The Black Politico

Orlando politics and more -- from a black perspective
Geraldine Thompson takes an odd, sloppy swing at Chief Val Demings

Geraldine Thompson takes an odd, sloppy swing at Chief Val Demings

Geraldine Thompson made a statement about District 10 Candidate Chief Val Demings regarding an excessive force case that happened while Demings was in office over six years ago.

Thompson said she was working with the NAACP on legislation that would require FDLE to investigate uses of police force that results in death or serious bodily harm and then cited a case where a man involved in an altercation with the Orlando police was injured and settled his case.

She then added that incident was on Demings watch. The story started to unfold and the Black Lives Matter movement was thrown in the mix in what appeared to be a sloppy attempt to confuse black voters. But, the man in the case Thompson mentioned is an 84-year old white man.

The case is old and it’s over. Yet, currently we are witness to a sitting police chief that has excused excessive force against black people right here in Orlando.

However, Thompson didn’t call that out. She called-out a former black, female police chief that actually has a stellar record. Being afraid to question and if need be, attack (not physically, of course) the source of the current problem is something our leaders must be able to do effectively. When there are 23 inexcusable, excessive force cases under the current leadership now and a candidate takes a shot at someone who previously led that force instead of the current leader is frankly a cowardly move.

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King this month, we should all take a good look at our strategies against our own people, especially those looking to lead our communities. Not only that, we should take a good look at how we treat each other and that includes what we say to each other and how we say it. During the Democratic debate last Sunday, Bernie Sanders refused to bring into question the past indiscretions of Hillary Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton.

Sanders almost emotionally embraced and protected her from the firestorm that is already brewing to use the former President’s affair(s) as a public relations target in an effort to shy people away from voting for her. Sanders’ move was not only classy but it was right. It was also the ethical thing to do. Most of all, he stayed on the issues that Americans want to discuss.
Frankly speaking, here we have two white people, Clinton and Sanders, who refuse to personally destroy each other on the campaign trail. Is it too much to ask for our local candidate to do the same? In the District 10 race, the move made by Thompson was an oddly desperate move to destroy the character of Demings amongst voters in the black community after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Demings. What else could it be?

Oddly, the only current thing she linked it to was the Black Lives Matter movement yet the injured man was again, an 84-year old white man. Thompson’s move certainly doesn’t describe the character of Demings. Sure, it wasn’t an affair like Clinton, but the issue surrounding it was simple mudslinging. If this excessive force case meant that much to Thompson then why not lead the charge against the multi-excessive force cases against OPD right now by being just as vocal about these 23 excessive force cases as she is about this one that settled years ago?

The real reason is because she is not running against Chief Mina or any officers. She’s running against Congressional Candidate for District 10, Val Demings. Why is all this important to you and me? It’s important because it shows the character of Thompson. This is not a fight for the people, it’s her own personal fight for the congressional seat, otherwise, her sights would be set on the faulty agenda that holds Central Floridians back; especially black Central Floridians.

This kind of campaigning is what we all should think about when we go to the polls. And, let me be clear. I am not directly defending Chief Demings. I am directly defending YOU.

Those who are in the district need to hear the issues surrounding what will help them, not be witness to a mudslinging contest. It’s understood that no campaign is going to be nice, warm and fuzzy. We get that. However, attack the opposition on the issues because that’s what matters to us.

I don’t know about you but I couldn’t care any less about a settled case that happened years ago. I want to move forward and I would like to know how each person stands on the issues that matter to me and you and our families. Both candidates are running for U.S. Congress and the election will be held on August 30, 2016.

Orlando’s mayoral race heats up

Orlando’s mayoral race heats up

There are three candidates running for the title of Mayor of the City of Orlando and some voters are watching this race closely. To many black people living in the inner city, this race is personal. A mini-focus group consisting of members of the Haitian, African American and Hispanic communities talked about the five top things that matters most to them and there is enough evidence to show that the swing vote, may not swing in the direction of Orlando’s current Mayor, Buddy Dyer.

One woman in our focus group made it fairly clear that Dyer is certainly no buddy to black people in Central Florida. During the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board interview, candidate Sunshine Grund said she feels as though her voice and the voice of other Central Floridians is not being heard. She said she is also running to help save the 100+ acres of wetlands that are set to be destroyed and to provide a voice to the people of Orlando.
Paul Paulson, said he is running because we have had a 17.7% tax hike this year which we can’t afford. Paulson continues, “the hardworking people of Orlando deserve much better.”
Paulson also said, “We can’t give Mr. Dyer a blank checkbook to write checks every time and spend our money.”

The top 5 issues our diverse group said mattered most are as follows:

1. Housing – Residents in highly populated black and hispanic communities say housing is deplorable and gentrification is not only in the near future but is happening now. Owners of black businesses along Church Street were upset because they were shut out of the All-Star Game years ago under the leadership of the current city mayor, Buddy Dyer.

2. The Orlando Police Department – OPD has a record of 23 reports of excessive force under the current police chief and nothing has been done about it outside of a press conference or two. Sheriff Jerry Demings’ office was awarded a grant for body cameras for all of his officers. Keep in mind Demings’ office is not receiving reports of excessive force but the Orlando Police Department, under the supervision of Chief Mina, is responsible for all 23 excessive reports. One officer was even caught on camera kicking a man while he was sitting on the curb adhering to the officer’s requests. This assault happened while another OPD officer watched.

3. Tinker FieldHistoric Tinker Field housed the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and other baseball teams. Legends played on this field and it is also the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke before many Central Floridians in 1964. Now, Tinker Field is expected to be demolished. Although, Tinker Field is nationally recognized as a historic place within the United States, some feel that is not enough. Properly paying tribute to the historic significance of Tinker Field is unsatisfactory to many people of color who live nearby.

4. Affordable housing – For blacks looking to build businesses and thrive in the downtown area, affordable housing and rent for a business is almost impossible. City View on Church Street was initially slated to be “affordable” however the apartments alone are more than $1700 per month. While Johnson’s Diner was able to receive financial assistance to move their business from their old location to Church Street, they were still unable to make the rent and pay all of their expenses. Mathematically, the traffic around City View just isn’t quite significant enough to warrant a successful business with the overhead being so expensive.

5. Excessive pollution in the black community – Nap Ford community center sits on polluted soil. According to some community leaders, no one cares about black children and their health especially when the pollution cleanup comes with a hefty price tag. The way the situation was rectified is unacceptable to some community activists. There was a lining put underneath the school to separate the soil from the building and unfortunately, primarily black and hispanic children are still being educated on those grounds.

Residents also said they feel left out of the planning process. When it comes to the issues that plague the black community in Orlando, there is either a meeting for black community leaders or no meeting at all for issues that matter most to the community however, some black leaders want to sit at the same table with everyone and are not willing to continue to only sit alongside the same people they have sat alongside for years. As a community, if we continue to do what we’ve always done we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten. People of color can make no progress if we are not communicating with all who can help move the community forward, regardless of race.

Dyer certainly has more name recognition in this election than any of the others running against him but will that mean he will re-elected on November 3rd?

This election is about more than selecting a mayor. To many black people, it is about changing the conditions in which they live. The number of registered African American voters is significantly higher than in past years and in about four weeks, we will see whether or not the black community is ready to move forward with a new mayor.

Photo courtesy O. Levard Photography

While America lie sleeping

Photo courtesy O. Levard Photography

Race in America

By Rhetta Peoples

Being black in Orlando, is a little like being black in Charleston, Ferguson and Baltimore.

In the wake of Ferguson and the decision of the Grand Jury, my 11-year old, culturally awake daughter turns to me and says, “Why is America turning on itself?” “That is a great question, Nile”, as I answered uncertain and still baffled at the attempt of black America to simply get an indictment so the evidence may come out in a court of law in a country that claim we are equal. Now, she struggles to understand the massacre in South Carolina.

Compared to my childhood, Nile lives a privileged life. She has a nice home, a great school, two parents under one roof and has never missed a meal. Her clothes fit and she is up to date on everything including the tiny metal rods that are shaping her little teeth to enhance her already beautiful smile. She believes she is equal to her best friends and her classmates. Reality is, she is not.

America has indeed turned on itself and while the eyes of many white Americans look toward impeaching the first black President, degrading the First Family and pardoning the gunning down of black people on the street, Muslim extremist catch America doing what they believe we do best.

“Sleeping.” Not actually sleeping, but “sleeping” on what the true disease is that is plaguing us.
Our guard is up, yet it is against ourselves. Like an autoimmune disorder, our “white blood cells” are rushing to form a scab on a wound that isn’t really there. We are determined to beat the crazy out of each other while our troops stand alone against a war we are beckoning to lose. A nation divided is what we are. A nation divided is what we will continue to be should our people continue to be murdered in bloody gutters along the street corners of Anytown, USA while we continue to hate the day lights out of each other.

Any nation weakened is a nation that can be easily conquered. We, black folks and supporters of the cause will not give up nor will we give in which will force the hand of hate mongers and bearers of fear to face justice in America with equilibrium. Those who support the black murders and the injustice that trails it, yet claim to love America must change the way they see their brethren. If not, the nation is easily left open.
What Nile said to me was clear. We, Americans, are so busy infighting that we are forgetting all about the enemy.

If America ever wants to keep herself free, a stroke of brilliance would equal supporting each other whether we love, like or despise the color or social status of one another. There is a reason why some other countries hate free countries. Yet, those who pound their chests and claim, “freedom ain’t free” refuse to allow black people to be free in the very same land in which we fought and died.

While I channel surfed on the nights of the announcement that there would be no indictment for both murders, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, I listened to a Fox News commentator talk very specifically about why the officers should not have been indicted. It was sickening. They extrapolated every ounce of how these lame cops murdered these two men justifiably.

Now, we listen to the faithful express their sorrow and grief for those so close to them that were gunned down in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. On the other hand, we listed to former politicians and commentators make claims that say Dylann Roof’s massacre that left 9 black people dead, was not racially motivated, therefore not a hate crime. They blame it on insanity (well we know that) and talk about how he misused drugs and that is what caused this massacre. Yet, Roof himself admitted to it being racially motivated, drove 110 miles to a historically black church and pretended to be amongst the faithful in order to murder them. And, with open arms, just as Christ would want it, they welcomed him.

With the controversy in Orlando over an Orlando Police officer kicking a black man who had his hands up on the sidewalk, until he was flat on his back concerns me. More importantly, the disposition and the initial remarks supporting those officers by Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer and the current Orlando Chief of Police, John W. Mina as they initially refused to suspend them pending an investigation tells the vast majority of our community that we are just like Charleston. The rebel flag flies over government buildings while waving just as strong as the American flag. As I watched Charleston’s lowered flags, in respect for the 9 dead black Americans, I watched the rebel flag wave just as high as it could go on the flagpole only feet away from the American and State Flag. That spoke volumes as it was not an oversight. It clearly displayed the local government were afraid to lower that ugly flag and freak out the rebels while symbolically and firmly floating another confederate win in 2015.

And, we Americans, lie sleeping. Channel surfing in bed while the rest of the world watches and sees every Iota of our weakness. Isis recruits after such heinous acts of violence and debatably grows stronger at every weak point in our DNA. All the while, the real enemy looks nothing like the two groups of people fighting against each other. Keep sleeping America and one day the realization of who the enemy is may help you understand, that in order to survive and become unified, we must respect each other far more than we are doing right now.