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Latest News US Election Special

Protests and looting in Philly after police shoot Black man with knife

Philadelphia: Protesters took to the streets and bands of looters broke into businesses for a second night Tuesday after officers in Philadelphia shot and killed a Black man who was holding a knife in an encounter that city officials say raises questions.

One group marched peacefully for much of the night, chanting Walter Wallace Jr.’s name and saying, “Whose streets? Our streets.” But the protest turned violent near a police precinct when the large crowd encountered a handful of officers. Several people in the crowd threw rocks, light bulbs, or bricks at the police. One officer was injured, according to a CNN crew at the scene.

There was looting by other groups of people in another part of the city, according to a police tweet and video from a CNN affiliate’s helicopter.

Aerial pictures from affiliate KYW showed people looting a Foot Locker and others emerging from a Walmart with televisions and other items.

 

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Latest News USA

Mellon Foundation pledges $250m to ‘reimagine’ US monuments

New York: The Andrew W Mellon Foundation based in New York has announced  spending a quarter million over five years to build monuments, add context to existing ones and relocate others.

Launched this month the Monuments Project will “support efforts to recalibrate the assumed center of our national narratives to include those who have often been denied historical recognition. This work has taken on greater urgency at a moment of national reckoning with the power and influence of memorials and commemorative spaces.”

The project aims to “celebrate and affirm America’s diverse histories”.

It comes amid fierce public debate about monuments in the US, sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The charity said its pledge was the result of “years of discussion, research and intellectual exploration.”

Mellon has already spent $25m on monument-related projects during the last two years. One of its grants gave $5m towards the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which is dedicated to enslaved people and lynching victims.

“The beauty of monuments as a rubric is, it’s really a way of asking, ‘How do we say who we are? How do we teach our history in public places?'” said Elizabeth Alexander, the foundation’s president, speaking with the New York Times.

“We want to ask how we can help think about how to give form to the beautiful and extraordinary and powerful multiplicity of American stories,” she added.

The foundation said it would work not only on memorials, statues and markers, but also “storytelling spaces” like museums and art installations.

The first grant will be of $4m towards Monument Lab, a public art and history studio in Philadelphia which aims to “reimagine public spaces through stories of social justice and equity”, according to its website.

Dozens of statues have been pulled down and vandalized during protests in America this year, as pressure grows on authorities to remove monuments connected to slavery and colonialism. Among those targeted are monuments to Confederate leaders and the explorer Christopher Columbus.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is based in New York City and endowed with wealth accumulated by Andrew Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, PA. Its core belief is that “the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.”

In 2004, the foundation was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL, built with the Foundation’s grant, is dedicated to the enslaved people and lynching victims. (Photos: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)
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e-paper-stories Latest News

Will the Black Gandhi please step forward?

By Nawaz Merchant

The killing of George Floyd on May 25 this year in Minneapolis sparked outrage among African Americans, as well as white and immigrant communities all over America.

“This was not us,” we said when we spoke to our friends. “This isn’t America. This was an anomaly, a cop who took it too far.”

Then came the inquiry into the deaths of Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor and many more, individuals killed in situations that would not have escalated if they weren’t black.

“It’s a few bad cops,” we said. “It’s not all of them—cops save lives, answer 911 calls.” Gradually it dawned on us that for millions of law-abiding Americans, calling 911 is the last thing they’d do–because they’re black, immigrants, don’t speak good English, or have someone at home who’s undocumented.

Would Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence have been effective if Bhagat Singh had not exploded bombs in the central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi to demand independence with violent confrontation? Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a compelling speaker and a visionary, would his message have resonated so loudly if Malcom X and the Black Panthers had not provided a violent counterpoint? Photo courtesy medium.com

“Black lives matter!” said black activists. “We matter; all Americans can’t matter until black people matter.”

People who were resistant to that message then created “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” as a response, trying to invalidate that hard-won self-affirmation of the BLM movement.

