The numbers are startling, the similarities are haunting, and the frequency… incomprehensible. As citizens across this country continue to be unlawfully detained, arrested and even killed by police under circumstances that are questionable at best, the grieving families of these victims are left with little peace or consolation.
Such is the case for the family of Ashtian Barnes, 24, who was killed by Harris County Police Officer Roberto Felix on April 28th. Today, Officer Roberto Felix was No-Billed by a Harris County Grand Jury, which means he will not be indicted or face charges for the death of Barnes. Here’s more from Fox 26 Houston…
HOUSTON (FOX 26) – After two sessions, a grand jury has not indicted a Harris County Precinct 5 deputy constable in the April 28 deadly shooting of Ashtian Barnes.
“What we can say is that the presentation was comprehensive and responsive to the needs of the grand jury,” said Harris County District Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division Chief Julian Ramirez. “The 183rd Grand Jury handled this case with great care.” The grand jury of twelve people included three African Americans and three Hispanics.
At least nine of the 12 grand jurors needed to find probable cause to indict the deputy constable. DA Anderson said that the panel’s decision shows there was not enough evidence for a charge.
But the newly released video via Black Lives Matter- Houstonhas many people seeing the outcome differently. The video, which seems to counter the officer’s account of the incident, is leading many viewers to cry foul with the Grand Jury’s decision. As one may recall from earlier this summer, those standards to find Probable Cause against policemen were significantly toughened when a Supreme Court decision decimated the Fourth Amendment, giving police virtual right to profile and suspect any citizen that they want. As seen and heard from the video, the officer seems to be looking for reasons to conduct a search of Barnes’ vehicle. Beyond the lack of probable cause, BLM members also stated that officers and lawyers for Felix were “laughing in the face” of activists outside the trial.
At this moment, BLM members are gathering for a protest in front of the Harris County courthouse, calling for Justice for Ashtian Barnes. The protest begins at 6pm. Texas Leftist will be following the developments.
Do you agree with the Grand Jury’s assessment?? Leave your feedback in the comments.
Harris County Republicans completed the epic fail trifecta with Commissioner Steve Radack’s “enjoy your floods!” remarks, which piled on the continuing troubles of DA Devon Anderson and Sheriff Ron Hickman. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posted that that Democrats have a good shot at a clean sweep of these three offices, and only one of them should require a little effort to accomplish.
Like most around Houston, Texas Leftist was quite surprised to hear/ see Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack’s insensitive comments about flood victims. Thankfully his Democratic challenger Jenifer Pool was quick to respond. This race may have just gotten interesting.
Across the United States, election season is coming to a fever pitch. But one year ago, Houstonians were already preparing for a crucial series of elections which would shape the future of the city, region and beyond. Most of the debate last year was around the defeated Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, with few other issues able to take center stage.
But even if less discussed than the tough fight over HERO, last year’s election was a critical in determining the city’s direction over one of our most difficult challenges… the rapid decrease of affordable housing. In the next few years, will Houston still be a place where it is affordable to live? Or will we continue to price out our citizens?
In the past few weeks, that set of challenges has landed squarely on City Council’s doorstep. Thankfully for us, it appears that Houston made the right choice for Mayor last November. After the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board lambasted Mayor Turner’s decision to reject a new housing development, he took the opportunity to inject some much-needed perspective in a rebuttal. You really mustread the whole post, but here is just a portion…
The “silver bullet” to eliminating systemic poverty is not moving families from areas that have been overlooked and underserved. Rather, the answer is to invest in these neighborhoods with quality affordable and mixed income housing, good schools, retail and economic development, parks and green space, transit options, and job and business opportunities. Far too often people who live outside high-poverty areas believe that the answer to eliminating poverty or improving school test scores is to close neighborhood schools and move these low-income families across town. That suggestion does not require any accountability from institutions to improve these neighborhoods and schools.
I have no problem with people disagreeing with my decisions – that comes with the job. I do, however, have a big problem with an institution that does not reflect the diversity of this city publishing a lecture on race and class that does not elevate all children, regardless of where they live. I know the people and their dreams because I was born and raised in such a community, where I still live. My dreams came true because my parents, neighborhood pastor and teachers believed in me. I choose to still live there today because it is my way of living by example for the youngsters in my neighborhood.
In an era where inequality is growing far faster than economic prosperity, and where the media often serves as our only line of defense against special interests, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s words here are an inspiration to millions of Houstonians, and those across our country. What he says here is absolutely true… we will never solve our communities housing crisis, or the whole of issues that poverty and inequality catalyze by abandoning those communities for “somewhere else”. It didn’t work with the first waves of so-called “white flight” in the mid 20th century, and it won’t work during the gentrification era of today. Every American deserves access to a safe neighborhood, work opportunity, living wages and affordable housing. A big thanks to Mayor Tuner for reminding this city of that most basic American Dream.
Just one year ago, Houstonians had a big decision to make in choosing our next Mayor. We definitely made the right choice with Sylvester Tuner.
Even those with the toughest jobs need some regular ways to unwind and escape. That includes the nation’s best known elected official.
In the midst of what is surely a much needed summer vacation, President Obama has given the people a quick ear into some of his current favorite sounds. The 2016 Summer Playlist dropped via his @POTUS Twitter account.
In a state as divided and gerrymandered as Texas, it’s easy to assume that many of the state and local elections to be held this November are just about decided after the Primaries. Districts are drawn to be so heavily Republican or Democratic, it is highly unlikely to see any sort of “surprise” happen on Election Day. Even with candidate Jenifer Rene Pool‘s much celebrated and historic victory in the Primaries, the odds of defeating 6- term Republican Incumbent Steve Radack were always assumed to be long.
But where there’s a microphone, a politician and a video camera, there is inevitably room to challenge assumptions. Here’s the story from Jennifer Bauer of KPRC news…
HOUSTON – A video recorded on August 4 has upset some Houston residents, especially those affected by the widespread floods in 2015 and 2016.
The short video clip shows Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, of Precinct 3, giving a presentation.
“There are some people, frankly, over the years and the many years I’ve been doing this, that enjoy floods,” Radack said. “They like to see a flood about every seven years because they want new cars. They want their homes redone.”
Someone in the audience recorded the video and posted it online, and now some flood victims are speaking out.
“It upset me. It upset quite a few people,” said Carlos Goenaga, a Meyerland resident whose home flooded in both the Memorial Day flood of 2015 and the Tax Day flood of 2016. “He’s either inexcusably ignorant or just extremely cynical.”
Given his long and well-respected tenure nearly three decades in office, the comments not only surprised many Harris County residents, but were deeply disturbing to those that have suffered from the area’s devastating floods. Democratic challenger Pool was quick to respond to Radack via Twitter…
For some livid Houstonians, “out of touch” is an understatement.
It would be easy to think that Pool is simply ceasing the moment on this one issue, but her long record of experience on infrastructure issues proves otherwise. Posted last month on her campaign website (and well before Radack’s comments), Pool has made the challenge of flooding a central part of her platform…
“We can lessen the impact of flooding and provide a more safe and secure future for our residents with common sense changes.”
As Off the Kuff rightly points out, Steve Radack not only has the advantage of incumbency on his side, but also has an insurmountable fundraising lead over Jenifer Pool. But of course anything could happen this November. Like a true Houston summer, this race is officially heating up.
Juanita is seeking support for Glen Maxey’s ballot by mail program.
The TSTA Blog sees through the latest school finance “reform” idea.
Last week the 2016 Summer Olympics commenced in Rio, and so far it has been a banner games for Team USA. Texas Leftist wishes our amazing Texas athletes and all of Team USA good luck and a great competition in Rio. The Dallas Morning News has a great interactive page tracking Texas athletes and what events for which they compete by day. Hope y’all bring home the gold!!
One of the most challenging aspects of the American Political System? It is impossible to accurately represent the full, informed spectrum of political thought. It is often a vapid concoction offering the most drab philosophies of government, while constantly osmosizing and proselytizing the bright, energetic colors from its edge.
But diluted in this process are not only those purest strands of color, but also the many subtle transitions which serve to form our most common bonds. In true representation, the Liberal and Libertarian are more alike than their overlord party caricatures would suggest. The belief in good, efficient government to ensure equality and liberty (Liberals) is not mutually exclusive to the belief in liberty achieved via personal freedom and responsibility (Libertarians).
After so much exposure to the center, it was quite the experience to witness a leading edge of this challenging system at the 2016 Green Party National Convention. Infused with new energy, membership and purpose, Convention delegates handily selected environmental health advocate and Progressive activist Dr. Jill Stein as their Nominee for President of the United States. Stein also selected Ajamu Baraka as her running mate on the ticket. In her fiery acceptance speech, Stein took immediate aim at the major parties.
“As Frederick Douglass said, power concedes nothing without demand… It never has, it never will. We will be that demand.”
“We are what Democracy looks like, and we are what political revolution looks like” Stein declares in a direct nod to the Bernie Sanders campaign and the many disaffected Sanders supporters whom have lifted the Green Party to heights unseen in decades. The most popular slogan for the Convention? ‘Jill Not Hill’.
Accompanying the soaring and often thrashing rhetoric, Stein also unleashed a litany of ambitious policy goals, including a nation-wide emergency jobs program, the total elimination of student debt, a conversion to fully renewable energy by 2030 and the proposal to make all public higher education free. All along the way, indicting Hillary Clinton as the “lesser evil to the greater good.”
But how can Stein and Baraka reach such a coveted status as ‘the greater good’ when they’ve to even garner a place on the majority of state ballots?
This and other questions were of utmost importance in a Post-Convention Press Conference, where the candidates had to trade their expansive rhetoric for a bit of reality. Even if the Presidency is out of the party’s reach in 2016, other goals were revealed. Since the Democratic National Convention where Bernie Sanders conceded to Hillary Clinton, the Green Party has received ‘a whirlwind of support’, fundraising more in the last few weeks than the entire previous year of the campaign, and tripling standing in the national polls.
Of course there was also plenty of room for speculation and controversy, like this clip where Stein equates the nefarious DNC Leaks scandal to the Democratic Party’s alleged unfair treatment of Sanders…
Lee McQueen of McQueen Press posted the full Press Conference, where I was able to ask the candidate an important question that many voters considering the Green Party would want to know. Assuming they could win the White House, how would President Stein and Vice President Baraka actually govern??
Texas Leftist: With the Progressive, aggressive agenda that you have laid out, how do you expect to get those initiatives through a predominantly Democratic and/or Republican Congress?
Dr. Stein: If we get elected, we will be elected along with some down ballot candidates and a number of (Green Party) Senate candidates and some Congresspeople. So we will have a block. There will also be some Progressive Democrats who have been waiting to be Liberated from a very toxic and corrupt system. But above all, we will be in an unprecedented moment if we actually have a President in the White House who comes into office with a big public mandate and serves not only as Commander-in-Chief, but as Organizer-in-Chief…
In other words, governing isn’t something they need to consider at the moment.
And herein lies the difficulty with support of a minor party. Without concrete plans of how to act on such an inspiring agenda, little can be accomplished in the real houses of government. For all of their faults, it is the major parties that retain the ability of turning words into actions. Though likely that they will fall short, most Americans would still rather see some progress achieved than simply promises that never have a credible chance.
At the end of the day, the Green Party harbors a strong and important set of ideas. Their goal of a Green Presidency is still a long way from Houston, and 2016. But the outcome of one Presidential contest should not be the judge of an entire movement. Greens are already winning important state and local races across the country, and this election cycle could prove their most successful yet. The Green Party of Texas is fielding over 40 candidates for office across the state, including Martina Salinas for Texas Railroad Commissioner. From a host of campaign appearances to an informed debate with her Libertarian Party challenger Mark Miller, Salinas could be one to watch this November. In an election year already full of surprises, the Green Party is getting ready for their big moment just in case it should occur.