“Islamophobia”

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

-U.S. Constitution – First Amendment

I live in one of the greatest city’s in the world. New York City is one of the most diverse, culturally rich city’s, next to Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. At the turn of the 20th Century, immigrants from all over the world paid their respects to Ellis Island in hopes of a better life and dreams of opportunity. No matter what creed, race, or nationality. NYC was a city that you had to make your way to before you migrated to other parts of the country. Or, stay and develop a way of life to provide for your family and community. The “so-called” United States was founded by ex-patriots to find religious freedom and to escape the treacherous dictators and imperialism that extended countries like France, Britain, and Spain. Yet, some of our founding fathers felt the need to enslave Africans to help establish this new country via commerce and trade to develop a new identity called the 13 Colonies. It was in these new states that a group of men decided to create a doctrine that would help those who were tired of dealing with their former lives to begin a new found freedom. The Constitution of the United States was drafted out of a need to define how people could live under a democratic and orderly life.

Over the last month and a half, the city has been the hotbed of one most controversial issues that’s already divided the country. In fact, I’ve seen New Yorkers show their true colors in the last week on their take on religious views as well as how race hasn’t changed much since the beginning of slavery. For New York to be so diverse as it is; the mentality of some of my fellow New Yorkers, as well as people across the country, have exhibited pure racist and backward fanatic thinking.

The Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center, which was approved by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to be built in lower Manhattan, is generating a backlash of critics to the tune of both the G.O.P and democrats divided on the issue.

Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder, CEO and Executive Director of the Cordoba Initiative, will oversee the 13-story Islamic center which will include a mosque that will hold up to 2,000 worshipers. The new facility is just 500 feet from Ground Zero where radical Islamic terrorists destroyed the twin towers on September 11th, 2001.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the building of the new mosque. In a speech he gave the day after the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave Park 51 the green light he adds:

“We have come here to Governors Island to stand where the earliest settlers first set foot in New Amsterdam, and where the seeds of religious tolerance were first planted. We’ve come here to see the inspiring symbol of liberty that, more than 250 years later, would greet millions of immigrants in the harbor, and we come here to state as strongly as ever – this is the freest City in the world. That’s what makes New York special and different and strong.

Our doors are open to everyone – everyone with a dream and a   willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it is sustained by immigrants – by people from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than two hundred different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here, or you came yesterday, you are a New Yorker.

We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.”

This is the very thing our county was founded on. The right to practice religion freely without prejudice and restrictions. Unfortunately, New Yorkers and the country have forgotten this. What’s even more striking, is you have Christians and the religious right that is opposed to mosque. As a Baptist, I was raised biblically to understand the power of forgiveness. Something most “so-called” followers of any religion aren’t practicing. Matthew 5:44-45 states:

“But I tell you; Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you

may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and

the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.”

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 has been extremely tough on New Yorkers and the country. But what I have a problem with is how the Bush Administration torridly coined the term “war on terror.” It applied to all those who practice Islam. Muslims were now deemed “the evil ones.” As I last recalled, Al Qaida was an extremist terrorist group or network that believed Allah called them to perform acts of violence that pose a threat to Islam or their beliefs. Those who practice Islam would tell you that’s against their belief and faith. Muslims practice the Five Pillars of Islam that involve reading and studying the Qur’an based on the Prophet of Islam Muhammad’s teachings. Nowhere does the Qur’an stress nor indicate bodily harm or murder to people. Read and research it for yourself.  President Bush generalized Islam into Al Qaida and called them the “unnecessary evil.” So, for almost the last decade, the media has painted a negative picture of those who practice Islam both here and abroad. We still have some ignorant people who believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Obama made the statement last week that the mosque’s location “is not an issue for us.”

This new form of “Islamophobia” seems to be somewhat hypocritical because I can remember some terrorist events that were caused by radical and extremist christian groups here in the states. I don’t ever recall any christian groups opposing not building a memorial or place of worship when Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City back in 1995. McVeigh killed 168 people at the time and wanted to lead a revolt against the federal government. Or, how about a memorial commemorating David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that killed 54 adults and 21 children in a 51 day siege. These extremists committed acts of terrorism like the victims of 9/11, but the media and former administration has put Al Qaida and all Muslims on the “hit-list.” Muslims, like Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, and atheists have the same religious rights protected by the constitution. What’s sad is we have a system of ignorance thats allowed politics, racism, and sexism thats stripped away their freedoms. Also, how no one has tried to explain how these radical sects continue to generate more negative press for those who practice the Islamic faith.

I have forgiven the members of Al Qaida for their acts of destruction on September 11th, 2001. It’s been almost ten years and I’ve moved on and learned a valuable lesson from this. The sad thing is that ignorance and hate have surfaced instead tolerance and understanding. The very principle Jesus lived by is the one element that the country and world cast upon those of the Islamic faith. Let’s turn the other cheek and forgive them. Remember, the book of Romans chapter 2 verse1 in the New Testament states: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgement, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

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Hell Up In Harlem

On August 8th, 2010 around 3:05am; Luis Soto was fatally shot due to an alleged fight between Angel Alverez in Harlem. The two had an altercation over a female while attending a block party at a park on 143rd Street that eventually carried over to 144th and Lenox Avenue where four police officers fired 46 rounds, one of the bullets killing Soto; but the other 21 rounds hit Alverez.  Over the last week, more details have surfaced on the shooting and on how this could’ve been prevented.

This story has had an impact on me because the shooting took place right in front of my apartment complex, literally. But what the press didn’t tell you is, this incident could’ve been prevented around 10:00pm and that many lives that night weren’t protected by New York’s Finest! I witnessed the New York Police Department fall “asleep at the wheel” from early on in the evening, but I’ll fill you in on the details later in my column.

While the NYPD was about to wrap their case on Monday, Angel Alverez was laying up in Harlem Hospital in critical condition. The police were about to charge Alverez for 1st degree murder until when the results came back on Luis Soto’s death. According to police reports during the night of the shooting, “Alverez and Soto were fighting and then while the two were on the ground, Alverez  pulled out a .38 caliber and shot Soto.” The report also stated the officers ordered Alverez to put the gun down as he shot at them. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated “we have witnesses that say Luis Soto had a gun in his possession. We have witnesses that say there was a struggle over the gun and one or two shots were fired. We have witnesses that say Angel Alverez had the gun in his possession.”  What’s even sadder about the case is Alverez shot twice, the NYPD officers shot 46 rounds. The bullet that killed Soto was of a NYPD officer. Again, the officers were about to pass the buck off on Alverez, but the info points to the boys in blue.

In another strange and bizarre twist in the investigation, last Thursday the NYPD seized $87,000 in cash, 25 bags of marijuana, and evidence of cocaine trafficking in Angel Alverez’s apartment. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms traced the weapon to a man who bought the gun in Columbus, Georgia and are investigating how the gun got to New York. Also, Luis Soto’s father is awaiting trial on heroin trafficking charges.

This shooting reeks of deja vu from the Sean Bell case from 2005, in which the New York City Police Department recently settled out of court with Bell’s family and his two best friends. Bell and his two best friends were celebrating at his bachelor party and upon returning home, the police fired multiple rounds killing him and injuring his friends. Bell was to get married later that morning.

During last Sunday’s shooting, 5 others were injured including Larry Garlick, an innocent bystander, who took a bullet in the leg. He’s suing the NYPD for $20 million dollars. Garlick’s attorney is suing on the grounds of police brutality and reckless endangerment with an intent to kill. All of the victims from Soto family, Alverez, and the bystanders will file lawsuits this week on the same or similar charges.

How this melee went down could’ve been prevent earlier during the evening. See, the press didn’t indicate that this is a busy time in Harlem because of Harlem Week activities and festivities. At the block party, there was also the famous Rucker Basketball Tournament and Games which last all day and bring well over 2,000 people depending who’s playing and who attends. This is the same park where the block party went on unto well past 2:00am, past park curfew. The press said there was close to 200 people at the block party. That was false. There were close to 900 people in the park at 11:00pm. The park curfew on weekends is 11:00pm.

People were double parked on 143rd and Lenox Avenue at 10:00pm. By 1:00am, there were only two police officers stationed in a squad car blocking off 143rd and Lenox in front of the park. By this time, I only counted 5 walking officers on the opposite side of Lenox and 145th Street. The disc jockey was cussing and blasting music well past 2:00am, only increasing the mob outside my apartment complex and the block party across the street.  Around 10:00pm there were a string of fights on 142nd and Lenox Avenue.

Again, as I stressed earlier, NYPD was “asleep at the wheel.” There was hardly police presence to control the tension and crowd that took place from earlier during the evening. From 141st and Lenox to 145th in Lenox, the boys in blue were scarce and really no where to be found on the busiest weekend in Harlem.  Yet, the NYPD  continues to place rookies in areas like Harlem where most young officers have never dealt with events or persons of another ethnic background or persons of color. What happened last Sunday shouldn’t have occurred. What happened was, the four police officers who were involved were scared and they got “trigger happy.” Although the police has picked up some dirt on both Alverez and Soto, NYPD’s Internal Affairs department backed off Alverez because his bullet didn’t kill Luis Soto. Even though they were about to pin the murder last Monday and Tuesday on Alverez, many community leaders and the victims attorneys stepped up to the plate to speak out on this deadly shooting.

