UN panel hears wrenching testimony of abuse in Black Chicago

UN panel hears wrenching testimony of abuse in Black Chicago

February 2, 2016

by Ken Hare, Chicago Defender

http://sfbayview.com/2016/02/un-panel-hears-wrenching-testimony-of-abuse-in-black-chicago/

After 2.5 years of foundation laying work, Willie JR Fleming of the Anti-Eviction Campaign has finally caught the attention of the international community. At his behest, the United Nations sent its Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent to Chicago to take first-hand testimony from people of color who have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of systemic racism and colonialism.

A human rights movement was launched late Sunday night at the Chicago State University where United Nations officials heard testimonies from African Americans demanding reparations, accusing America of committing economic violence and educational apartheid against Blacks. – Photo: Chinta Strausberg, Chicago CrusaderA human rights movement was launched late Sunday night at the Chicago State University where United Nations officials heard testimonies from African Americans demanding reparations, accusing America of committing economic violence and educational apartheid against Blacks. – Photo: Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

This past weekend, at Chicago State University, in front of a standing-room-only audience, the U.N. delegation, which included the chairperson, Ms. Mirelle Fanon-Mendez-France, of France, Mr. Sabelo Gumedze of South Africa and Ricardo A. Sunga of the Phillipines, documented testimony from representatives of grassroots organizations and individuals from as far away as Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota as well as Chicago.

In story after story, the delegates listened to riveting testimonies of racial and social injustice, abuse and torture often perpetrated by the hands of sworn government agents – agents who have taken oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which ironically guarantees the very rights that they are accused of violating.

There were quite a few surprises; notably, the press was largely absent. There were no media outlets that covered the event on both days except for the Chicago Defender.

In story after story, the delegates listened to riveting testimonies of racial and social injustice, abuse and torture often perpetrated by the hands of sworn government agents – agents who have taken oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which ironically guarantees the very rights that they are accused of violating.

Dr. Phillip Jackson, who heads the Black Star Project, said: “One of the highest, most universal freedoms in the world is the freedom to educate your children to live free. That is a freedom that is consistently, systematically and viciously denied the children of those of African descent in America.

“Children of African descent in America generally attend the worst, lowest performing, poorest functioning schools with the most ill-prepared teachers in the United States. Rather than being encouraged towards excellence, children of African descent are suspended, expelled and arrested in school in astronomical numbers,” he told the panel of U.N. officials, civil rights activists and lawyers.

“Rather than children of African descent being prepared to compete with the best and the brightest children of the world, they receive at the very best a Third World education and possibly even worse, a slave’s education,” Jackson said.

Jackson pointed out that in Chicago two years ago, only 10 percent of eighth grade Black male youth read at a proficient level. “After two years of intentional work by the school system here, now it is down from 10 percent to 7 percent.”

Jackson pointed to Detroit, where, he said: “The number of Black boys reading proficiently is a mere 3 percent. At the rate we are going, in six short years, no Black boy in Chicago or Detroit or Milwaukee will be able to read at a proficient level.”

“Freedom to educate your children to live free is a freedom that is consistently, systematically and viciously denied the children of those of African descent in America.”

Jackson listed his demands, saying, “We want reparations now including new and substantial investments in the education of children of African descent. We want a parallel education system controlled by people of African descent, one that is responsible for educating children of African descent. We want the support of the U.S. and the U.N. to connect the education of children of African descent to the development economically of people of African descent around the world. “

Justice Stamps and her sister, Tara Stamps, the daughters of the late activist Marion Stamps, accused the U.S. of “educational apartheid” when it comes to Black schools.

Martinez Sutton is the brother of 22-year-old unarmed Rekia Boyd, who was killed by Chicago police detective Dante Servin on March 21, 2012, when he fired five shots at a group of people in a dark West Side alley, hitting Boyd in the back of her head. Angry that Servin was acquitted, Sutton said, “The prosecutors and the defense attorneys were working together the whole time and the judge. How can that happen?” he asked.

“How is this justice? It doesn’t work for us Black men. I’ve been fighting for my sister, but still nothing has happened. I’m getting tired.”

Jitu Brown, national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, who was one of 15 hunger strikers during the fight to reopen Dyett High School, gave examples of the disparity between South Side public schools and the North Side. “We want to see a national moratorium on school privatization, community control of schools.

Justice Stamps and her sister, Tara Stamps, the daughters of the late activist Marion Stamps, accused the U.S. of “educational apartheid” when it comes to Black schools.

“We would like the U.N. to support the Journey for Justice Alliance and Amnesty International as we are filing human rights complaints in several affected cities.” Brown added, “What could be more evil than to look at a third grader and sabotage that child’s education.”

Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, testified about the plight of Rev. Pinkney, who had languished in prison for 406 days on Jan. 24, the day of the hearing, doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not commit. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an international stage.

And yet as the U.N. representatives and audience heard of the injustices in the Pinkney case, many gasped in disbelief and asked with frowns on their faces, “How is this possible?” But disbelief quickly disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had when they first heard of Flint, and we all know what happened in Flint.

For those who missed the event, the U.N. has two addresses where you can email your written testimony and video:

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