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Gotham Gazette

Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics. Gotham Gazette is a pioneering nonpartisan online watchdog publication covering New York city and state elections, politics, and government.

Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and has a rich tradition of reporting on policy that affects everything from the spaces where New Yorkers live and play to education, the environment, government transparency, police tactics and civil rights. Gotham Gazette also publishes The Eye-Opener, a daily morning e-newsletter round-up of top stories, sign up for the Eye-Opener and other alerts at GothamGazette.com.

Operating as usual

New York State and City weathered the worst of the financial devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to billi...
11/22/2022
Many Variables, Significant Uncertainty in Latest Fiscal Updates for New York State, City, and MTA

New York State and City weathered the worst of the financial devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to billions in federal aid and a good bit of fortune in revenues from Wall Street and personal income taxes.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "According to Advocates for Children of New York, over 104,000 children were homeless during the 2021-2022 scho...
11/21/2022
Homeless Children in New York City Need More Help to Recover from Trauma

Opinion: "According to Advocates for Children of New York, over 104,000 children were homeless during the 2021-2022 school year. For the seventh year in a row, 10% of kids are experiencing homelessness in New York City." by Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of Urban Resource Institute

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: L. Joy Williams, a Democratic strategist, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, and host of Sunday Civics, joined the...
11/18/2022
Max Politics Podcast: After a Disappointing Election, What's Next for New York Democrats

LISTEN: L. Joy Williams, a Democratic strategist, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, and host of Sunday Civics, joined the show to break down the 2022 election results and discuss what's next for the New York State Democratic Party and Brooklyn Democratic Party, Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: Republican Joe Borelli, City Council minority leader and a major booster of Lee Zeldin for Governor, joined the ...
11/18/2022
Max Politics Podcast: Joe Borelli on New York Republicans' Strong 2022 Election and What Comes Next

LISTEN: Republican Joe Borelli, City Council minority leader and a major booster of Lee Zeldin for Governor, joined the show to discuss the New York GOP's strong showing in the 2022 elections — how it happened, what it means, and what comes next.

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

New York State overpaid more than $194 million in Medicaid payments during the pandemic after state officials failed to ...
11/17/2022
New York Overpaid $194 Million for Medicaid During the Pandemic, Comptroller Audit Finds

New York State overpaid more than $194 million in Medicaid payments during the pandemic after state officials failed to move eligible recipients to a cheaper funding plan, according to the Office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "The Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD), New York City’s attempt to reform the ...
11/17/2022
A Crucial Moment for New York City’s Mental Health Crisis Response Program

Opinion: "The Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD), New York City’s attempt to reform the way 911 responds to mental health emergencies, has been operating in select neighborhoods for more than a year. And trends are heading in the wrong direction." by Evelyn Graham Nyaasi, Advocacy Specialist at Community Access

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Democrats in New York are stinging from a rough 2022 election showing in which they lost several congressional seats to ...
11/16/2022
There's a Lot of Finger-Pointing Around New York Redistricting; What Actually Happened?

Democrats in New York are stinging from a rough 2022 election showing in which they lost several congressional seats to Republicans, potentially costing the party control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "It wasn't a great contract, but it appeared to be a fair one. Depending on who you asked, it was above or clos...
11/15/2022
Who’s To Blame for Our NYC Teacher Health Care Debacle?

Opinion: "It wasn't a great contract, but it appeared to be a fair one. Depending on who you asked, it was above or close to cost of living, and there were no horrendous givebacks. At least that’s what we were told." by Arthur Goldstein, ESL teacher at Francis Lewis High School, and a former UFT executive committee member

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Governor Kathy Hochul won election in a low turnout race thanks to progressive activists, elected officials, a...
11/15/2022
Victorious, Now Governor Hochul Needs to Lead on Climate

Opinion: "Governor Kathy Hochul won election in a low turnout race thanks to progressive activists, elected officials, and organizations who showed up to get out the vote. Now it’s time for her to deliver on her campaign’s climate promises and pass the Climate, Jobs and Justice legislative package." by Liat Olenick, an activist and teacher in Brooklyn

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: Chris Walsh, campaign manager for Pat Ryan's two Hudson Valley congressional wins  joined the show to discuss ho...
11/14/2022
Max Politics Podcast: A Winning Formula for Democrats in Tough New York Races

LISTEN: Chris Walsh, campaign manager for Pat Ryan's two Hudson Valley congressional wins joined the show to discuss how campaigns work, how to win tough races, Democratic messaging, the specifics of Ryan's wins, and more

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Governor Kathy Hochul made history last week, becoming the first woman to be elected governor of New York. Hochul, a Dem...
11/14/2022
A Full Term in Hand, What's Governor Hochul's Agenda?

