Eagles Badly Mishandled Release of DeSean Jackson

If he doesn’t end up in the bay with an “SF” on his helmet, I’d laugh like hell if DeSean Jackson ended up as a Giant, Cowboy or Indigenous Person and came back to light up the Beagles twice a season. They deserve nothing less for their ham-fisted attempt to trash Jackson after cutting him loose in a cowardly move that defies Football Logic 101.

English: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeS...
The ever-perceptive Philadelphia-based sports journalist, Chris Murray, details how the Eagles front office blew it big time.

Chip Kelly might want to take out a restraining order against DeSean Jackson.

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The Chris Murray Report: A Public Forum For Sports, Politics, and Culture

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday. Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been contacted by several teams since he was cut by the team on Friday.

PHILADELPHIA—In the previous column on DeSean Jackson’s unceremonious release from the Eagles, I refrained from outright criticizing the team’s handling of this situation because I wanted to hear it from them rather than rely on second-hand information or the speculation from other publications.

Instead of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly addressing the issue head-on and honestly, they chose not talk to the media that covers the team. Their silence allowed a NJ.com story to portray Jackson as a thug with ties to a Los Angeles street gang so they could come up with a convenient justification to cut him and not have to pay him.

The Los Angeles Police Department told the Philadelphia…

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When the Hammer Falls: The 1985 Bombing of MOVE

MOVE bombing

The good thing about not being tied to the daily grind of the professional chattering class is you’re no longer compelled to add your commentary to their issues.   What do I have to say about Benghazi, the I.R.S. investigating right-wing groups or the Justice Department monitoring the phones and e-mails of the Associated Press?

Benghazi is political theater designed to embarrass President Obama and weaken Hillary Clinton in 2016.   The I.R.S. has some explaining to do, but it did the same thing to left-wing groups during the Bush Administration and I need more details before deciding where the blame lays on the Justice Department vs. Associated Press mess.

At present, I’m more interested in not allowing the 28th anniversary of a terrorist attack directed by American politicians against their own citizens go without notice the way the scandal-seeking mainstream media is ignoring the bombing of the radical MOVE group.

Every now and then the forces of authority send a clear, unambiguous message that they have the ultimate power to decide who lives and who dies.  It was 28 years ago in Philadelphia when the people in power declared war against a ragtag group of Black survivalists with a militant streak.   Mayor Wilson Goode authorized his racist police chief,  Frank Rizzo to take out a back-to-nature commune called MOVE by literally dropping a bomb on their house. It’s a shameful episode of American history many Americans don’t know a damn thing about.

In 1972, an urban commune called MOVE took root in the City of Brotherly Love.   Members gave up most modern conveniences and took up the surname of “Africa” on the orders of their leader, James Africa.    When MOVE moved in to Powellton Village in West Philadelphia, they came with an agenda and an attitude to match.

MOVE bombing2

MOVE members surrender to the police after the 1978 confrontation.

MOVE members staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions which they opposed morally, such as zoos (MOVE had strong views on animal rights), and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE made compost piles of garbage and human waste in their yards which attracted rats and cockroaches; they considered it morally wrong to kill the vermin with pest control. MOVE attracted much hostility from their neighbors.

You’re probably not going to be the most popular house on the street if you’re cursing out your neighbors with a bullhorn at all hours of the day and night and on a hot summer day they are treated to the unlovely scent of fecal material gently wafting through the window.   But then the members of MOVE wasn’t trying to be featured in Better Homes and Garden anyway.

The tensions between the cops and MOVE had smoldered since 1978 when Officer James Ramp was killed during a confrontation after MOVE was ordered by Mayor Frank Rizzo to leave their compound.   Eleven MOVE members were convicted in Ramp’s death.

Rizzo ordered the MOVE compound burned to the ground in a eerie foreshadowing of things to come.   In 1984, Rizzo was out and W. Wilson Goode, was elected as Philadelphia’s first Black mayor.   New year, new mayor, but the same old MOVE headaches remained.   The remaining members of the group relocated to 6221 Osage Avenue.   MOVE continued to harangue their neighbors with profanity-laced, political speeches delivered at all hours of the day and night and their compost piles of waste products.   They ignored citations from the city about health code violations.

Finally, on May 13, 1985, police attempted to arrest several MOVE members indicted for parole violation, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, and making terrorist threat.   When the cops attempted to enter the MOVE compound the residents fought back and a gun battle ensued.

