multiple expressions, many of them likely to be rather deadly. When we put the secessionist movement in the broader context of the ideology and historic social system of white supremacy then we see that is much more than just a fringe movement.

As Obama’s reelection in part demonstrated, the 500 + year nexus between the systems of capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy is fracturing beyond repair. There are now ruling class elements and a broad social base in the United States that are willing to jettison many of the social manifestations of white supremacy in order to preserve the capitalist-imperialist world system and the material benefits they reap from it. The secessionist movement reflects in part the interests of the forces of white supremacy who are materially dependent on the old-systems of production that require the unity of this historic nexus for their material well-being or are socially and ideologically committed to its perpetuation.

For much of the 20th century the far right forces of white supremacy were generally satisfied with the post-Reconstruction reinterpretation of the “states rights” doctrine, which was the result of a set of compromises established at the founding of the United Sates empire between the states that wanted to expand chattel slavery and those that were transitioning to a fully articulated system of wage labor. This reinterpretation rested on the notion that the Southern ruling class interests could continue subjugating the colonized (New) African and Indigenous nations contained in the region for the purposes of having a super-cheap labor force to exploit so long as they accepted the hegemony of the Federal government, which was rooted primarily in the controlling hands of monopoly industrial and finance capitalists based along the Northeastern seaboard. This reinterpretation contained secessionist aspirations for nearly a century, but it never completely vanquished them. The Black Liberation movement of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s weakened the post-Reconstruction “states rights” compromise, and breathed new life into the secessionist movement.

Playing up “states rights” as code for the perpetuation of white supremacy was at the heart of the “Southern Strategy” developed by the Nixon regime to defeat the “New Deal” alliance of the Democratic Party that was forged in the 1930’s and 40’s (the alliance that gave birth to the political ideologies and social forces now breaking with white supremacy). The reactionary “Southern Strategy” worked brilliantly until the 1990’s, when it was appropriated by elements of the Democratic Party (particularly the Democratic Leadership Council) to regain political legitimacy and power. This appropriation heightened contradictions amongst the forces of white supremacy, which in turn have opened space for more far right movements like the secessionist movement, to operate and compete within for ideological hegemony.  For these far right forces the reelection of a Black man to conduct the affairs of the White House over what was supposed to be a white man’s country is just too much to bear. In this context, secession is not so much fringe, but in fact is rather logical.

It may also turn out to be brilliant strategy. The “right to secede” is a democratic right and one technically enshrined in the United States constitution. If this right is denied without sufficient political struggle to clarify the issues, particularly by a Black man who is deemed and demonized as a dictator due to his different interpretation of the Constitution and management of the capitalist-imperialist system, it can and will become a rallying cry for the far right that could potentially mobilize millions of white settlers, particularly as there are strong preexisting settler narratives to support and justify their cause (from “don’t tread on me” to “no taxation without representation”), and give life to the civil strife, if not all out war, that many Republican and Tea Party commentators spoke to leading up to the November 6th elections.

So, this movement is something that progressive forces should pay attention to and think strategically about. And not because progressive forces should be aiming to preserve the political or structural integrity of the United States as it is presently constituted. We have to remember that there is nothing sacred or sacrosanct about the present borders of the settler states that comprise the so-called Union. This government and these borders have not always existed, are not inherently legitimate, and definitely have not served the interests of Indigenous, African, Xicano, Puerto Rican, and other colonized and oppressed peoples who live on the Great Turtle island (one of the Indigenous names of the North America continent). Rather, our primary interest should be protecting our people, exploring solutions that will advance our total liberation, and combating the repression these reactionary forces are and will direct against us. As the contradictions of this imperial society become more acute, we need to be as aware and prepared as possible to address them with sufficient organization in the pursuit of our own interests – least we be caught unaware and used as pawns once again to preserve the “white man’s systems”.

written by Kali Akuno

An Open Letter to the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement: Suggestions on Next Steps, Strategy and Unity Building

An Open Letter to the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement: Suggestions on Next Steps, Strategy and Unity Building

By Kali Akuno
National Organizer – Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Director of Education, Training, and Field Operations – US Human Rights Network

Kali Akuno

The righteous anger and indignation on graphic display in Oakland, California Thursday, July 8th at the mockery of justice rewarded to Johannes Mehserle for murdering Oscar Grant and the open collaboration of several non-profit organizations with the government to contain and delegitimatize the people’s resistance is a clarion call. It’s a call not just for justice for Oscar Grant and the countless victims of police terror, but for radical, systemic change. The anger, and its focus, indicates a heightened awareness on behalf of a new generation of working class Black, Latino and Asian youth of the intractable contradictions between the imperialist state and oppressed peoples and the willingness to challenge them.

A new phase of development and a new set of challenges now confront the movement to win justice for Oscar Grant. The inexperience of the youth forces engaged and the current weaknesses and fragmentation of the left make this a very, very delicate time. If certain conversations aren’t had, if certain lessons of the past and present aren’t incorporated, and if certain contradictions aren’t addressed, then all of the radiant energy on display July 8th could easily fade, or just as easily turn its wrath in upon itself and miss its true target.

This small contribution is an attempt to help ignite conversation, share reflections from critical movements of the past, and offer suggestions in the hope of helping to facilitate strategic and programmatic development within the movement.