Governor Kathy Hochul made history last week, becoming the first woman to be elected governor of New York. Hochul, a Democrat who took over in August 2021 after Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace, will now serve a full four-year term

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "This past week New Yorkers went to the polls and voted for justice. With passage of the $4.2 billion Environme...
11/14/2022
With the Environmental Bond Act’s Passage, Let’s Ensure the Green Transition Creates Good Jobs

Opinion: "This past week New Yorkers went to the polls and voted for justice. With passage of the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act we now have the opportunity to move with resources, resolve, relief, and hope in tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time." by Farah Mehreen Ahmad, ew York Senior Organizer at Jobs to Move America

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: Alexis Grenell, a Democratic strategist, co-founder of Pythia Public, and writer on politics and gender, joined ...
11/13/2022
Max Politics Podcast: Messaging, Gender, and the 2022 New York Governor's Race

LISTEN: Alexis Grenell, a Democratic strategist, co-founder of Pythia Public, and writer on politics and gender, joined the show to discuss Kathy Hochul's win as the first woman elected Governor of New York, messaging and gender in the campaign, and more.

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

New York Democrats are poised to retain a comfortable majority in the State Senate but could lose the supermajority they...
11/11/2022
Democrats Keep Wide State Senate Majority, with Two Races Undecided

New York Democrats are poised to retain a comfortable majority in the State Senate but could lose the supermajority they have held since the 2020 elections.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Democracy is an ideal that is central to who we are as Americans, but it’s an ideal that must be advanced and ...
11/11/2022
Creating Career Pathways for Veterans in New York City Government

Opinion: "Democracy is an ideal that is central to who we are as Americans, but it’s an ideal that must be advanced and defended by each generation. While we are fortunate to have the freedom to choose our elected leaders and have a voice in our government, this freedom has been secured and defended by our military veterans." by Dawn Pinnock, Commissioner of NYC Citywide Administrative Services

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Rewind the clock ten years, and you’ll find a much unhealthier America with significantly less access to quali...
11/11/2022
The Affordable Care Act Just Turned 10; It’s Important to Take Stock of Its Positive Impact

Opinion: "Rewind the clock ten years, and you’ll find a much unhealthier America with significantly less access to quality, affordable healthcare." by Colin Wolfgang, political and communications consultant

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Approximately 5.7 million New Yorkers across the state cast ballots in one of the closest races for governor in over two...
11/10/2022
An Initial Look at Voter Turnout in New York's 2022 General Election

Approximately 5.7 million New Yorkers across the state cast ballots in one of the closest races for governor in over two decades, according to unofficial 2022 election data. Some votes, especially final absentee ballots, are still being counted.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Beyond the top of the ticket governor's race that has gotten most of the attention, Democrats running for New York's oth...
11/09/2022
Schumer, James, DiNapoli Each Win Another Term in New York Statewide Offices

Beyond the top of the ticket governor's race that has gotten most of the attention, Democrats running for New York's other statewide offices on the ballot also prevailed Tuesday night.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Voters across New York have approved $4.2 billion in state borrowing proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Leg...
11/09/2022
New York Voters Approve $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond Act

Voters across New York have approved $4.2 billion in state borrowing proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature to pay for major projects environmentalists say are key to developing a more robust response to climate change and pollution.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

New York City voters approved three ballot measures meant to alleviate impacts of structural racism on New Yorkers of co...
11/09/2022
New York City Voters Approve Racial Justice Ballot Measures

New York City voters approved three ballot measures meant to alleviate impacts of structural racism on New Yorkers of color and create a more equal city through equitable city services.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Democrat Kathy Hochul, New York's first female governor, was elected to the position for the first time Tuesday, winning...
11/09/2022
Democrat Kathy Hochul, New York's First Female Governor, Elected to Full Term

Democrat Kathy Hochul, New York's first female governor, was elected to the position for the first time Tuesday, winning a full term in a race that put Democrats' control over the traditionally blue bastion to the test.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt joined the show to discuss Republicans' hopes for a big electio...
11/08/2022
Max Politics Podcast: Republican Leader Rob Ortt on Key State Senate Races

LISTEN: New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt joined the show to discuss Republicans' hopes for a big election night in retaking seats won by Democrats in recent election cycles.