We wondered, “why don’t black men just obey the cops? Why do they panic, and try to run?” We learned a great deal by watching the 2016 Netflix documentary Thirteenth about the harsh prison sentences handed to black men for minor infractions, their disadvantage in the court system, and the labor-hungry prison-industrial complex.  It shocked many of us who had not experienced the second-class citizenship that blacks suffer. Yet we are hard put to find sympathy for the groups of violent people shown on TV.

We asked, “Why are they burning businesses, why riot, destroy someone else’s property?” The February Women’s March and the Aug 28th Black Lives Matter march on Washington seem to have made little impact on actual policy. If a march on Washington makes no difference, is this what citizens of democracy are driven to?

In August, violence escalated with the deaths of protesters and a white shooter; those with entrenched opinions dubbed the BLM movement “Blacks Looting and Murdering.” Mainstream Americans still see this movement as something ‘other’ people are doing, violent people who should be locked up.

To understand today’s racial tensions, I examined three periods of massive social change, looking for a pattern to how societies change. In each case violent turmoil drew attention to society’s ills. It was followed by strong, non-violent leadership that led to positive change.

Would Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence have been effective if Bhagat Singh had not exploded bombs in the central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi to demand independence with violent confrontation? Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a compelling speaker and a visionary, would his message have resonated so loudly if Malcom X and the Black Panthers had not provided a violent counterpoint? Photo courtesy medium.com

Massive social change occurred during three recent events: the Progressive movement of the early 1900s, India’s independence struggle that culminated in 1947 and the 1960s civil-rights struggle.

In each of these, a radical group drew attention to the problem with violence. Would Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence have been effective if Bhagat Singh had not exploded bombs in the Legislative Assembly in New Delhi to demand independence with violent confrontation? Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a compelling speaker and a visionary, would his message have resonated so loudly if Malcom X and the Black Panthers had not provided a violent counterpoint?

In the 1900s, America’s progressive movement grew as President Teddy Roosevelt supported child labor laws, broke up monopolies and mediated labor disputes—but that came after violent anarchists agitated for radical reform in the 1890s.

Would Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence have been effective if Bhagat Singh had not exploded bombs in the central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi to demand independence with violent confrontation? Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a compelling speaker and a visionary, would his message have resonated so loudly if Malcom X and the Black Panthers had not provided a violent counterpoint?QQ Photo courtesy medium.com

Why did it succeed? Because “Reform, in that view, was preferable to revolution,” says John M. Blum in historian Myra Immell’s book The 1900s. “The center of American consciousness was slowly acquiring a new conscience. It produced a growing understanding of the efforts of some of the less privileged to improve their lot, a sympathy of the protests of the best informed against the inequities of American life, and, though rarely, a tolerance for the outrage of that small minority of Americans who were committed to rapid and radical social improvement.”

We can learn from this. Today it means: Law abiding though we may be, believers in working within the system, opposed to lawlessness and rioting, yet we need a tolerance for the outrage of those who are most deeply grieved by centuries of neglect, being ignored and being harmed. To be treated as sub-human shrinks the self. That some of this group raise their heads and demand equality should spark not disdain, but our respect— they risk their future, their careers and job prospects to shout loudly so that we can hear. Such courage deserves our tolerance for desperate actions intended to propel our attention—and our support for the change they seek.

The next step in progressive change —and it can’t come too soon– is strong non-violent leadership, demanding productive steps in legislation, able to articulate that vision in public with persuasive and reasonable language. What the vast moderate citizenry awaits is not polemic diatribes, not break-the-bank write-offs, not blank-checks! How inspiring it would be to hear a vision of productive initiatives to engage the black community into policing its own, in participating in the business of self-renewal, in building alternative routes of dialog to diffuse and de-escalate public and individual encounters that have the potential for violence! Shouldn’t the black community be part of re-educating local police forces, and equating treatment in the court system? Who better to envision the solutions, than those most harmed by existing inequality?

But this is not an easy role—Gandhi undertook hunger fasts to rein in the youthful violence of those impatient for self-government. It required compromise and didn’t always go down well. By demonstrating control of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. put himself at risk, suffered arrest, and at last won the support of JFK’s election campaign. In the 1900s, after experiencing a decade of anarchist assassinations and terrorism, Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive legislation was slow and methodical, laying the groundwork for later enhancement in labor laws, anti-trust and child labor legislation. Small steps, in the right direction can alleviate the building pressure.