On Next Steps and Organizing Orientation
1. Joint Reflection: to move the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement forward progressive forces focused on building the democratic mass movement, should join forces and come together to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement over the past year and half. One of the two main objectives of such a collaboration, in the short term, would be to produce a joint assessment and a unified set of demands, both tactical and strategic, to help anchor the movement in its next phase of struggle.
2. Joint Assessment: This assessment should be issued as a statement and/or document that provides a clear analysis of the movements weaknesses and errors and some strong points of orientation to try and anchor, sustain, and guide it going forward. Some key points of assessment should include (but not be limited to) the following:
a) A firm condemnation of collaboration and opportunism; but avoiding personalized vilification of the social forces that collaborated (being mindful of the lessons of COINTELPRO)
b) A statement of distinction on the role of political and community organizations as opposed to non-profits; and clarity on the reformist orientation and political limitations of non-profit organizations
c) The function of organization in the movement to combat infiltration (as appears to have occurred within the Black Bloc and other formations)
d) The need for strategy to help facilitate forward development and political advancement of the movement(s)
3. Joint Strategy and Work Plan: The second primary objective of such a collaboration would be to draft a one-year strategy and work plan to realize the unified demands that are put forward to the movement to democratically accept (understanding the independence of initiative of each formation), modify, or categorically reject.

This convergence of forces, although necessarily centered in California, particularly the Bay Area and Los Angeles, should seek to build and consolidate a national and international organizing initiative.

On Demand Expansion and Development
1. The opening of a Federal Investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) can and should be used as a national organizing opportunity. However, more self-determining justice initiatives should be organized simultaneously to challenge US hegemony (internally and externally) by internationalizing the struggle. More concretely, an independent “people’s or citizens” commission should be established to conduct an autonomous examination of the evidence, issue indictments, and pressure the DOJ and its process. This commission would ideally consist of family members, community activists, lawyers, jurists, etc. and call on various international bodies within the United Nations (UN) and International System (such as the Inter-American Court) to intervene in the case and challenge the racist policies and practices that enabled it.
2. The demand for resources and economic development must be supported unequivocally, but modified in a manner that puts limits on the controls of City Hall and its near exclusive access by “grasstop” forces. A means to accomplishing this (not without its faults or limits by any stretch) could be the institutionalization of participatory budgeting systems to determine the use of the cities resources to ensure they are used to address and service human needs such as adequate housing, health care, education, etc.

Synthesis Demands
This synthesis is an attempt to combine and expand on the demands originally articulated by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) Coalition, and the New Years Movement (NYM).
1. We demand that Officers Pirone and Domenici be indicted for murder.
2. We demand civil restitution and reparations for the family Oscar Grant, and the victims of Police violence by the OPD and BART.
3. We demand that BART Police be disarmed and disbanded.
4. We demand that the Police Bill of Rights, which shields the records of police misconduct, abuse and murder, be immediately abolished, and that all police records be made public.
5. We demand that an independent “peoples commission”, drawn and determined by the citizens of Oakland, with international jurists determined by this commission, be granted oversight into the Federal Department of Justice investigation of the murder of Oscar Grant, and systemic violations of civil and human rights by the Oakland and Transit Police.
6. We demand the termination of all Gang Injunction laws and policies in Oakland and throughout California on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and their violation of civil and international law.
7. We demand that Oakland be declared a sanctuary city, and that all ICE raids and racial profiling policies and practices targeting Latino/a, Black, Asian and other oppressed peoples be terminated immediately.
8. We demand that the City of Oakland, the State of California, and the Federal Government provide massive funding for education and jobs in Oakland that are allocated and distributed via a transparent and democratic public participatory budgeting process.

One-Year Plan Targets/Tactics
1. Conduct a mass and coordinated non-compliance action in Oakland and Los Angeles the day after Mehserle’s sentencing, that calls for Student walk outs and strike or “sick out” actions by Public Sector, Transit, Dock, and other workers that disrupts the regular flow of “business” to raise our demands and demonstrate the power of mass action.
2. Organize broad, neighborhood Police/Copwatch formations, and work to create “liberated zones” in Black, Latino, Asian, and white working class and poor communities, where the police are prohibited or curtailed in their activities.
3. Organize a massive local, regional, statewide, and national “Justice for Oscar Grant” petition drive to pressure the DOJ and build support for the movement’s demands (buttressed by broad internet and social networking interface to support and broaden reach).
4. Develop a broad people’s media and cultural workers initiative to provide educational, motivational, and agitation tools and resources for the movement and to provide sufficient analysis and coverage to frame the movement from its own perspective and counter the reactionary framing and attacks of the bourgeois media.
5. Hold a People’s Tribunal, with international observers and jurists, to pressure the DOJ and its deliberations.
6. Utilize Inter-American and United Nations special action procedures and special rapporteurs to conduct international investigations, recommendations, and sanctions on the US government for its failure to protect the human rights of Oscar Grant, the victims of police violence, and the targets of the various racial profiling laws and policies sanctioned by the government.
7. Organize local, state and national referendum and legislative initiatives to realize and support the movement’s demands. A possible start could entail running progressive candidates in Oakland who stand on a platform based on the movement’s demands in the upcoming elections to help define public debate and pressure the government to comply.

Without a doubt, accomplishing all of this is a tall order, particularly for a young and fragmented movement. But, as the history of the peoples’ struggles against white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism here and all over the world demonstrate, no political challenges are insurmountable. If we dare to win, then we must dare to struggle against the internal shortcomings and subjectivities of the movement that hinder us from building the operational unity needed to execute initiatives of scale such as those proposed in this paper. The struggle for unity does not mean that we should stop struggling against collaborationist and opportunist ideas and practices. It simply implores us to do all we can to seize the opportunities at hand. With organization, strategy, discipline, and determination we can and will win!

In Unity and Struggle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kali can be contacted via

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