Monday, October 27, 2008

Am I Not Human?

Thanks to Electronic Village and Roots of Humanity, there is a new movement on the internet. It's a campaign inviting bloggers to hold forth on the 27th of every month on the theme of human rights violations. It's called "Am I Not Human?" and from now on till I hear otherwise, I'll be doing this. Unfortunately, it won't be hard to find material.

The human rights violation I'm featuring today is the case of Brandon McClelland, which has been all over the news the last few weeks. Brother Jesse of The Final Call has weighed in. Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune has thrown in his two cents. Even the Associated Press is on the story by now. And I first read about it thanks to Sokari over at Black Looks emanating all the way from South Africa.

The story unfolded in Paris, Texas, (why am I not surprised?) and is a LOT messier than some, but still clearly marked by indicators that the crime in question was committed the way it was committed because of the skin tone of the victim. Further, the way it's being persued by law enforcement officials has all the overtones at this point of a racist cover-up.

The backstory (where most of the messiness occurs) is that long-time criminal Shannon Finley, who is a European-American (that's "White" for those of you new to my blog), killed one of his "friends" five years ago, getting off with a manslaughter conviction because he shot the guy three times in the head by accident...? Uh-huh! (Oh, those Texans!) The conviction resulted in a four-year bit in prison.

During the trial, Brandon McClelland, an African-American who was just a teenager at the time and another "friend" of Finley's, originally testified under oath that Finley was with him when the killing occurred, but since that turned out to be a lie, he wound up doing two years in prison for perjury. Sound funny? It does to me. I mean, I'm wondering why this kid would be willing to lie on the stand for a guy with a long record who just shot somebody in the head three times. You wonder, too? I would guess so.

Anyway, time passed, the two men were released and life went on. Then, in the wee hours of September 16th, after Finley, McClelland, and another man named Charles Ryan Crostley made a late night beer run to Oklahoma, McClelland somehow wound up on foot on the road in front of the truck Finley was driving. The short form is that (again) somehow, McClelland ended up under the truck and dragged as much as 70 feet, a process that dismembered and mutilated his body. Finley and Crostley then left the body parts in the road and proceeded to a carwash where they attempted to clean McClelland's blood and brains from the truck before they went home to sleep it off.

When the crime was reported, law enforcement officers called it a "hit and run by an unknown driver," but since the three had been seen together and since the underbelly of the truck still bore the evidence of McClelland's dna, Finley and Crostley were eventually arrested. It is still unclear what the actual charge will be. Family members, the New Black Panther Party, and the Nation of Islam are calling for the incident's designation as a hate crime. But thanks to the history of the men and the history of the area, this may or may not occur.

You see, Paris, Texas, was the location of last year's hot story about Shaquanda Cotton, the 14-year-old African-American girl who was sentenced to seven years in a juvenile prison for pushing a hall monitor at her school while a 14-year-old European-American girl was given probation for purposely setting the fire that burned down her parents' house. And here we are, back in Paris again just a year later, so despite their assurances that this is NOT a cover-up, one would be, I assume, forgiven for wondering.

Supposedly, investigators are looking for any sign on what's left of Brandon McClelland's body that he was tied to the truck, the way James Byrd, Jr., was ten years ago in Jasper, Texas, just two hundred miles south of Paris. But, as one community activist put it, "What's the difference between dragging behind a truck or dragging under it?" Besides, though Finley admits that McClelland was "walking" in front of the truck and told someone else he "bumped" McClelland a few times before the man went down, I can't believe a Black man, however drunk, would "walk" casually down a road in front of two White guys in a truck -- especially in Texas.

Additionally, there is considerable discussion related to Finley's palling around with White Supremacists while he was in prison. And rumor has it, as well, that Finley took a dim view of McClelland's recent interest in a European-American woman.

There will unquestionably be much more to read about this story in coming weeks and months. Because Brandon McClelland is asking, "Am I not human?"


Villager said...

You added elements to this story that I had not heard before. Also, I hadn't seen that video either. Thank you very much for sharing this information with us...

peace, Villager

SjP said...

This is appalling! But, am I surprised? No. Much obliged for sharing and taking part in this month's Am I Not Human? Campaign.

I invite you to read my post here

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

That kid got 7 years for shoving a white girl? While a white girl got probation for burning down her parent's house? Geez-us! I swear, that injustice is just another reason I'll never step foot in Texas. said...

Only bad part about this story is that some Whites think it's ok to have black "friends." It isn't.

As for the dead black and anyone stupid enough to miss him - cry me a river.

Changeseeker said...

Hey, Villager. Welcome. And thanks for getting the ball rolling on this new movement.