W. Wilson Goode

A commission set up to investigate the bombing determined the Philly cops fired some 10,000 rounds of ammunition into the house.  The commission found  Goode and police commissioner Gregore Sambor and fire commissioner William Richmond, had been “grossly negligent” and called the deaths of the MOVE children “appeared to be unjustified homicide.”

Sambor would resign six months later, Richmond retired in 1988 and Goode was reelected the same year after making a tear-filled apology on television.  No officials faced criminal charges.  The city would pay out $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of the victims after a jury in federal court determined “excessive force” had been used by the police.

From a helicopter, police dropped an explosive device on the MOVE row house killing six adults and five children, the youngest being a toddler.   The resulting inferno caused a six-alarm fire resulting in 61 houses burned to the ground.   Goode supposedly gave orders to put the fires out, but for some reason they were allowed to burn unchecked.   The bodies of the five children were found huddled together in the charred remains of the basement.

Using archival footage, filmmaker Jason Osder’s documentary, Let the Fire Burn, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.  “I was frightened that kids died. I don’t think I saw it in the way that most adults did – that is, through the lens of race relations, or the lens of class, or the lens of police brutality. All of those are issues that adults think about,” Osder said.

“I was just a kid, and kids were killed and their parents didn’t help them and the police didn’t help them, and that was scary to me. I thought, ‘Could that happen to me?’  The answer is “Yes it could if the powers that be determine you are a nuisance and a threat to be eliminated.”

MOVE was a cult as much as a revolutionary group.  Relations between the Black community and the Philadelphia police were as bad as anywhere in the country.   This made for a volatile mixture that eventually culminated with the unprecedented step of a mayor authorizing the bombing of a building in his own city.

Frank Rizzo

While MOVE’s predilection to resort to intimidation, harassment and violence makes them unsympathetic victims, the lethal response of the Philadelphia city officials was a complete and heavy-handed overreaction.   You don’t use a shotgun to kill a house fly and you don’t bomb a house where you know children live to get to their parents.   Before going to such extremes,  the city officials should have exhausted every other option to bring about a peaceful resolution, but they chose to drop a bloody hammer down on the heads of their own citizens.

Blame can be assessed to both sides, but the final responsibility for the tragedy of May 15, 1985 forever remains on the blood-stained hands of Wilson Goode and his fellow terrorists.

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A Long Weekend in the Land of Cheesesteaks (and Hurricanes)

Welcome to Philly. Enjoy the hurricane.

PHILADELPHIA-After a summer full of home improvements,  getting kids into college and just getting through, work, life and bills, the missus and I busted out of the battleground state of O-H-I-O for a long weekend in the City of Brotherly Love and Cheesesteaks.

I must like Philly.  I’ve probably been here a dozen times, but this was the first time I’ve done some of the usual tourist things.  We visited the Philadelphia Art Museum, ate a few times at the Reading Market Terminal and tonight we’re going out for dinner at a jazz club.

The only bad thing so far is our timing.  We picked the same weekend Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit Philly.    Whether it will still be a bona fide hurricane or downgraded to a tropical storm who can say with complete certainty?    I suppose we could hang around to find out, but that’s an experience we’ll just save for another day.

Traveling from the hotly contested state of Ohio through Pennsylvania coal country is an experience that makes you raise an eyebrow.  I don’t know what President Obama’s policies on coal usage have been, but they aren’t popular in this part of the state.   There were plenty of anti-Obama signs and billboards dotting the landscape.    The expectation must be Mitt Romney would be more accomodating to the coal industry.  The polls give Obama has a six-point lead over his Republican challenger but that Romney has shaved two points off of the president’s lead with nine days to go.

Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to immerse myself in the madness of the polls in the remaining weeks, but I sort of got called out.  When you tell people you’re from Ohio, they talk to you as if you’re the only thing between them and three little words they don’t want to utter: “President Mitt Romney.”

Before we entered the Philadelphia Art Museum, we spent nearly an hour talking with a nice woman in a faded Obama “Hope” pullover who spotted my own “Obama/Biden” button and started smiling and talking with us excitedly.   We agreed the election will be close and turnout will be key to the president’s hope for a second term.    We also expressed mild disbelief anyone could still be decided this late in the game.   It’s nice to run into a kindred spirit who is every bit as apprehensive of  what Romney and Ryan would do to this country over the next four years.

Taking in all the city has to offer would take far time than we have.   A ticket to the Philadelphia Art Museum is good for two days and includes a shuttle to three other galleries.  You could spend the entire trip immersed in art if that’s all you wanted to do.   You aren’t exactly lacking for choices in cuisine either.

