CINCINNATI: Police beat Black man to death

Nathaniel Jones, 41, father of two, died Nov. 30 after six Cincinnati police officers repeatedly pummeled him with metal batons. Jones was unarmed.

Jones was the 15th Black man to be killed by Cincinnati police since 1995. This incident came only two and half years after African Americans rose up in protest when police shot and killed another unarmed Black man, Roger Owensby Jr.

In a statement, Cincinnati Police Captain Vincent Demasi said that after viewing a videotape, “(the tape) shows us our officers were acting within their training.”

NAACP President Calvert Smith, who also saw the tape, said, “If proper procedure means that you can use that kind of force to clobber people who are clearly disarmed, there is something wrong.” The NAACP and the Citizen Complaint Authority, established by the state, is looking into the death, as is the federal Justice Department.

EUTAW, Ala.: Ban the death penalty

By a unanimous vote, the Eutaw City Council became the 100th U.S. municipality and the 14th in Alabama, including Birmingham, to enact a resolution calling for a halt in state executions.

Esther Brown, 70, is a retired psychiatric social worker who spearheads the anti-death penalty movement in Alabama, Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. She has criss-crossed the state speaking and circulating a newsletter, written mostly by death row inmates. “I think people are more aware of it in Alabama than there were a year ago, she said. “I look at it as education. People are hearing things that otherwise they wouldn’t hear.”

Alabama’s death row population has doubled in the last decade to 190 people. Another 300 face capital murder charges.

State Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) will introduce a bill in the 2004 session of the Alabama Legislature declaring a moratorium on the death penalty.

ST. LOUIS: State-run health insurance touted

The Missouri Foundation for Health released a study Dec. 2 which concluded that a state-run health care insurance system would provide better care for the state residents and cost dramatically less.

The foundation was created in 2000 when Blue Cross and Blue Shield became for-profit companies. Its mission is to provide affordable health care for all. It has $1 billion in assets.

The study found that by moving to a state-run, instead of the current private insurance company, profit-driven system, would save $3 billion in administrative costs. Under the current private system, health care in Missouri costs $29.4 billion per year, and over 570,000 Missourians have no health care insurance.

The study proposes a payroll tax, like Social Security, to replace private insurance company premiums.

“We could cover everybody for a little less than we’re spending now,” said foundation president and former University of St. Louis Director Dr. James R. Kimmey.

DENVER: Gerrymandering ruled illegal

Colorado Republicans tried to do a “Texas” and re-draw the state’s congressional districts to create a Republican dynasty in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the state’s Supreme Court rejected the new maps Dec. 1. Under the ruling, Colorado’s seven congressional districts will remain as they were in 2002.

“We are back to the old maps,” said Tom Downe, attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party. “This is a blow to the Republicans nationally.” The White House orchestrated the Colorado effort, just as they did in Texas, according to Downe.

Republicans hold five of the seven congressional seats, but using the original maps, Democrats are optimistic that they can pick up two, bringing their total to four, in 2004.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a case pending in federal court which would, if successful, result in new congressional maps.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner
Edwards ( Julia Lutsky and
Phyllis Wetherby contributed to this week’s clips.