Councilwoman Negron: “It is no longer time to be asking for a seat at the table”

Latest in a series of posts responding to the Jacob Blake shooting

Text of Councilwoman Olga Negron’s speech at the 57th Anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, on Payrow Plaza organized by Esther Lee and the NAACP.

Good afternoon,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m Councilwoman Olga Negron, and I am the first elected woman of color to Bethlehem City Council, and still today in 2020, I am the only woman of color on Council. I am proud of this accomplishment, but it’s appalling that there is just me here. It’s time for us to stand up, to speak out, to be part of history. I implore you, dear brothers and sisters of color, to think about the different ways you can be part of the leadership of our local government. Systemic racism is encrypted in our everyday lives, and we will continue to call it by its name and push for change, but we must stand up and do our part.

It is no longer time to ask for permission; it is no longer time to be asking for a seat at the table. As my favorite congressman, John Lewis, used to say: “When we see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, we have a MORAL OBLIGATION to say something, to do something, to speak up, to speak out and get in GOOD TROUBLE, get in the way, to lead the way!” We have been waiting long enough, and it is no longer time to be patient. It is time for action, real action.

I will continue to fight the good fight, but I can’t do this alone. I need all of you. I need to you to be engaged, I need you to be part of what’s going on in your city. We need your voices to be heard. As loud as my voice is, my voice alone is just not enough — I need yours too. Behind these walls of city hall, decisions are being made every day that affect our communities. Zoning laws, Planning laws, and policing policies should be designed to benefit all of us and not just special interests, and we need to make sure that we are involved in the decision-making process every step of the way.

Your voice needs to be part of the process. You can serve on authorities, boards, and commissions that make decisions that directly affect people of color. If you look at our city’s boards and commissions, they don’t look like us, and this is something I have been pushing this administration to improve on during my time on council. But I need your help. You need to be part of this process in order for your voices to be heard.

I have a dream that our local government will reflect the ethnic and racial composition of our communities. Please, join me, reach out to me, send me an email, I’ll help you out in any way I can. It’s time for people of color to start running for office and getting elected to city council, county council, mayors. It’s time for us to be part of the future of our cites; it is time for us to be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character!

Olga Negron

NAACP head on the Chief: “I personally have not experienced any kind of racist attitude from him”

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Gadfly published on this yesterday with the Facebook post, the Chief’s apologies, and the statements by the Mayor and Councilman Reynolds. Now the incident is totally out in the open. Have you been thinking about it like Gadfly has? NAACP head Esther Lee gives the Chief an “F” for paying attention but gives him a pass on racism.

from Andrew Scott and Peter Hall, “Bethlehem police chief called out for reposting meme mocking athletes protesting police violence.” Morning Call, September 3, 2020.

A Bethlehem resident called out city police Chief Mark DiLuzio for reposting a meme that mocks professional athletes protesting police violence against African Americans.

DiLuzio, who has been meeting regularly with a citizens advisory board on how police can avoid being racist and using excessive force, reposted the meme Sunday on Facebook and then apologized after deleting it, saying he didn’t realize the offensive nature of its message.

The meme spoofs a scene from the movie “Jurassic Park,” using images of Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James to suggest that nobody cares about last week’s strike by NBA players and other professional athletes.

Beneath the images, the person who originally posted it states, “Truth … I just saved a bunch of money by canceling my sports package with DirecTV and I don’t have to hear all the racist, anti-white, complaining, leftist, divisive hatred from a bunch of multimillionaire spoiled little brats.”

The repost prompted apologies by DiLuzio on his personal Facebook page and in a letter to Bethlehem City Council. Mayor Robert Donchez told council in its meeting Tuesday that he had met twice with DiLuzio to discuss the incident.

“Chief DiLuzio has been justly criticized and embarrassed by this incident. He has promised that nothing similar will happen again and accepts [that] the consequences of breaking that promise would be of the most severe nature,” Donchez said.

In an apology on social media, DiLuzio said he reposted the meme and later, “learned there was a message attached to it that does not represent me and which I find offensive.

“I immediately deleted the post after it was brought to my attention,” he said. “This message does not represent what I have stood for over the past 40 years as a law enforcement officer.”

To City Council, DiLuzio wrote: “Several of you know me, know my stand on fairness and issues, and you know I admit when wrong. I’m sorry, if this re-post caused anyone any concerns.

