Cities Nationwide Refuse To Cooperate With ICE’s Mass Deportation Raids

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Officials in major cities are taking a stand against President Trump’s threats for mass deportation in order to protect their immigrant residents.

Mayors, city officials and police departments from across the country are refusing to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after seeing reports that the agency will launch sweeping deportation raids in at least 10 major cities over the weekend.

The raids, expected on Sunday, are targeting up to 2,000 migrant families who’ve received deportation orders, the Washington Post and Miami Herald reported on Friday. 

ICE agents are expected carry out the deportations in cities with large immigrant communities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.

Mayors in cities that have asserted its status as so-called “sanctuary cities,” such as San Francisco, criticized the reported deportation plans and reached out to their immigrant residents offering support.

In a statement Friday night, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she directed the Chicago Police Department to not cooperate with ICE or their enforcement efforts.

She also ordered Chicago police to cut off any access ICE has to the parts of the city’s police database that contain information on immigration enforcement activities. Lightfoot said she has “personally spoken to ICE leadership” to voice her objections to the raids.

“We are all aware of the threat from President Trump regarding raids by ICE, and in response, Chicago has taken concrete steps to support our immigrant communities,” she said.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Friday night reiterated her city’s status as a so-called sanctuary city, where police and city officials vow to refuse to work with federal officials to detain and deport immigrants. 

“It is unconscionable that the Federal administration is targeting innocent immigrant families with secret raids that are designed to inflict as much fear and pain as possible,” Breed said in a statement. “Here in San Francisco, we will always demonstrate our values of diversity and inclusiveness by being a sanctuary city that stands up for all our residents and neighbors.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city would provide support the city’s immigrant community and warned immigrants of their rights.

In a separate statement, the Los Angeles Police Department said it would not be participating or enforcing ICE’s deportation efforts. The department did note that immigration violations are a matter of federal law and would only be handled by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned residents of the raids and provided a link to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative where immigrants can find resources for pro bono legal representation.

New York’s Immigrant Affairs office, which operates under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, also alerted the city’s residents of ICE’s sweeps and shared information on immigrant rights during raids.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said that the city did not receive any notice of the upcoming raids, adding that the city would not support “family separation or the round-up of immigrant families to spread fear in our community.”

The Denver Police Department told the Denver Post that they do not typically assist with any ICE operations. However, the Denver police would assist in cases of emergency.

Hancock suggested that the city would “do whatever we can to prevent the inhumane practice of family separation.”

“Threats from this [White House]. which are only a distraction from its failures, won’t weaken our resolve,” he tweeted.

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young told CBS Baltimore that he was “deeply disturbed” by the ICE reports and said the city needed to preserve the relationship residents have with its local law enforcement officers.

“I am proud that Baltimore is committed to upholding the American values of respecting the rights and dignity of every resident,” Young told the news station. “Regardless of the position of the federal government, we will continue to stand by our decision to be an inclusive, fair and welcoming city.”

While Washington D.C. was not included in reports of deportation sweeps, the district’s Mayor Muriel Bowser denounced Trump and called the sweeps “cruel.”

Cory Booker Unveils Plan To Free Thousands Of Federal Prisoners

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The 2020 presidential candidate's Restoring Justice Initiative would aim to free federal prisoners “serving unjust and excessive sentences."

Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) presidential campaign on Thursday unveiled a plan that would grant clemency and early release to thousands of federal drug offenders “serving unjust and excessive sentences.”

Under the plan, Booker would “initiate” the clemency process for roughly 17,000 federal prisoners on his first day in office and set up a bipartisan panel that would “operate with a presumption of a recommendation of clemency,” though screen out certain individuals who may “pose a threat to public safety” based on the details of their cases or their prison history.

Booker’s plan, the Restoring Justice Initiative, focuses on three categories of prisoners: those serving primarily for marijuana charges; those who would have had shorter sentences if they were sentenced after the passage of the First Step Act, a law signed by President Donald Trump that offers some limited prison reforms and gives federal prisoners a chance to earn more days off for good behavior each year; and those who have longer sentences due to the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

“The War on Drugs has been a war on people, tearing families apart, ruining lives, and disproportionately affecting people of color and low-income individuals — all without making us safer,” Booker said in a statement. “As president, I will act immediately to right these wrongs, starting by initiating a clemency process for thousands of nonviolent drug offenders who have been handed unjust sentences by their government.”

