Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Driving While Black in Post Racial Texas

I wouldn't think of driving in Texas, just as I wouldn't think of driving down Oakland's International Blvd. late nights because of the checkpoint Charlie's at every turn. No matter California or Texas, you can and will, more often than not, be stopped for driving while black. This is the reality of post-Black America even with a Black president, or perhaps because of a Black president. Even the right wing in the Democratic party is surging to oppose Obama at every turn, not to mention the die-hard Republicans and right-wing talk show hosts who've vowed to destroy our first black prez.

I imagine only a second civil war will destroy the vestiges of white supremacy in this land, and at the conclusion of which blacks will need to remain armed for the foreseeable future, just as Hezbollah and Hamas know better than to disarm in light of the permanent Zionist threat.

In America white supremacy may have eased on the surface but remains rock hard in the deep structure of American culture. No white person desires to willingly give up white privilege. As my white literary agent told me, "I am not, nor are my friends, trying to recover from white supremacy. We love white privilege and we will bomb the world to keep it."

In the great liberal city of Berkeley, CA, an English instructor at Berkeley City College informed me she was denied tenure for using my book How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy in her classroom. This book is not advocating hatred but it is a manual to recover from American's number one addiction, prescribing a 13 step approach based on the 12-step model of Alcoholic Anonymous, but whites are terrified of this book and blacks are fearful to be caught with it, especially on the job. A black woman in San Francisco's financial district said she wanted the book but was mortally afraid to take it back to work on her lunch break. Another brother told me he would not buy the book from me on his lunch break but would get it on his way home. In Oakland a brother bought the book but made me assure him he wouldn't be fired if he returned from lunch with it.

The irony is that the book's first step is overcoming fear to recover from the addiction to white supremacy. When I completed the manuscript in South Carolina and went to make a copy, the sister at Staples saw the title and said, "You ain't from here!" I asked why she said that. She said because we don't use that word "white supremacy" down here, that's you California nigguhs coming down here talking that shit, upsetting these white folks, then you leave but we got to stay here to deal with them.

The new Attorney General, Mr. Holder, was on the money when he described Americans as racist cowards.

--Marvin X
Houston, Texas

Order How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, A Pan African/12 Step Model,
by Dr. M/Marvin X, foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, afterword by Ptah Allah-El, Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702, $19.95. Not available in bookstores.

From: S. E. Anderson
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 6:58:14 AM
Subject: [blackantiwar] Driving While Black In PostRacial Texas

http://www.latimes. com/news/ la-na-texas- profiling11- 2009mar11, 0,2572041. story?track= rss
From the Los Angeles Times
Driving through Tenaha, Texas, doesn't pay for some.A lawsuit alleges that the town's police pull over motorists -- especially African Americans -- and extort money and valuables by threatening criminal charges or worse.

By Howard Witt

March 11, 2009

Reporting from Tenaha, Texas — You can drive into this dusty fleck of a town near the Texas-Louisiana state line if you're African American, but you might not be able to drive out of it -- at least not with your car, your cash, your jewelry or other valuables.

That's because the police here allegedly have found a way to strip motorists, many of them black, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Instead they offer out-of-towners a grim choice: Sign over your belongings to the town, or face felony charges of money laundering or other serious crimes.

More than 140 people reluctantly accepted that deal from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, Ohio, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with or convicted of any crime.

Officials in Tenaha, along a heavily traveled state highway connecting Houston with several popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, say they are engaged in a battle against drug trafficking, and they call the search-and-seizure practice a legitimate use of the state's asset-forfeiture law. That law permits local police agencies to keep drug money and other property used in the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets.

"We try to enforce the law here," said George Bowers, mayor of the town of about 1,100 residents, where boarded-up businesses outnumber open ones and City Hall sports a broken window. "We're not doing this to raise money. That's all I'm going to say at this point."

But civil rights lawyers call Tenaha's practice something else: highway robbery. The attorneys have filed a federal class-action lawsuit seeking unspecified damages and a halt to what they contend is an unconstitutional perversion of the law's intent, used primarily against African Americans who have done nothing wrong.