“I will not be posting or re-posting anything in the future. The lesson learned here is don’t trust what is on Facebook when you post and/or re-post. It may not be what you actually see or want posted,” DiLuzio’s memo says.

DiLuzio did not return calls for comment. Donchez’s chief of staff, William Karras, said the mayor’s statement to council speaks for itself.

He ”gets an ’F’ for not paying attention to what he reposted,” [NAACP head Esther] Lee said. “It gives the impression that he has a problem with diversity, though I personally have not experienced any kind of racist attitude from him.”

Lee noted DiLuzio was “very apologetic and sorrowful” about the post at Monday’s advisory board meeting. She said Donchez was also at the meeting.

The meme uses still images from a scene in “Jurassic Park,” in which character Dennis Nedry calls out the name of the villainous Dr. Lewis Dodgson, portrayed by actor Cameron Thor, to show that none of the other patrons in a crowded outdoor restaurant recognize Dodgson. “See, nobody cares,” says actor Wayne Knight, who portrays Nedry in the movie.

In the meme, Lakers star James’ head is superimposed over Thor’s. At the top of the image are the words, “We’re not going to play anymore,” At the bottom are the words, “Hey everybody! They’re not going to play.”

A second still shows Knight delivering his “nobody cares” line to James.

Others on social media became aware of the post, despite DiLuzio deleting it.

“This is NOT a social media problem, this is a racial problem,” Michele Ryder of Bethlehem tweeted at Donchez when sharing a screenshot of DiLuzio’s post. “I have to wonder if [DiLuzio] didn’t read it prior to posting, what exactly about the photo was so funny it was worth posting?”

The Kenosha alarm clock

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Kenosha 3

 

 

In a much more happy mood, for a week or two Gadfly suggested that we start our day with a Lehigh Valley anthem. Somber now, and recognizing that possible changes in Bethlehem policing are on our plate, Gadfly suggests we wake up in a different manner, listening to those seven shots.

“Hard times come again no more”

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Please listen to
“Hard times come again no more”
Arlo Guthrie and Jim Wilson
featuring Vanessa Bryan

Arlo 1

We’re not so different

We all have suffered, have had hard times

We have  all worked our way up or are trying

We’re all in this together

Arlo 2

———-

Tip o’ the hat to Tim Gallagher, who is not too young to feel Arlo Guthrie the way his parents did.

The Columbus controversy comes to Bethlehem

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Columbus 1

Columbus monument, Rose Garden, Union Blvd., across from Nitschmann
Morning Call photo

from K. C. Lopez, “Amid Renovations, Neighbors Call for Columbus Statue to be Removed.” Lehigh Valley Press PBS 39, September 2, 2020.

A near half million dollar renovation to Bethlehem’s Rose Garden is underway.

The city is completely revamping the park; improving its trails, adding a picnic area, lawn activity space and more flowers.

But a battle is brewing over one of the park’s memorials. A monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus has this community divided over whether the ship has sailed on celebrating the explorer.

“My daughter asked me about what it was all about,” says Assistant Professor of Art History at Muhlenberg College, Elena FitzPatrick Sifford, “I found myself having to explain to her many of the problematic things about the monument and the person that it is celebrating.”

While some view the navigator’s voyage to the Americas as a pathway to acceptance for Italian-Americans, others argue Columbus’s legacy is plagued by genocide, slavery and the mistreatment of native americans. More than 120 concerned residents signed a letter to the mayor’s office and city council calling for the monument dedicated to the explorer to be removed during planned renovations.

“We felt this was an opportune moment,” Sifford tells PBS39, “There will already be construction going on there. I would love to see a monument put in its place that honors the indigenous people who lived here who are from the Lenape nation. Should the Italian-American community want to retain this monument, thinking about the many other Italian-Americans who have contributed to the country in many ways as well as Italian-Americans within the Lehigh Valley who have done incredible things for the community.”

As a result, Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez is convening a council comprising some calling for its removal, members of the Italian-American community, representatives from the city’s fine arts council and Mount Airy neighborhood association who will decide the statue’s fate.

“What is the direction that we want our community to go in? What future do we want for Bethlehem?” Sifford asks, “With it being such a diverse city and one that is really going through this cultural revitalization and this is really a moment to show everyone and our other sister cities in Pennsylvania, where we stand and what future we envision for our city and for our children.”