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "As New Yorkers head to the polls in this general election, which ends on Tuesday, November 8, there’s more tha...
11/08/2022
Prop 1, the Environmental Bond Act, is a Once-in-a-Generation Investment Opportunity

Opinion: "As New Yorkers head to the polls in this general election, which ends on Tuesday, November 8, there’s more than just candidates on the ballot. Voters across the state will decide on one ballot proposal, with three more for New York City voters only." by Christian Amato, founder of Consense Strategies

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: State Senate Deputy Leader Senator Michael Gianaris, the Chair of the New York Democratic Senate Committee, join...
11/08/2022
Max Politics Podcast: Democratic Campaign Chair Michael Gianaris on State Senate Battlegrounds

LISTEN: State Senate Deputy Leader Senator Michael Gianaris, the Chair of the New York Democratic Senate Committee, joined the show to discuss the State Senate battleground races and Democrats' hopes for keeping their supermajority.

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Though Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended, domestic violence is a tragedy that occurs every month, an...
11/08/2022
We Need to Utilize All Proven Strategies to End Domestic Violence

Opinion: "Though Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended, domestic violence is a tragedy that occurs every month, and every day. Uplifting the voices of survivors, recognizing the harm of abuse, and pursuing evidence-based solutions to break cycles of violence must be year-round priorities." by Alison Diéguez, Program Director at the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance & Nathaniel Tolbert, Clinical Director of Urban Resource Institute

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: John Burnett, Executive Vice Chairman of the New York State Republican Party, joined the show to discuss the GOP...
11/05/2022
Max Politics Podcast: High Hopes for the New York GOP

LISTEN: John Burnett, Executive Vice Chairman of the New York State Republican Party, joined the show to discuss the GOP's high hopes for this year's elections

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

LISTEN: Bruce Gyory, a political scientist and strategist, joined the show to lay out key numbers in the race for Govern...
11/05/2022
Max Politics Podcast: Understanding the Numbers Game of the New York Governor's Race

LISTEN: Bruce Gyory, a political scientist and strategist, joined the show to lay out key numbers in the race for Governor; break down racial, ethnic, regional, and other demographic trends; and explain paths to victory for Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin.

Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the United States and in New York City. Yet for too lo...
11/05/2022
Empowering New York City’s Asian American Voters

Opinion: "Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the United States and in New York City. Yet for too long, Asian Americans have faced challenges participating in elections." by Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation & Council Member Sandra Ung

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "In 2020, I ran for Congress in Suffolk County on a platform of facts, truth, and evidence-based solutions for ...
11/05/2022
Don't Mistake Lee Zeldin’s Empty Soundbites for Moderation

Opinion: "In 2020, I ran for Congress in Suffolk County on a platform of facts, truth, and evidence-based solutions for my local community. My opponent was Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin" by Nancy Goroff, Long Island resident and former congressional candidate

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

New York State added over 400,000 voters to the rolls since the last gubernatorial election in 2018, a 3% increase in to...
11/04/2022
Updated New York Voter Enrollment Numbers Show Playing Field for 2022 Election

New York State added over 400,000 voters to the rolls since the last gubernatorial election in 2018, a 3% increase in total enrollment, according to the latest data released by the State Board of Elections on Tuesday.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

In a letter to City Hall last month, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander called on Mayor Eric Adams to make changes to...
11/04/2022
To Address Corruption Risks and Boost MWBE Contracting, Comptroller Asks Mayor to Convene Procurement Board

In a letter to City Hall last month, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander called on Mayor Eric Adams to make changes to the city's procurement rules to prevent corruption and fraud in nonprofit human services contracts.

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "I urge U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer and other lawmakers to rally behind the common-sense Secure and Fai...
11/04/2022
Senator Schumer, as New York Legalizes Ma*****na, We Need SAFE Banking Now

Opinion: "I urge U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer and other lawmakers to rally behind the common-sense Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking bill." Beryl Solomon Jackowitz, cannabis advocate and founder of Poplar

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

Opinion: "Every election season, Latinos have the same conversations about how political candidates engage with us. My c...
11/02/2022
Latino New Yorkers Know Governor Hochul is Fighting For Us

Opinion: "Every election season, Latinos have the same conversations about how political candidates engage with us. My constituents and I are used to seeing chronic underinvestment despite big promises, and our communities are used to feeling like an afterthought." by Council member Diana Ayala

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Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more.

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Under-65s will only receive a COVID-19 Vaccine if they are considered to be vulnerable in health. For all those who are not yet receiving a vaccine - the most scientifically evidenced way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to eat anti-viral foods and engage in a moderate daily exercise routine. DISCOVER THE SCIENCE NOW @ https://KnowledgeIsForEveryone.com - God Bless New York!
Christmas New and Old



By John Burl Smith



There is no time in life when gift-giving is so prolific than Christmas, and for children, it is the “mother lode” for some, while fraught with disappointment for others. I say this because I believe most children are incapable of truly understanding the pain and anguish their parents endure, especially parents living in poverty, agonizing over being able to meet the minimum hopes of their children’s expectations at Christmas time. My wife, Dot, and I were both children of poverty, so this scenario had particular significance for us. During the Christmas season, like most Americans, we always watched two movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.” This year, however, I have gained a different perspective, not only from their moral lessons but a much broader societal aphorism regarding what America has experienced throughout 2020.


For the first time in my life, Christmas 2020 arrives with foreboding, after ominous events have unfolded throughout the year, which may have seemed coincidental and totally unrelated to their occurrence. Nevertheless, they revealed such vulnerabilities, not only for the American people but their democratic form of government. Again, I point to the two fantasies I mentioned earlier to highlight how some hopes and desires, no matter how innocent or unintended they may have seemed starting out, have made avoiding disaster a Divine reprieve. Understanding my point in alluding to these movies, one must look at the characters and how events impact them, producing particular outcomes.


Just as Christmas 2019 faded below the horizon, the coronavirus invaded America, as the political primary season opened with a thud for many. Still, for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters, it opened with a bank. Donald Trump’s rosy scenarios painted of America’s future for his MEGA army presented bright prospects of economic prosperity and political stability, which made his election a forgone conclusion. Trump appeared unstoppable beginning his campaign, but a strange thing happened on the way to his coronation, which makes “A Christmas Story” like a story from the Bible that warns of God sending plagues against the ungodly. The first warnings about COVID-19, the true meaning of which escaped most Americans, and definitely not how it would change our world. But, Donald Trump would admit months later, “I downplayed the problem because I didn’t want people to panic.” Personally, I believe the shoe is on the other foot as to who panicked in the face of COVID-19!!


The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is built around a character that does everything right as a hero. He views his community as his family, but a sinister and hateful grinch steals his life’s and our hero contemplates su***de. His lost life is shown to him, as an alternative reality, if he had never been born. Just a fantasy, you say, so I present the state of Georgia as a case in point, not the physical landscape, but its people past and present. I contrast them going back on April 6, 1861, when Georgia followed secessionist South Carolina, after it opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, joining the Civil War against the United States of America.


Five years later, following their humiliating defeat Georgia, again followed other confederate states that would not accept defeat. They bought into another alternate reality, “the lost cause,” which denied why they took up arms against the United States because they would not end slavery. Their fight to keep slavery at all costs morphed into the alternative reality of “states’ rights,” which created the “solid South.” Denial became a way of life that mirrored George Orwell’s “1984” “doublethink”—the ability to hold two competing realities or thoughts in one's mind simultaneously without recognizing or acknowledging the contradictory nature of the two.


“A Christmas Story” presents the other relevant scenario in the person of a child. Although the character is sweet and adorable, the belief he holds in his mind is the harbinger of disaster if given what he craves. The child star, who wishes for something all the adults in his life, says the child does not need it because he does not understand the ramifications of his desire. Their warnings, “You'll shoot your eye out,” is ignored, and he embarks on a course to obtain his heart’s desire. The moral of the story is quite simple, “because one desires something does not mean they should have it simply; it makes them happy.”


The vast majority of adults in the South were all like the kid in “A Christmas Story,” oblivious of the real cost of war, not just to those who would fight and die to please petulant slave masters in their actual “lost cause,” but their state and the people living there who had no say in the matter. Similar to kids, they preferred to burn the house down because they could not get their way and continue enslaving African human beings to make money, people they stole and forced to work for free. But more than anything, they refer to treasonous acts as their “proud heritage.”


The fact is today, we cannot go back to April 12, 1861, and unload the first cannonball before firing on Fort Sumter. Still, the children of Georgia today, Black, white, Latino, and Asians, refuse to continue reloading those canons in a vain attempt to maintain that hideous legacy of hatred, discrimination, and murder against American descendants of slavery. Today young progressives are following the brilliant leadership of Stacey Abrams. Young progressives have taken to the streets, defying the odds supporting Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. They have taken up Alicia Keys new anthems accompanied by Brandi Carlile “A Beautiful Noise” and personal statement “Brand New Me,” hoping to create a new kind of world. They are refusing to live in a world that existed only between the ears of their great-grandparents. They abhor that world because it denies them the friends they want, loves they have and families they are building.


I was in the streets in the 1960s, as an Invader in Memphis, supporting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I was also one of the last two people to talk with him in a strategy meeting. The things our children are back in the streets fighting for today are the things Dr. King shared with Charles Cabbage and me on his last day. And, as Malcolm X declared, “the chickens are coming home to roost,” after a century of hatred.


I began talking about Christmas, children, and presents because I believe Dr. King’s life was a present he gave up purchasing the opportunity this generation is presently fighting to achieve. Whether America realizes it or not it is witnessing an epic battle that will decide the fate of millions today and in the future. I am proud to be counted among those on the frontline in this fight. As in 1968, I can sit this one out either, no matter the outcome. We owe Dr. King this battle to fulfill and live out the dream he gave the world. Today we here in Georgia are trying to break down the walls built by that first shot at Fort Sumter. Young progressives are calling out their parents and grandparents, who still refuse to accept the new world they see and are fighting to build. Old white men would rather fight another Civil War and destroy democracy in America to hold on to power. Those who care about democracy in America must join us and help in any way you can.


The Donald Trumps and Mitchell McConnells care only about what they want power—guns, like the kid in “A Christmas Story.” Yes, guns are their symbol of power. And that power is demonstrated each time police murder black men and women on the street, on their doorsteps, and in their beds. Their power is not to enforce law and order or justice. It is about power and maintaining it at any cause. Were it not for COVID-19, the world would not be witnessing the spectacle. We in Georgia are fighting for the world that will exist after COVID-19. We are setting down the mark for where that world will begin.
Black Lives Matter and Qualified Immunity

By John Burl Smith

I begin this article with a few questions that readers must keep in mind while reading about America's epidemic of police murders of young black men and women. "Why aren't young white men getting killed by police if the deaths of black people are unrelated to some racial motive? Is it that police do not stop and attempt to arrest young white men, as they do young blacks? Could it be that police respond with a totally different mindset and a totally different intent when they encounter young white men than with blacks? Are police responses as aggressive and volatile with white youths as with black youth?

The terms “defund the police” and “qualified immunity” forms a dichotomy that is mutually exclusive and was brought into relief last summer, following the 8 minutes and 46 seconds video of George Floyd's ex*****on in Minneapolis, Minnesota (5-25-2020) by police. The visual spectacle captured the world's attention and brought protest into streets demanding justice for black people. Governments in general and police forces in specifically across America, refusing to acknowledge injustice to black communities, Black Lives Matter became the group that galvanized young people of all races and colors. They fill streets in cities with the cry "defund the police;" it was their provocative solution to the problem white people doubled down on, as the body count for black youth mounts.

The need is to put the policing and “qualified immunity” in perspective, like driving while looking in the rearview mirror. Richard Nixon began the turn away from consideration of law and order based on constitutional rights. Nixon equated protest as an attack on American values and gained white Americans' support to win the White House in 1968. Nixon's appeal was picked up, brushed off, and expanded by Ronald Raegan in1980. Raegan closed down mental health facilities and institutions across America as a cost-cutting measure to finance tax cuts for rich white people. He criminalized psychiatric problems and made such victims part of policing, justifying locking sick people up as criminals. This decision fell heaviest on poor and minority Americans. Denying treatment in facilities, these Americans became the homeless population, and again without doctors and treatment facilities were phased out. Raegan slashed The Department of Health and Human Service budget to give more tax cuts to rich white people. The job of dealing with mental illness and drug abuse fell to police departments.

Remaining funds for psychiatric care and mental health facilities also went into tax cuts or directed to police departments to support Raegan’s “law and order” platform. Raegan’s rhetoric diminished concerns for how police treat people they arrested, while simultaneously he beefed-up police departments with military-grade equipment. The media and movies play a vital role, flooding the nations with crime based productions. These productions helped eliminate concerns for black people’s constitutional rights by identifying them as criminals—Clint Eastwood’s movies are a classic example. Law enforcement and policing in America became a jobs program for white men, especially military veterans.

