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#IfTheyGunnedMeDown: Missouri shooting sparks debate

The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing protests and riots have galvanized social media with the hot-trending hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

The campaign was spawned by the specific use of a photo of Brown, who was set to begin his first day of college on Monday. The photo, from his Twitter page, shows him in a red Nike tank top flashing a peace sign. Critics say the photo can imply that Brown was throwing up a gang sign and that there were dozens of other photos – of him smiling, laughing, or even in his high school cap and gown that could have been used.

Linda Chavers, an African-American literature professor who recently taught at Temple University, said people are using social media as a way to write their own story.

“Black Twitter does a really good job of reframing the traditional ways that we talk about issues such as police brutality, discrimination and violence,” said Chavers, who tweets at @contrarynegress. “Specifically, it is a way for us to talk about things that concern us, such as when we are killed. The hashtag is saying, this is my narrative, versus mainstream media talking about what I am wearing or my troubles in school.”

The premise of the hashtag campaign is simple.

Posters tweeted two photographs of themselves and asked the question, “Which one of these photographs would the media use if I were gunned down in the streets?”

The results were compelling. Read some of the Tweets.

>> Read more trending stories

@King_Ghidorah5 posted a photo of him lying mean-faced on a bed with his sweat pants sagging. He contrasted that with a photo of himself in a military uniform, reading books to children in a school.

In his post, @MandingoRFC looks at the camera while his friend flashes a peace sign. Next to it is a photo of him holding a poster of a young Nigerian girl. He was wearing a T-shirt reading #BringBackOurGirls, to call attention to their kidnappings. His gaze is more worried than intimidating.

On his Facebook page, more than 90 percent of the photos of Muhammad Malik, an inventory control manager at Versace USA, show him in a suit and tie.

So he posted one of them, with a picture of him in a black tank top wearing a black doo-rag. His arms are folded, showing his arms full of tattoos.

He said he took the selfie one day on vacation while he was getting ready to put on a suit and go out.

“Any time we have one of these tragedies, the media doesn’t pick the best picture to portray the victim. It is not fair,” he said. “So when I saw the hashtag, I said, ‘If it happened to me, what picture would they use? Someone could pick one picture and paint a picture of me.”

With that, Malik also cleaned up his Facebook page. Taking out vacation and party photos that might misrepresent him.

“I have a 23-year-old son. He is out there being a young guy,” said Malik, who tweets as @mr_mookie. “I always tell him the same thing, you have to really be careful of what you post, because you never know when that is gonna come back to bite you. If you not around to speak, these photos are gonna speak for you.”

Fahamu Pecou is an artist and scholar who specializes in representations of black masculinity.

The typical narrative in America “has historically worked to justify inequitable treatment of black males within society by imaging them as violent and criminal,” Pecou said. “The #IfTheyGunnedMeDown campaign is a smart and savvy response to the propaganda machine that continues to perpetuate an implied inherent criminality of black men.

“A part of resisting the outright assault on people of color is raising awareness to the way hegemonic systems of racism and prejudice inform and influence not only police reaction to young black people, but society as well.”

Read More
  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he asked the Chairman of the House Ways and Means to do more in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.
  • We have updated information regarding a Tulsa homicide Friday night near East 36th Street and South 137th East Avenue. Police tell us Phazon Scott surrendered to investigators around 9:45 p.m. He will be booked into the Tulsa County Jail for first-degree murder. The unidentified 40-year-old victim was found fatally shot inside a house around 6:37 p.m. “The victim wanted to talk to the grandmother about a situation at the house involving his children,” police said.   “Scott arrived and entered the house and he and the victim had an argument. During the course of the argument Scott pulled a handgun from his waistband and shot the victim.” Scott then left the scene with the gun.  He later returned to the home and surrendered.   
  • KRMG has learned Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed 'most' of the revised budget bill passed by lawmakers this week. In a statement released by her office, Fallin says, “House Bill 1019X does not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits, and within three months we will come back facing an estimated $600 million shortfall.' Fallin vetoed 165 of 170 sections in the bill.  She did leave intact provisions for the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Health, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Statement from the Tulsa Regional Chamber: “We at the Tulsa Regional Chamber strongly applaud Governor Fallin’s decision to veto much of the revised budget sent to her by the legislature Friday. Her courage in demanding real solutions to our budget crisis – not merely kicking the can down the road – is admirable and necessary. Oklahomans expect elected officials to be responsible stewards of public funds and navigate a sound budget for the state. We support Governor Fallin’s leadership tonight in demanding a higher standard for all Oklahomans.”
  • If you have a kite, today will be perfect to take it out to the park. National Weather Service Meteorologist Bart Haake says it's going to be windy in the Tulsa area. “It looks like we’ll see partly cloudy skies,” Haake said.  “We’ll see breezy northerly winds, probably in the 20 to 30 mile an hour range.” The sun is also expected to make an appearance.  NWS reports the high will only reach around 57 degrees.   There is a wind advisory in effect from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m.   It’s going to get chilly Saturday night.  Temperatures are expected to drop to around 35 degrees.  
  • An Ohio pastor, arrested in Dayton, was found guilty earlier this year for loitering to engage in solicitation, according to court records. >> Read more trending news Daniel P. Williams, 40, of Huber Heights, was found guilty in late August after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of loitering, according to Dayton Municipal Court. Williams’ employer is listed as Arrowbrook Baptist Church in Xenia in both court record and the police report. The church’s website also lists Williams as its pastor. Attempts to reach Williams by phone  were unsuccessful. Williams was originally charged with a second count of loitering and a third count of soliciting. Both were withdrawn upon his guilty plea, according to Dayton Municipal Court.  The violation happened at around noon Aug. 17, according to Dayton police. Williams was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with all 60 days suspended. He will be on probation for one year, according to court records.