Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (White Freemason, White Pedophile) resigns after latest child sex-abuse allegation


(CNN) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after new sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the embattled politician.

Murray, a Democrat and the city’s first openly gay mayor, said he was resigning effective 5 p.m. Wednesday so the scandal would no longer overshadow his office.
The mayor’s announcement comes after his cousin gave an interview with the Seattle Times alleging abuse, the latest in a series of similar accusations. The cousin is the fifth person to publicly accuse Murray of child sexual abuse since a lawsuit was filed against him in April.
Murray denied the allegations, as he has in the past. Previously, he called them part of a political effort to stymy his progressive agenda and support for LGBTQ and immigrant rights.
“While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our city government to conduct the public’s business,” he said in a statement.
“To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation.”
Council President Bruce Harrell will become mayor upon Murray’s resignation. Harrell has five days to decide to hold the position for the remainder of Murray’s term, which ends in December.
Murray, 62, was elected in 2014 after 18 years as a state lawmaker. In his statement Tuesday, he touted his accomplishments from his political career. As an openly gay state legislator, he sponsored Washington state’s historic marriage equality law and a landmark bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As mayor, he raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, passed ambitious affordable housing legislation, and laid the groundwork for a city-owned sports and entertainment arena. He was a party to a lawsuit filed in March on behalf of the city against the Trump administration over its executive order on so-called sanctuary cities.
But, in light of the latest allegations, he said it was clear it is best for the city for him to step aside.
He withdrew from the Seattle mayor’s race in May, after a lawsuit accused him of repeatedly raping a man about 30 years ago. Murray denied the allegations, saying he never heard his accuser’s name before the lawsuit. But he said he was dropping his re-election bid so the scandal would not overtake the election.
Delvonn Heckard said he was 15 and Murray was 32 when the sexual acts occurred, claiming that Murray paid him for them.
The complaint further alleged that Heckard was not the only child abused by the mayor. On at least one occasion, Heckard said he was at Murray’s apartment when another boy who appeared underage was there. “D.H. was of the understanding that Mr. Murray was having sex with the other boy for money at the same time,” the complaint alleged. A spokesman for the mayor said the allegations were unfounded.
Heckard withdrew the lawsuit in June to complete counseling, according to his lawyer. In a news conference following the withdrawal, Murray said the lawsuit was politically motivated. He vowed to continue his “progressive agenda.”
Since the lawsuit, four more men have publicly accused Murray of various forms of sexual abuse when they were teens. CNN has not independently verified the claims.

Mayor says Houston ‘open for business’ despite huge hurdles

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston’s mayor insists that America’s fourth-largest city is “open for business,” but with areas under water, people not yet in their homes, and billions in damage to repair, major disasters that Harvey created are by no means resolved.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says much of the city is hoping to get back on track after Monday.

“Anyone who was planning on a conference or a convention or a sporting event or a concert coming to this city, you can still come,” he tells CBS. “We can do multiple things at the same time.”

Thousands of Houston dwellings were under mandatory evacuation orders 10 days after Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. The rain totaled nearly 52 inches (1.3 meters) in some spots, and the storm is blamed for at least 44 deaths.

Does Berlin’s mayor belong on Wiesenthal Center’s top 10 list for anti-Semitism? Local leaders say no.

(JTA) — Berlin’s mayor, many local Jewish leaders agree, could do more to counter the city’s vocal BDS movement.

But does that make him an anti-Semite?

A report that the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center may include Mayor Michael Müller on its annual list of the world’s 10 worst cases of anti-Semitic activity has perplexed prominent Israel supporters in Germany.

In an interview Monday with The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, charged that by declining to publicly oppose recent high-profile anti-Israel events in the city, Müller is “mainstreaming the BDS movement that never contributes to the daily life of Palestinians. BDS is widely recognized as anti-Semitic.”

Jewish leaders in Germany note that other cities have done more to block activities by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. But they say this is no reason to put Müller in the stockades and could be counterproductive.

While it’s “embarrassing for the city of Berlin that the mayor hasn’t yet taken a clear and unequivocal position against BDS,” it is “grotesque to put him in line with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the worst anti-Semites in the world,” Joseph Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Thursday.

Though a clear stance would be appreciated, Müller “definitely does not belong on this list,” the Jewish Community of Berlin’s commissioner on anti-Semitism, Sigmount Königsberg, said in a statement Thursday. He called BDS “nothing less than the continuation of the anti-Jewish boycotts” of the 1930s in Germany.