SjP, I slipped over and read your beautiful piece on poverty. I'm liking this "Am I Not Human?" stuff. Nice work. And you'll be on my blog roll in a minute.

Kit, I wish it was ONLY Texas. Sigh. But I do think Texas has earned its reputation.

Gee, WemblyPark. You're exactly the type of person that makes discussions of human rights violations necessary. Sucks to be you, I guess, huh?

no_slappz said...


I don't know if that was you ranting on the video, but one point is painfully clear, but the speaker is obsessed with one killing because it appears to have been perpetrated by whites. On the other hand, the speaker seems oblivious to the stunning murder rate of blacks BY blacks.

You present yourself as a sociologist on the profile page of your blog. But your blog entry avoids the real issues afflicting blacks to obsess about non-issues.

If you are a sociologist, then you know that blacks commit murder at 5 to 7 times the rate of whites. And probably 10 times the rate of asians.


Meanwhile, when it comes to inter-racial murder, the fact is, it's rare.

Nevertheless, even though inter-racial murder is rare, a white is about 40 times more likely to be murdered by a black compared with the rate of blacks killed by whites.

Despite the extremely unfavorable balance, the rage expressed on the video seems sadly misplaced.

Meanwhile, your text says that Finley and Crostley were arrested for killing McClelland.

The case sounds tricky. Based on your statements, the only two witnesses are the defendants. Since it is unlikely they will confess, the prosecutors have to charge the defendants with a provable offense.

Meanwhile, from your earlier statements in your post, I see you have your own ideas about the definitions of criminal charges in cases of homicide.

You wrote:

"Shannon Finley killed one of his "friends" five years ago, getting off with a manslaughter conviction because he shot the guy three times in the head by accident...?"

Maybe it's news to you, but manslaughter is the appropriate charge. I suppose you believe the charge should have been first-degree murder -- premeditated murder. Not likely.

Meanwhile, "manslaughter" does not suggest that a homicide was "accidental."

As far as the initial reports of McClelland's death are concerned, well, what statement should police have made if all they have is a body on a road? Obviously their investigation led to a different and more accurate conclusion.

Obviously the killers are facing extensive jail time. Maybe life in jail. Maybe they will get what a couple of James Byrd's killers got -- the death penalty.

That aside, you seem outraged by one murder, a murder which will lead to the prosecution, conviction and punishment of the perpetrators rather than showing some concern for the fact that the black community breeds an extraordinary number of murderers.

Like the relative of Ms Hudson who killed three members of her family. I live in Brooklyn, NY and it is a simple fact of daily life here in NY City that at least one black will kill another black each day.

The figures this year are staggering. Not for the totals, but for the one-sidedness.

In the first 9 months of this year, about 83% of all murders in NY City were committed by blacks who killed other blacks. About 15% of murders in the first nine months were committed by hispanics who killed other hispanics. Whites and asians account for the other 2 percent.

You really need to focus on the real problems in black America instead of problems that are insignificant.

Furthermore, if you believe a reporter for the Final Call is anything but a racist nut, you are sadly misinformed.

The Nation of Islam is, itself, a corrupt organization, run by a person who undoubtedly had a close connection to the murder of Malcolm X.

Changeseeker said...

I trust you feel better now that you unloaded all that, no_slappz. You make some flat statements and throw around some statistics and I doubt that anything I write would make a dent, but I've been writing this blog for three years and unless you've read the entire thing, you have no idea whether I've avoided any issues or not.

You're correct that between 1976 and 2006, 86% of White victims were killed by Whites and 94% of Black victims were killed by Blacks, but that doesn't have anything to do with the fact that we live under a paradigm of White Supremacy in this country. So it's true that African-Americans are slightly more likely to kill European-Americans than vice versa, but a person of color who offs a White person is in a world of trouble, while a White person who kills a person of color may not even be held accountable (as is so often the case when the White person happens to be an "officer of the law.")

Franz Fanon said torture rearranges the mind of the tortured. I would argue that institutionalized oppression over a period of four hundred years has taken its toll among African-Americans and most particularly African-American men, but the outrage you hear in this post is not over one murder or over one kind of murder, but over a system of White Supremacy that manifests inself from coast to coast in the U.S., including Brooklyn. I would hardly argue that murder is ever acceptable in a civilized society, but White people have made sure that this society has never been civilized for people of color and this case is one example of what I mean by that.

no_slappz said...

changeseeker, you conveniently ignored the fact that blacks commit murder at a rate Several times higher than whites.

You seem quite comfortable with the level of violence blacks commit against each other.