As of early this morning as I write this, Angel Alverez was arrested, yet the NYPD has no video or surveillance footage of the incident. The officers involved were reassigned after a week of paid time off. Again, the evidence doesn’t weigh out and left Brother Alverez out there to fend for himself. The city and the community are in a rage while the NYPD continues to keep this under wraps. It’s about time that the Attorney General and other Federal agencies investigate and implement new laws on how city and country municipalities regulate measures of unjust and excessive law enforcement. The unions, police chiefs, and mayors seem to keep allowing this type of behavior while further putting innocent people in harms way. I can see maybe shooting a couple of shots to frighten the shooter, yet firing almost 50 rounds scares me. And to try to cover their actions by charging a man who’s probably innocent and whose “alleged” gun shot didn’t kill him. And many law enforcement agents wonder why people in the community don’t have respect for them. I hope the city of New York learned a page from the Sean Bell or Rodney King incidents. The late great Isaac Hayes once said: “you can beat a dog so much…he’ll even turn his back on you!”

Sometimes history just seems to keep repeating itself.

Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

Shirley Versus The Media Lies

The media once again messed up and made a mockery of how the news was presented causing a major catastrophe where one’s job and credibility were almost lost. It also made readers reassess how they view bloggers and to hold them accountable for accuracy and bias.  Fox News ran part of a speech by Shirley Sherrod, former head of rural development for the agriculture department in Georgia, where she made comments where she refused to help assist a white farmer 24 years ago at the NAACP’s 20th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet back in March of this year. The clip in question was posted by right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart, who’s been in the business for well over 15 years working for such bloggers as Matt Drudge, Arianna Huffington, and the founder of his own website, Breitbart.com. Breitbart edited the video to align Sherrod’s comments where she seemed both racist and non-ethical towards whites. It was from that point where he used the video to rage a war between the NAACP and the highly embittered Tea Party instigating that the noted civil rights organization were bigots; far from the truth.

Fox News began a media war beginning with airing the video without it being edited for accuracy or researched the reliability of the source. Then, the network caught Benjamin Jealous, President of the NAACP, off guard with the video and asked what he thought about Shirley Sherrod’s comments. The NAACP condemned her remarks and asked that the Department of Agriculture ask her to resign. The White House got pressure from the video and demanded Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack take action. This took place in a span of 24 hours. Both the NAACP and the White House Press Secretary realized the impact of their mistake when they both admitted the video didn’t reflect nor implicate Sherrod was a racist. Both camps drove the media with apology statements and passed the blame on Fox News for not thoroughly researching their facts. It was then Andrew Britbart admitted he doctored the video and that his ties to the tea party were official.

Breitbart’s website has been known for stretching the current news from credible news organizations to side with the right. In a current issue of Time Magazine, he made some inflammatory comments on President Obama as well as his thoughts on conservatives.“Most conservatives are individuals,” he explains. “For years, they’ve been pummeled by the collectivists who run the American media, Hollywood and Washington. The underground conservative movement that is now awakening is the ecosystem I’ve designed my sites to tap into.”  As you recall, it was Breitbart’s website biggovernment.com, that ran the controversial and fake videos of the ACORN workers that worked posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend. The video eventually caused the organization close to year of negative press and a Congressional investigation which concluded that ACORN was clear of any wrongdoing.

This has become the norm over the last decade in broadcast news. A political group or a non-credible newsperson/blogger has runaway with a story and made it a farce with the American public. Today’s journalism has fallen under the TMZ and cable news talking head programs that are “qualified” as credible and accurate. Actually, today’s news is considered unethical and non-researched hype commentary. What Andrew Britbart did is what Jason Blair (former New York Times writer) and Mitch Albom (Detroit Free Press) did when they were caught plagiarizing and writing columns of events that didn’t exist. The President, his staff, and the public were exposed to doctored video that almost ruined a person’s life and their entire livelihood. This is almost the equivalent to convicting a person for a crime that he or she didn’t commit without the proper testimony or evidence. Both Fox News and Andrew Britbart’s websites are now questionable because one; they put race before ethics and hardcore journalism. Two, with Britbart’s failed and connected ties to the tea party, the ACORN story along with the Sherrod incident, is more than enough for a slander lawsuit in Sherrod’s favor. Again, the media has made a mistake further making the news more of daily soap opera instead of the news.

During my time in radio and television I’ve seen the demise of news rooms and reporters. I’ve also seen the increase of disgruntled news people like Britbart develop blogs and websites that continue to push the people in a vast wasteland of misinformation as well as hate based political  rhetoric that has been labeled as the news. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the Constitution and our right to free speech. But, I have a real problem when race and misinformation is blurred and slanted as fake news. What’s even more surprising is that advertisers didn’t pull their ads from Fox News like they did during TV host Glenn Beck made those racist comments about President Obama.

What I really liked about this whole incident is how Fox News and Britbart tried to use race and it backfired. How the entire video saved both the Obama administration as well as the Agriculture Department. Yes, they made the formal apologies and Mrs. Sherrod will get a better job. But, how Bribart’s credibility (not that he didn’t have any anyway) is shot and Fox News is left looking like the bad guy. And rightfully so! To use race as a way to further divide the people on false pretenses tells the people that their “fair and balanced news” is motivated by lies and hate. Something our former news icons like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Kronkite, Max Robinson, and Ed Bradley would turn over in their graves if they witnessed anything like this.

Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com