Terror in Chapel Hill, NC


From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

The lives of three Muslims living in Chapel Hill were taken early last week by someone it was claimed was angry about parking spaces in the community the victims and the killer shared but in reality has turned into a debate whether the murder was religiously motivated.  Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha his wife and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were each shot, some reports have said, execution style in the head in their residence by Craig Stephen Hicks also of Chapel Hill.

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Shortly after killing the three, Hicks turned himself into Chapel Hill police and no other person has been sought in connection with this crime.  Hicks had been known for causing problems with his neighbors but was also a self avowed atheist, some would have you believe vehemently so, who disliked all religions and made his displeasure known on his Facebook page. In one of his posts he said,  ‘I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do’ giving one the impression he was tolerant of Muslims and Christians but it was that hatred of Islam that drove him to kill Barakat and the two Abu-Salha sisters.   A lot of anger has risen in Muslim communities across America about the absence of the term “terrorist” to describe Hicks’ actions.  In a time when violence by so-called Muslims, who some would say are marginally Muslim at best, are quickly and universally called terrorists and have their actions condemned as such, Muslims decried the reticence of media to do the same for this crime.  the 3's silhouetteIt appears, regardless of the label given Hicks or his crime, people of all faiths and colors expressed their sorrow and revulsion for the murders while the district attorney charged Hicks with three counts of 1st degree murder which is a capital offense in the state of North Carolina.  Whether the office will seek the death penalty remains to be seen, but it is applicable for the charge.  However, there is still that nagging issue of whether Hicks was motivated by hate in the killings; the families of the victims have insisted as have others in the Muslim community that the victims’ death were racially motivated and the FBI has said it’s conducting an investigation to determine if that’s the case.  parking
The larger American community however, seems to take umbrage at the notion that Hicks was inspired by hate, instead clinging to the narrative put forth by the police the night of the killing that it was a neighborly dispute over parking spaces that drove Hicks over the edge.  At a time when news about Islam is overwhelmingly negative and spoken of in terms of violence and terrorism by Muslims against others most Americans cannot conceive of themselves as terrorists. Even at the beginning of Obama’s first term in office when Homeland Security talked about the threat of homegrown terrorism unrelated to Islam there was so much opposition to the notion such an idea existed that the Department was forced to

“step(ped) back for the past two years from conducting its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremism, according to current and former department officials, even though law enforcement and civil rights experts have warned of rising extremist threats.

The department has cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups, the officials and others said.

The decision to reduce the department’s role was provoked by conservative criticism”

It is entirely likely it is the same sentiment that causes many people including those in the media and law enforcement not to label this act as terrorism but a look at the facts may reveal otherwise.

Hicks stated on his Facebook account he “hated Islam”; indeed some of his posts seem to be imaginary conversations he is having with his victims:

Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out its ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people

When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I

Hicks’ adult daughter “disowned” him because of, as she put it, his disrespect for people of other faiths. The victims were aware of Hicks’ complaints in the community and made sure to avoid the parking spaces he contested even to the point of sending detailed maps and instructions to friends visiting them of where they could park and where not to.  The towing company responsible for the compound refused to take Hicks’ calls any more because he was so persistent and annoying and finally on the day of the murders the disputed parking places were empty, there were no cars parked there to cause Hicks to loose it and kill.

shahadaClearly the victims were Muslims, the two sisters wore clothing indicative of their faith and thus much more easy to discern as opposed to others who may or may not be of a particular religious persuasion; they were easy targets for him.  The couple, in their brief life together, had complained to family and friends of Hicks’ intimidating behavior, flashing his handgun at them whenever he spoke to them about parking in the complex. And speaking of handguns, and while they are a part of the American fabric, Hicks had his fair share and didn’t mind letting people know.  Neighbors were aware he carried a gun and the victims clearly felt threatened by him. Indeed, some might say Hicks fit the profile of the type Homeland Security mentioned in their analysis of homespun terrorism that raised so much ire among the Right. While some may say this act of cold blooded murder was done by the neighborhood curmudgeon over parking spaces the motivation behind it was far more sinister and hate filled than that.  Hicks’ neighbors, perhaps ALL of them living in the complex did everything they could to ameliorate his concerns until those concerns became excessive, vengeful, murderous and focused on the three Muslim victims.

However something must be said about who were these three young people so brutally slain by Hicks. They were all model citizens of this country AND Muslim. They excelled in their academic careers, the husband Deah was studying at UNC’s School of Dentistry soon to be joined there by his wife and the sister Razan Abu-Salha was a student at NC State.  That university has gone on to establish a scholarship in their name because

“Deah, Yusor and Razan exemplified the best of N.C. State and will forever serve as role models for our student body, (NCSU Chancelor Randy) Woodson said in a statement. Each was not only an outstanding student, but individually and as a family lived their lives bringing joy to others, helping those in need and making the world a better place.

They did that….making a world a better place….by feeding the homeless in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina and were involved in building an interfaith Habitat for Humanity home in Wake County. At the time of his death, Deah Barakat was trying to raise $20,000 through a YouCaring.com website (nando.com/xk) to pay for a trip to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees a dangerous proposition in today’s times.  They were fully engaged in American society as Americans and as Muslims and they were the best this country has to offer but were killed because of the hatred Hicks had towards Muslims who he felt started something with him.  Let’s not let media off the hook.  Today’s America is full of venomous hatred that permeates the ‘net and airwaves.  Every breath one takes they inhale America’s dislike for Muslims and Islam. Even the President of the United States gets called on the carpet for not quickly enough using the word “terrorist” to describe any act of violence against Americans that may happen at the hands of brown skinned people with funny sounding names.  Hicks’ antennae were acutely tuned to this atmosphere; he was conditioned to act the only way America knows how, with violent rage.  Media refuses to call him on it because he doesn’t fit the profile just like homespun extremism is not a narrative we are willing to entertain as a Nation.  As a result three of our brightest are dead. Hear what Yusor AbuSalha had to say about her short life as she talks to her former teacher here.  America is less a country because these three bright, intelligent people are no longer with us.

Police and their abuse of power


I saw a title, referring to the story that appears below, that said ‘Never, Never Call the Cops For “Help” Unless You’re Willing to Risk Someone Being Shot and Killed’ and that’s what happened in this story. It is a travesty of justice that an American was arrested for being at his own home, as was the case for Henry Louis Gates but being shot and killed by police in your home because relatives wanted the police to perform a ‘welfare check’ is incomprehensible.

James Howard Allen

James Howard Allen

When James Howard Allen’s family members asked police to stop by his home for a welfare check on Saturday, they were hoping authorities could help ensure he was safe.

Instead, their request set in motion a series of unlikely events that resulted in the 74-year-old North Carolina man’s death.

Allen was killed by an officer’s bullet, the result of a confrontation that occurred when officers from the Gastonia Police Department entered his home and found Allen, an Army veteran, pointing a handgun at them.

Now, relatives want answers, and two official investigations are underway.

“I am so hurt that he had to die like this,” Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, told ABC affiliate WSOC. “Maybe the police were frightened. Maybe they were. I don’t know. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Gastonia Police DepartmentGastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said at a news conference that police were initially dispatched to the home around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday,according to the Charlotte Observer. When nobody answered the door, the officers left and were asked to perform a check of local hospitals in search of Allen.

At 11:30 p.m., after officers failed to locate him, police returned to Allen’s residence with local fire officials, according to the Observer.

“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” said Helton, the police chief.

Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers

Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers

Before entering through the back door, Officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence, Helton said. Once inside, Lefevers encountered Allen, who was pointing a handgun at him.

“He was challenged to lower the gun down,” Helton said at a news conference. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”

Why did police feel the need to enter?

Authorities had been made aware that Allen recently underwent heart surgery, Helton said, according to the Gaston Gazette, and were “concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance.”

Lefevers was placed on administrative leave while police conduct their own investigation, according to the Observer. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting.

Allen’s family members are demanding more information. His brother-in-law, Robert Battle, told WSOC that Allen “probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.

A friend, Otis Thompson, said he can understand why Allen a gun in his hand.

“You kicked the man’s door in,” he told the station. “He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home; my first reaction would be to grab a gun, too.”

I have more than a few questions swirling in my head, like why did the police enter from the back and not the front of the house, how many times did officer Lefevers identify himself to Allen upon entering the home…….waking someone up from their sleep in the middle of the night is disorienting for anyone, least of all someone living alone and recovering from major surgery; was the officer’s gun drawn when he encountered Mr. Allen, was he in uniform, plainclothes or wearing the military style police uniform we’ve all become so used to seeing police wearing; what duty did the officer have to retreat versus the legal occupant of the home? I could perhaps come up with a few more.  Bottom line, the welfare check involving the police had a predictable outcome. The welfare of Mr. Allen is he is deceased at the hands of the police.  Take note America and don’t call the police if you don’t want anyone killed.

Muslims of the world, listen up!


If you are thinking of coming to America, you should know there is a political party that is not interested in you keeping or practicing your religious identity. If you want to identify as a Muslim you are not wanted in America. Just so you know.

The perils of OHWB-Owning Housing While Black


In a Houston neighborhood it is still illegal for some places to be purchased by African-Americans

Rule 21 of the “Article & Bylaws” of Northwood Park states that “[n]o lot in said Subdivision nor any interest therein shall ever be sold, leased or rented to, or occupied by any person other than the Caucasian race.”

Documents on the Northwood Park Civic Association website showed that the group made an effort to change the race-based restriction in 2004. But almost a decade later, the group explained in its newsletter than it was still collecting signatures for the effort.

“The 1957 deed restrictions protect the homeowners from those that would mutate a diverse residential neighborhood into a conglomeration of shops, non-residential storage and car lots, junk yards, trucking companies, trailers, and mobile homes that would ruin a residential neighborhood’s desirability and destroy the quality of life of the residents…..”

The reference above to diversity is only mildly amusing. In another case however, black homeowners living in a prosperous white neighborhood had difficulties selling their house

Everyone tells you it’s hard to sell a home nowadays. No one tells you how hard it is to sell a home while black.

Last March we did all the things you are supposed to do when selling a half-million-dollar Orange County, Calif., home. We packed items we were no longer using. We downsized our furniture. We painted baseboards and repaired walls. We even bought new wall art to neutralize the feel. After seeing several comparable homes sell within weeks of listing, we were certain we would only be on the market for a month at most. We were wrong…………….

In the end, we sold our home. It took longer than planned and cost us both emotionally and financially. Our experiences showed us that while we could change everything about our home, we couldn’t change the color of our skin, nor the stigma attached to it. From the onset, we knew that black-owned homes were deemed less valuable. But we underestimated the impact that would have on our sale in a predominantly white neighborhood.

We have added this to our lessons learned. Now we know better than to underestimate the power of anti-blackness.

Post racial America is still very much not!

For far too many people in America, the default color is white


….and Bobby Jindal is another example of that in what he allows his image to be seen as and how others perceive his image to be.  It speaks of racism and privilege which says nothing is acceptable if it’s not whitened and one is never good enough if he/she’s not lighter.  As was noted here

Arasalan Iftikhar was banned from further appearances on MSNBC for stating that Bobby Jindal was “trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin” after his anti-Muslim comments in London, but as offensive as his statement may have been, it looks as if he was right.

Some say Jindal may run for president next year. I don’t know but I care that he’s allowing the “lie” that white is right to continue to invade the Nation’s consciousness if he does by allowing this perception he has of himself and what he allows others to have of him.

This is Jindal's wikipedia photo

This is Jindal’s wikipedia photo

This portrait was drawn by an unnamed supporter of Jindal

This portrait was drawn by an unnamed supporter of Jindal

This is the governor's official portrait and hangs in the state capital

This is the governor’s official portrait and hangs in the state capital

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measles and africa

This article is for all of us who think cops shouldn’t kill civilians-turns out that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do if it means protecting the wealthy and capitalism


The True History of the Origins of Police — Protecting and Serving the Masters of Society

The liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police.

By Sam Mitriani

In most of the liberal discussions of the recent police killings of unarmed black men, there is an underlying assumption that the police are supposed to protect and serve the population. That is, after all, what they were created to do. Maybe there are a few bad apples, but if only the police weren’t so racist, or didn’t carry out policies like stop-and-frisk, or weren’t so afraid of black people, or shot fewer unarmed men, they could function as a useful service that we all need.

This liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police and what they were created to do. The police were not created to protect and serve the population. They were not created to stop crime, at least not as most people understand it. And they were certainly not created to promote justice. They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid- to late-19th century from the threat posed by that system’s offspring, the working class.

Before the 19th century, there were no police forces that we would recognize as such anywhere in the world. In the northern United States, there was a system of elected constables and sheriffs, much more responsible to the population in a very direct way than the police are today. In the South, the closest thing to a police force was the slave patrols. Then, as Northern cities grew and filled with mostly immigrant wage workers who were physically and socially separated from the ruling class, the wealthy elite who ran the various municipal governments hired hundreds and then thousands of armed men to impose order on the new working-class neighborhoods.

Class conflict roiled late-19th century American cities like Chicago, which experienced major strikes and riots in 1867, 1877, 1886 and 1894. In each of these upheavals, the police attacked strikers with extreme violence. In the aftermath of these movements, the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization, by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class. This ideology has been reproduced ever since — except that today, poor black and Latino people rather than immigrant workers are the main threat.

Of course, the ruling class did not get everything it wanted. It had to yield on many points to the immigrant workers it sought to control — this is why, for instance, municipal governments backed away from trying to stop Sunday drinking and why they hired so many immigrant police officers, especially the Irish. But despite these concessions, businessmen organized themselves to make sure the police were increasingly isolated from democratic control. The police, meanwhile, increasingly set themselves off from the population by donning uniforms; establishing their own rules for hiring, promotion and firing; working to build a unique esprit de corps; and identifying themselves with order. And despite complaints about corruption and inefficiency, they gained more and more support from the ruling class, to the extent that in Chicago, for instance, businessmen donated money to buy the police rifles, artillery, Gatling guns and buildings and to establish a police pension out of their own pockets.

There was a never a time when the big city police neutrally enforced “the law” — nor, for that matter, a time when the law itself was neutral. Throughout the 19th century in the North, the police mostly arrested people for the vaguely defined “crimes” of disorderly conduct and vagrancy, which meant that they could target anyone they saw as a threat to “order.” In the post-bellum South, they enforced white supremacy and largely arrested black people on trumped-up charges in order to feed them into convict labor systems.

The violence the police carried out and their moral separation from those they patrolled were not the consequences of the brutality of individual officers, but of policies carefully designed to mold the police into a force that could use violence to deal with the social problems that accompanied the development of a wage-labor economy. For instance, in the short, sharp depression of the mid-1880s, Chicago was filled with prostitutes who worked the streets. Many policemen recognized that these prostitutes were generally impoverished women seeking a way to survive and initially tolerated their behavior. But the police hierarchy insisted that the patrolmen arrest these women, impose fines and drive them off the streets and into brothels, where they could be ignored by some members of the elite and controlled by others. Similarly, in 1885, when Chicago began to experience a wave of strikes, some policemen sympathized with strikers. But once the police hierarchy and the mayor decided to break the strikes, policemen who refused to comply were fired.

Though some patrolmen tried to be kind and others were openly brutal, police violence in the 1880s was not a case of a few bad apples — and neither is it today.

Much has changed since the creation of the police — most importantly, the influx of black people into Northern cities, the mid-20th century civil rights movement and the creation of the current system of mass incarceration in part as a response to that movement. But these changes did not lead to a fundamental shift in policing. They led to new policies designed to preserve fundamental continuities. The police were created to use violence to reconcile electoral democracy with industrial capitalism. Today, they are just one part of the “criminal justice” system that plays the same role. Their basic job is to enforce order among those with the most reason to resent the system — in our society today, disproportionately among poor black people.

If there is one positive lesson from the history of policing’s origins, it is that when workers organized, refused to submit or cooperate and caused problems for the city governments, they could force the police to curb the most galling of their activities. The murders of individual police officers, as happened in Chicago on May 3, 1886, and more recently in New York on December 20, 2014, only reinforced calls for harsh repression. But resistance on a mass scale could force the police to hesitate. This happened in Chicago during the early 1880s, when the police pulled back from breaking strikes, hired immigrant officers and tried to re-establish some credibility among the working class after their role in brutally crushing the 1877 upheaval.

The police might back off again if the widespread reaction against the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and countless others continues. If they do, it will be a victory for those mobilizing today, and will save lives. But as long as this policing system endures, any change in policy will be aimed at keeping the poor in line more effectively.

A democratic police system in which police are elected by and accountable to the people they patrol is imaginable. But as long as we have an economic and political system that rests on the exploitation of workers and pushes millions of people into poverty, we are unlikely to see policing become any more democratic than the rest of society.

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