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Chip Brownlee

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The U.S.’s first memorial dedicated to those terrorized by lynchings, the legacy of enslaved black people and African-Americans who faced the terror of the Jim Crow era is set to open in Montgomery next week.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which will also be dedicated to people of color who face contemporary police brutality and other racism in the justice system, will open to the public on April 26 near downtown Montgomery, in a city that was once the historic capital of the Confederacy.

The memorial’s organizers say the project will reflect on the history of American slavery and racism in a city that played the central role not only in the Confederacy but also in the Jim Crow Era and Civil Rights Movement.

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The Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to fighting racial injustice, mass incarceration of black people and the death penalty, began work on the project in 2010 as staff investigated thousands of racial terror lynchings in the South.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice will be the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to the people terrorized by racial lynchings. (via Equal Justice Initiative)

Many of those lynchings were never documented, the group said, and the organization not only tracked the lynchings themselves but also the terror that ensued. In total, more than six million black people fled the South to the escape the racial terror lynchings.

The new memorial, which will open on Mildred Street between Holcombe Street and Caroline Street, sits on a six-acre site where the memorial will use sculptures, art and design to bring racial terror into context and remember the thousands of victims in the United States.

“Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape,” EJI founder Bryan Stevenson said in an interview with Business Insider. “This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”

Eight hundred corten steel monuments will represent the 800 counties where a racial terror lynching happened, and the names of those who were known to be lynched will be engraved on the columns.

At least 4,400 people were killed by lynchings led by white mobs, peaking between 1880 and 1940, predominantly in the American South.

A 2015 report from EJI, entitled “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” the group documented 4,084 lynchings in 12 Southern states between 1877 and 1950, though 300 more racial terror lynchings occurred in other states during the same time period.

“A history of racial injustice must be acknowledged, and mass atrocities and abuse must be recognized and remembered, before a society can recover from mass violence,” the group wrote. “Public commemoration plays a significant role in prompting community-wide reconciliation.”

Eight hundred corten steel monuments will represent the 800 counties where a racial terror lynching happened. (Via EJI)

A six-acre park will surround the memorial. The park will be home to 800 more identical columns, which can be claimed and installed in the counties they represent. EJI says the identical columns will serve as a report on which counties confront the truth of the history lynching as they are voluntarily claimed.

The opening of the memorial has already garnered national attention and a visit from Oprah and other prominent national figures. EJI expects thousands to attend visit Montgomery to celebrate the opening of the new museum.

From April 26–29, EJI will host hold education panels and presentations from national figures, performances, concerts from acclaimed artists and a large opening ceremony.

Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, is expected to attend the opening ceremony on Thursday. Dave Matthews, Usher, Common and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes are scheduled to perform at a Concert for Peace and Justice on Friday night at the Riverwalk Amphitheater.

Tickets are available on the memorial’s website.

 

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Byrne, Brooks call on Mueller to “wrap up” investigation

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has accomplished very little and said it is time to wrap up the investigation.

Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said that the investigation should not continue past July.

Congressman Byrne said, “It has been one year since Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian collusion related to the 2016 presidential election and very little has been accomplished. It is time for Mr. Mueller to wrap up his investigation.

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On Thursday, Representative Brooks went on CSPAN.

“I just want him to do his job,” Brooks said on TV. “Finish it. We cannot have this ongoing for years and years and years. It’s a distraction to our country. It interferes with our ability to address a lot of serious policy challenges that we face, and that’s in Congress. Imagine what it’s like in the White House where you’re having to look over your shoulder, where you have the FBI that is doing – you know if something was wrong, you’ve had two years now come July 5th that the FBI has been involved. Do your job. Finish it.”

“Mr. Mueller has a large team of lawyers and has spent millions of dollars over the past year, yet there still is no indication of illegal Russian collusion,” Byrne said. “While this constant drama of targeted leaks and far-flung investigations may be good for the national news media and liberal fundraising, it is not good for our country.”

The CSPAN host asked Brooks: “Robert Mueller appointed by Rod Rosenstein a year ago today on May 17th, 2017. Since then, 19 people including four Trump associates and three companies have been indicted from his investigation, five have pled guilty, 13 of those who have been charged are Russians accused of meddling in the elections. You were a former prosecutor in the Tuscaloosa DA’s office before…”

Brooks: “And the Madison County District Attorney’s office.”

C-SPAN: “…before coming to Congress. Is that not a good track record for a year’s worth of investigation?”

