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Celebrating a hometown hero’s honor

Over the weekend, the Indianapolis Recorder family was happy to join other appreciative central Indiana residents in celebrating the life and legacy of our own Amos Brown.

During a special dedication ceremony downtown, a section of St. Joseph Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets was renamed Amos Brown Way. The section of road is located right in front of Radio One, where Amos fought for justice and growth in our community as host of the popular radio program Afternoons With Amos.

Although we don t like to boast and brag at the Recorder, we are proud to say that Amos blessed us as a columnist in this newspaper for two decades. Many of our readers over the years have shared how they would get the paper, check out the front page and then immediately flip to Amos column to see what he had to say about the week s current events. We knew that whatever he wrote on this page would be powerful and informative, with a touch of humor and hard-hitting analysis that reminded us how a particular issue impacted everyone, but especially our African-American community. As an example of the great regard and broad respect Amos had, the Indianapolis City-County Council unanimously approved the resolution to name the street in his memory, and the idea received a wide range of support. It is a fitting tribute to a man who cared deeply about this city and devoted 40 years the bulk of his career to it as his adopted hometown.

Amos joins a special group of African-Americans from Indianapolis who have been honored by having significant sections of streets or highways named after them. Among those who have been recognized are such highly regarded people as Rev. Andrew J. Brown, Kenneth Babyface Edmonds, Rev. Mozel Sanders, Bishop Garfield T. Haywood and Roosevelt Williamson. Amos was simply irreplaceable, both as a person and as a voice for justice in this community. Personally, I will miss him as a colleague and mentor. Like many people, I will also miss his razor-sharp intellect and wit, as well as his passion for helping people solve problems and holding those in positions of power accountable. Arming the community with knowledge was one of the ways Amos helped address the critical issues of our time. As a man of faith, he heeded the warning of Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.

Naming the street after Amos was an amazing tribute. However, perhaps the greatest monument to his legacy is a more informed citizenry. Thanks to Amos and his hard work, thousands of people know where to go, whom to call and what to do to address a wide variety of challenges in this community. It would have been interesting to see Amos coverage of America and Indy in the Trump era. One of the things he would have probably spoken out about is the increase in violence and hate crimes and the double standard used in discussing them in our society. Take for example the fatal shootings that took place last week in Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad killed a security guard whom he said disrespected him. Then he decided he wanted to kill white people and killed three random white men. Authorities immediately classified the incident as a hate crime.

However, they, along with the Trump Administration, seem to drag their feet on using the term hate crime in attacks on African-Americans in which the perpetrators themselves admitted racial hatred was a motivating factor. Such incidents include last month s murder of an elderly Black man by a white supremacist in New York City, and the 2015 mass shooting of nine African-Americans at a church by Dylan Roof, who has just been transferred to death row at the federal correctional facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. Violence motivated by hatred, regardless of who the target is, should be called exactly what is: a hate crime. Also, our Black community can strengthen the cause for justice and nonviolence by speaking out against violent discrimination, whether it takes place against Blacks, whites or people of other races.

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

2017 Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.[1]

References

  1. ^ 2017 Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. (www.indianapolisrecorder.com)

‘Majority Minority’ podcast: Gutierrez on challenge of being Puerto Rican congressman

When Rep. Luis Gutierrez first arrived in Congress years ago, a Capitol Hill security guard stopped him. She didn t believe he was a member of Congress.

“I showed her my ID and she wasn t convinced,” he says on this week s episode of Majority Minority, a McClatchy podcast hosted by William Douglas and Franco Ordonez.

“There were a couple of little Puerto Rican flags involved in this, he says. They became unfurled as they went through the X-Ray machine, and she was very upset. A little too upset.”

On the podcast, Gutierrez talks about how he went from being one of the first Latinos to endorse Barack Obama for president to one of the first to brand him as the “deporter-in-chief”[1] over his immigration policies.

“It impacted (us) greatly now we weren t friendly with one another,” he says. “It was tough. And it s tough standing up to a friend.”

Gutierrez, a 13-term Democrat from Chicago, opens up about his relationship with the former president, about the prospects of getting a comprehensive immigration overhaul under President Donald Trump. He recalls what it was like growing up in two cultures American and Puerto Rican and the struggle to be accepted in both.

“I always felt I was too Puerto Rican to be American and then when I went to Puerto Rico I was absolutely too American to be Puerto Rican – kind of caught in this middle,” he recalls. Gutierrez has been in the forefront in Congress in pursuing changes in the nation s immigration laws that could provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people currently living in the United States illegally. He was a member of the so-called “Gang of 8,”[2] a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives that tried and failed to craft a comprehensive immigration restructuring that could get through Congress.

Gutierrez thought he found a kindred spirit on immigration in Obama, who made reshaping the country s immigration laws [3]a key issue in his 2008 presidential campaign. But he sensed shortly after the 2008 election that Obama was moving away from his campaign vow to make immigration a priority.

“I went to see him while he was in his transition period and I said immigration reform and he says can t do it, we re bleeding hundreds of thousand, some months we re bleeding a million jobs, Luis, we can t do it. Why don t you come back in April, ” Gutierrez says. “I took that as a sign that he wasn t going to keep his promise. And I was right. In this episode, Gutierrez:

Discusses the immigration differs under Trump than Obama.

Talks about how living in Puerto Rico helped shape his ethnic identify and ignited his interest in politics.

