You can hear Cliff on WRFG 89.3 FM on the Just Peace show, Monday's at 6pm:
You can also listen and/or call into Cliff's Blog Talk Radio show at

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Decisive Victory for Chokwe Lumumba and the People of Jackson, Mississippi!

Yours truly had the honor of being in Jackson and helping out on election day. A brief article on the victory can be found here. Contrary to what's stated in the article, the turnout in Ward 2 was actually higher in the run-off than in the first election, going against conventional wisdom. This was clearly a result of the Lumumba campaign's efforts to reach out to the voters and to involve them in the People's Assembly concept. Information about the People's Assembly and the People's Platform can be found at, where you can also make a donation to the campaign so that it can continue it's transformative work on participatory democracy!

The following is the official victory statement from the Lumumba campaign.

Committee to Elect Chokwe Lumumba May 19th Victory Statement
Transforming Ward 2, Jackson, and the South.

A genuine peoples victory was won on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009, the 84th Birthday of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). The people’s lawyer, attorney Chokwe Lumumba, was elected to the City Council in Jackson, Mississippi representing Ward 2.

The foundation of this victory was laid by the decades of dedicated community service and organizing done by Attorney Lumumba, the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO), and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) here in Jackson. The victory was secured through the broad mass mobilization and fundraising efforts of the campaigns organizers, supporters and allies in Jackson and throughout the United States.

By electing Lumumba the residents of Ward 2 declared that they want a new leadership committed to their social and economic interests, and that of the City, with a proven ability to organize, motivate, and educate for positive change. By organizing themselves into People’s Assemblies in support of the election campaign, the people of Ward 2 have begun to build and exercise the power necessary to address their needs and solve the problems of their ward. Through the vehicle of the People’s Assembly the residents of Ward 2 have determined that the People’s Platform is THEIR Platform.

A new, independent, and potentially transformative force is being built in Jackson through the combined power of the Council office and the People’s Assembly. This force will not be bound by the confines of the two-party system. The building of this force will advance the development of a genuine participatory democracy that will help our people fulfill all their human rights, including the economic, social and cultural rights so often denied in the United States.

We hope this victory and the development of this model will not only inspire but also help build a new force in Black and progressive politics in the United States, one that will put the needs of people and the environment before profits. The victory on May 19th was just the first step. Now the hard work of utilizing the limited political power in this victory enables us to transform Ward 2, the entire city of Jackson and beyond. We hope everyone who reads and or hears about this victory will pass on this critical news and join us in the concrete work of building viable alternatives for the people of Ward 2, Jackson, the South and entire country by any means necessary!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Atlanta Police Officer Shoots Young Black Man in the Face

It's a story that's become all too familiar.
Click here for a link to a video on the story

The following is from a press release calling for a candlelight vigil and community rally on this shooting and the issue of the broader issue of police violence.

Atlanta, Georgia- Activists, organizers and community members throughout the Atlanta area are called to participate in a Candlelight Vigil and Community Rally for police shooting victim Tramaine Miller at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, 2009, in front of City View Apartments at 259 Richardson Street in Atlanta, Georgia.

On Tuesday, May 5, 2009, this father, son, brother, and devoted nephew was shot in the face by a Atlanta Police Officer at the City View Apartments located at 259 Richardson Street. Mr. Tramaine Miller was called by his paralyzed aunt, a resident of City View Apartments, to help her with her medication. After helping his aunt he walked to his car to return home when the "Courtesy Officer", an off-duty Atlanta police officer, drew his weapon, demanding that he stop his vehicle. Suddenly, without warning, the Officer then shattered the glass to the driver's side window. Once the glass was shattered, the Officer fired a shot at point blank range into Tramaine's face. Tramaine was unarmed and had complied with every request the officer made when the officer shot him.

Independent witnesses, who gave statements to APD the night of the incident, say that the apartment residents had to call 911 due to the Officer's lack of response. Thus, after being shot, Tramaine remained in his car without any assistance for over 30 minutes. As of May 11th, Tramaine remains in Grady Hospital in serious condition with the bullet still lodged in his face. "The courage this family has exemplified by releasing a picture of Tramaine in the hospital with his face swollen from the bullet still lodged in it, is the same courage Emmett Till's mother exemplified when she opened his casket for the world to see what happened to her son's body when he was murdered," said Candlelight Vigil Organizer, Pastor Derrick Rice, of Sankofa United Church of Christ.

According to the Atlanta Police Department̢۪s statement to the press, the officer allegedly saw Tramaine in a nearby park, known to be an area of "drug activity". According to the officer, when Tramaine saw him, he ran and jumped into his car. The officer then alleges that Tramaine reached under his seat for "something". The Atlanta Police Department said that this shooting was justified because the officer felt that his life was threatened. As of May 11th, the officer who shot Tramaine in the face has not been arrested, charged, or even fired by the Atlanta Police Department. "We are interviewing witnesses and trying to ensure evidence is preserved. Our preliminary investigation has already uncovered some disturbing facts that someone must be held accountable for," says Attorney Robert Bozeman of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm.

We are calling for the residents of City View, all concerned citizens of Atlanta, and community activists, to come out for a candlelight vigil for Tramaine Miller and subsequent rally to end the unjust shootings in the our communities. "After the Neal Street shootings, where we discovered the willingness of Atlanta Police Officers to engage in a cover-up we have no choice but to continue demanding that federal authorities become involved to make sure that justice is done," states Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Artur Davis, Hate Crimes, and the Price of Becoming Governor

Back in February, I wrote a Cliff Note about a Black South Carolina State Senator who, while considering a run for Governor, felt the need to strengthen his White support by celebrating the Confederacy. Well a few weeks ago, another post-racial Dixie Governor wannabe decided to go the same Confederate lovin’ route. Artur Davis, candidate for Alabama Governor, recently criticized an Auburn City Councilman for removing confederate flags from a local cemetery.

Now personally, I’ve grown a little tired of the confederate flag stuff. And part of me has actually come to like it when the good ole Confederate loving racists let me know who and what they are from a distance. It saves me sooo much time and energy!

But I have little patience for these next generation Negro leaders who use all kinds of ridiculous messages and gestures to let White folks know that they have nothing to fear. It’s bad enough when these gestures are simply symbolic, as with the flag issue, but it’s far more troubling when theses gestures are actually on issues that matter.

Case in point: Artur Davis’ recent vote AGAINST the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The purpose of the bill is to provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes. Considering that Davis represents Alabama’s blackbelt, the ancestral home of hate crimes, you would think he would support such a bill. Well, actually, he did support it two years ago when he voted FOR hate crimes legislation. But I guess that was before he was trying to run for Governor and before he realized he could use some of those KKK votes.

In a recent statement released after his vote against the current bill, Davis “explains” what influenced his decision. He says:
Some of my constituents ask why our federal laws should pick out some Americans for more protections than others. Some wonder why, in a culture that rejects violence against any human being, we should say that an attack on a black, or a woman, or a gay individual should be punished more severely than an attack on someone who happens to be a senior citizen, or a soldier, or a teacher. Others ask why some motives based on certain ideas should be punished by our criminal laws more aggressively than others.

I’m not sure which is more frightening—the thought that his constituents are asking such questions or the thought that Davis is utterly unprepared, or unwilling, to answer them. But in the spirit of cooperation, I’m offering to help Artur the next time he gets such questions from his constituents. Just send them my way, and I’ll gladly provide the answers that you’re too afraid to give.

For starters, I’ll explain that the law has always taken the intent of perpetrator into account—thus, the difference between manslaughter and murder, or negligence and fraud. There is nothing inconsistent about saying that some motives need to be dealt with more aggressively than others. And when those motives are driven by intentional and vile feelings of hatred, towards not just one person but an entire group, then we need make no apologies for treating those crimes more harshly than an individual and random act of violence.

Of course, this is not the first time that Davis has voted against the Democratic House leadership. In fact, during Davis’ first four years in Congress, prior to the Democratic takeover in 2006, he would routinely vote with the Republicans, going against the interests of his constituents in the process. Perhaps the most notable example of this was his 2004 vote for the infamous bankruptcy bill that made it harder for folks to get debts wiped away. The Republican sponsored bill was seen as a huge victory for credit card and finance companies.

Again, considering that Davis represents one of the poorest districts in the country—a district plagued by pay day loans and predatory lending—you would think he would have fought against such a bill. But when your convictions change according to the political winds, and your ambitions have you looking beyond your current constituents, “the least of these” usually suffer.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if this type of representation is the price we have to pay for getting Blacks elected to statewide and national office, we might as well stick with the White folks.

On that “note”, I’m outta here!