I have a few important news stories that I wanna tell you about this morning, so I’ll jump right in.
First, I need to introduce our audience to a wonderful brother named Jermaine Anderson who lives outside of New Haven, CT. Jermaine is 43 years old, owns his own home there, works for the Parks & Recreation Department, and is a leader in his local church.
16 years ago, Jermaine was convicted for possessing counterfeit money, and went to prison for it. He did three years of hard time. It was rough, but he endured it, was a model prisoner, and when he got out, he walked on the straight and narrow path – not only avoiding any crimes, but becoming a model citizen. For years he was a manager at Wal-Mart, and several other retail outlets, but eventually settled in as a government employee in his hometown.
And over the past 13 years since Jermaine’s release from prison, he’s been a valuable member of his community. That’s why he was shocked when federal agents barged into his home and served him a warrant for his arrest. He literally thought it was a case of mistaken identity.
They said it was for financial crimes. Of course Jermaine told them that he already went to prison for that and served his time. But guess what the federal government is saying. They are saying they forgot to have him serve 18 additional months in federal prison for the same crimes.
They aren’t saying he has done anything wrong since his release. They are saying when they released him from prison 13 years ago, that they did it 18 months too early, and now they want him, as a 43 year old homeowner who works for the Parks and Recreation department, to report back to prison. It’s outrageous.
Of course his attorneys are fighting it, but it may not be enough. The federal government is not saying that Jermaine has been running from the law – the man works for the government. He has passed background checks and even served his probation time after he was released. He hasn’t been living by someone else’s name or something like that – this is the government’s error. And now they basically want him to turn his whole life upside down and go back to prison because they made a huge mistake.
I’m working with some friends of Jermaine to see what we can do to help him, but he is literally supposed to report back to prison in just about 7 days unless he is pardoned by Trump it appears – because the government isn’t budging on their case. I’ll keep you posted on that.
Switching gears for just a second – I wanna give you two quick updates on some important news stories that broke late yesterday.
First, late yesterday Facebook announced that they are going to ban all white supremacists and white nationalists and all people who support them from Facebook and Instagram. I can’t tell you how huge of a development this is. Behind the scenes civil rights groups have been fighting for this for a long time and it’s the single biggest move to stomp out hate that has ever happened on social media. Now some people are screaming “free speech,” but they don’t understand how that works. Free speech means that if you wanna be hateful in your house you can. If you wanna be hateful out on the sidewalk you can. If you even wanna be hateful at a rally, you can.
But businesses are allowed to say you can’t be hateful inside of their establishments – and every time you put in your username and password to log into Facebook or Instagram – you have to abide by their rules and regulations – their terms of service – and they are fully allowed to say what words and phrases and images are or are not allowed there. This isn’t about free speech. They are a corporation.
And it’s important that this development has happened because bigotry and hate crimes are growing like wildfire in our nation -and they are using Facebook groups and Facebook pages to spread their hate – and even plot violence. I’m glad Facebook took this bold step.
Lastly, speaking of hate, yesterday white supremacist and convicted murderer James Fields pleaded guilty to 29 different federal hate crimes for his brutal attack on a peaceful crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago. There Fields plowed his car right into protesters and killed Heather Heyer and permanently injured dozens of other men, women, and children.
Heather Heyer was actually a volunteer in several of my justice projects and fought alongside us to advocate for the arrest of the officer who murdered Eric Garner. It’s a powerful thing to also see Fields convicted for these hate crimes because his actions were all driven by hatred and bigotry. It was a rare day of justice in this country, and it doesn’t make the pain go away for those families, but I hope it gives them just a small measure of closure.
I’ve gotta run, but I’ll let you all know any updates I get on the case of Jermaine Anderson and how we might be able to help.