Meanwhile, it seems you rationalize black violence by claiming it is the psychological response to the torture purported by that popular extremist Franz Fanon. Thus, I gather you are blaming whites for supplying the motivating factor causing blacks to kill other blacks. Fascinating logic.

As for blacks facing more serious punishment for murder than whites, well, you and I both know that isn't true. O.J. Simpson knows it too.

I gather you've never heard of a Bronx Jury. Bronx Juries are like O.J's jury. They let murderers go free. Though I must admit there is less of that these days.

Moreover, you did not address jury composition in your baseless implication that whites get off easy.

As for cops killing blacks, well, once again it's clear you are creating your own fictions.

Try showing some actual numbers of people shot and people killed by police in the US. Don't forget to note the race of the officers involved.

Even if we blindly assume ALL victims of police shootings are black and all the involved officers are white, the number of killings is insignificant compared with the number of blacks killed by other blacks every years.

Apparently, you believe EVERY police shooting is a murder.

Another point. I can tell from your comments that you do not understand statistics. Like I said, inter-racial murder is rare. Nevertheless, a white is about 40 Times more likely to be killed by a black than the other way around.

This difference is not, as you said, a Slight Difference.

You wrote:

"I would argue that institutionalized oppression over a period of four hundred years has taken its toll among African-Americans and most particularly African-American men..."

Nonsense. Ridiculous. The violence and mayhem in most black nations devastates those countries far more thoroughly than the crime and violence that cuts through black America. No racial abuse in the US has ever approached the utter savagery of the slaughter in Rwanda.

You wrote:

"...but the outrage you hear in this post is not over one murder or over one kind of murder, but over a system of White Supremacy that manifests inself from coast to coast in the U.S., including Brooklyn."

Yeah, sure. Tell me about this white supremacy.

I responded to your post on the Raw Dog site and asked a few questions relating to white supremacy.

In short, white supremacy reflects achievement, not control of one race by another.

Where are the black achievers? The engineers, scientists, industrialists, financial geniuses, mathematicians and entrepreneurs?

There are plenty of wealthy black athletes and entertainers. But virtually no black intellectuals.

Why is academic achievement so low among blacks? I have a close association with the public school system in NY City and I know who does well and who does not.

Why are asians at the top of the academic heap and blacks at the bottom?

You wrote:

"I would hardly argue that murder is ever acceptable in a civilized society, but White people have made sure that this society has never been civilized for people of color..."

I see. Explain your rationalization for believing that high crime rates within the black and hispanic communities are caused by whites.

Also, can you give me an example of a prosperous black nation?
and this case is one example of what I mean by that.

Changeseeker said...

Your aggressive tone and the length of your "comments" suggest strongly that you are laboring under a delusion here, no_slappz. This is MY blog -- not yours. I don't owe you explanations of anything and actually find you somewhat amusing. I haven't had anybody nearly this frenzied drop by in a while. But the bottom line is that you only appear here at all at my whim (you do understand that, right?) and I'm mainly leaving these comments as Exhibit A on the White Supremacist attitude I reference throughout this blog.

You are what I would call an "intellectualized White Supremacist." You sound SO knowledgable and logic-driven and measured in your "arguments," but they lead to the same old place. If I thought you were interested in learning something, I would respond, but you're not. Bother somebody else. I don't have time or inclination to play with you just for the sake of doing so. I trust that those who ARE interested in learning something will read enough of this blog to get what they came for without demanding the parade stop because they don't get it.

no_slappz said...

changeseeker, here's a synopsis and a link to a story from today's NY Times:

Historic Verdict as Niger Is Convicted of Failing to Protect Woman Sold Into Slavery

Abdoulaye Massalatchi, The Independent UK:

"The West African regional Court of Justice has convicted the state of Niger of failing to protect a 12-year-old girl from being sold into slavery, in what has been hailed as a victory for human rights."

"The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice said Niger had failed in its obligations to Hadijatou Mani, who was sold into slavery as a child in 1996 for about 300 pounds and regularly beaten and sexually abused."

One capacity of the black psyche always on display is the capacity to rationalize that black cultural pathologies are caused by External Forces.

You should become familiar with Reginald Lewis, author of "Why Should White Guys have all the Fun".

Changeseeker said...

This post really bothered you, huh, no_slappz?

Anonymous said...

The lady speaking on this video is annoying... I couldnt even get through the entire video because of her mouth....DDDDAAAMMMMNNNNN Shut up..and present the facts without all that damn yielding. The message is getting lost because of ALL THE DAMN YIELDING

Changeseeker said...

You mean yelling, Anonymous?