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Trump ball-fakes America with Muhammad Ali pardon proposal

Blacks suffer from mass incarceration revival while the president focuses on a chosen few

1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.

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1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.

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1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.

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1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.

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1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.

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1:24 PMPresident Donald Trump is talking about pardoning Muhammad Ali. This comes after he recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, and commuted the life sentence of a black woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

We already know that exonerating individual African-Americans doesn’t square with the Justice Department reviving criminal charging policies that are biased at best and racist at worst. And Ali’s conviction was overturned more than 30 years ago. Legally, there’s nothing to pardon. So it must be said: Trump’s pardons of black people obscure the fact that he is trying to bring back mass incarceration.

This tactic is starting to look intentional. Especially given Trump’s ongoing cage match with NFL players.

Players who kneeled during the national anthem were protesting a criminal justice system that treats black people unfairly. From initial police contact on the street to who gets freed on bail to charges and plea bargains and the length of prison sentencesat every step, the worst treatment is inflicted on African-Americans. This is what the scholar Michelle Alexander identified as “The New Jim Crow,” which she calls a deliberate (and bipartisan) effort to deprive black men of basic freedoms.

Trump made his Ali comment while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit. “I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Trump said. “And some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” He then told reporters he’d like to meet with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and get their recommendations for pardons: “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated.”

This is a ball fake. Start with the fact that when Ali refused to serve in Vietnam because of his faith and American racism, he was stripped of his athletic career the same way pro football has been taken from Colin Kaepernick. Also, Trump has consistently vilified protesting NFL players, who are mostly black. The players, meanwhile, have consistently said they are seeking changes to a racially biased criminal justice system.

Asking players who should be pardoned is like asking LeBron James which Cavaliers aren’t performing well in the playoffs. There are too many to choose from. And it sidesteps the fact that NFL players are protesting exactly what Trump’s Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is doing.

One year ago, Sessions overturned Obama-era reforms and instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most aggressive charges possible against certain defendants. This decision was criticized by conservatives ranging from the Koch brothers to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long,” Paul said. “Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.” Trump also said during his campaign that his solution for distressed black communities was based on “tough on crime” policies, like New York City’s “stop and frisk” approach, even though such tactics have been discredited across the political spectrum.

Basically, Trump is reviving policies that were responsible for imprisoning Alice Marie Johnson, the same woman whom Trump freed earlier this week.

Compared with the impact of mass incarceration, issuing pardons to a few black people with celebrity connections feels like tokenism. And both of Trump’s high-profile black pardons have come at the behest of white celebrities: Sylvester Stallone brought Jack Johnson to the president’s attention, and Kim Kardashian West secured Johnson’s release.

If Trump wanted to apologize for the government’s unfair treatment of Ali, that might be meaningful. But to pardon a second dead boxing celebrity while so many unknown black people remain incarcerated seems like an injustice of its own.

“A pardon is unnecessary,” said Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweet. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

What’s needed is criminal justice reform — justice for hundreds of thousands of human beings without white celebrity friends. That’s what the kneeling NFL players have been asking for all along.