President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of more than 1,700 federal prisoners over the course of his presidency. But Obama’s clemency initiative, which worked through the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, faced some bureaucratic hurdles that blunted its impact. Booker’s plan includes the formation of an executive clemency panel, which is intended to “revamp and streamline the clemency process.” That panel, set up by the Office of the White House Counsel, would largely remove DOJ’s Office of the Pardon Attorney from the process.

The Restorative Justice Initiative is the latest of Booker’s criminal justice reform policies. Last year, he sponsored the First Step Act, which passed the Senate in 2018 on a vote of 87-12. In March, Booker introduced the Next Step Act, which tackles police violence and racial profiling, reintegration for former prisoners and sentencing disparities.

For Booker, one of three black senators, the issue of criminal justice reform is personal. In an interview with BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee last fall, Booker talked about his own experience being racially profiled while he was a student at Stanford University.

“I remember at Stanford just being pulled over surrounded by numerous cops all around my car, screaming at me,” he said.

“And then after it was all over, sitting there sort of holding my steering wheel, shaking, worrying that I was going to get … God knows what — anywhere from arrested to shot,” he added. “I remember taking my hand off the steering wheel once to scratch my head, or something like that, and just getting screamed at.”

Trump has used clemency in a much more limited capacity than his predecessor, often using the power when celebrities lobby him to do so or based on segments he has seen on Fox News. His pardons have also circumvented the traditional process through the Justice Department. 



Black US Soldiers Fighting on D-Day, Racism Back Home

World War II veteran Johnnie Jones, Sr. poses for a portrait at his home in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, May 28, 2019. He remembers wading ashore and one incident when he and his fellow soldiers came under fire from a German sniper. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

D-Day was the largest invasion the world has ever seen. Tens of thousands of Allied troops spread out across the air and sea along northern France. Their goal was to gain control of Normandy for the final military campaign against Nazi Germany.

Books and films about D-Day often show an all-white group of soldiers arriving in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Among them, about 2,000 African Americans are believed to have landed at the time.

The African Americans served in a United States military that separated people by race. But on Normandy, everyone faced the same dangers.

The only African American force in battle that day was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion. Its job was to set up explosive-rigged balloons to prevent German airplanes from attacking the Allies.

Waverly Woodson, Junior, was a medical worker with the battalion. Before his death in 2005, he told The Associated Press in 1994 about how his landing ship hit a mine on the way to Omaha Beach.

“The tide brought us in, and that’s when the 88s hit us,” he said of the German 88 millimeter guns. “They were murder. Of our 26 Navy personnel there was only one left. They raked the whole top of the ship and killed all the crew. Then they started with the mortar shells.”

Woodson himself was wounded, but he spent 30 hours on the Normandy coast helping other wounded men before eventually collapsing. A U.S. senator is now leading an effort to award the Medal of Honor to Woodson for his actions on D-Day. However, a 1973 fire destroyed the military personnel records needed to document the actions.

Another member of the African-American unit, William Dabney, told The AP in 2009, “The firing was furious on the beach. I was picking up dead bodies and I was looking at the mines blowing up soldiers. ... I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not.” Dabney died in 2018.

Enthusiasts of England salute in front of The Brave, a monument dedicated to the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Normandy.
Enthusiasts of England salute in front of The Brave, a monument dedicated to the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Normandy.

Linda Hervieux wrote about the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion in her book “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War.”

Hervieux said the U.S. military resisted efforts to end racial separation policies as it prepared for World War II. The military kept separate units and separate areas for black and white troops.

“This was a very expensive and inefficient way to run an army. The Army ... could have ordered its men to integrate and to treat black soldiers as fully equal partners in this war. The Army declined to do so,” she said.

By the end of the war, more than a million African Americans served in the military. They included the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the 761st Tank Battalion. Black troops, however, were often put in support units responsible for transporting supplies. That did not mean they were safe from danger.

Johnnie Jones joined the military in 1943 out of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was in a unit responsible for unloading equipment and supplies onto Normandy. Now 99 years old, Jones remembers coming under German fire and returning fire alongside other soldiers during the landing.

After the end of the war in Europe, many African American troops were met with discrimination when they returned home. Jones remembers having to move to the back of a bus as it crossed the Mason-Dixon line. The line represented the border between the free states in the North from the slave-owning states in the South before the Civil War.

“I couldn’t sit with the soldiers I had been on the battlefield with. I had to go to the back of the bus,” said Jones, who went on to become a lawyer and civil rights activist. “Those are the things that come back and haunt you.”



Pastor Casts Doubt On White House Claim That Trump Wanted To Pray For Shooting Victims

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The Virginia pastor wrote that the White House called just before the president’s arrival and asked him to pray for Trump as part of “Pray for President Trump Day.”

A pastor’s explanation of President Donald Trump’s sudden visit to his church on Franklin Graham’s “Pray for Donald Trump Day” is casting doubt on the White House’s widely publicized claim that he went there to pray for Friday’s shooting victims in Virginia Beach.

David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church, a few miles from Trump’s golf course in Northern Virginia, wrote in a statement that the first he heard about Trump’s visit was after he finished a sermon early Sunday afternoon.

“I was immediately called backstage and told that the president of the United States was on his way to the church, would be there in a matter of minutes, and would like for us to pray for him,” Platt wrote.

Hours earlier, he had referenced Graham’s “Prayer for Donald Trump Day,” which the son of the famed evangelist had decreed would be that Sunday. “Many of you may have seen that there were calls to, particularly on this Sunday, pray for our president,” Platt told his congregation as Trump stood beside him.

The White House, though, had given a different reason for the visit. Just as Trump was walking into the church, the press office sent out a statement claiming that he was there “to visit with the pastor and pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach.”

That statement was picked up by hundreds of media outlets around the country and the world, some of whom used it in follow-up coverage to Friday’s massacre that left 12 dead and several others hospitalized in critical condition.

Yet, during the entirety of Trump’s 16-minute stay, Platt did not mention the shooting, and Trump never spoke ― about the shooting or anything else ― beyond thanking Platt afterward.

Instead, the president stood on stage, wearing a dark blazer, blue golf shirt, khakis and golf cleats, as Platt prayed for him. In one hand he clutched a white golf hat, thus revealing slicked hair that clung to his head ― a change from the elaborate coiffure that Trump normally sports in public.

Platt wrote that he posted his letter to the church’s website late Sunday because some in the congregation had been “hurt” by his decision to allow Trump an audience. Nowhere in the 850-word missive is there a mention of Virginia Beach at all.

“My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president and other leaders,” Platt wrote.

Platt informed HuffPost that he is not doing media interviews about the episode.

“He had time to process what had happened, and I think he realized that he was completely played by this president,” said Kendal Unruh, a Colorado Christian school teacher and former Republican activist who led the unsuccessful effort at the 2016 convention to dump Trump as the party’s nominee.

Of Trump, she said: “He wasn’t going there to pray for the victims. That wasn’t his purpose for going. It’s a staged photo-op. That’s all it is.”

HuffPost has for three days been asking the White House about the origins of its claim that Trump had gone to a church near his golf course to pray for victims of a shooting that had happened 230 miles away in the southeast corner of Virginia. Press officers, however, refused to elaborate and instead referred back to the original statement.

A timeline of the day based on White House pool reports and Platt’s statement, in fact, suggests an ad hoc visit thrown together at the last minute, resulting in a perspiring commander in chief attending church in his golf duds and cleats:

8:58 a.m.: Trump’s motorcade leaves the White House. The pool did not see Trump but noticed staff members wearing golf attire.

9:35 a.m.: Trump’s motorcade arrives at Trump’s golf course in Sterling, Virginia.

1 p.m.: Platt receives word that Trump wants to visit and have Platt pray for him. Platt honors the request.

1:59 p.m.: Trump’s motorcade leaves the golf course.