Today’s turmoil is the harbinger of tomorrow’s progressive change, but it needs a strong, calm and capable leader. Who will this leader be? Kamala Harris is well positioned to take this role; so are Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, our ex-president Barack Obama, and many others. Who will step forward to demand concrete steps to reform policing and address the rampant racism of these recent years? Will the Black Gandhi please step forward? God knows we need you.

Copyright Lifetouch Inc. 2020

By Nawaz Merchant

 Writing as Nev March, author Nawaz Merchant is the recent winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A Parsi Zoroastrian immigrant, she teaches Creative Writing at Rutgers-Osher Institute, and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the Hunterdon County Library Write-Group. Murder in Old Bombay is her debut novel.

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Gandhi re-called in the time of Black Lives Matter

By Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. While Mahatma Gandhi may not have been born ‘great’ in the sense that he was not of princely family, but his father was the Diwan or Chief Minister of Porbandar, which certainly gave Gandhi a leg up, throwing open opportunities for him, most notably, the chance to go for bar studies to England. He achieved greatness to such unimaginable extent that thrusting greatness upon him became redundant. Even so, India thrust greatness on him by calling him Bapu – Father of the Nation, with some awarding him a divine status as a Great Soul (Mahatma).

In contrast, consider one such as George Floyd whose course of life as only partially lived and known could not be deemed exceptional or great. Yet, greatness was thrust upon him by the accident of his brutal avoidable death at the knee of a rogue cop. The unfairness and savagery of his death undoubtedly caused a near global upheaval and stirred the nation’s and humanity’s conscience over the persistence of injustice and racism. In response, as rage spread over racial injustice provoking widespread protests in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) across America, other forces took over, altering initially peaceful into destructive violent protest. Ironically, some of the same protesters who arose from the ashes of the unjust death of Floyd went on to unjustly topple and vandalize (spray painting with profanities) national iconic statues including the one commemorating Gandhi located in Washington D.C.

Today in his hometown, as approval has come for a street to be re-named after Floyd to commemorate him, there is an obligation to distinguish between achieved and imposed greatness, and between deserved and undeserved attribution of martyrdom.

Gandhi’s life is an open book and the trajectory of his evolution from an anglicized and anglophile toady to a proud Indian and a transformative force in India’s struggle for independence is too well known to bear repetition. Those to walk the earth such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr are few and far between. The similarities between them are hard to miss. They were spiritual without being bigoted, warriors without being violent, and stubbornly principled yet open-minded and flexible. In their personal lives, they made daring extramarital choices and sexual experiments that would bury most others, but remained mere blips on their biographic profiles. King adopted Gandhi’s successfully tested weapon of peaceful protest and, like Gandhi, led his people out of psychological darkness of enslavement. That both Gandhi and King lost their lives to an assassin’s bullet remains the ultimate irony of their lives.

Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in front of the Indian embassy in Washington DC was vandalized during the BLM protests in early June. It was restored in July and unveiled by a top US official and Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu. .

On October 2, as we celebrate Gandhi’s 151st birth anniversary (1869), the message of non-violence and peaceful protest seems to have washed away. In the current “Woke” age where America’s past heroes are being torn to shreds, and extremist groups on right and left claim only their understanding and interpretation of our past are correct, and new heroes can only be of one color, Gandhi’s stature seems also to be gravely threatened and diminished. Black Lives Matter and its surrogate groups deem Gandhi racist because he was dismissive of blacks in Africa and considered them inferior. In India too, deriding and dehumanizing Gandhi has been a favorite pastime.