Brooks: “Well, you’re limiting it to Mueller. I’m talking about the big picture, and the big picture is two years. You know sometimes you’re not able to figure out who committed a crime— you know a crime has been committed— a murder or a robbery or what have you and the trail has gone dry and you haven’t been able to ascertain who the culprit is and you stop your investigation. It may reopen if something in the future pops up that suggests, hey, this is the person who did it. But we never had an ongoing investigation of a particular person that lasted anywhere near that length of time. Now, granted, this may be more complicated than most investigations. But two years, given all the resources of the Justice Department, given all the resources of the FBI, given the resources of everybody else who may have been involved in that, that’s plenty of time to conduct an investigation. Now keep in mind, I’m talking about two years to do the investigation— once you’ve got your cards laid out on the table, you’ve got your arrest warrants, you’ve got your indictments, take whatever time it needs to prosecute them in court but get the investigation done because it’s interfering. This is not a normal type of alleged crime and investigation and a prosecution. Normally, that’s very limited and has virtually no impact on our country. But, right now, this going on indefinitely is having a significant— in my judgment— having a significant adverse effect on the ability of the United States government to properly function and properly do its job, particularly at the Executive Branch, particularly at the White House level.”

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and upholding the rule of law are both critically important and noble causes, but after a year the time has come for Mr. Mueller to either put forward a case or move on,” Byrne said.

Congress is increasingly putting pressure on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to end the Mueller investigation. To this point Rosenstein has resisted that pressure.

Both Congressmen Bradley Byrne and Mo Brooks are running for re-election. Byrne has no Republican opponent in the coming primary, while Brooks faces a primary challenger from veteran Clayton Hinchman. The Republican Primary will be on June 5.

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Alabama GOP denounces Jones for voting no on Haspel

Sam Mattison

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The Alabama GOP rebuked Sen. Doug Jones, the state’s Democratic senator, over his no vote on a CIA director nominee that has drawn the ire of senators from both parties.

Jones signaled through a statement this week that he would vote no on the CIA nominee Gina Haspel’s confirmation. His reasoning was mostly based on Haspel’s answer to the question of whether she thought an enhanced interrogation program was immoral.

“While her career has been impressive, Ms. Haspel’s role in programs that conducted torture is very troubling; her refusal to acknowledge the immorality of such conduct even today with the benefit of hindsight is even more so and reflects poorly on our nation’s reputation as a moral leader in the world,” Jones said through a statement.

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The Alabama GOP, who have been critical of some of Jones’ moves while in the Senate, denounced the senator’s move.

Terry Lathan, chairman of the Alabama GOP, said that Haspel is a qualified candidate who is “deserving of a confirmation by the U.S. Senate.”

“In voting no to confirm Gina Haspel, Senator Jones is choosing to put partisanship over our nation’s security,” Lathan said. “Alabama voters will remember this when they head to the polls to choose their next U.S. Senator in 2020.”

Since Jones has taken office, the Alabama GOP has constantly reminded him of his pending election in 2020.

Jones narrowly won the seat in a Special Election in December after his opponent, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, faced a great backlash for allegations of sexual misconduct and dating teenagers nearly four decades ago.

Haspel, however, will face a vote soon in the Senate, and it is clear that she will win a nomination despite the opposition of most of the Democrats and a few influential Republicans.

Sen. John McCain, Republican from Arizona, was the most prominent in his denouncement.

“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense,” McCain said. “However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

Haspel’s role in a secret prison in Thailand and her involvement with a controversial program that used enhanced interrogation techniques has become a linchpin of opposition for the nominee.The program, a product of post 9/11 policies, used techniques to interrogate prisoners that some advocates call torture.

One allegation is that Haspel destroyed video tapes of interrogations conducted on Al-Qaeda suspects.

When asked about the program, Haspel said she would not continue the program if confirmed as director. She reiterated that point in a letter to Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner on Wednesday when she said the program should have never been conducted.

The Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed Haspel on Wednesday, and she will now go before the full Senate.

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Ivey backs Nobel Peace Prize for Trump

Sam Mattison

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Gov. Kay Ivey threw her support behind President Donald Trump’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize through a letter on Tuesday.

Ivey singed the letter to the Nobel Committee along with six other governors supporting the president’s nomination.

“Though he has only been in office one year, President Trump has achieved an unprecedented victory for global peace and security,” the letter read.

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Ivey gave her own comments over Twitter.

“He is due to be honored for his ability to bring everyone to the table to discuss a way which offers the Korean Peninsula & world a path to peace,” Ivey said on Twitter.

Ivey is not alone in the calls for the president to receive a prize and even South Korean officials have credited Trump’s policies to pressuring North Korea into a peace talk.

Trump himself has declined to say if he should receive the award, but did say he wanted “victory for the world” in the Oval Office last Wednesday.

The Korean Peninsula has recently seen an era of peace after a period of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. Last year, North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb and they have launched missiles over Japan.

Trump’s initial response was hawkish insisting that the United States would destroy North Korea if it continued hostilities and even gave North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un the nickname “rocket man.”

Over the past 5 months, however, the two Koreas have come closer to peace with the two countries even competing in the Winter Olympics over the same flag.

Recently, Kim Jong-un visited South Korea for peace talks, and Trump is scheduled to talk to him in Singapore in June.

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EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to open next week in Montgomery

by Chip Brownlee Read Time: 3 min
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