Cooper confirmed to JTA that Müller will remain a candidate for the list until he acts to curb BDS activities in the German capital. He accused Müller of supporting the movement through inaction.

BDS “needs legitimate players to gain legitimacy,”  said Cooper.

“We didn’t consult with the Jewish leaders in Berlin, and they are welcome to say and do whatever they think or feel is appropriate,” Cooper added. Müller, as mayor of a world-class city, is “impacting an ongoing global project that aims to demonize and get rid of the Jewish state.”

Initially reluctant to comment, Müller now has called the charges “absurd” and suggested a fuller response would come.

The insinuation of anti-Semitism impacts the entire Berlin government, Müller told the Berliner Zeitung on Wednesday.

“Especially in a city like Berlin, we are aware of the special responsibility” of Germans given their history, he said.

Others have defended Müller, including Bundestag member Volker Beck, former head of the body’s German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group; Elio Adler, founder of a nonpartisan Jewish political initiative in Berlin; and Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the Berlin Jewish community assembly of representatives.

“Including the mayor in the list for no obvious reason discredits all the critical work we do to keep the issue alive. This is irresponsible,” Lagodinsky told JTA. “One can and must criticize Müller’s too mild course in dealing with conservative or political Islam, but to attribute to him anti-Semitic motives in doing so is wrong and unfair.

Lagodinsky added that any judgment of Müller should come from Berlin and not from Los Angeles.

“Adding him weakens the relevance of this list,” he said.

It also risks devaluing the term anti-Semitism, said the heads of a prominent German organization fighting anti-Semitism among Muslim youth. In a statement Wednesday, Reinhold Robbe and Dervis Hizarci of the Berlin-based Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism urged Cooper to drop the “far-fetched” idea “immediately and unequivocally.”

They noted that Müller had made clearly pro-Israel statements as the state leader of the Social Democratic Party, and that state culture senator and fellow party member Klaus Lederer had called the BDS movement “disgusting.”

In addition, throughout his political career and especially as mayor, Müller “has repeatedly proved his friendship and his deep connection with the Jewish community and with Israel,” Robbe and Hizarci said. “So it’s not at all understandable to have this accusation hanging over him.”

The BDS movement in Berlin recently called for a boycott of an international pop festival in the city when it emerged that the Israeli Embassy had contributed about $600 to cover the costs for some performers. Several bands from Arab countries dropped out of the event.

In June, after BDS activists disrupted an event with a member of the Israeli parliament and an Israeli survivor of the Holocaust at Berlin’s Humboldt University, the chair of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, blasted the mayor for giving anti-Israel activists “the freedom of the city.”

The Tagesspiegel reported that the Wiesenthal Center wants Müller to bar the annual anti-Israel, pro-Iran Al-Quds demonstration, which takes place in early August.

Local authorities allow political demonstrations while setting boundaries as to what can be said or displayed by participants — boundaries that are not always easily enforced.

In response to a Jerusalem Post article from June, the Israeli Embassy clarified that it was critical of anti-Zionist events in Berlin and “not [of] the mayor or the Berlin Senate.”

Cooper agreed that there are enough anti-Semites in the United States alone to “fill half of this year’s top 10” and “there is not exactly going to be a shortage.” But a world-class city has to set an example, he added.

“In other cities there has been leadership to fight” BDS, Cooper told JTA. “The mayor should know better and do something about it. It’s not too late. Is he going to facilitate the BDSers or derail them?”

The center’s annual list is neither scientific nor definitive, and tends to read as an annual survey of trends in anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity. Still, observers take notice.

In 2013, the Simon Wiesenthal Center came under criticism for including remarks by German journalist Jakob Augstein on its annual list. The then-head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, agreed that Augstein wrote “horrible, hideous” articles on Israel, but said his inclusion trivialized all the others on the list.



The international human-rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center is considering the inclusion of Berlin’s Mayor Michael Mueller on its list of the top-10 worst cases of anti-Israel and antisemitic activity in 2017 because of an epidemic of hate and BDS in the German capital.

The associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Mayor Mueller is “mainstreaming the BDS movement that never contributes to the daily life of Palestinians. BDS is widely recognized as antisemitic.”

Cooper said Mueller’s mayoral colleagues in Frankfurt and Munich recognize the antisemitism of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign targeting Israel and are legally banning city support for BDS activities.