No word yet on when we can expect a decision from the group but as the nation grapples with racial injustice, the fate of monuments dedicated to Columbus, civil war era commanders and other Confederate leaders hangs in the balance.

Look at what Allentown’s talking about — a citizen board — what are we talking about?

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Gadfly’s doing a lot of whining these days. Trying to meet his 3rd quarter quota set by the national Gadfly headquarters.

So Gadfly also whined Tuesday night at City Council about lack of visible plan, time-table, direction for discussion of police issues.

The 6-hour Public Safety meeting was August 11 (George Floyd was murdered May 25). Long presentation by the police. 27 members of the public weighed in — vigorous point-counter-point. No response at August 18 Council. Basically no response at September 1 Council. Gadfly senses no visible plan, no visible process.

Council listened. Gadfly would like to know what they heard.

More whining to come.

from Andrew Wagaman, “Allentown officials debate how much power to give citizen body focused on police reform.” Morning Call, September 2, 2020.

Allentown officials are poised to create a citizen body to keep tabs on its police department, but it remains unclear whether they will — or even can — give it any teeth.

City Council’s public safety committee on Wednesday reviewed the first draft of a bill that would create a Citizens Public Safety Advisory Board. At this point, the board would, among other things:

    • Provide city residents and business owners a forum to voice concerns about specific police interactions, identify “critical, systemic or recurring issues,” and facilitate necessary changes to local police practices.
    • Recommend new programs, activities, policies, or policy amendments that would benefit public safety or help improve the relationship between police and the community.
    • Strive to increase access to police data and other police-related public information, and promote a better understanding of police’s responsibilities.
    • Issue annual reports on its activities to elected officials.

Council will introduce a formal bill Sept. 16, and more progressive council members hope to give the citizen board additional investigatory powers.

Council members Ce-Ce Gerlach and Joshua Siegel initially called for the creation of a citizens police review board to independently investigate police use-of-force incidents and improper police conduct, among other things. While acknowledging that state law prevents such bodies from imposing disciplinary measures, both Gerlach and Siegel argued Wednesday that the advisory board should still investigate incidents and make disciplinary recommendations.

“I don’t want this to be a board of placation or platitudes. I want it to have at least some kind of authority,” Siegel said. “There’s got to be some catharsis at the end of the day, some kind of outcome.”

The public safety committee consists of Council President Daryl Hendricks, Councilman Ed Zucal and Councilwoman Candida Affa — the three most vocal supporters of the police department on council. Only those three can vote to advance bills or resolutions for a full council vote, though other council members can propose amendments prior to a final vote.

Zucal said the working bill creates a board that complies with state law and with the city’s police union contract. Hendricks called the first draft a “great step forward.”

“This becomes another tool for transparency between the community and law enforcement,” he said. “It’s a great start for the community to have more direct input with the police services we provide.”

If Allentown creates such a review board, state law would limit its investigatory powers, Martin argued. The city police department’s Office of Professional Standards remains best suited to conduct personnel investigations, he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, in its own letter last month to City Council, disputed Martin’s interpretation. It argued that police forces can in fact share certain information with citizen bodies for personnel or administrative purposes, and that information related to compliance with a use-of-force policy is for such purposes.

Martin and the ACLU also disagreed over the release of body camera audio and video footage, with Martin arguing that a 2017 law prohibits departments from sharing such recordings with the public if they include information relating to an investigation, among other things. The ACLU maintains departments have fairly broad latitude to share recordings.

Allentown’s board would consist of five to seven voting members who have lived in the city for at least three years, plus the city police chief or a designee, and possibly, the public safety committee chairperson.

The mayor would nominate voting members, and council would confirm them. Five of the appointees will specifically represent the city’s West End, Center City, East Side, South Side, and the Hamilton Street business corridor.

According to the draft bill, board members must complete a police department-provided “orientation and education program” within six months of being appointed, unless they’ve previously completed an Allentown Citizens’ Police Academy course. Each board member must participate in at least one police ride-along a year, and at least one board member must be a licensed social worker or have recent training in social services.

Gerlach also said she wants the final bill to require the board to be racially and ethnically representative of the city, and floated the idea of including a youth representative. In addition, she suggested that if board members are required to participate in police ride-alongs and a police education program, then they should also be required to attend a restorative justice seminar or something similar.

“The study does not help us to understand the experiences of people of color” (plus, Gadfly adds his two-cents)

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ref: “A 2017 Bethlehem Police Community survey”: “Response Rate: There was an overall response rate of 12%. While the sample of surveys distributed mirrored the distribution of households within each Bethlehem city zipcode, the responses from 18015 were under-represented. Additionally, the majority of the sample were older and white, thus there was a relative under-representation of younger and ethnic minority residents.”

Gadfly:

I think it is clear from the first bullet about “Response Rate” that this study is problematic, at least as it relates to our current situation. If the 18015 zipcode was underrepresented (this is the part of our city where census tracts show the greatest concentration of Latinx and Black residents), and if the majority of respondees were older White people, then this study does not help us to understand the experiences of people of color in our city as they have interacted with the BPD. It’s definitely interesting to see one part of our community narrative through the study above. Now it is time to seek out and listen to the perspective of community members who were missing from the original study . . .

Kim Carrell-Smith

Gadfly has whined in these pages several times about what seems to him a missing link between the City and our sizeable Latinx population. He whined again at City Council Tuesday about the almost immediate post-Floyd formation — apparently at the request of the NAACP — of a Community Advisory Board (CAB) at which African American NAACP leader Esther Lee sets the agenda. African Americans are 7% of our city population, Latinx 29.5% — why are we not devoting more of our limited time and resources directly to the Latinx community, which, Prof Holona Ochs pointed out, is rather suspiciously underrepresented in citizen complaints in the statistics provided by the BPD. Now there are 4 “Latino Advisors “ on the CAB — good. But still this lack of direct interface with a Latinx group setting an agenda seems very, very odd to the Gadfly. Councilwoman Crampsie Smith answered the Gadfly Tuesday night, saying “The NAACP is for the advancement of Colored People, and it means people of all colors. It just does not just focus on the Black Community” (min. 3:10:45 — yes, that meeting went over 3 hours!). Go to the NAACP web site. Gadfly is not sure you will see any reference to the Latinx community. One can not tell for sure from simply a list of names, but it sure looks like the officers are Black. The NAACP began, of course, long before there were any Latinx presence or issues in the country, and the history of the organization (the local chapter web site links to the national web site for the history) seems to clearly indicate that “colored people” has always referred to African Americans. He sees no mention of widening to other colors (does the NAACP represent Asians?) in that official history statement. Was there a Latinx speaker at the recent Payrow Plaza marking of the 57th anniversary of the famous King speech and march on Washington? (Gadfly would be pleased to learn there was.) It just seems a very, very, very, very, very, very far stretch to Gadfly to say that since the City is engaged with a CAB that is an NAACP initiative that the City is in direct communication and dialogue with the Latinx community. 

Chief “apologizes”; Mayor warns him about “severe consequences”; a Councilman points out “damage to trust”

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DiLuzio 2

DiLuzio 3

DiLuzio 4

The Mayor’s statement at City Council September 1 (1 min.): “the consequences for breaking that promise will be of the most severe nature.”

Councilman Reynolds’ comment at City Council September 1 (3 mins.): “we need to do better as a City or people are not going to take us seriously when we talk about systemic racism.”

The Kenosha alarm clock

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Kenosha 3

 

 

In a much more happy mood, for a week or two Gadfly suggested that we start our day with a Lehigh Valley anthem. Somber now, and recognizing that possible changes in Bethlehem policing are on our plate, Gadfly suggests we wake up in a different manner, listening to those seven shots. Atty General Barr says Blake was “armed.” Joe Biden in Kenosha today.

Gadfly finishes the interrogation

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Finishing up his interrogation of Individual-1’s essay, Gadfly leaves you with these last few comments.

“Get the facts: Systemic racism is a lie”
Individual-1

7) Never experienced an act of racism in 30 years of law enforcement work: I think Inidividual-1 is confusing personal racism with systemic racism. (see 10 also)

9) I’m not a racist, I have Black friends: nobody said you were a racist. Claiming this is usually thought of as a “tell.”

14) Regarding Chauvin/Floyd, the hold is commonplace and an officer in a struggle for his life will use whatever means necessary: Office Chauvin was not in a struggle for his life.

