I have a few important updates that I’d like to give you this morning and we’ll start with the jail right here in Brooklyn, New York that went 7 days without heat or electricity in the dead of winter. By the time the general public learned about the problem on this past Friday, the men and women in this federal detention center had already gone 5 days without heat or electricity.
The only reason we ever found out was because the jail stopped letting family members call or visit – and those family members started telling their attorneys that something was clearly wrong. And when attorneys tried to visit their clients last week, they were either told that they couldn’t, or the few who did quickly learned that the entire jail was dark and damn as cold inside as it was outside.
While the power and heat are back on in this facility, many men have since communicated with their families and attorneys that they have been retaliated against by the guards there for ever communicating with the outside about the conditions. Men said guards have been withholding their food, pepper spraying them, raiding and ransacking their cells and more.
And I keep seeing people say stuff like – well when you do the crime, you do the time – and other foolish stuff like that. But I have two things to say to that type of response.
First and foremost, these are human beings. They deserve fair treatment and some basic human dignity. But I also need to let you know that this is mainly a pre-trial detention center. What that means is that most of these men and women have not even been convicted of a crime. If they were wealthy and white, 99% of them wouldn’t even be there right now. Out nation claims that we are all innocent until proven guilty, but at any given point in this nation, about 500,000 men, women, and children are in jail without ever being convicted of a crime – mainly because they are poor and cannot afford the cash bail that was set for them.
And the men and women in the federal jail in Brooklyn are no different. I met their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and they are just everyday people. And I’m grateful for the activists, organizers, and even some dedicated local politicians who made sure that the heat and power got turned back on here, but I tell you what, that jail didn’t give a damn about any of it. And the Trump administration, who oversees the jail, didn’t give a damn about any of it, and I wonder if the jail was anywhere other than right in the middle of America’s largest city, would we have ever heard about it.
I wanna close this morning by giving us an update on what has turned out to be an absolute debacle in the State of Virginia. This weekend we learned that the Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, had a page in his yearbook where he was either dressed up in Klan robes or in blackface. By Friday evening he apologized for it not once, but twice, saying it was racist and despicable. Every elected official in Virginia, the Virginia Democratic Party, and every prominent Democrat in the nation called on him to resign.
Then, on Saturday, Northam then held a press conference saying that even though he apologized for the photos, that he now believed he was not one of the people in the photos, but that he actually did dress up in blackface while he was in med school.
And it appears he is not going to resign. He’s holding out. And what makes it doubly outrageous is that just 2 weeks ago the Republican Secretary of State of Florida was caught with an old photo of him in blackface, and resigned the next day. But here we are, on Tuesday morning, and Ralph Northam is still the Governor of Virginia.
And for a few days everybody was excited about the possibility of Justin Fairfax, the Black Lt. Governor, becoming Governor. But in a surprising twist, Fairfax has now been accused of sexual assault when he was a political staffer back in 2004. And Fairfax, of course, has denied it, but in doing so, dug himself into a bit of a hole.
In his denial, he said that the Washington Post had the story, but did not publish it because it had holes and inconsistencies.
Only for The Washington Post to come out and actually say no the accusers “story did not have holes or inconsistencies.”
So – we have a lot going on in Virginia right now and I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next there. No matter what though, Ralph Northam needs to resign – whether Justin Fairfax becomes the Governor or not.