Jerome Smith, Baldwin, and RFK (via @JarvisDeBerry)

Jerome Smith was a young civil rights activist and Freedom Rider in 1963. Arthur Schlesinger, in his book on RFK, recalls that CORE described Smith as a young man beaten more than any other CORE worker at the time.

Jerome Smith stood up to RFK

It was no surprise to anyone that Smith had no kind words for Bobby or his brother:

“Mr. Attorney General, you make me want to puke.  I don’t care what you think, and I don’t care what your brother thinks either.”

Smith was a man of the streets, not academia, or the entertainment world. He’d been in the streets, on the buses, working to register voters and advocate the cause. In the 1963 meeting Jarvis DeBerry mentions in his article about the film, “I Am Not Your Negro”, he was arguably the wokest person in the room.

Baldwin Documentary

jerome smith

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but having seen “Hidden Lines” last weekend, it’s time I did. The movie is about Baldwin, so it’s not surprising that some things get left on the cutting room floor. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Jerome Smith (assuming they shot his remarks at all. Jarvis explains it:

Because that section of the documentary focuses on Baldwin’s friendship with the playwright Lorraine Hansberry and her premature death at 34, it is Hansberry’s disgusted response to Kennedy’s hemming and hawing that is given attention.  But Hansberry’s decision to snub Kennedy by standing up, bidding him goodbye and exiting the room wasn’t the most demonstrable display of disgust.  The most disgusted response, which isn’t in the documentary, came from New Orleans’ own Jerome Smith.

So, it’s no deep conspiracy that the woke young man got left out of the documentary. He just got overshadowed. I learned something new today, that Smith was from New Orleans. I’d not read Schlesinger’s book (it came out in 1978) when I was teaching American History in the early 1980s. I certainly would have highlighted this encounter, if for no other reason, because Smith was a local guy.

Now I want to go back to the classroom. Gotta win dat powerball.

(cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)

Will there be justice for Joe McKnight?

Will there be justice for Joe McKnight?

Joe McKnight was shot dead in a road rage incident on December 1st of last year. The shooter, Ronald Gasser, was originally arrested for manslaughter.  That’s mainy because Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand never met a white guy with a gun he didn’t like. A grand jury saw things differently, however, and indicted the shooter Gasser with second-degree murder. That’s a distinction with a difference, because second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence. Gasser’s looking at life as a plantation slave.

Joe McKnight – murder victim

This is serious business, and the JP DA’s office must clean up the public relations mess Normand left them. Gasser, can afford private counsel. They’re hard at work, making motions to suppress evidence:

Among several claims, the motion states Gasser’s confession was not obtained “freely and voluntarily, but (was) made under the influence of fear, intimidation, threats or other duress, or because of promises or other inducements.” The motion also claims Gasser was not read his Miranda rights, and that investigators seized evidence without issuing a proper search warrant.

This is pretty much pro-forma for defense attorneys. It’s going to be tough for them to convince the court that a guy who started his self-defense claims as soon as he got out of his vehicle was intimidated or coerced.

Sheriff Normand can’t help himself

joe mcknight

Sheriff Newell Normand, of Jefferson Parish (T-P/NOLA.com photo)

Of course, the Sheriff tossed the ADAs on the case under the bus:

“Our arrest is only as good as a prosecution,” Normand said. “We accomplish nothing if we make an arrest and we can’t put ourselves in the best posture to reach a successful prosecution.”

Yessir, that’s cooperation to get criminals off the street, I tell you. While Normand’s latest presser was a far cry from his December temper tantrums about social media, he really needs a PR consultant. He needs someone who will tell him to shut up and maintain his dignity. Jefferson Parish is already a #shitshow of politicians who don’t know how to act.

Still, at this point, things look good in terms of justice for Joe McKnight. Gasser is not an appealing defendant, even though he’s a white man who shot a black man.

Chris Roberts is out of his league in the Yenni fight

Chris Roberts can’t help himself

chris roberts

Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts has been unable to get any traction on ousting Parish President (and admitted sexual predator) Mike Yenni for months now. It was revealed last September that Yenni admitted to having inappropriate and sexually explicit conversations with a 17-year old. The young man was a senior at Jesuit High School at the time he and Yenni texted. After the original #shitshow the revelations caused, which also included members of the Yenni family, the incident fell from public view for the most part. Councilman Chris Roberts wants to change that.

Yenni went to ground

I’ll say this about my fellow Brother Martin High alum, Greg Buisson: He’s good at what he does. When local politicians need help after doing Incredibly Stupid Things, they call Buisson. His main advice to them appears to be very simple, Shut The Fuck Up. They go to ground and stay there. That’s what Neil Abramson did, after he became embroiled in a controversy over choosing the Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives last Spring. So, Yenni’s situation is exposed. He hires Buisson, and is told to go to ground. He stays out of the public eye until his advisor says the coast is clear enough to get back to work. Buisson must have decided this past week was the time, since Yenni appeared on a local talk radio show last Monday.

Chris Roberts and the recall

Westbank Councilman Chris Roberts doesn’t like Mike Yenni. Their animosity goes back further than when we all learned that Yenni wants to blow young men. Since the effort to recall Mike is halfway through and they have only amassed half the necessary signatures on the petition, Roberts decided to raise the awareness level of the scandal in the wake of Yenni’s radio appearance. Da Advocate describes the letter Roberts circulated:

 

The letter Roberts sent Tuesday gets more graphic than any media account of the text messages in question. Citing sources familiar with the texts, Roberts’ letter contains a reference to a form of oral sex Yenni is said to have offered to perform on the 17-year-old.

 

Graphic gay sex is not the sort of thing the Good Republicans of Jefferson. Roberts knows that.

Yenni Fights Back

chris roberts

Buisson knows how to push back. A letter released by Yenni claims that Chris Roberts wrote a bad check for $6500. That ups the ante from a debatable text conversation to check fraud. Thieving politicians are something the Good Republicans Of Jefferson like even less than blowjobs.

Pass the popcorn.