Unfortunately, there’s a minor matter of Hurricane Sandy barreling down the Eastern seaboard, so we’ve got to get back on the road and out of town before it gets here.  No time for cheesesteaks this time.


Like Cornbread Soaked in Olive Oil: When the Black Journalists Met the Greek Oprah.

Queen Arianna invites Black journalists to join her empire.

It occurred to me though I wrote about going to the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia I never said anything about actually attending the convention.  Setting all the Al Sharpton drama aside, it’s worth getting into.

As much as it will distress the convention officials we didn’t stay at the official convention hotel, the Philadelphia Marriott as it was priced a bit out of our budget and since nobody pays my way to these gatherings of the tribe but me, what’s out of our budget is always a major consideration.

We stayed at The Independent, a smaller boutique hotel minus all the trappings of a major chain (no valet service, no on site gym, no parking garage and no hotel bar), but without the jacked-up prices you get for those luxuries.  The Independent was clean, comfortable and austere.  I wanted something close to the convention site because in its sprawling Center City area Philadelphia is a walking city.

The first full day of the convention kicked off with an opening ceremony and this year’s featured an address from Attorney General Eric Holder followed by a plenary session dubbed “A Conversation with Arianna Huffington,” a title that proved misleading.  It was more of a monologue than a dialogue.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I have issues with the president and editor of The Huffington Post.  Mostly because she’s a cheap exploiter of writers and journalists who reeks of hypocrisy even while she pumps out a pseudo progressive political slant uncomfortably juxtaposed with a heavy dose of brainless celebrity worship.

Waiting for me at the hotel was a box of flyers from the The Newspaper Guild and the National Writers Union I was going to distribute at the convention asking Huffington to create a business model that promotes paying the HuffPo’s unpaid writers, photographers, cartoonists and other contributors.   Queen Arianna has shown no interest in channeling any of the $315 million AOL coughed up to buy the HuffPo into the pockets of those whose labor made the news aggregator valuable in the first place.

That morning I arrived at the cavernous Philadelphia Convention Center and left the flyers in key spots where others could find them including outside of the main ballroom where Huffington was scheduled to appear.  Representatives of the Newspaper Guild showed up to hand out more information to the attendees as well.  Many NABJ members have no idea of how sketchy Queen Arianna’s journalism practices are.

My anticipation was instead of facing questions from an audience of experienced journalists, Huffington would duck the inquiries about her wretched labor questions.   That anticipation was  confirmed.  Huffington only submitted to a few Twitter questions asked by moderator Lester Holt.  No live questioning from the floor.  That limited the scope of questions to what could be fitted into 140 characters and there was no chance to ask follow-up questions.  Queen Arianna had made sure she had a built-in escape hatch and NABJ apparently agreed to the kid gloves treatment.

Huffington fielded one question about her no pay for play practices and she blandly deflected the criticism by boasting the HuffPo has 1,300 paid staffers and nobody forces anyone to write for them.  She stuck to her standard line how contributing to the HuffPo provides a “platform” for aspiring writers, journalists and bloggers.

“People can choose to participate in the platform, if they have something they want to write that requires wider distribution, or not to participate in the platform,” Huffington said. “We are not dependent on them.”

I call bull.  Huffington built her business on the backs of the  unpaid writers she now claims she isn’t dependent upon.  Her background is one of a status-seeking socialite, not a crusading publisher.

Huffington asked her Black staffers in the audience to stand up. One of her newest hires is Christina Norman, the former CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network, who was ousted from her position by Oprah.  Norman, who will lead the HuffPo Black Voices division is considered a major “get” by Huffington whose aspiration of creating a similar media empire lays bare her ambitions of becoming the Greek Oprah.

The two most powerful women in the media battle for global supremacy.

Huffington’s pretense as a progressive crusader is undercut by her overbearing superiority complex, barely concealed disdain for working people and phony aristocratic bearing which is never too far from swaggering into view.  Huffington is one of the most powerful women in the world and a media mogul.   She has a way to go before she becomes the universal brand that Oprah is, but don’t doubt her desire to hold the crown of Queen of All Media exclusively for herself.  She has the ambition and has already demonstrated the ruthlessness.

It was a mistake in the first place to invite a poseur and exploiter like Huffington to speak at NABJ’s convention.  What she does is the antithesis of serious journalism.  To allow her to do nothing more but announce the HuffPo was seeking contributors (unpaid,  of course) to the newly revamped AOL Black Voices site was an insult.