Eventually, being a white man qualified that person to be a cop. Black people were presented as America’s crime problem, and the police’s job was to keep them under control. Consequently, whatever police did to protect white people from the menace of crime—black people—was acceptable. Constitutional rights were considered a hindrance to law enforcement. Police departments began working with politicians, crafting rules and procedures to get around black people’s civil rights with “Crime Bills.” The significant impact of this period for descendants of American slavery was “qualified immunity.” The concept of “qualified immunity” was a cover for ignoring black people’s constitutional rights and justifying police brutality and murdering black people with impunity. Police did not deploy the same tactics in white communities, which is the basis of the two different policing systems in America.

An unintended consequence of “qualified immunity” came with the impact of George Floyd’s ex*****on; it foreshadowed the rise of “Black Lives Matter.” Rising out of the chaos street demonstration, Black Lives Matter turned their street protest into street politics and became a significant force driving the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Mr. Biden’s selection as Attorney General can do the thing for equal justice as Black Lives Matter did for politics. The AG can be the turning point for the black communities and lifting the scourge of “qualified immunity” and return a concern for the constitutional rights of American descendants of slavery to an effort of equal justice. However, during the heat and passion that engulfed the nation approaching the November 3rd election, another major event happened in the US Supreme Court’s so-called august chamber, which mostly went unnoticed.

The Supreme Court issued a decision that struck a significant blow to “qualified immunity” as a defense for law enforcement officers. Taylor v. Riojas became the first such ruling by the Supreme Court since 2004. Whether the Court will take more forceful action and continue to curb “qualified immunity” remains to be seen. “Qualified immunity” is the notorious doctrine under which law enforcement officers and many other government officials are immune from civil suits for violating constitutional and statutory rights in the course of performing their duties unless they have violated “clearly established” law. Courts have interpreted “clearly established” so narrowly that officers routinely get away with horrendous abuses, even murder, merely because no federal court in their area has previously decided a case with “essentially identical facts.”

A petitioner on writ of certiorari Trent Taylor an inmate in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, came before the court. Taylor alleges that, for six full days in September 2013, correction officers confined him in a pair of shockingly unsanitary cells. The first cell was covered, nearly floor to ceiling, in “‘massive amounts’ of f***s”: all over the floor, the ceiling, the window, the walls, and even “‘packed inside the water faucet,’” Taylor v. Stevens, 946 F. 3d 211, 218 (CA5 2019). Fearing that his food and water would be contaminated, Taylor did not eat or drink for nearly four days. Correctional officers then moved Taylor to a second, frigidly cold cell, which was equipped with only a clogged drain in the floor to dispose of bodily wastes. Taylor held his bladder for over 24 hours, but he eventually (and involuntarily) relieved himself, causing the drain to overflow and raw sewage to spill across the floor. Because the cell lacked a bunk, and because Taylor was confined without clothing, he was left to sleep naked in sewage. Although Taylor’s race is not listed, he had to be black!!!!

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit properly held that such conditions of confinement violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. But, based on its assessment that “[t]he law wasn’t clearly established” that “prisoners couldn’t be housed in cells teeming with human waste” “for only six days,” the court concluded that the prison officials responsible for Taylor’s confinement did not have “ ‘fair warning’ that their specific acts were unconstitutional.” 946 F. 3d, at 222 (quoting Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U. S. 730, 741 (2002)).

The Fifth Circuit erred in granting the officers “qualified immunity” on this basis. ‘“Qualified immunity’ shields an officer from suit when she makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient, reasonably misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she confronted.” Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U. S. 194, 198 (2004) (per curiam). But no reasonable correctional officer could have concluded that, under the extreme circumstances of this case, it was constitutionally permissible to house Taylor in such deplorably unsanitary conditions for such an extended period of time. See Hope, 536 U. S., at 741 (explaining that “ ‘a general constitutional rule already identified in the decisional law may apply with obvious clarity to the specific conduct in question’ ” (quoting United States v. Lanier, 520 U. S. 259, 271 (1997))); 536 U. S., at 745 (holding that “[t]he obvious cruelty inherent” in putting inmates in certain wantonly “degrading and dangerous” situations provides officers “with some notice that their alleged conduct violate[s]” the Eighth Amendment). The Fifth Circuit identified no evidence that the conditions of Taylor’s confinement were compelled by necessity or exigency. Nor does the summary-judgment record reveal any reason to suspect that the conditions of Taylor’s confinement could not have been mitigated, either in degree or duration. And although an officer-by-officer analysis will be necessary on remand, the record suggests that at least some officers involved in Taylor’s ordeal were deliberately indifferent to the conditions of his cells. See, e.g., 946 F. 3d, at 218 (one officer, upon placing Taylor in the first f***s-covered cell, remarked to another that Taylor was “ ‘going to have a long weekend’ ”); ibid., and n. 9 (another officer, upon placing Taylor in the second cell, told Taylor he hoped Taylor would “ ‘f***ing freeze’ ”).