“There are two reasons why he [Mueller] could theoretically make the list,” he said. “He is the mayor of, arguably, the most important European city. And his colleagues get it that BDS is not just mean-spirited but downright dangerous.”

Berlin has been a hotbed of pro-BDS and lethal antisemitic activities, including nearly 600 Hezbollah supporters and members – and pro-Iranian regime activists – who marched in the main shopping district at the al-Quds Day rally calling for the destruction of the Jewish state in June.

Mueller declined to criticize the al-Quds Day or initiate legal action against the march. The Iranian-regime controlled Islamic Center in Hamburg bused supporters to the annual al-Quds event, which also serves as a rally for the BDS campaign against Israel.

Cooper told the Post at the time of the al-Quds march that the “Berlin mayor enables Hezbollah terrorists.” The Wiesenthal Center will make public its top 10 list of antisemitic and anti-Israel cases in December.

According to Germany’s intelligence agency – the rough equivalent of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – there are 250 active members and supporters of Hezbollah in the German capital.

Mueller declined to publicly oppose a planned fund-raising event for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and EU. The PFLP has murdered scores of Israelis since the 1970’s. Its supporters operate in Berlin and have held support events in Berlin over the years.

The main newspaper of the 98,600 member Central Council of Jews in Germany, Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung (JAZ), took the mayor to task in its current issue for his silence regarding Arab singers who boycotted a late August pop festival because of Israel’s participation.

The JAZ editor Philipp Peyman Engel cited the unsettling silence from the mayor about BDS, adding: “On the topic of antisemitism, Berlin is simply hypocritical and dishonest.”

Engel also contrasted Mueller’s, a social democrat, indifference to BDS with his also social democratic mayoral counterparts in Munich and Frankfurt who have vehemently rejected BDS.

Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung broadsheet on Friday, the paper’s Berlin correspondent Regina Mönch said it was “high time for clear words” against BDS agitation. She wrote that “alarm bells should be ringing” in Germany because “the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” is now active in the federal republic.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid slammed the Berlin mayor in June after BDS activists disrupted an event with Yesh Atid’s MK Aliza Lavie and an Israeli survivor of the Holocaust at Berlins’s Humboldt University. “As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was deeply disturbed that in the same week that a group of Jews are targeted, antisemites are given the freedom of the city,” wrote Lapid in a letter to Mueller.

Frustrated with the mayor’s inaction, Lapid and German MPs wrote to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, urging the minister to outlaw all of Hezbollah and the PFLP in Germany. The MPs wrote, “Hezbollah and the PFLP have no place in a society that cherishes freedom, democracy and human rights.”

Mueller declined to respond to numerous Post media queries.

Rogel Rachman, the head of Israel’s public diplomacy at the embassy in Berlin, writing in the embassy’s newsletter in June, said the Berlin mayor’s decision to allow the al-Quds march was “not to be tolerated and wrong as wrong can be. Today, like every year, tens of thousands haters of Israel are demonstrating under the disguise of anti-Zionism for the destruction of Israel… It [al-Quds Day] deals with a hate festival where flags of various terrorist organizations are waved.”

The Israeli Embassy at the time of the al-Quds march “appealed to the mayor to send a clear signal against this hate parade and deny permission for the annual event on legal grounds.”

Phoenix Mayor Doesn’t Want President Trump’s Rally in His City Next Week

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump plans to rally supporters in Phoenix next week, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is not happy about it.

Image: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix Mayor Greg StantonCharles Norfleet / Getty Images file

Trump’s campaign announced the event Wednesday — a day after the president blamed “both sides” for weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators.

The Aug. 22 rally will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center, the campaign said.

“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” Stanton said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”

The president has been holding campaign-style events in Trump-friendly areas since he took office. Next week’s rally will be his first in the West.

Trump told Fox News in an interview this week that he may pardon former metro Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently was convicted in federal court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that Arpaio’s officers had racially profiled Latinos.

Related: Democrat, Republican Lawmakers Decry Trump’s Latest Charlottesville Remarks

Arpaio, 85, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 and faces up to six months in jail. Attorneys who have followed the case doubt someone his age would be incarcerated, however.

Critics say a pardon would amount to an endorsement of racism.

“If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation,” Stanton said.