But it is precisely in corrosive times like these that one needs to clear one’s eyes and consider the times in which our past heroes grew and how in their own courageous way they tried to alter reality to serve a higher number and a nobler purpose. For those willing to separate the grain from the chaff – and willing to revisit and learn from but not rewrite history – two assessments of what Gandhi meant are worth recalling. “In a harsh, cynical, violent and material world,” writes one of the best-known authors and Gandhi biographer William Shirer,  “he taught and showed that love and truth and non-violence, ideas and ideals, could be of tremendous force – greater sometimes than guns and bombs and bayonets – in achieving a little justice, decency, peace and freedom for the vast masses of suffering, downtrodden men and women who eke out an existence on this inhospitable planet.”

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Not satisfied, Shirer ropes in strong testimony from another observer of world events – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel laureate in Medicine. In his book – ‘The Crazy Ape’ – the laureate wrote:

“Between the two world wars, at the heyday of Colonialism, force reigned supreme. It had a suggestive power, and it was natural for the weaker to lie down before the stronger. Then came Gandhi, chasing out of his country, almost single-handed, the greatest military power on earth. He taught the world that there are higher things than force, higher even than life itself; he proved that force had lost its suggestive power.”

Today, as America anguishes over the meaning of liberty for all, and the disenchanted increasingly appear to take to the streets and slash and burn or cancel out whatever dares to stand in their way, Gandhi and his American soul-brother Martin Luther King need to be re-called and their message and example better appreciated and imbibed.

thesatime | The Southasian times

Ms. Sohoni is a freelance writer and published author.

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Latest News Sports USA

NBA community not sad losing Trump as viewer: LeBron James

Los Angeles: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James feels the NBA community is not at all sad with respect to losing US President Donald Trump as a viewer.

Trump had earlier stated that watching basketball players take a knee during the national anthem in the NBA forces him to turn off the game.

“I really don’t think the basketball community is sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game,” James said following the Lakers’ loss to Oklahoma City as per ESPN. “And that’s all I got to say.”

“I already know where this could go, where it could lead to for tomorrow for me. I’m not going to get into it,” he added.

Sports personalities have been taking a knee as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that has been going on across the world since the death of Geroge Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police personnel in May.

LA Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers also weighed into the issue and stated people don’t care regarding Trump’s stance as justice is on their side.

“Well, we lost one guy,” Rivers told reporters as per ESPN. “I mean, so what. Like really, I don’t even care. We know that justice is on our side. Right?”

Trump had earlier said that the NBA is losing its viewership because of people like him not wanting to watch it anymore.

“The ratings for basketball are way down, as you know,” the US President had said on Fox and Friends. “I hear some others are way down, including baseball. We have to stand up for our flag, stand up for our country.

“A lot of people agree with me. If I’m wrong, I’m going to lose an election. That’s okay with me. I will always stand for our flag,” he added.

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International USA

‘Stop the pain’: Floyd’s brother testifies before US Congress

Washington: In an emotional testimony, Philonise Floyd urged US lawmakers in a Congressional hearing to “stop the pain” and hoped his brother George Floyd’s death changed the world for the better.

“I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired,” Philonise Floyd testified at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability”.

The hearing came a day after funeral services for his older brother, the 46-year-old George Floyd, who died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

The brutal racial attack sparked anger on America’s streets and fresh calls for police reforms.

Philonise urged the lawmakers to honor those from around the world calling for change in the wake of his brother’s death, media reports said.

“Honor them, honor George and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem.

“If his death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will, then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain.” said Philonise.

A few days back, congressional Democrats introduced a legislation seeking sweeping reforms to policing policies, which will make it easier to prosecute police misconduct cases and prevent excessive use of force by law enforcement.

While the Democrats stressed the urgency of reforming the broken police system to end police brutality and racial profiling, the Republicans, though also blaming racism, focused more on condemning the rioters that were agitated in the recent “Black Lives Matter” movement.

They argued that police officers and other law enforcement personnel constitute an important pillar ensuring the safety and security of local communities, and that violence against them should not be ignored.

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Latest News New York

Hasan Minhaj tears into anti-black racism among South Asians

New York: Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj through a video on June 4 called out anti-black racist attitudes prevalent among South Asians.

Taking on the hypocrisy of South Asian communities the Patriot-Act host summed up how racism is not just related to black people but to other minorities as well.

In the 12-minute long video on YouTube titled ‘We Cannot Stay Silent About George Floyd which has now gone viral, he talks about the stigma prevalent in the community.

Minhaj expressed his solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement across the globe.

The political commentator received a significant number of reactions on social media where many thanked him for addressing this particular brand of racism. “I can’t speak on what it’s like to be black, but I know how we talk about black people,” said Minhaj.

Minhaj adds, “Asians, we love seeing black excellence, Barack (Obama), Michelle (Obama), Jay Z, Beyonce… how could we be afraid, we love black America. Yeah, on screen, in our living rooms. But when a black man walks into your living room and god forbid wants to date or marry your daughter, you call the cops.”

Minhaj urged people to join the movement and ended his message by saying “Millions of people around the world have taken to the street to afford us this moment.”

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International Latest News

Protests break out in London against police brutality

London: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of London, rallying for a second day running to condemn police brutality after the killing of the unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, the US, on May 25. An estimated 10,000 people gathered in the city to demonstrate against the killing.

In an incident at Parliament Square, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was desecrated by the protesters. A similar incident happened in the city of Bristol. A mob toppled a 125-year-old statue of the slave trader, Edward Colston, and dumping it in the harbor during a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march.

Protests also saw Winston Churchill’s statue being defaced with the word ‘racist’ painted across the plinth. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, condemned the actions of the group and said that such acts of vandalism were a “distraction from the cause in which people are actually protesting about”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police.”

Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, said: “The vast majority of protesters in London were peaceful. But this vital cause was badly let down by a tiny minority who turned violent and threw glass bottles and lit flares, endangering other protesters and injuring police officers. This is simply not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will not win the lasting and necessary change we desperately need to see.”

Scotland Yard said that 29 people were arrested and 14 officers were injured during clashes between police and protesters the day before.

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Latest News New York

40 held in NYC over protests against black man’s death

New York: At least 40 people were arrested in New York City as people took to the streets to protest against the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.

Over 100 people gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday afternoon to express their anger over what they called police brutality that led to George Floyd’s death, the media reported.

The 46-year-old African-American man died on Monday after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the back of his neck while he was handcuffed and other officers stood by.

While being pinned down, Floyd repeatedly pleaded, “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me”.

The four officers involved in the case were fired shortly after a video showing Floyd’s death went viral on social media on Tuesday, sparking a national outcry for justice.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2014 death of New York African-American Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by police, despite his cries of “I can’t breathe”. His death galvanized the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The New York City protesters chanted slogans, including “I can’t breathe”, while standing in lines face to face with dozens of policemen.

Some of them used abusive language toward police.

The 40 protesters were arrested after several scuffles and a fight between the two sides.

Local news reports said someone threw a trash can to police and another tried to grab an officers’ gun, while NBC reported that a protester punched an officer in the face.

Demonstrations also took place as well in cities like Los Angeles and Memphis, according to media reports, while large-scale protests have turned violent in Minneapolis, for which Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Thursday declared a state of emergency.

The incident concerning Floyd occurred on Monday night when after receiving a complaint, reportedly that a man might be trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store, police officers arrived on the scene and found Floyd sitting in his vehicle, according to media reports.

When they ordered him to get out, they said he resisted arrest, adding in their official report filed after the incident that after they had handcuffed him and made him lie facedown on the pavement they noticed that he was in “medical distress”.

In the video taken by a passerby of Floyd’s arrest and the events leading to his death, the man is seen lying facedown on the pavement beside a patrol car with one of the officers kneeling on the back of his neck for more than five minutes without changing position, despite the fact that Floyd can be heard saying that he cannot breathe and begging for the officers not to hurt him, until he ultimately loses consciousness.

“Please, please, please I can’t breathe,” and “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe,” Floyd is heard saying. But the officer never reduced the pressure of his knee and body weight on the man’s neck until an ambulance arrived minutes later and Floyd was loaded onto a stretcher showing no signs of life.

He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the case, which has sparked strong reaction across the country.

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