31) The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’:  Remember Peter C’s comment: “What is the problem if someone is a ‘Marxist’ or ‘socialist’? How is that worse than being a self-proclaimed ‘Christian’ who shoots protesters? Or an ardent capitalist who screws employees and/or customers to enrich themself? Or a ‘law enforcement officer’ who breaks the law (and their oath) by targeting, harassing, or harming minority person or people exercising their Constitutional rights?”

31) The BLM leader who said if demands aren’t met, they’ll burn the system down: That was bad. That’s a member of the New York chapter. BLM works on a fluid, decentralized basis. This kind of thing is not condoned by headquarters. No one will suggest that individuals will not sometimes perform badly.

32) One of the BLM founders, Patrisse Cullors, was “inspired” and led by her “hero” Assata Shakur [a bad person, fugitive from justice]: Cullors was a teen when she watched police handcuff and haul her mentally ill older brother to prison where, later, she learned they kept water from him and tied him up, drugging him until he was incapacitated, beating and choking him until he passed out. She read and found comfort in Shakur’s autobiography. The Shakur line used at the end of BLM rallies came not from direct  contact but Cullors heard it from a friend. It is not clear there is much or any direct contact between Cullors and Shakur.

32) BLM is connected to Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist sentenced in the 1980’s: Rosenberg renounced her terror work 30 years ago, and now she is an officer in the Global division of BLM. It is not clear that she has or had any contact with the BLM co-founders.

33) That Blacks are in fear of harm almost all the time is a false narrative: what about the evidence of the “Talk” videos collected here on Gadfly? Why would a Black artist create the “Target Practice” video?

BLM’s Founding Mothers

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“Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded by radical extremists who use rioting,
looting, vandalism, and violence as tools.”
Individual-1

BLM co-founders

Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi

BLM 8

In March 2020 Cullors, Garza, and Tometi were honored as part of Time’s “100 Women of the Year” project and received their own Time cover.

In the company of the Suffragists, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, Diana Princess of Wales, Toni Morrison, Oprah, Nancy Pelosi . . .

Gadfly could find no substantiation to Individual-1’s claim.

Outrageous, really.

Politifact fact-checks claims about BLM (2)

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“Black Lives Matter or BLM is a criminal group, a domestic terrorist organization.”
Individual-1

“Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.”

selected clips

Sympathizers of Black Lives Matter have warned the movement to do more to discourage violence at its protests. But Black Lives Matter does not fit the federal definition of a terrorist organization, nor does it appear as a terrorist group in an extensive database that tracks terrorism attacks globally.

“Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization nor a terrorist movement, and no responsible source would describe it as such,” David Sterman, an international security senior policy analyst at  the New America think tank, told PolitiFact.

Black Lives Matter, a domestic group, has not been designated as a terrorist organization on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

When reviewing potential targets for designation, the department “looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.”

“None of those criteria are descriptive of Black Lives Matter,” Sterman said.

National security experts have told PolitiFact there is no legal process for designating domestic groups as terrorist organizations.

Black Lives Matter is mentioned in four incidents in the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which includes 200,000 terrorist attacks dating back to 1970, but the group is not listed as a perpetrator group in any incidents in the database.

The fact-checking organization Snopes reported in July on a claim that a “convicted terrorist” has served as a leader of an organization that provides fundraising and fiscal sponsorship for the Black Lives Matter Global Movement. . . . “That’s not to suggest that no one associated with BLM — or any particular movement — never engages in some criminal behavior,” Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism and former deputy legal advisor, both at the National Security Council, told PolitiFact. “But the relevant question is whether the organization itself engages in the type of activity laid out by statute. And, on that, there’s been no evidence provided to indicate as much.”

“Not only are Black Lives Matter activists not terrorists, but fundamentally what we are trying to do is point out the failings in the basic premise of the founding of this country, that there would be liberty and justice for all. We are pulling back the curtains on really despicable deeds.”

Black Lives Matter advocates against state-sanctioned violence against Black people. “We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another,” it says in its online statement of beliefs.

A widely shared Facebook post claimed: “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.”

We didn’t find any evidence of this. Black Lives Matter advocates against police-sanctioned violence against Black people. It does not fit the federal definition of a terrorist organization, nor does it appear as a terrorist group in an extensive database of terrorist attacks.

We rate the statement False.

No, Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization

PolitiFact fact-checks claims about BLM (1)

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“The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else.”
Individual-1

Is Black Lives Matter a Marxist movement?

selected clips

In a recently surfaced 2015 interview, one of the three Black Lives Matter co-founders declared that she and another co-founder “are trained Marxists.”

But the movement has grown and broadened dramatically. Many Americans, few of whom would identify as Marxists, support Black Lives Matter, drawn to its message of anti-racism.

“Regardless of whatever the professed politics of people may be who are prominent in the movement, they don’t represent its breadth,” said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University African American Studies professor and author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”

“There are definitely socialists within the movement, as there have been in every single social movement in 20th century American history and today. But that does not make those socialist movements, it makes them mass movements,” she said.

It’s important to recognize that movements evolve.

Noting Cullors’ declaration of being Marxist trained, “one has to take that seriously: if the leadership says it is Marxist, then there’s a good chance they are,” said Russell Berman, a professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at its conservative Hoover Institution who has written critically about Marxism.

But “this does not mean every supporter is Marxist — Marxists often have used ‘useful idiots.’ And a Marxist movement can be more or less radical, at different points in time,” he said.

Black Lives Matter’s “emphatic support for gender identity politics sets it apart from historical Marxism,” and the goals listed on its website “do not appear to be expressly anti-capitalist, which would arguably be a Marxist identifier,” Berman added.

The group’s support is broad.

Meanwhile, 50% of registered voters support Black Lives Matter as of mid-July, up from 37% in April 2017, according to Civiqs, an online survey research firm.

In July, the New York Times reported that Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in U.S. history, as four polls suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of Floyd and others in recent weeks. (That does not account for similar protests overseas.)

“I am fairly convinced these are mostly attempts to smear anti-racist activists. I think in some media, ‘Marxist’ is dog-whistle for something horrible, like ‘Nazi’, and thus enables to delegitimize/dehumanize them,” Miriyam Aouragh, a lecturer at the London-based Westminster School of Media and Communication, told PolitiFact.

Black Lives Matter “is not an organization, but a fluid movement; it doesn’t actually matter if one of its founders was a liberal, Marxist, socialist or capitalist.”

Nosing around in the BLM web site

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Black Lives Matter

Visit the Black Lives Matter web site.

Gadfly comes to the BLM web site with the strenuous negativity of Individual-1 as his immediate point of reference. Refresh yourself on that negativity here, recognizing that those clips are truncated and do not represent all such points that were in Individual-1’s essay.

Before first going to the web site, Gadfly read a BLM critic who said you will be immediately greeted by an image that shows BLM espousing “revolution.” Thus Gadfly was surprised to be greeted by the operative words “transform” and “transformation.” Not revolution.

Look at the August 25 press release on the death of Jacob Blake. Anything objectionable?

BLM 3

Gadfly sees honor the dead, hold those responsible accountable, press for legislation.

Look at the July 18 press release on the deaths of John Lewis and and Rev. C.T. Vivian.

BLM 4

Gadfly sees no Marxist models here.

Look at what BLM is “demanding”: defunding the police.  please play  short video

BLM 5
“Defund.” Poor choice of word, but I guess we’re stuck with it. Gadfly has written several times earlier that defunding the police may not be your cup o’tea, but it is not a hare-brained idea. And he has surveyed several model programs for you. Why defund? The video says because we tried reforms of the system and we’ve tried new ways of training, and the problem has not gone away. Reasonable. It’s a solution to a problem they see. Some, perhaps many, don’t see a problem that needs to be solved and hence do not understand defunding.

 Look at What We Believe, the BLM creed.

Begins with “We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.”

Ends with “We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

In between find such tenets as

We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.

We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.

We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

BLM believes in changing racial and sexual roles. Join the club, Gadfly might say.

Of the 15 tenets, the one that critics consistently point to as an indication of BLM’s revolutionary Marxism is

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

Look at BLM’s political agenda: #WhatMatters2020. Please see the short video here.

BLM 6

Far from destructively revolutionary, BLM works within the system and encourages voting.

BLM 7

What are you seeing on the BLM web site?

Gadfly interrogating BLM

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Gadfly is still pondering the work of Individual-1 in a 4000-word email/essay that he has called the most vigorous local attack on systemic racism that he has encountered, that completely contradicts Councilman Reynolds’ rationale for the Community Engagement Initiative, and who seems to speak for many of our residents.

Individual-1 titled his essay “Systemic Racism is a Lie.” Councilman Reynolds has said that progress toward the lofty goals of the CEI depends on how many people believe that “systemic racism is real” and are willing to fix the systems that “cause so much damage and pain.”

Game on.

So far you have seen Gadfly interrogate two aspects of Individual-1’s essay: first, what sometimes triggers violence in Black/police confrontations, and, second, the claim that no facts supporting systemic racism were presented at the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting.

Yesterday Gadfly turned toward a major thrust of Individual-1’s argument: the roots of the notion of systemic racism in the Black Lives Matter organization. BLM according to Individual-1 is an anti-American Marxist terrorist organization — “criminal thugs,” “radical extremists,” making “outrageous demands.”

Strong stuff.

And Gadfly, who knows BLM only through often conflicting media reports, admitted yesterday not having a clear picture of the organization.

Thus, time to investigate and interrogate.

Gadfly spent 4-5 hours last night reading around — tip o’ the hat to Michele for providing some resources with which to start — and will need some time this morning to pull his thoughts together.

Please stay tuned.

The Kenosha alarm clock

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In a much more happy mood, for a week or two Gadfly suggested that we start our day with a Lehigh Valley anthem. Somber now, and recognizing that possible changes in Bethlehem policing are on our plate, Gadfly suggests we wake up in a different manner, listening to those seven shots. The president in Kenosha today.

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, 7PM

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Click for public comment instructions!

How’d it get to be September? Time sure flies when you’re having a pandemic.

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, at 7PM.

Lots of fun in store.

Of interest:

  • A hearing on a Police Dept grant application for $41,000. The dept plans to use the money for computer stuff. Interesting in that recently there’s talk of finding money for additional training, but we haven’t been supplied the parameters of the grantor, so we don’t know what uses are allowed.
  • A hearing on a zoning change to permit a grocery store at the much contested Center and Dewberry corner — Mr. Atiyeh’s latest proposal for that site. The Planning Commission has recommended denying the change.
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  • Councilman Callahan will move to bring his proposed wage equality ordinance out of committee, where it has stalled. Quite a history here.
  • We hope to hear more about response to the Public Safety meeting, Community Engagement Initiative, etc.

But there’s always the unexpected.

As long as he has flutter in his wings, Gadfly urges “attending” City Council.

Be informed. Be involved.

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The meeting documents are located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/67

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 18, 2020 Meeting, please sign up per the instructions below or call into the meeting when the Council President announces he will take public comment calls.

If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on September 1, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments.

If you are signed up to speak, the City Council President will call you from (610) 997-7963.

After all signed-up speakers talk, the Council President will ask whether anyone else would like to make public comments. If you want to speak at that time, call the Bethlehem City Council public comment phone line at (610) 997-7963.

NOTES. Calls to the public comment phone number will only be accepted during the designated public comment period with a 5 minute time limit. If you call and the line is busy, please call back when the current speaker is finished. As soon as your call begins, please turn off all speakers, computer speakers, televisions, or radios. At the start of your call, please state your name and address. A five minute time limit will apply to any public comments.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

How should Gadfly feel about the Black Lives Matter organization?

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Individual-1’s argument against the reality of systemic racism is largely based in his claim that the notion of systemic racism originates with the Black Lives Matter organization, which he claims is a severely tainted organization.

Can anyone better versed in these matters discuss the kinds of arguments he makes about BLM in such points listed below?

Gadfly feels very comfortable with the idea that black lives matter, but he is not sure what to make of the claims about the nature and roots and goals of the organization.

Does anybody else feel such a conflict?

Is Individual-1 right here? Or partially right?

Would anyone take a crack at that?

Or recommend something to read?

Gadfly just doesn’t know enough about the BLM organization itself to comment on these arguments and statements. And he would like to know more.

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4) “The racism today is coming from politicians on the left and terrorist groups such as BLM and Antifa.”

11) “Police officers are being wrongly portrayed in the media based on the lies of certain politicians and radical terrorist groups like BLM.

22) “The ‘systemic racism’ narrative is a complete lie and that BLM is nothing but a bunch of criminal thugs doing more harm to the black community than good.”

25) “Black Lives Matter or BLM is a criminal group, a domestic terrorist organization.

26) “Any support to BLM is an invitation for chaos and destruction to come to your area. . . . Get ready, because there is one restaurant business in town inviting BLM to come to Bethlehem and they should be condemned for doing so.”

27) “The entire BLM narrative is based on lies and has a long history of violence.

31) “The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else. One BLM leader said in July 2020 that if demands are not met, ‘then we will burn down this system.’ BLM has also openly advocated for the killing of police officers (we all heard pigs in a blanket, what do we want, dead cops). . . . Do any of you have children who are in law enforcement who may be a pig in a blanket someday, killed just because of a bunch of lies?”

32) “Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded by radical extremists who use rioting, looting, vandalism, and violence as tools.

33) “The false narrative politicians and BLM want you to believe is that there are innocent people of color continuously being harassed and murdered by the police ‘every day.’

Some examples of systemic racism

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Gadfly has lived all his working life in a world of words.

Recently new words relevant to our in-process national reckoning with race have entered his world.

defunding the police

systemic racism

Like many new words and maybe like many of you, Gadfly has not always felt comfortable with these new words.

You’ve seen Gadfly whine on these pages two or three times about the way Chair Colon missed the opportunity to alleviate some confusion and give “defunding the police” a precise definition at the top of the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting.

Gadfly’s sense is that “systemic racism” lives also in a state of imprecision.

Gadfly had been looking for a succinct list of examples of what people mean when they use the term “systemic racism,” and he tips his hat to Greg Zahm for the following link.

7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Ben and Jerry (Ha! Gadfly loves it!) say systemic racism is “less about violence or burning crosses than it is about everyday decisions made by people who may not even think of themselves as racist. As sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has said, “The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits.”

See if the short discussions of wealth, employment, education, criminal justice, housing, surveillance, and healthcare will help give you a more concrete idea of what people mean when they say systemic racism and see it as a problem.

The reality of “systemic racism” is certainly controversial, certainly questioned, so Gadfly will try to give you a pro and con reference in his next post to further help our understanding of both positions.

Gadfly tries to look at the facts

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Gadfly would like to return to the work of Individual-1 he wrote about yesterday.

Gadfly has called it the most vigorous local attack on systemic racism that he has encountered, and the word reaching his ears shows that Individual-1 may speak for many of our residents.

Since Individual-1’s position is completely contrary to the one about systemic racism that Councilman Reynolds articulated for the Community Engagement Initiative, we must look carefully at it.

Gadfly hopes not to put words in Councilman Reynolds’ mouth, but if there is no systemic racism, there is no need for a Community Engagement Initiative.

Gadfly moves carefully here. He knows 9 uses of the comma, but statistics are definitely not his forte.

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, understands systemic racism to mean that we have structures that produce racially skewed outcomes, that produce statistically skewed outcomes in the area of race.

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, understands systemic racism to not mean that everyone operating the structure or system is racist.

Individual-1 titled his essay (it is really too long and carefully crafted to be called simply an email) “Get The Facts – Systemic Racism Is A Lie,” and Gadfly would like to focus attention here on these specific points:

1) “Statistics do not support the ‘systemic racism’ narrative in policing.”

2) “The systemic racism issue is being created in communities where there currently is not one, a tactic used by many politicians, certain media, and domestic terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) or Antifa.”

3) “There was not one single incident of fact provided at the meeting or in the article to support any claims of systemic racism.”

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, ventures to say that the statistics provided by the Bethlehem Police Department themselves at the August 11 Public Safety meeting show evidence of systemic racism according to the above definition.

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For instance, in 2019 there were according to the Bethlehem Police Department statistics 143 cases of use of force.

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Use of force involving Blacks, who are 7% of the Bethlehem population, made up 31.5% of the cases.

Use of force involving whites, 58.2% of our population, made up 40.5% of the cases, while POC, who make up 38.4% of the population, made up 59.4% of the cases.

There is significant statistical disparity here.

Here’s how Lehigh’s Prof Holono Ochs charted the statistics showing the disparity over a decade.

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Gadfly thinks this is evidence of systemic racism, but he waits for better instruction and is always grateful for it.

Good conversation builds community.