Image: BESTPIX Donald Trump Gives Address On Immigration In Phoenix
Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015.Charlie Leight / Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, has announced he’ll be leading a counter protest outside the Phoenix Convention Center during Trump’s rally, the Arizona Daily Star reported Wednesday.

In a six-minute video posted on YouTube, the newspaper said Grijalva called Trump unhinged and the congressman from Tucson labeled the president as a supporter of racists.

Trump last held a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center Aug. 31, 2016, ahead of the presidential election and detailed his plan to combat illegal immigration.

He lambasted millions of immigrants as violent criminals and a drain on the U.S. government. Trump vowed at that time that no person living in the United States illegally would have a path to legal status without first leaving the country.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Says Trump’s U.K. Visit Should Be Canceled After Tweets



LONDON — Donald Trump’s planned state visit to Britain should be canceled, London’s mayor said Tuesday after the president repeatedly criticized him following the latest terrorist attack.

Sadiq Khan said Trump was “wrong” about “many things” and should not be welcomed to the United Kingdom.

The president is expected to make an official visit in October following an invitation from Prime Minister Theresa May.

However, Trump has been widely condemned for his tweets in the aftermath of the London Bridge atrocity in which at least 7 people were killed and nearly 50 others injured.

He described Khan as “pathetic” for saying Londoners had “no reason to be alarmed” by the visible increase in armed police officers in response to the attack — apparently misinterpreting the mayor’s words as a comment on Islamic extremism.

PHOTOS: London Honors Victims of Attack

“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan told U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 on Monday.

“When you have a special relationship it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they are wrong. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong.”

Image: London Bridge attack vigil
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and other officials carry flowers during a vigil for the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks near City Hall on Monday. Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA

Khan repeated his comment early Tuesday, telling the BBC: “When Theresa May first invited him on a state visit to our country at a time when he was proposing a travel ban on Muslims and changing the American policy on refugees, I said it was inappropriate to be rolling out the red carpet for Donald Trump … nothing has changed my mind.”

Trump has previously clashed with Khan, who is one of the West’s most prominent Muslim politicians. He challenged Khan to an intelligence test during the U.S election campaign, and in 2015 he said certain areas of London were no-go zones.

His latest comments caused widespread anger in Britain, where prominent figures and lawmakers from across the political spectrum rallied to Khan’s defense.

PM May told reporters: “I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else.”

I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack. – LLukens 3/3 

I’d rather he didn’t come, but if he does, I’d like his vile Tweets juxtaposed against whatever he’s been coaxed to read off an autocue. 

The acting U.S. ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, pointedly singled out Khan for praise. “I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack,” he said in an official tweet.

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling said Trump’s comments were “vile.”

However, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he saw no reason to cancel the trip.

“The invitation has been issued and accepted and I see no reason to change that,” he said in a BBC interview Tuesday, adding that Khan was “entirely right.”

“I don’t wish to enter into a row between … individuals who are I think are probably perfectly able to stick up for themselves,” he said of Trump and Khan.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Both of these men are left-wing British Mayors who had their cities attacked by terror. Trump attacked one but not the other. Guess which.

Trump made no criticism of Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham in the wake of last month’s Ariana Grande concert bombing, even though both mayors represent the same party and share the same views on law enforcement and terrorism.

The White House was asked by reporters late Monday if Trump was targeting Khan because he is Muslim.

“Not at all,” said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “And I think to suggest something like that is utterly ridiculous.”

New Orleans Mayor Celebrates the Unity of the Melting Pot as Confederate Statues Fall

Among his many political sins, President Donald Trump has cheapened the value of speeches. The Trump years are not a time for inspirational appeals to the better angels of our nature. They have so far been a time of guttural impulse: egotistical grunts and thoughtless flapping of the teeth and gums.

So when something as countercyclical as a great speech is given, particularly on the local level, it can seem easy to ignore. But any speech that addresses the arc of history directly demands our attention because it will matter in the fullness of time. And that’s exactly what New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu did on Friday with a speech regarding his controversial decision to take down his city’s Confederate monuments.

In the flurry of far-right panic about taking down the Confederate monuments, the paroxysms of white identity politics are usually masked as patriotic resistance to change that is fully consistent with our American commitment to form a more perfect union. The fact they occur in the Trump years underscores the extent to which the differences between patriotism and nationalism have been blurred.  Nationalism is about tribal identity. Patriotism is a belief in the ideal of America that is inclusive and open to all. In contrast to many of his critics, Mayor Landrieu’s speech is courageous and patriotic. It is open-eyed and has historical sweep. Most of all, it is committed to transcending our tribalism.

Our president is, sadly, an historical illiterate. In the absence of inspirational leadership from the Oval Office, there is a vacuum to fill.  Mayors are expected to be power players, not necessarily inspirational figures. But as a former speechwriter for a big city mayor, I believe that mayors need a sense of history to bridge the past and present and set a direction for the future rooted in policy.

That’s why we are reprinting Mayor Landrieu’s speech in full below, with a video link as well. It is a rare bit of wisdom from a public official in the Trump era. And that alone is worth savoring.

The soul of our beloved city is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way—for both good and for ill. It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans—the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Colorix, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of France and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the South and Central Americans, the Vietnamese, and so many more.

You see, New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum—out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 in Louisiana alone; where the courts enshrined “separate but equal”; where freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions; why are there no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans? So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.

For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.” So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let’s start with the facts.

The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This “cult” had one goal—through monuments and through other means—to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it. President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid on like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque, were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing, and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is however about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile, and most important, choose a better future for ourselves making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division, and yes with violence.

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future. History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost, and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans—or anyone else—to drive by property that they own, occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity, seems perverse and absurd. Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth. We are better together than we are apart.

Indivisibility is our essence. Isn’t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world? We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one—and better for it! Out of many we are one—and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say, “Wait, not so fast.” But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Wait has almost always meant never.” We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.

No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society, this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch with his wife, Robin, and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America’s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said, “I’ve never looked at them as a source of pride … it’s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don’t respect us. This is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s a sign that the world is changing.” Yes, Terence, it is and it is long overdue. Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin’s remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond—let us not miss this opportunity, New Orleans, and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the city we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves—at this point in our history—after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado—if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces … would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great, and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all … not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in … all of the way. It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation, and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community-led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed. So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned, and now universally loved Nelson Mandela said after the fall of apartheid: “If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity.” So before we part, let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.

Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish—a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you.

Rotterdam mayor issues emergency order in Turkey spat

The mayor of Rotterdam issued an emergency order late Saturday in an attempt to contain a pro-Turkish demonstration outside the country’s consulate in the city which has turned into a flashpoint of the worsening relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said he needed special powers to assure security throughout the center of the city, fearing that more people would join the demonstration and there was “serious concern” that riots might ensue.

Under the powers, it is easier for authorities to keep people away from diplomatic compounds like the consulate.

The protest was sparked when Dutch authorities prevented Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in Rotterdam because of objections to his intention to rally for a Turkish referendum in April on constitutional reforms to expand presidential powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy.

Cavusoglu arrived in France shortly after being barred from landing in Holland, tweeting Saturday night that he is in the eastern French city of Metz “to have a meeting with our Consuls General and to gather with our citizens.”

French officials said a rally by Cavusoglu planned for Sunday with the local Turkish population has been authorized and will be allowed to take place unless it represents a threat to public order.

Supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gather outside the Dutch consulate during a protest, in Istanbul, early Sunday, March 12, 2017. (AP Photo)

After Cavusoglu’s flight was diverted, Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, made the overland trip to Rotterdam from Germany in his stead, but Dutch police have prevented her from reaching the Turkish consul general’s house in Rotterdam and reportedly ordered her back to Germany.

Police said Kaya should take “the shortest way to Germany,” she tweeted late Saturday.

TV video on the NOS network showed the standoff between the ministerial convoy and the Rotterdam police, which was translated between an officer and the minister. After being told to return with her convoy, Kaya retorted sharply, saying “I will go to the consulate building. That is a building belonging to my country and I am a minister of that country.”

She continued that “there is no such international practice. I don’t accept that decision, I reject it and I won’t return to Germany.”

Close to the consulate, a protest of about 1,000 pro-Turkish demonstrators continued even as authorities made slow progress in driving them away.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered near the Dutch Embassy in the Turkish capital in Ankara shouting slogans against the Netherlands.

Police sealed off the entrance to Holland Street, where the embassy is located. Still, around 500 people waived Turkish and Ottoman flags near the embassy building.

State-run TRT television said some protesters hurled eggs toward the building but were warned to keep the protest peaceful.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Istanbul, Saturday, March 11, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)

Footage from the private Dogan news agency showed special operations and riot police outside the consulate, which had already been ordered closed for security reasons.

