Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Conservative Vicelords & Chicago's "Gang" Story + Black Immigrants & Civil Rights + A Sequester?

1.  The Conservative Vicelords-Chicago's gang-turned-community organization

Two weeks ago, Bobby Gore passed away in Chicago.  He was one of the founders of the Conservative Vicelords, a faction of the Vicelords that transformed one of the oldest and most infamous of Chicago's street gangs into a community based organization dedicated to empowering the Lawndale section of Chicago.  Understanding what went right and wrong with the Conservative Vicelords in the late 60's and early 70's is key to understanding what is right and wrong with violence in our streets today.  Please tune in as we speak to three original members of the Conservative Vicelords and the author of a book dedicated to Bobby Gore, the World of Gangs.

But first...

2.  What the hell is a sequester?
If you pay attention to the news it is either yet another looming politician-made disaster or a reason to change the channel and watch a better political drama, Deception.  Tune in as we talk to our friends at the Center for Economic and Policy Research about how the sequester may affect our friends and family, whatever the hell it is.


3.  Black Immigrants and the Civil Rights movement.

A lot of people like to call the Immigrant Rights movement the "next Civil Rights" movement.  That sort of assumes that the last Civil Rights movement isn't still going on and that Immigrants didn't play any role in it.  Tune in and don't miss this.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why isn’t Trayvon Martin's killer in jail for financial crimes?


By Subhash Kateel

Trayvon Martin was born 18 years ago this month and killed by George Zimmerman a year ago today. His killing unleashed massive outrage and countless protests, #hashtags and Facebook profile pics of people in hoodies demanding that Zimmerman be arrested, charged and not allowed to “stand his ground.” But a year later, most of the hashtags are gone and the hoodied profile pics have fallen to the back of Facebook photo albums.  Meanwhile, a mother and father are still left to mourn their son and the man finally arrested for his murder is back out on bail.  But he shouldn’t be.  And I don’t understand why people aren’t making a bigger deal out of it.

Ever since journalist Frances Robles published a series of audiotaped jailhouse conversations between George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie Zimmerman, in the Miami Herald eight months ago, one question keeps coming up for me: why haven’t the Feds ever charged the Zimmermans with financial crimes?  In the tapes and transcripts published in the Herald, a April 15, 2012 conversation seems to clearly implicate the couple in a somewhat serious money laundering-esque offense as they figure out what to do with the over $130,000 that supporters donated to Zimmerman’s Paypal account after he shot Trayvon Martin.   Besides assuring her husband that the money would grant him “a great life.”  The Zimmermans also had the following exchange.
George Zimmerman: “…cause you’re gonna take out $10 and put it, and keep it with you, in cash right?  So that you…less that $10”

Shellie Z: “Well, yeah like nine.”

George Z.: “Right. Um. Let’s just say $10.  I’m wondering, you have more than $10 right?”

George Z:  “Right. That’s what I’m saying. So if you have more than $10 then you can, maybe that same day, put 10 in hers and she can take the 10 out…”

The $10 that George Zimmerman refers to in the conversation is poorly concealed jail-speak for $10,000.  The couple’s back and forth about depositing the money made it very clear that they preferred to deposit $9,000 into the bank instead of $10,000.  And that is exactly what Shellie Zimmerman did, making eight deposits ranging from $7500 to $9,990 each between her husband’s credit union and her account.  Why would she do that?  According to the Bank Secrecy Act, depositing $10,000 into a domestic bank forces that bank to file a Currency Transaction Report to the IRS about the transaction, something you wouldn’t want to do if you were trying to keep that information from someone, say…a criminal court judge. In fact, during George Zimmerman’s initial bond hearing, he told the judge he was broke, earning him a low bail (which was later revoked and reinstated for a higher amount) and eventually earning his wife a perjury charge.

But beyond committing perjury, intentionally depositing less than $10,000 in the bank so that no Currency Transaction Report would be generated is a crime called “structuring,” and it can land you in federal prison for five years.  Or as former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Neiman told the Associated Press:

"If Mrs. Zimmerman intentionally structured the financial transactions in a manner to keep the offense under $10,000, not only may she have committed perjury in the state case, but she also may have run afoul of several federal statutes and could face serious federal criminal charges."

This was all pointed out in several articles at the time (including Robles’ piece) and was even the subject of a petition. But despite a “parallel” FBI investigation into the Trayvon Martin case and the appointment of a “special” state prosecutor, no financial or “structuring” charge has been filed by any prosecutor (state or federal) against either Zimmerman.

Some may believe that a “structuring” charge matters less than other underlying issues surrounding Trayvon Martin’s murder.  But the financial crimes charges matter precisely because Trayvon Martin’s murder was never just about whether or not George Zimmerman was racist or if he was killed by “Stand Your Ground” laws. It was about the myriad ways in which the justice system works differently for different people. 

The fact is, overcharging people in the criminal justice system, often for things that they didn’t do, happens way more than anyone wants to admit.  Florida is no exception.  A few weeks ago, the Orlando Sentinel highlighted cases of children being charged criminally for things like “talking back” that “once warranted a trip to the principal's office.” For grown-ups around the country, it is not unusual for a person caught possessing drugs to be charged with selling them or for a person to be charged with resisting arrest even when there was no underlying reason for them to be arrested in the first place.

In the case of George Zimmerman and his wife, we have actual audiotapes that millions of people have listened to indicating that improper cash transactions might have taken place.  And yet, not a charge has been filed for a crime many of us believe we heard being committed with our own ears.