2:20 p.m.: The motorcade arrives at McLean Bible Church in Tysons.

2:36 p.m.: Trump leaves the church.

“It’s hard to say you were there to pray for the shooting victims when nothing about the shooting victims was mentioned,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican political consultant who in the 2016 presidential primaries worked for the candidate who worked the hardest to win over the evangelical Christian vote, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “It would probably help if you’re praying for someone, you should mention them. Maybe that’s just me.”

But though the Virginia Beach shootings may not have been on the agenda, Graham’s “Pray for Donald Trump Day” clearly was.

The previous Sunday, May 26, Graham, a strong Trump supporter, had asked fellow preachers and all Christians to pray for Trump. “I and many other Christian leaders across the country are asking you to take a moment during that day to pray for President Donald Trump,” Graham said in a video. “I don’t believe any president in the history of this nation has been attacked more than Donald Trump.”

Trump acknowledged Graham’s decree on Saturday evening: “We will all stick together and WIN! Thank you Franklin.”

Graham, who now runs the ministry founded by his father, the Rev. Billy Graham, was not available for comment, according to a spokesman.

Unruh said the day’s timeline makes it obvious that Trump or his aides remembered only after he was already at the golf course that it was Trump’s special prayer day and then scrambled to find someplace that would pray for him.

She said she thought Platt’s prayer was inspired. He asked for God to give Trump wisdom for the sake of the country: “Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Please, oh God, give him wisdom.”

“It was a great prayer,” Unruh said. “I’m glad he prayed for him.”

She added, though, that the reaction she has been hearing from evangelicals who like Trump has been quite different. “Trump supporters are mad that the pastor did not pray for Trump to be reelected and to smite his enemies, the ‘libs,’” Unruh said. “They must think that’s what Jesus wrote in the sand: ‘Own the libs.’”

White evangelical Christians are the only major demographic group backing Trump. According to recent Pew polls, Trump has the approval of just 37% of Americans overall but 69% of white evangelical Christians.

Many have justified that support for Trump ― who was famously caught on tape bragging that his celebrity allowed him to grab women by the genitals and who has been sued thousands of times for failing to honor his signed contracts with craftsmen and suppliers ― by arguing that their God in biblical times used flawed or even immoral leaders to advance his aims.

Tyler, who said he was stunned to see so many self-proclaimed evangelicals support Trump over Cruz, still cannot explain it.

“They’ve been sold the lie that Trump is good for the pro-life movement and that he will stand up against the war on Christianity,” he said. “That’s how we lost the South. The evangelicals did go for Trump. No question about it.”



“America experienced one of its darkest moments,” Sen. James Lankford addresses anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

It’s been 98 years since one of the worst race massacres on United States soil occurred.

The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community thriving with hundreds of businesses.

On June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a result of a riot that began after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.

White residents attacked the community, killing hundreds of black residents and injuring 800 others.

“That night, all night long, May the thirty-first into June the first, America experienced one of its darkest moments. Twelve hundred homes were destroyed that night in Greenwood. Nine thousand people were left homeless. Six thousand African Americans were rounded up by the police in Tulsa and jailed ‘for their protection.’ But they were the ones that were held,” U.S. Sen. James Lankford said.

It occurred during the ‘Red Summer of 1919,’ a time that marked hundreds of deaths during race riots across the country.

Despite it being one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States, the massacre was mostly swept under the rug.

In honor of the 98th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Lankford is speaking about the massacre and the aftermath.

“Two years from now, the entire country will probably pause for 24 hours and will look at Tulsa and will ask a simple question: ‘what has changed in a hundred years?’ It’s a fair question. I think Tulsa will stand up and say: not just ‘let me show you the structures that have changed but will show you the heart that has changed.’ Because Tulsa is a very different community now. We still have a ways to go, as do the rest of the state,” he said.

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As the 100th-anniversary approaches, community leaders have pushed for justice for the dead. Recently, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed using $100,000 from the city’s budget to search for the mass graves of the victims.

Bynum says crews will search Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens for possible mass graves.

“If we can identify a place where there are bodies, we have a responsibility to look into that,” Mayor G.T. Bynum told KJRH.



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