The crowd, waving Turkish flags, chanted slogans Saturday night that included “Netherlands, don’t be surprised and don’t test our patience,” “God is great,” “Barbarian Europe” and “Dictator Netherlands will pay.”

Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus accused Dutch authorities of “shameless and rude” behavior after Kaya’s convoy was stopped, adding that Ankara considered the moves against Kaya and Cavusoglu acts against “the whole of Turkey.”

Kurtulmus told CNN-Turk television: “let’s hope they soon return to their senses.”

He predicted that the Dutch government would feel “shame” and apologize to Turkey.

Earlier Saturday, the Turkish foreign ministry said it did not want to see the Dutch ambassador, who is out of the country, returned to his post for some time because of the increasingly divisive dispute.

The Turkish foreign ministry statement said that “we have expressed to our Dutch counterparts that this grave decision against Turkey and the Turkish society in the Netherlands would lead to serious consequences in our diplomatic, political, economic and our other relations.”

Jerusalem mayor says Trump is serious about moving US embassy

JERUSALEM (AP) — Jerusalem’s mayor said Tuesday that he is confident Donald Trump will move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a break in US policy that is sure to anger Palestinians, who claim the eastern sector of the city for their future capital.

Mayor Nir Barkat told The Associated Press that he has been in touch with Trump’s staff about the issue. While previous presidential candidates have made similar promises, Barkat said his conversations have led him to believe that Trump is serious about making the move.

“Naturally my intuition tells me that it’s different this time, knowing the people, hearing his statements, where we are today,” Barkat said.

Transferring the embassy to Jerusalem would be a highly symbolic and politically charged act. The fate of east Jerusalem is at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Virtually all embassies to Israel are located in or around Tel Aviv.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it in a move that is not internationally recognized. It claims the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem, home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, as the capital of their future state.

“The United States of America has embassies in all of the world’s capitals with the exception of Israel,” Barkat said. “That’s absurd, and moving the embassy to the capital of the Jewish people, to Jerusalem, is a straightforward, standard thing to do.”

Barkat spoke a day after Trump’s spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the president-elect is determined to move the embassy to Jerusalem when he takes office

“That is a very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump,” she said. “He made that very clear during the campaign, Hugh. And as president-elect, I’ve heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly.”

The moving of the embassy, and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, enjoys broad support among Israel’s Jewish majority. Speaking to foreign reporters Monday, before Conway’s comments had been reported, opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid called the proposal an “excellent idea.”

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would signal US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that would infuriate Palestinians, break decades of American policy and distance the US from most of the international community, including its closest allies in Western Europe.

The Palestinians condemned the idea.

“Any attempt to move the embassy to Jerusalem will not help achieve peace,” said Adnan Husseini, Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem affairs. He urged Trump to instead push for the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a peace settlement with Israel.

Trump has said he would like to broker a peace deal, but he has given few details on how he hopes to do so. He has raised concerns among Palestinians because many of his advisers take hard-line positions that favor Israel, and his campaign platform made no mention of Palestinian independence — a US position for the past two decades.

The last round of US-mediated peace talks collapsed over two years ago.

West Virginia mayor quits after comment on Michelle Obama: reports

The mayor of a tiny West Virginia town resigned on Tuesday after her comment on a Facebook post that called first lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” drew international attention, local media reported.

Mayor Beverly Whaling of Clay, a town of some 500 people about 25 miles (42 km) northeast of state capital Charleston, came under fire for her reaction to the post from a development official following Republican Donald Trump’s victory in last week’s presidential election.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, director of Clay County Development Corp, praised the shift from Obama to former model Melania Trump. According to Charleston’s WSAZ TV, she wrote: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”

Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.” The posts were deleted, according to local reports, but circulated widely on social media.

Whaling handed in her resignation, the Charleston Gazette-Mail said, citing city councilman Jason Hubbard. WSAZ also reported her resignation.

A woman who answered the phone at the Clay County Development Corp, a government-funded nonprofit, confirmed Whaling’s exit, saying she had seen the resignation letter. Taylor resigned on Friday, said the woman, who declined to give her name.

Calls to the mayor’s office went unanswered.

An online petition calling for the women’s ouster drew 150,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Whaling apologized in a statement sent on Monday to The Washington Post, saying her comment was not intended to be racist.

“I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused!” she wrote.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

%d bloggers like this: