Sunday, June 30, 2013

Invisible Prisoners: Why Are So Many Children, Especially Girls, Placed in Solitary Confinement?

Invisible Prisoners: Why Are So Many Children, Especially Girls, Placed in Solitary Confinement?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who Stole The Real Out of Rap?

As a 43 year old, I was around during the infancy of rap & the birth of the hip Hop culture on a whole. The edge that made rap music what it was in the 70’s & 80’s and its ability to flourish over the years is that the music itself originated under the ideals of realness. Rappers such as Africa Bambatta, Kurtis Blow and songs such as ‘The Message” brought the day to day struggles of urban life to the masses across the nation & around the world. Not just within the entertainment industry, but the whole state of mind among inner city African Americans at that time caused the generation to adopt the moniker of “Keep it Real,” to be the slogan for the time.

It was the realness of rap music that appealed to the youth and transcended racial lines. I remember thinking to myself that finally, people would now understand the day to day plight of inner city youth. Whether not anything would be done was a different story but at least now it would be out there. Rappers were the reporters of the urban youth and they told it how they knew it. N.W.A. and the GETO Boyz gave the world the urban life straight with no chaser. 2Live Crew and Digital Underground added a comedic aspect to their approach while Public Enemy and X-Clan got into our minds; motivating us to make a change. The bottom line was there were many different artists speaking to the world on behalf of a generation and culture that desperately needed a voice.

Fast forward to 2013; each day I take a trip of approximately 35-45 minutes into downtown. This trip takes me along scenic Lake Shore Drive into the Loop the out the 290 highway. As a lifelong fan of rap music & the hip hop culture, I listen to what’s being played on the radio. During my trip, every rap artist that I listened to during my travel, spoke of the exact same content in their music. Money, cars & women were the topics and hook of every song. How much money they have, how much sex they get, and what kind of car they drive. The artists speak on how they belittle others with less money or how they eliminate (lyrically I assume) others that are trying to get where they are. The artists are giving listeners an impression of life that is anything BUT real. Even the artists themselves don’t have the type of money and live the type of lives that they rap about. One record said, “I woke up in a new Bugatti.” Get the f@#k outta here!!

What frightens me is that impressionable youth are listening to these lyrics and since none of these artists are giving these kids the step by step method of “earning” the type of money that they rap about, these kids are on their own to figure out a way to get it.  The contemporary artists that promote this type of lyrical content give African American youth a fictitious view of life. They undermine the parental efforts of instilling a strong work ethic and promote a short cut mentality in Black youth. Youth that adopt this short cut mentality believe that they are entitled to expensive material possessions without a diligent work ethic. Furthermore, these artists have the opportunity to explain the “make believe” nature of their lyrics through interviews.  However, they choose to show their “outlaw” nature through random run ins with law enforcement, used by publicists to enhance their, street credibility. Ironically, most of these artists receive their first contact with police after becoming famous.

Ironically, the ring leader or the “Boss, “of the circus of unreal rappers calls himself Rick Ross. William Leonard Roberts II is a former Florida correctional officer that caught his big break and ran with it.  After graduating from Miami Carol City Senior High School, Roberts attended the historically black college Albany State University on a football scholarship. Instead of utilizing his life to inspire & motivate others seeking the same path. Mr. Roberts took the life, style and name of convicted drug dealer; Ricky Ross. The phenomenal good that could have arisen from the story of an individual who worked to feed his family while struggling to attain his goals will never be known. Instead the man was content with the personal gains reaped by claiming the life of another. So pitiful is this case of identity theft, even the way Ross wore his beard and head was imitated. Mr. Roberts went as far as to deny his legitimate past until he was presented with irrefutable evidence of his previous work history.
Real Rick Ross

As an original participant of the hip hop movement, the culture that evolved from it and the music that represents it. I am shocked & appalled at our current state of being. The whole basic dynamic of this life is that of realness, no matter where you come from. The original rappers were reporters from their respective geographical areas.  These reporters used their lyrical ability to give insight on their past, present and future state of being. Though the artists gave it to us in their own manner, they held fast onto the ideology of keeping it real. Through Tupac Shakur’s lyrics we were allowed into his life and inner most thoughts. Notorious Christopher Wallace told us where he came from and how he got to where he was. Ice Cube took us with him for a day in his life.

The Rapper/ RobertsII
The movement began from a people’s desire to evolve and tell the world of their evolution. Though it may sound simple, keeping it real was the essence of the hip hop lifestyle. In order to institute change we must return to rationally based thinking grounded into reality.  It was this way of thinking that created a culture based on integrity that would influence the lives of millions. We must return to this way of thinking, accepting all that is real and rejecting the unreal. At that point we will see the rebirth of the movement that spawned a culture so powerful that it created a music form that changed the face of entertainment; forever.

C.O. William Leonard Roberts II

Thursday, June 6, 2013

To Protect and Serve….with a Nice Side Dish

In my ongoing search for incidents of depravity perpetrated by people that we share the planet with, I happened upon New York police officer Gilberto Valle. It seems that on Wednesday October 24th, 2012 agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation took Officer Gilberto Valle III into custody after they uncovered several plots to kidnap, rape, cook and eat women, yes EAT WOMEN!!! The Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed the official criminal complaint charging Valle, a six year veteran of the force with kidnapping, conspiracy and illegal use of a federal law enforcement database. It is said that Valle utilized NYPD surveillance equipment to keep tabs on his would be victims. In one of the most disturbing and unusual arrests involving a police officer, federal investigators discovered files on Valle’s computer pertaining to at least 100 women, according a law enforcement official, some of them were his classmates from high school.

The officer’s estranged wife initially contacted the F.B.I. to report that Valle viewed and kept disturbing items on his computer and feared for the safety of their 1 year old daughter.  On his computer Valle was found to have created a document named,”A Blueprint for Abducting and Cooking.”  The document contained women’s name, birth date and physical details like height, weight and bra size. The evidence against the officer consists largely of e-mails and instant messages in which Officer Valle was “discussing plans to kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women,” according to the complaint. In each case, it appears that the women knew the officer vaguely. And in at least one case, the officer used the National Crime Information Center to get information about a third woman.  

On July 19, Officer Valle sent an instant message to the co-conspirator, indicating that he was meeting with “victim-1” three days later, according to the complaint. The victim, who was interviewed in October by the F.B.I., said she had met the officer that day “at a restaurant for lunch,” according to the complaint. What happened during or after the lunch was not disclosed. The U.S. Attorney says federal investigators found evidence of how closely Mr. Valle may have watched intended victims–cellphone data revealed the cop made and received calls while very close to a second target’s Manhattan apartment. Investigators say interviews with “victim 2″ revealed that she’d never had Mr. Valle over to her place and didn’t know him very well. Also found on Valle’s computer were conversations between he and at least 2 co-conspirators as the planned their acts.  Court documents contained a chilling transcript of an online exchange regarding the second would-be victim. Below are actual recordings of Valle and other unnamed would be accomplices taken from chat sessions held in July 2012:

CC-1 (Co-Conspirator 1), Mr. Valle and his associate allegedly discussed the best ways to kidnap, cook and eat an unnamed victim.

CC-2 (Co-Conspirator 2): I definitely want her and how much again, I’m sorry to ask but I don’t remember.

VALLE: $5,000 and she is all yours.
CC-2: Could we do 4?

VALLE: I am putting my neck on the line here. If something goes wrong somehow, I am in deep shit. $ 5,000 and you need to make sure she is not found. She will definitely make the news.

 In other on-line transmissions contained within the criminal complaint, Mr. Valle agreed with another co-conspirator to kidnap a different woman whom he would deliver bound, gagged and alive. Officer Valle offered to kidnap a woman on an unnamed person’s behalf for a price: “$5,000 and she is all yours,” the officer wrote to that person, according to the complaint. Officer Valle appeared to be under the impression that the person he was communicating with intended to rape the woman, according to the complaint. “She will be alive,” he wrote. “I think I would rather not get involved in the rape. You paid for her. She is all yours; I don’t want to be tempted the next time I abduct a girl.” Valle continued, “I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus,” he wrote to the co-conspirator in one electronic communication recovered by law enforcement authorities. “Cook her over a low heat; keep her alive as long as possible.” When the co-conspirator asked how big the officer’s oven was, Officer Valle replied, “Big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs.” While the complaint does not identify any of the women in question, F.B.I. agents later learned that cellphone tracking devices indicated that Officer Valle had made or received calls in the areas where the women lived.

Held without bail on charges of federal kidnapping conspiracy by the order of Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman; officer Valle’s trial began in February in the courtroom of Judge Paul Gardephe .  Valle's wife Kathleen Mangan took the stand, breaking down in sobs as she described discovering her husband's plot kill her: “I was supposed to be tied by my feet, my throat slit, and they were going to watch the blood rush from my body,” she said. During the trial, the three initial victims, who prosecutors say were Valle's "intended targets," testified as did an FBI agent who read excerpts of Valle's sick web chats in which he described plans to kidnap and barbecue the women who spoke in court.

As the prosecution and defense battled back and forth, the focus of testimony was reality vs. fantasy. An FBI agent took the stand recounting reams of Valle's sick web chats with fellow fetishists - admitting that those his agency considered "serious" sounded very similar to those considered "fantasy." Defense attorney Julia Gatto did not deny the evidence against Valle but chose to refer to his comments as "weird proclivities." Gatto and fellow defense attorney Robert Baum insisted that Valle was just fantasizing and noted that none of the women were ever harmed.

Prosecutors countered that an analysis of Valle's computer found he was taking concrete steps to abduct his wife and at least five other women he knew. Valle "left the world of fantasy and entered the world of reality," prosecutor Hadassa Waxman said during closing arguments. She said the officer's arrest near Halloween last year interrupted a ghoulish plan to "kidnap, torture, rape and commit other horrific acts on young women."

After 2+ days of deliberation, the jury found officer Gilberto Valle III, guilty of conspiring to kidnap and eat women as well as guilty of wrongfully accessing a federal database. Using words such as solid and damning in reference to the evidence they were presented, the jury’s decision was unanimous. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19th and the former NYPD officer faces a potential life sentence. Many people sentenced to prison write books. I wonder if he plans to share any of his tightly held recipes in a cookbook.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Serial Murder Revisit Roseland Community

The Roseland community in Chicago has had more than their share of serial murder over the years. The new millennium brought to light the serial murderer Geoffrey T. Griffin.  From July of 1998 to July 2000, Griffin used the neighborhoods of the Roseland area of Chicago as his personal killing fields. In a modus operandi familiar among African American serial killers, Geoffrey Griffin would lure area streetwalkers to abandoned buildings in lieu of receiving drugs or cash. Once inside, Griffin would rape then murder his victims. Arrested on June 17, 2000, he was subsequently charged with eight murders and 1 aggravated criminal sexual assaultMany of his charges stem from bodies found long after his arrest.

On September 22, 2005, Judge Fred Suria convicted Griffin of killing Angela Jones after watching a videotape in which he described how he squeezed Jones' throat during sex after the two smoked crack cocaine.  Judge Suria acquitted him of killing Beverly Burns even though the man's shirt and jacket were spattered with her blood. The judge said that he was troubled by the lack of evidence at the crime scene against Griffin and by the fact that there was no blood of the victim at the scene. Griffin was sentenced to 100 years in prison on November 06, 2005. Trials for the other murders are forthcoming.

In 2010, serial murder returned to Roseland. Michael Johnson, a 24 year old Roseland resident was arrested on May 22, 2010 and charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of criminal sexual assault.  Johnson’s DNA was taken and said to have matched at least four unsolved murders in the area. Currently held in Cook County Department of Corrections on no bond, Johnson now 27 is being investigated for additional murders in the Roseland community.

The premise and purpose of writing and publishing, “TheDarker Side of Evil,” was to enlighten society of the existence of Black serial killers as well as to advise African-American communities of these predator’s abilities to hide and operate in plain sight.  As usual the victims of these crimes were women. More specifically, women labeled nightwalkers or prostitutes that take to life on the streets by virtue of drug addiction.  Drug addicts and prostitutes are viewed by some as people whose behavior brought their fate upon themselves.  In my book, I pointed that society views these people as “throwaways,” people that society has basically given up on and truthfully wish would fall from the face of the earth anyway.

WE MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE VIEW EACH OTHER. The only time society seems to feel any level of empathy is when a problem affects us directly. We as a civilized society must change our judgmental views of each other and begin to care for something outside of ourselves. The devil cannot exist and operate if we keep an eye out for the well-being of the people around us. He thrives on our selfishness and inability to concern with the issues of the people we see and interact with daily. As long as we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten.