Town Hall: Atlanta Unite!

Last week, I attended the live town hall meeting, Atlanta Unite!, held at The Center for Civil and Human Rights. It was needed to review and discuss recent protests by Black Lives Matter (BLM) as tensions flare over police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis. Their recent attempts to block local interstates created both cheers and criticisms.

While many are offering their opinions on what needs to be done, it is clear they do not see the parallels between these protests and those of the  Civil Rights movement over 50 years ago. WSB TV 2 did an good job selecting film clips of speakers, protests and demands from then and now.  Instead of police dogs and water hoses of the 1960’s, we have too many cities with police in riot gear and tanks manhandling peaceful protesters.

Note for future Atlanta Unite! Town Halls:  1) Include women panelists and 2) Commit to provide continuous monthly coverage until the local BLM issues/police shootings of unarmed Black men, etc. are resolved. (Remember the origin of Night Line?)

Because Atlanta Police and Georgia State Troopers were able to handle well over 10,000 protesters who seemingly wandered aimlessly around the city, there were less than 20 arrests on any given day. The Atlanta Unite! Town Hall was historical, informative, and allowed us to see that open dialogue can bring us closer to solutions.  Not having the much needed conversation about race in Atlanta and America has brought us to this place. Our young people, BLM,  are just as passionate about their cause(s) as our Civil Rights leaders were. The numerous BLM groups are no different than our numerous Civil Rights organization who usually worked together to shed the light on injustices and get laws changed.well, we are at that same Crossroad. So, we need our old school leaders to seek to understand BLM and help them. For leaders and others to criticize these energetic youth is counterproductive. When we work together, we listen to each other and work out a strategic plan and buckle down to make it happen, step by step by step.

Because Atlanta is home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, we have to step up to the plate and show the rest of the nation: it must be done, it will be done, and done peacefully.

Will you help??

“Together, we are stronger”, by Hillary Clinton.

“Be the change you want to see”, by Nelson Mandela.

Atlanta Black Lives Matter Meet with Mayor and Police Chief

BLM Atlanta Leaders July 18 2016

One of the Atlanta’s Black Lives Matters (BLM) group of leaders at the beginning of the Monday, July 18 “closed” meeting they requested with Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner.  City staff and invited community groups also attended along with the moderator, Al Vivian, the son of Civil Rights icon C.T. Vivian .

After getting off to a “rocky” start, these BLM leaders eventually gave their list of four primary demands.  The Mayor agreed to review the demands and get back to them.

Over twenty people spoke in addition to the BLM leaders.  Several speakers admittedly spoke through their anger and expressed their interest in helping to formulate solutions to:  end over-policing, deal with police stress, develop a making our communities safer, building a positive line of communication with local officers, and how to weed out the bad officers.

One speaker, Valerie Barker, suggested use of the term “Black-on-Black crime” no longer be used.  She explained,  it is a form of oppression. Since we do not use the terms:  White-on-White, Asian-on-Asian, Hispanic-on-Hispanic, or Jewish-on-Jewish crime, etc.; there is no logical reason to use the term “Black-on-Black crime”.

Another speaker, Wakeem Ali, a military veteran who looks to  be in his mid-twenties explained, “We need solutions so my generation does not have to worry about the what the police and others my own age will do to me.”  Wakeem explained that this is no way to live and we heard the frustration in his voice. He went on to say, “In 2016, we should not be marching.  I brought the Bloods and Cripts together to end violence.” And, despite the good he does, he is still unsafe living Atlanta.

Well, a meeting of this magnitude would not be complete, it seems, without hecklers.  There were a few who were purposely loud and rude.  I could not believe the level of disrespect. It was very embarrassing.

Through it all, the moderator, the Mayor and all in attendance have open a line of communication that needs to have specific regular planning sessions until we formulate, implement, monitor, tweak, maintain and improve as needed a realistic strategic where we all win, feel safe, get equal justice more often times than not, and lead the nation in police and citizen communication.

More appropriate now than ever is the question Rodney King asked, “Can we all just get along?”

This post will be updated soon with additional information or another post that includes the four specific BLM demands from this two-hour meeting. So, check back soon.

“Our Veterans” Are Crying Out for Our Help!

Veterans from Ft Hood

For the second time in as many weeks, a military veteran has gunned down police officers at random.  And, in both cases, the police killed the veteran.

Also, less than a year ago, in the Atlanta Metro Area, a naked veteran was shot and killed by police. Yes, all three of these are related because in the investigations that followed, we found each veteran had cried out for help…each in their own way. Neither of them received the help they needed from the V.A.