Tenaha officials "have developed an illegal 'stop and seize' practice of targeting, stopping, detaining, searching, and often seizing property from apparently nonwhite citizens and those traveling with nonwhite citizens," asserts the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

The property seizures are not happening just in Tenaha. In southern parts of Texas near the Mexican border, for example, Latinos allege that they are being singled out.

According to a prominent Texas state legislator, police agencies across the state are wielding the asset-forfeiture law more aggressively to supplement their shrinking operating budgets.

"If used properly, it's a good law-enforcement tool to see that crime doesn't pay," said Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee. "But in this instance, where people are being pulled over and their property is taken with no charges filed and no convictions, I think that's theft."

Money, minorities

David Guillory, an attorney in nearby Nacogdoches who filed the federal lawsuit, said he combed through Shelby County court records from 2006 to 2008 and discovered nearly 200 cases in which Tenaha police seized cash and property from motorists. In about 50 of the cases, suspects were charged with drug possession.

But in 147 others, Guillory said the court records showed, the police seized cash, jewelry, cellphones and sometimes even automobiles from motorists but never found any contraband or charged them with any crime. Of those, Guillory said he managed to contact 40 of the motorists directly -- and discovered that all but one of them were black.

"The whole thing is disproportionately targeted toward minorities, particularly African Americans," Guillory said. "Every one of these people is pulled over and told they did something, like, 'You drove too close to the white line.' That's not in the penal code, but it sounds plausible. None of these people have been charged with a crime; none were engaged in anything that looked criminal. The sole factor is that they had something that looked valuable."

In some cases, police used the fact that motorists were carrying large amounts of cash as evidence that they must have been involved in laundering drug money, even though Guillory said each of the drivers he contacted could account for where the money had come from and why they were carrying it -- such as for a gambling trip to Shreveport, La., or to purchase a used car from a private seller.

Once the motorists were detained, the police and the Shelby County district attorney quickly drew up legal papers presenting them with an option: Waive their rights to their cash and property or face felony charges for crimes such as money laundering -- and the prospect of having to hire a lawyer and return to Shelby County multiple times to contest the charges in court.

Apparently routine

The process apparently is so routine in Tenaha that Guillory discovered pre-signed and pre-notarized police affidavits with blank spaces left for an officer to fill in a description of the property being seized.

Jennifer Boatright, her husband and two young children -- a mixed-race family -- were traveling from Houston to visit relatives in East Texas in April 2007 when Tenaha police pulled them over, alleging that they were driving in a left-turn lane.

After searching the car, the officers discovered what Boatright said was a gift for her sister: a small, unused glass pipe made for smoking marijuana. Although they found no drugs or other contraband, the police seized $6,037 that Boatright said the family was carrying to purchase a used car -- and then threatened to turn their children, ages 10 and 1, over to Child Protective Services if the couple didn't agree to sign over their right to their cash.

"It was give them the money or they were taking our kids," Boatright said. "They suggested that we never bring it up again. We figured we better give them our cash and get the hell out of there."

Several months later, after Boatright and her husband contacted an attorney, Tenaha officials returned their money but offered no explanation or apology. The couple remain plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

Except for Tenaha's mayor, none of the defendants in the federal lawsuit, including Shelby County Dist. Atty. Lynda Russell and two Tenaha police officers, responded to requests for comment about their search-and-seizure practices. Lawyers for the defendants also declined to comment, as did several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

But Whitmire says he doesn't need to await the suit's outcome to try to fix what he regards as a statewide problem. On Monday, he introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would require police to go before a judge before attempting to seize property under the asset-forfeiture law -- and ultimately Whitmire hopes to tighten the law further so that law-enforcement officials will be allowed to seize property only after a suspect is charged and convicted in a court.

"The law has gotten away from what was intended, which was to take the profits of a bad guy's crime spree and use it for additional crime fighting," Whitmire said. "Now it's largely being used to pay police salaries -- and it's being abused because you don't even have to be a bad guy to lose your property."

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