Confronted with the particularly egregious facts of this case, any reasonable officer should have realized that Taylor’s conditions of confinement offended the Constitution. We, therefore, grant Taylor’s petition for a writ of certiorari, vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. It is so ordered.

In Taylor, a 7-1 majority (the just-confirmed new Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate), concluded that the lower court had gone too far in granting “qualified immunity” to prison officials in an egregious case where they subjected a prisoner to horrific treatment: The Court is right to conclude that the facts here were “particularly egregious” and that any reasonable officer should have been able to understand that this kind of abuse violated the Eighth Amendment. You don’t have to be a great legal theorist to figure out that forcing a prisoner to live amidst raw sewage and f***s for days on end is “cruel and unusual.”

At the same time, it’s far from clear that the facts in this case are really that much worse than those in many other situations where courts have upheld “qualified immunity” defenses, such as recent cases where police officers stole $225,000 from civilians while conducting a search and shot a 10 year old boy in the course of an attempt to shoot the family dog (who posed no threat to the officer). If the Fifth Circuit expected too little of the “reasonable" officer, it may be because the courts—including the Supreme Court—have been defining "reasonability” down for a long time now.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito agreed with the other six justices in the majority that the “qualified immunity” argument should be rejected based on the “horrific” conditions in the cell, and the egregious behavior of the prison officials. It may be more likely that the Court wanted to send a message to lower courts, that the latter should no longer grant “qualified immunity” in these kinds of highly egregious cases. The backlash against “qualified immunity” generated by the public reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police may have led the justices to conclude that a step like this was warranted. What remains to be seen is whether the Court will follow up by considering whether “qualified immunity” should be abolished entirely, or at least severely pared back. The doctrine has been severely criticized by legal scholars and by Supreme Court justices as varied as Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.

Perhaps Taylor is the beginning of the end of “qualified immunity.” But it is also possible that the majority of the justices just want lower courts to adopt a modestly less forgiving interpretation of current doctrine. Future cases will tell. In the meantime, opponents of “qualified immunity” should continue their efforts to abolish it through legislation at both the state and federal level. The Supreme Court may eventually fix this problem, which was created by its own earlier decisions. But we shouldn’t count that chicken unless and until it actually hatches. Colorado and (to a lesser degree) Connecticut have already adopted effective reform laws. Efforts to abolish or reform “qualified immunity” under federal law have stalled due to opposition by the White House and many congressional Republicans. But the political environment may change after tomorrow’s election is known.

History shows that successful movements to strengthen protection for constitutional rights often combine litigation with political action instead of exclusively relying on one strategy to exclude the other. Hopefully, the cross-ideological movement to end “qualified immunity” can continue to make progress in the same way. The following are the latest two police murders of young black men, without a single encounter of a white youth brutalized by police, since George Floyd’s ex*****on. A CNN crew of Ray Sanchez, Rebekah Riess, Nicquel Terry Ellis, Hollie Silverman, Amir Vera, Eric Levenson, and Devon Sayers combined their effort to piece together the tragic murder of Casey Goodson 23 in Columbus, Ohio. Goodson’s grandmother told a 911 dispatcher that “He had been shot in the back, and I’m not sure if he is breathing,” moments after his fatal encounter with a law enforcement officer at his Ohio home, based on the 911 call.

Casey Goodson was shot Friday by Deputy Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Sharon Payne, Goodson’s grandmother, said, “There was a bunch of gunfire.” The call ended when the police ordered everyone out of the house. Sean Walton, the Goodson family attorney, said, “Casey is not a bad kid. He does not have a police record. According to the Columbus Division of Police, Casey had an Ohio concealed carry permit and was legally armed at the time of the shooting.” Goodson, who was Black, was not alleged to have committed any crimes, has no criminal background, and was not the target of any investigation.

Peter Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said, “The fugitive task force was wrapping up an unrelated investigation when a deputy saw a black man with a gun. That’s when the deputy, at some point after that, confronted him.” Goodson returned home from the dental appointment when the deputy fired the fatal shots, hitting him in the back. Tamala Payne, Casey”s mother, said, “My son would not have harmed a fly. My son was saving up to go into business for himself. He had plans, dreams, goals, and they were ripped from him for nothing. If my son was given a command, he would have listened.”

“Cause of death, at this time is preliminary,” according to Dr. Anahi M. Ortiz, who said, “However, based on current findings the cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds to the back of the torso.” Columbus Police investigators are examining whether Meade was legally justified in shooting Goodson. The US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and the FBI is launching a federal civil rights investigation. A Taskforce was looking for violent offenders, not Goodson. Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said. “This offers the highest level of transparency and a clear path to the truth,”

Meade was working for the US Marshal’s fugitive task force looking for violent offenders at the time, but Goodson was not the person being sought by the task force, Columbus Police said. During the task force operations, Meade reported seeing a man with a gun and was investigating the situation when there was reportedly a verbal exchange prior to the shooting, the Columbus Division of Police said. According to police, no other officers witnessed the shooting. No civilian eyewitnesses were identified. There is no body camera footage of the actual shooting because Franklin County Sheriff’s task force officers aren’t issued body cameras.

The shooting has left the Black community in Columbus reeling, and rallies calling for justice in Goodson’s case are set for Friday and Saturday in Columbus. Local civil rights activists say police brutality against Black in Columbus is nothing new. Law enforcement officers in the Black community have in the past shot young Black men and used aggressive policing tactics in Black neighborhoods, said Kiara Yakita, founder of the Black Liberation Movement of Central Ohio. Black men and teens killed in Columbus by police in recent years are Julius Tate, 16 years old, fatally shot by an officer in December 2018, during a sting operation; Kareem Ali Nadir Jones, 30 years old was fatally shot by officers in July 2017; police killed Tyre King, 13 years old in September 2016; and a plainclothes officer in June 2016 killed Henry Green, 23 years old.

The Movement for Black Lives leaders said they believe Goodson was “executed.” Chelsea Fuller, Columbus spokeswoman for the Movement for Black Lives, said, “The community realignment can and will happen through defunding the police, reducing their bloated budgets, and reinvesting those resources in the creation of new systems of public safety that account for all lives, not just some. According to a study by the University of Toronto, Columbus is 59% White and 28% Black, which produced racial tension extending beyond policing. Black residents say the history of redlining, segregation, and gentrification of Black neighborhoods is another boiling point. Columbus is the fourth most economically segregated metro area in the country.

“Dashcam Video Provides Details of Fatal Law Enforcement Shooting of two Florida Teens,” reported by Ray Sanchez of CNN, which reveals a similar unjustified police killing in a state notorious for murdering young black men—Florida. The community learned that the sheriff’s deputy, while following a suspected stolen car fatally shot two Black teenagers in Cocoa, Florida, and residents were outraged. They are demanding answers for why the two teens were gunned down over a suspected stolen car. Authorities released a 56-second dashcam video of the deadly encounter, posting it on the Brevard County Sheriff’s page Tuesday evening.

However, CNN footage of the dashcam video is far more complete, which shows deputies followed the suspects’ car for over a mile and never gave any indication they wanted the supposed stolen car to pull over. Moreover, even though there seemed to be at least three cars involved, they did not try to box the vehicle in at stop signs. Once the car turned into a driveway, officers did not block the driveway to prevent the car from leaving. They waited until the car pulled back onto the street but still did not turn on the siren or flashing lights to alert the driver they wanted to talk with occupants. Deputies allowed the car to back onto the street before verbally demanding the driver to stop. But while one deputy screamed at the driver to stop, other officers opened fire on the vehicle, as one deputy seemingly attempted to step in front of the moving vehicle. Even though they were in a residential area, with homes all around, police fired multiple shots, trying to stop the car, but killing two of the teens identified as Sincere Pierce, 18, and Angelo Crooms, 16, who the sheriff said was the driver. These are the types of incidents a well-trained AG motivated by a desire to unearth the truth will be Godsend for the Black community.
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