As a former community organizer that has worked with plenty of people caught up in the criminal justice system, I rarely see prison as a solution to society’s problems.  I also do not believe that a structuring conviction or a murder conviction will ever bring Trayvon Martin back to his parents.  But I have also never seen a man facing a murder rap be able to raise thousands of dollars because of that murder rap and yet be treated with kid gloves for the way he managed those thousands of dollars.   

Regardless of what happens with George Zimmerman’s murder case, if he and his wife are never charged with financial crimes, then this whole saga truly does prove that the justice system works differently for different people.

Don’t forget to check out our show every Wednesday at 7pm EST.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A private prison CEO names a college stadium+Harlem Shakes + a Secret History of Coca (Cola & Caine)

1. A Private Prison company gets naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's Football Stadium.

Will a GEO Football Stadium make way for a Halliburton Stadium or a Blackwater Stadium?  That is one of the questions our guests will answer as we talk about the recent news the one of the largest (and most notorious) private prison corporations in the world, the GEO Group will get to name Florida Atlantic University's sports stadium after donating $6 million dollars to the school. GEO group, which runs the Broward Transitional Center, a local immigrant detention center, is often accused of a litany of missteps, abuses and corner-cutting. The school's president has called the GEO group deal "wonderful" and called the company "well run."  Tonight, we will talk to experts on private prisons, including former immigrant detainees at GEO facilities about how "wonderful" they think the GEO group and the idea to let them name a sports stadium are.  We talk about it tonight with Bob Libal (Grassroots Leadership), Shamir Ali (Students Working for Equal Rights), Luis Cardona, Gaby Aleksinko (FAU student leader), Viridiana Martinez (National Immigrant Youth Alliance) & others.  For info about related events, check here.

2.  Is the new Harlem Shake making Harlem shake its head?

About the biggest dance/meme in the world right now is the "Harlem Shake" meme (see below) with over a hundred million views.  That's enough to make Psy from Gangam Style and the dudes from #KONY2012 form a strategic new alliance.  But does the Harlem Shake have anything to do with Harlem, NY or the original "Harlem Shake" (see below)?  Should it? Let's talk about it with Channing Kennedy (Colorlines Magazine), Frsh Aire (Triboro) & Priest Forever (Hip Hop Culture Center of Harlem).

3.  The Secret History of Coca (Cola & Caine)...and Coffee

You may know Ricardo Cortes from his groundbreaking work on the adult children's book "Go The F*** To Sleep" or "It's Just a Plant."  But he just put out an new illustrated book called "A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola" that is quickly raising just as many eyebrows.  Tune in to easily one of our most informative interviews ever.

Original Harlem Shake
The "New" Harlem Shake Meme

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An ex-cop unravels+chivalry vs. feminism+when 1 billion rise

1.  An ex-cop (and the reputation of the LAPD) unravel

Tonight we talk about the presumed death of ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who went on a shooting rampage for several days after releasing this "manifesto" accusing the LAPD of extreme corruption.  The words "tragedy" and "expected" have been thrown around since word hit the press of his rampage.  We will talk about the charges he made in his manifesto and how they relate to the LAPD's often checkered past.  Guests include ex-LAPD officer, private investigator and creator of, Alex Salazar & community journalist, Thandi Chimurenga & Black Awareness Community Development Organization's Executive Director Jitu Sadiki.

But first...

2.  Did feminism kill chivalry?

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. It got some of the producers thinking. Is chivalry dead?  If so, was it killed by feminism?  Tune in as we talk it out.  Guests include Kathleen Connelly, author of "Why Is Benevolent Sexism Appealing?", friend of the show Camilo Mejia and Mercedes Jimenez

3.  When One Billion Rise

One Billion Rising is a worldwide event taking place on Valentine's Day inviting women and those who love them to "WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence."  Tune in tonight as we learn more.  Guests include Lisa Schejola Akin of International V-day and One Billion Rising & Jeannette Smith of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Wars on the Post Office & VAWA+Obama's kill/jail list problem+Remembering Trayvon

1.  Why is the Post Office really cutting hours?

We just heard today that we won't be getting mail on Saturdays anymore, a move the US Postal Service says could save up to $2 billion a year. But why does the financially struggling agency need to save $2 billion a year in the first place?  The answer may surprise you.  Tune in as we talk to famed economist,  Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
2.  Who do politicians hurt when they fail to re-pass the Violence Again Women Act (VAWA)?

This week, again, the House of Representatives failed to re-authorize one of the least controversial pieces of legislation (traditionally), the Violence Against Women Act. Who is hurt by the failure to re-authorize VAWA? Tune in as we ask Michelle Ortiz, Director of Americans for Immigrant Justice LUCHA or “The Struggle”: A Women’s Legal Program.
3. The President's Kill/Jail list problem.

The White House has had a really bad week trying to convince people that its anti-terrorism policies aren't going to shred the Constitution.  Tune in as we talk to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee's Michael Figura about the White House's continued attempts to be able to jail indefinitely and kill US citizens whether the Courts, Congress or the public like it or not.
4. Remembering Trayvon and asking why George Zimmerman is not in jail

Trayvon Martin would have turned 18 this week.  While we remember the Miami native's birthday, we should be asking why his killer, George Zimmerman isn't in jail.  No, we aren't just talking about his murder trial, we are talking about the time he may have committed the Federal money laundering-esque crime of "structuring." Don't miss the conversation you won't hear anywhere else.