Attorney General Holder was left with the thankless task of being the warm-up act for Queen Arianna and brought with him a videotaped greeting to NABJ from President Obama.  Otherwise, the news value of the opening ceremony was pretty much nil except for former NBC Universal chief diversity officer Paula Madison pledging $100,000 to support the 2012 NABJ convention in New Orleans.

Madison, whose family holdings include the Africa Channel and the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, was motivated by her wish to support NABJ which will be competing with the UNITY 2012 convention in Las Vegas for sponsors and attendees.   NABJ split from the UNITY coalition of minority journalism organizations over differences in finances, accountability and respect.    The fallout from this messy divorce hung over the entire convention and had prompted the New York Times to announce they would be attending the UNITY gathering instead of NABJ next  year.

Madison told the audience, “To every NABJ member who is wavering whether to make a choice between UNITY and NABJ, let me just say to you: If you are three blocks down the street, and folks can’t see your gender, they can see your skin color.”

The message was clear.  UNITY is nice, but you’re first, foremost and always Black and that precludes fanciful notions of reaching across the table to other groups of color.

“No matter how you define yourself, you are defined by the rest of the world as black,” Madison said.

The only decision I’ve made about NABJ in N’awlins or UNITY in Vegas is I don’t see myself in either place next summer.  Attending these conventions are expensive propositions when you’re footing the bills to be there.   The story of why NABJ split from UNITY is a long and winding road that probably needs its own post, but it comes down to the usual reasons.  Money, power and respect and the NABJ board felt it was getting enough of any of the three from UNITY.

More about that in Part 2 and how that messy separation turned what should have been a routine one-hour board meeting into a three-hour soul-searching of what NABJ stands for and where its priorities should be.

NABJ officials join Arianna in cheesin' for the camera

Mommy, there’s a Negro in the pool!

Oh no! Theyll change the complexion!

Oh no! They'll change the complexion!

PROBLEM: Nearly 60 percent of African-American children cannot swim, almost twice the figure for white children, according to a first-of-its-kind survey which USA Swimming hopes will strengthen its efforts to lower minority drowning rates and draw more blacks into the sport.

Stark statistics underlie the initiative by the national governing body for swimming. Black children drown at a rate almost three times the overall rate. And less than 2 percent of USA Swimming’s nearly 252,000 members who swim competitively year-round are black.

The solution seems obvious.  Teach Black kids how to swim.

BIGGER PROBLEM: More than 60 campers from Northeast Philadelphia  were turned away from a private swim club and left to wonder if their race was the reason.

“I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child,'” said camper Dymire Baylor.

The Creative Steps Day Camp paid more than $1900 to The Valley Swim Club. The Valley Swim Club is a private club that advertises open membership. But the campers’ first visit to the pool suggested otherwise.

“When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”

The next day the club told the camp director that the camp’s membership was being suspended and their money would be refunded.

“I said, ‘The parents don’t want the refund. They want a place for their children to swim,'” camp director Aetha Wright said.

Campers remain unsure why they’re no longer welcome.

“They just kicked us out. And we were about to go. Had our swim things and everything,” said camper Simer Burwell.

The explanation they got was either dishearteningly honest or poorly worded.

“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” said John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement. link

Keeping the coloreds out of the water for over 50 years.

Keeping the coloreds out of the water for over 50 years.

65 Black kids might “change the complexion” of the club?

Oops.  Looks like somebody didn’t get the memo.  Black people do so swim too!   Maybe the folks at The Valley Club would just as well let them drown.

You can’t make this stuff up.   But you should have to.

Philly.com followed up on how some of the kids were taking the rudely racist rejection.

Alce got worked up when he talked about what happened at the swim club.

“We have that paper – what’s it called? That paper called the Declaration of Independence. That says they can’t do that to us,” said Alce.

Gerard Bird, 14, nodded emphatically.

“Who gave them the right to judge us by our race?” he said. “It’s ignorance.”

Shuron Davis, 11, said she heard the comments, too.

“They said, ‘There’s too many black people at the pool.’ They were afraid we would hurt their children,” Shuron said.

The children were welcomed by a Jewish community center to swim in their pools.   A mixed-race group of protestors have picked The Valley Club facility with some carrying signs reading, “Jim Crow swims here.”

Where’s the brotherly love in the City of Brotherly Love?

Well, at least the kids learned a valuable lesson about life here in post-racial America.  THERE’S NO SUCH PLACE!