Recalls how he infuriated fellow Capitol Hill lawmakers in 1993 with his successful crusade to require them to be subjected to the same pay freeze levied against other federal workers.

References

  1. ^ “deporter-in-chief” (thehill.com)
  2. ^ “Gang of 8,” (www.mcclatchydc.com)
  3. ^ immigration laws (www.nytimes.com)

3 men, including 2 NOPD officers, plead guilty in federal cigarette …

Three men, including two former New Orleans police officers — one of them known from his appearances on the A&E true-crime series “Nightwatch” — pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday (April 26) for their roles in an interstate cigarette and cigar trafficking scheme aimed at evading taxes, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.

Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon[1] have both resigned from the NOPD, effective immediately, following their appearances in court, NOPD spokeswoman Dawne Massey said in an email Wednesday evening. The two had just returned to active duty in late January, following the end of their emergency suspensions in relation to the case, according to officials. The 30-year-old Brown and 32-year-old Carthon, both of New Orleans, each pleaded guilty to charges of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises in the scheme, which reportedly had at least six participants, including a third law-enforcement officer. The cigarettes and cigars were illegally purchased to avoid paying taxes and to increase profits from retail sales in North Carolina and other states with higher tobacco taxes, authorities said.

According to court documents, Brown, Carthon and former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s deputy Garrett Partman “were utilized to protect and transport the shipments of contraband cigarettes across state lines.”

The three provided illicit security and transportation for thousands of cartons of untaxed contraband cigarettes and cigars, according to prosecutors. One of the non-officers accused in the federal case, 29-year-old Anwar “Tony” Abdelmajid-Ahmad of Gretna, also pleaded guilty Wednesday to interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises, as well as conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes, conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute at least 1 kilogram of heroin, and federal gun violations. The guilty pleas came less than one week before the May 1 scheduled start of their trial in U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt’s courtroom.

Trial for the third former law-enforcement officer charged in the case, Partman, is scheduled for Aug. 14. Co-defendants Jadallah Saed and Atalla Atalla are also scheduled for trial on that date. Partman resigned from the Sheriff’s Office in September, just days after he was indicted in the case, according to OPSO spokesman Philip Stelly. The government says the tobacco products were delivered from Louisiana to North Carolina, where another defendant, Atalla Atalla, also known as “Tommy,” sold them for enhanced profits in North Carolina and other states with tobacco taxes higher than Louisiana’s.

In a superseding indictment handed up by a federal grand jury Jan. 27, U.S. prosecutors said the conspiracy had been operating for at least a year, and detailed a series of “overt acts” which included:

– Abdelmajid-Ahmad and co-defendant Saed, also of Gretna: taking possession in October 2015 of 1,800 cartons of cigarettes and 350 cases of cigars that bore no state tax stamps on the packages. The same two men in January 2016 are accused of taking possession of 5,760 cartons of cigarettes (more than 1.1 million cigarettes) and 30 cases of cigars, similarly untaxed.

– Brown and Carthon: transporting the contraband cigarettes from Louisiana to North Carolina on Jan. 14-15, 2016, where they were purchased and received by Atalla.

– Abdelmajid-Ahmad and Saed: taking possession in March 2016 of 2,430 cartons of cigarettes and 260 cases of cigars bearing no state tax stamps.

– Brown, Carthon and Partman: transporting those contraband products from Louisiana to North Carolina on March 16-17, 2016, where they were purchased and received by Atalla.

– Abdelmajid-Ahmad and Saed: obtaining two more similarly untaxed shipments – 2,700 cartons of cigarettes in July 2016 and 2700 cartons of cigarettes and 300 cases of cigars in September 2016 – and again arranging their transport from Louisiana to Atalla in North Carolina. At the time of their arrests last September, Brown was a four-year NOPD veteran most recently assigned to the Special Operations Division. He had became one of the NOPD’s most recognizable officers after being featured in the first two seasons of “Nightwatch,” a docudrama series that kept camera crews embedded with New Orleans first-responders.

Carthon was a seven-year veteran assigned to patrol duty in the 7th District, which encompasses much of New Orleans East. He was one of two officers involved in a 2015 fatal officer-involved shooting[2] of an armed robbery suspect outside of a Dollar General inNew Orleans. The department ruled the shooting was in self-defense, and he was returned to full duty. Brown and Carthon initially pleaded not guilty and were released from jail on $25,000 bonds, with special stipulations that precluded them from leaving Louisiana without court permission, possessing a firearm or having any contact with witnesses and co-defendants in their case, including each other. Engelhardt additionally barred the officers from obtaining new employment as a law enforcement or corrections officer, or as a security officer, including for private companies.

Following the Jan. 27 end of their emergency suspensions from NOPD, Brown and Carthon were assigned to restricted desk duty for the administrative unit at the department’s headquarters. Both were prohibited from contact with the public and from carrying a badge or firearm, Massey said in mid-February. Following their convictions, Brown and Carthon each face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. As to the contraband cigarette trafficking and weapons charges, Abdelmajid-Ahmad also faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release. As to the drug conspiracy charge, Abdelmajid-Ahmad faces 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million dollar fine and a minimum of five years supervised release.

Engelhardt set sentencing for Brown, Carthon and Abdelmajid-Ahmad for Aug. 2.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracey N. Knight and Irene Gonzalez are in charge of the prosecution.

Staff reporter Ken Daley contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon (www.nola.com)
  2. ^ 2015 fatal officer-involved shooting (www.nola.com)