Has the high number of senseless killings of Blacks by white police officers intensified or triggered anger and rage that most of us are able to control??

Is the U.S. climate such that people who are feeling on edge have the same sentiments as Fannie Lou Hamer felt, “sick and tired of being sick and tired?”

So, what is being done to curb this before it becomes an unstoppable trend?

What can we, as individuals, do if we know there are veterans in our family or our community that we believe needs help?

Should we protest in front of the Congressional offices and U.S. Senate offices across the country and at the U.S. Capitol until veterans get the same level of medical care as those elected officials who voted for the US to go to war?  Are these elected officials willing to give up their benefits so they can see what it is like not to have them?

Why is it that the U.S. Congress would have better benefits than those who have put their lives on the line in foreign lands so that they may have the freedom and lifestyles enjoyed by most Americans?

I wonder:  How many who serve (and have served) in the Congress and Senate, as John McCain, have been there long enough to have done something about this problem 20-30 years ago?

I wonder:  How many times did they vote against increasing funding for VA services and treatment?

WAOK Radio’s Derrick Boazman is right, ‘it is heart-breaking to hear the awful stories of how veterans are denied treatment.  Or, they get it and later it is terminated for no apparent reason.’   Boazman is trying to find veterans who are receiving all the benefits they were promised and are entitled to receive.  Most have simply have detailed accounts about the tricks played to deny them basic benefits.

Many of us know a veteran who is suffering, barely getting by, and in dire need of medical services.  Unfortunately, many are also homeless.  How is that acceptable?

Around 2006, Air Force Veteran and Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party’s Veteran’s Caucus Chair, Robert Stelling, took it upon himself to lead patrols along Phoenix area streets looking for and getting veterans off the streets.  And, when Greg Stanton became Mayor in 2011, he unveiled a plan to help end homelessness in the City by prioritizing housing for the chronically homeless.  The comprehensive Phoenix Homeless Initiative redeploys existing homeless services and grant funding at no new cost…through a ‘housing first’ strategy was passed by the City Council in late 2012 and has been in operation since July 2013.  Around that same time, in Atlanta, our City Council was in the process of passing laws that would further criminalize homeless citizens so they would be arrested more and spend more time in jail.

Due to a huge public outcry, Councilman Michael Bond and others had to “back peddle” on the proposed legislation.  Hmmmm.  What were they thinking?

Because I have a Ph.D. in Veterans Affairs earned by helping my great uncle who was a WWII veteran, I know what it takes to try to navigate the V.A. system.  I also know how long it takes to get an appointment.  I witnessed tempers flaring when they have been at the V.A. all day and frustrated by the lack of good service.  I understand how some have access to the V.A., yet they say, ‘I am a vet and would not dare go there’.

I have seen it up close.  PTSD is serious.  Most veterans have not been officially diagnosed.  If all who have PTSD were actually diagnosed, the VA would need to increase their capacity to care for these war heroes by more than ten-fold. That is the problem!  If Congress spent money on V.A. medical care instead of “bridges to nowhere”, etc., we would have a different and better situation.  A good question is:  How did we get here?   How did so many good Americans let it get to such an extremely inhumane situation where we look the other way and not hold our federal elected officials accountable?

It has been almost ten years since two stories about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Scandal in Washington D.C. were reported in The Washington Post.  The reports included gross patient neglect.  Why are we not looking at this in the rear view mirror instead of trying to measure how much further behind we are in correcting this atrocity?

In 2014, President Barack Obama hired Robert McDonald former Proctor & Gamble CEO to revamp the V.A.  He immediately found:  1) the hospitals were under staffed and the reason veterans have to wait so long for an appointment; 2) the facilities and equipment were in dire need of being updated, and 3) doctor pay needed to increase to attract more doctors to decrease patient wait times.  Last year, 60 Minutes ran a story about the new VA Chief’s efforts to recruit and hire more doctors (with the new salary increase).

‘When you come back from war you are not the same.  They had us stabbing dummies…setting off explosives.  It is why I still have ringing in my ears…I am a Vietnam Vet.  Like many, I have problems sleeping.  I still have issues and cannot get all the help I need from the V.A.,’ according to a veteran on a local radio talk show.

So I ask you:  How can Congress sleep?  How much longer can we allow this to continue?

What affects one household and one community more often than not, eventually affects all of us. When people do not get proper medical treatment, they become a ticking time bomb.  We have seen it end tragically with two vets, one in Dallas and one in Baton Rouge, killing policers and one “naked” vet being killed by an officer.  It happens to non-veterans too as we saw it in Tucson when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and about 20 others were shot at random and again at Sandy Hook.  In these two latter cases, it was known that both shooters needed but did not receive psychiatric help. Again, innocent people were killed and others wounded.

Yes, our Veterans are crying out for our help.  Let us not see more bloodshed before we help them.

If you want to help them.  One of the main thing to do is to make sure you are registered to vote ( by October 11, 2016.  Research (Google the candidates and referendums, attend community meetings to learn about the issues and candidates) and vote the entire ballot on November 8, 2016.  Do not just vote for president and turn in your ballot!!  Discuss who to vote for with your friends and family.  Post your questions about who to vote for in Congressional and US Senate races on social media. Also, discuss all 20 plus items on the ballot which, in Georgia, includes constitutional amendments.

What we know for sure:  When we do our research and vote in blocks and turn out in high numbers, we ALWAYS win!!  We will get better people and better results!  If they let us down, we go back and vote them out!!  I dare you to try it!!

I dare you to care enough to do one of the most important things to help our Veterans. So, do your research, spread the word and vote the entire ballot on November 8, 2016!!










Black Lives Matter Atlanta Protest – Day 5

070916_shot_protests_bs3 ATL July 10 2016

Starting last Friday, Black Lives Matter and their diverse supporters have peacefully protested in Atlanta. Today when they meet near Lenox Square Mall, it will be day number five. Despite a few outside groups of people who are agitators and less than 30 arrests, Atlanta Police and Georgia State Troopers have done a good job of controlling the crowds that have been as large as 10,000 to 15,000 according to media reports.
Showing “empathy” toward protesters instead of guns and tear gas has proven to make a big difference in crowd control.
No riot gear.
No riot helmets with shields.
Plain clothes officers embedded with crowd.

Getting “Intel” on the ground allows officers to respond faster than usual to seemingly haphazard movements and their attempts to enter and block the interstates. This has resulted in: No damage to property, no injuries, and minimal distractions, if any, to the 2,000 plus Alpha Kappa Alpha Convention attendees at downtown

A few reports of water bottles (probably empty) being  thrown at officers and vulgar language shouted at officers.  Not bad for such a large crowd that is constantly moving from Centennial Park, to Woodruff Park, down Peachtree Street to Mitchell Street to City Hall to Underground covering six to seven miles in the 90 degree heat.

Kudos to our law enforcement officers.  That is incredible!!

Is this the example for the nation??

Good live coverage from Atlanta media.

So,now what?

What is the charge to change conditions that led to the two most recent Black civilian deaths by shootings, a Black civilian found hung in Piedmont Park,  and the sniper shooting of five white officers?

A protest without a good strategic plan is a bunch of smoke and mirrors.  A protest with a good strategic plan that includes massive voter turnout is destined to change public policy that can help eradicate senseless murders of Blacks by white police officers.



Georgia Spending on Education vs. Prison


Over the years, spending on education has continued to lag behind spending on prisons. We know this!  It is getting worse!  Who has a plan to significantly reverse the trend?  Who really cares?  Who has a plan that is working so well that it needs to be the model for the nation?

This recent article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution says it all:

Over the past three decades, Georgia has increased its spending on prisons and jails at a faster pace than spending on schools, says a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.In constant dollars, state and local spending on education rose 224 percent from 1979 to 2012 while spending on corrections jumped 468 percent.“Budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited,” U.S….

To know is one thing.  To act is what it will take to reverse this trend.

Indeed, we have lots of work to do do save our kids (and ourselves) from the pipeline to prison AKA the Prison Industrial Complex, wouldn’t you agree??

Getting everyone to vote the “entire ballot” Nov. 8 and in ALL elections could significantly help change this disgusting trend. So, how will we, as individuals, help our money strapped community organizations significantly change this??

How can we use social media to help improve our efforts to get out the vote (GOTV) in larger numbers than ever??

Jesse Williams’ Courageous BET Acceptance Speech

imageIf you did not know about the work that Jesse Williams has done that earned him the B.E.T. 2016 Humanitarian award, now you do.

In case you did not see the speech,  view it on this link:

Jesse is being compared to another great actor and humanitarian, Harry Belafonte.

What a great way to get both the young and more mature people to understand the complexity  while giving solutions to our problems.

What a great time, before a very important presidential election start an open discussion our plight.

I want to take the liberty of paraphrasing Jesse’s dynamic message:

1) you are enough…beautiful and uniquely made!

2) you do not have to change who you are…assimilating is not the answer

3) think about what we are doing.