February 13, 2014
By Princess Manasseh
LAWT Contributing Writer
In a packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Wednesday, February 5, the National Action Network (NAN) held its inaugural Black History Month Awards Luncheon.
NAN founder and president, Reverend Al Sharpton who hosted the event was careful to recognize the day as also being the birthday of the late Trayvon Martin, who would have been 19 years old.
The afternoon’s honorees were Danny Bakewell Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel; Honorable Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, CA; Jon Platt, president North America, Warner/Chappell Music; Reverend Xavier L. Thompson, pastor, Southern Missionary Baptist Church; and Randy Falco on behalf of Univision Communications Inc.
Irving “Magic” Johnson helped to get the program started. The former Laker received a warm welcome from the crowd as he took to the podium.
“I have to first of all apologize to the Rev for being late,” Johnson told the guests, “but I was downtown, I just bought the Sparks Basketball team,” he announced to roaring applause. “I just cut the press conference short, because I told them I promised Reverend Sharpton I’d be here!”
A video presentation of some of the work and achievements of NAN played as lunch was served. Following the video Rev. Sharpton addressed the crowd, welcoming a few special guests in the audience. Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray who Sharpton described as “walking Black history”, “God Father” Clarence Avant, businessman and mobilizer J. Anthony Brown, and Rev. Sister Omarosa, were among those mentioned.
Next, came time to present the awards to the afternoon’s honored guests.
“Today we initiate these Black History Month honors with the National Action Network because Black history is not something in the past,” Reverend Sharpton related. “We reduce history too often as something that happened, rather than what continues to happen. Black history is living, and we want to honor those that help to make history now. “
President of North America Warner/Chappell Music Jon Platt was one of those Sharpton described as currently making history. First to receive his award, Platt “has risen as a giant in an industry that many Blacks have never been able to reach [such a] level of achievement and accomplishment,” said the Reverend of the executive side of the music industry.
Next Rev. Sharpton introduced Compton’s newly elected Mayor Aja Brown, the youngest the city has ever seen.
“We honor a lady now who has made a difference. Around the country Compton was known in a negative , now we have a mayor who has begun turning that around,” he said of Brown who accepted her award with honor and humility, expressing great pride at being awarded amongst “such powerful individuals.”
“Mayor Aja Brown believes in the resurrection. A women who has taken a city that had surrendered to despair, and took it to a place where people are looking upward.”
Reverend Xavier Thompson received his award to heavy applause and cheers as many community members whose lives he has personally touched were in attendance, along with his family and expectant wife.
President and CEO of Univision Randy Falco accepted the award on behalf of the communications company. Reverend Sharpton stressed the importance of Black and Brown coalitions and Falco echoed his sentiments.
Of the five honorees, Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. was the only civil rights era activist, a fact Reverend Sharpton was deliberate in pointing out.
“I have marveled at him because California is not an easy place to organize,” the Revered noted. Sharpton commended Bakewell for being on the “front lines” in community activism over the years, while simultaneously making business work so as “not to have to beg from those he had to confront.” “He’s the quintessential renaissance man of the civil rights movement around this country,” proclaimed Sharpton before inviting Bakewell up to receive the award.
The luncheon is intended to be the first of an annual recognition of community leaders and corporations who are actively making Black history.
February 13, 2014
By Margaret Summers
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Although food stamps can only be used to purchase food, the GOP believes food stamps create welfare dependency.
One of five children in the U.S. lives in poverty, according to a new report from a children’s advocacy organization.
The report, conducted by Children’s Defense Fund, also found that one in every 10 children, or 7.1 million children, is extremely poor.
“We are in a very dangerous time right now,” Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, the organization’s president and founder, told an audience of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. members at a recent legislative conference in D.C. “If [African-American women] don’t stop our children’s backward slide, no one else will.”
The report — “The State of America’s Children 2014″ — is produced annually by the nonprofit advocacy organization for children and families. This year’s report said that in five years, children of color in the U.S., who are disproportionately poor, will comprise the majority of all children in the U.S. These economically disadvantaged and undereducated young people will grow up to be the nation’s consumers, workforce and military, it noted.
Edelman said she is especially alarmed at the “cradle-to-prison pipeline” trend, in which growing numbers of impoverished African-American children, particularly males, become involved in the juvenile justice system and ultimately end up in adult penitentiaries.
“The prisons are full of our sons,” she said. “One in three black boys born in 2000 will go to prison. Imprisonment is becoming the new American apartheid.”
The report details how poverty results in hunger and homelessness among poor U.S. children. Roughly 1.2 million public school students were homeless from 2011 to 2012, 73 percent more than before the recession. More than one in nine children lacked access to adequate food in 2012, a rate 23 percent higher than before the recession.
“This summer we’ll be facing a serious child hunger problem,” Edelman said. “There will be a [huge] drop in summer school free breakfasts and lunches. I’ve heard stories about how sometimes when Mississippi school buses are late taking children to school, the children cry because they missed the free school breakfast.”
The summer feeding program in the schools provides nutritious meals to young people, the only source of food all day for many of them. The program is also a source of employment for many adults, but not all states make use of the program, Edelman said.
“There is a special need for these programs in poor rural areas of the country,” she added.
A substandard education is another major barrier to overcoming poverty.
“Eighty percent of our black children in fourth and eighth grade can’t read at grade level,” Edelman said. “Our children are being sentenced to social and economic death.”
The report says that in six states — Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin — at least half of African-American children are poor, and nearly half the states had African-American child poverty rates of 40 percent or more.
“How can [House Speaker] John Boehner (R-Ohio) represent a state where 50 percent of its African-American children are poor and do nothing about it?” asked Edelman.
She told the sorority audience that it was not only important to lobby their representatives and senators to pass legislation that ends childhood poverty, but to meet with them in their home districts.
“When Congress members hear from you back home, it will really scare them,” she said.
To illustrate how effective women can be in getting measures passed to lift children out of poverty, Edelman discussed a favorite analogy of her hero, slave abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth.
“In describing the political power of minorities, Sojourner often talked about fleas,” she said. “She would say that enough fleas biting strategically can fell the biggest dog. They are small but indestructible, and they keep reproducing. This is a lesson for all of us. We have to be disciplined, focused, strategic ‘fleas.’”
“The State of America’s Children 2014″ can be read at and downloaded from the Children’s Defense Fund website at www.childrensdefense.org.
February 06, 2014
LAWT Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Eight Los Angeles police officers violated department policy when they mistakenly riddled a pickup truck with bullets, injuring two women, during a manhunt last year for cop-turned-killer Christopher Dorner, a civilian oversight board announced Tuesday.
Police Chief Charlie Beck and Alex Bustamante, inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Commission, independently recommended that shooting be ruled out of policy, commission President Steve Soboroff said. He did not provide further details.
Beck will decide disciplinary measures for the officers, who were assigned to non-field duties during an LAPD investigation. Possible measures include reprimands, suspensions or even firings.
Last year, the city paid the women $4.2 million to settle a claim. That was in addition to a separate $40,000 settlement for the loss of their truck.
The Police Commission determination didn’t surprise Glen Jonas, their attorney.
“There (are) 4.2 million reasons I have to believe it’s out of policy,” he said. “Anyone with any common sense would agree it's out of policy.”
Dorner, a fired Los Angeles police officer, claimed he was unfairly dismissed and vowed revenge against law enforcement officers in a rambling online manifesto.
He killed the daughter of a former LAPD police official along with her fiance and two law enforcement officers over 10 days before being cornered and killing himself in a burning mountain cabin in San Bernardino County.
On Feb. 7, 2013, Los Angeles police guarding the Torrance home of a target named in Dorner’s manifesto opened fire on a pickup truck they thought was Dorner's.
It actually contained two women delivering newspapers.
The pickup was riddled with more than 100 rounds while 30 to 40 shots hit the walls, windows and garages of nearby homes, Jonas said.
Emma Hernandez, 71, was shot in the back and her daughter, Margie Carranza, suffered minor injuries. Hernandez recovered except for some slight shoulder problems but neither woman returned to work, Jonas said, adding that Carranza tried but “it was too traumatic for her.”
“The emotional and mental trauma is still there and they’re still dealing with that,” he said.
The shooting occurred hours after Dorner opened fire with an assault rifle on two Los Angeles police officers who had stopped his pickup in the Riverside County city of Corona.
During the resulting gun battle, one officer was grazed and the other was sprayed with shattered glass. Donner fled and a short time later shot two Riverside police officers, killing one.
“Both of these incidents were tragic for all involved, the officers who were injured in the first incident and the innocent women injured in the incident in the City of Torrance,” Soboroff said in a statement. “As in all use of force incidents, the department has completed a thorough review and will adopt the lessons learned, both good and bad from these incidents.”
Soboroff said the Police Commission followed Beck’s recommendation that the lethal use of force in Torrance was out of policy, making its determination after nearly three hours of discussion and months of investigation by the Police Department.
The same day that the women’s pickup was shot up in Torrance, a police officer in that Los Angeles suburb opened fire on another pickup truck.
Torrance police Officer Brian McGee believed Dorner was in the truck when he rammed it and opened fire, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors who determined that his use of force was reasonable and declined to file criminal charges. McGee has not been disciplined by his agency.
David Perdue of Redondo Beach, who was on his way to surf, wasn’t shot but suffered head and spinal injuries. The city of Torrance paid him $20,000 for the damage to his truck and he has filed a federal lawsuit.
February 06, 2014
LAWT Contributing Writer
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is leading a national coalition that is calling for an investigation into whether ‘Herbalife’ — the ubiquitous nutrition products company — is operating an illegal pyramid scheme. Locally the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLA-CA) and the Congress of Racial Equality — California (CORE-CA) are part of the group, which believes that the company “uses deceptive business practices to target minority groups ... with false promises of wealth and success. In reality, the vast majority of Herbalife participants earn no income from the company and most even end up losing money,” according to a media advisory from the group.
Calling its campaign “Stop HerbaLIES, the group traveled to Washington DC on Feb. 5 to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation. While in the nation’s capitol, members will also meet with legislators from their home states as well as give an earful to Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department.
CNBC’s business writers Herb Greenberg and Karina Frayter state that, “With multi-level marketing [companies] — often involving nutritional supplements, weight loss products, cleaning products and various types of housewares — products are sold through a network of distributors. They earn income from the sales they make themselves as well as from people they’ve recruited to become distributors–otherwise known as their “down-line.”
Greenberg and Frayter point to the website of the Federal Trade Commission (which regulates multi-level marketers) which states, “Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.”
President and CEO of SCLA-Southern California Rev. William Smart said that what Herbalife is doing is no different from what Wal-Mart is doing. “Right now people at the bottom are always abused by big corporations and that is what the injustice of it is,” said Smart. “Big corporations like Herbalife [with] people at the top making big money [and] people at the bottom having to pay money for materials and merchandise. A lot of times it doesn’t sell. They don’t have time to do it, and they get taxed. It’s the same paradigm we’re seeing: people who work the most amount of hours get the least amount of money,” said Smart.
“Studies have shown that multi-level marketing disproportionally affects the African American community,” said Adrian Dove of CORE-CA. “Ryan Franklin, one of our advisors, has written a book about it. Its' not a ‘sexy’ [news] item, that jumps at the top; it gnaws away [at the community] kind of quietly,” Doe said.
“You go to some of the hotels on a Saturday morning, around the country, with these multi-level marketing [seminars],” Dove continued “and it’s mostly Black folks. It’s a dream. Nothing’s wrong with dreaming, but at a certain point if you know it’s not going anywhere — a few people at the top who are making the money, taking your time and resources … Herbalife is one of the biggest offenders.”
The group met with California Attorney General Kamala Harris this past January to ask that she enforce an existing injunction against Herbalife designed to protect California consumers. But, the details of that meeting remain confidential.
Herbalife was hit with an injunction in 1986 that required them to provide documentation that verifies their retail sales and the company’s sales to distributors and customers; the company has yet to comply.
“We are deeply concerned that the current practices by global nutrition supplier giant Herbalife were disproportionally having a negative effect on the Latina/o and immigrant communities. That is why we were grateful for the opportunity to address our concerns with the office of the attorney general,” said Joseph Villela, policy director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
“We need to become fighters for the left out, the lost, the underdogs,” said Smart, co-pastor of Christ Liberation Ministries. “Those that are trying to make it everyday.”