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These 5 artists are sketching out the future of climate action.

In a statement about the decision, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that the city’s water has tested below the federal action level for lead and copper for the last two years. But Mayor Karen Weaver doesn’t agree that the free bottled water should stop, and many Flint residents aren’t so sure their tap water is OK to use.

“My water stinks. It still burns to take a shower,” Melissa Mays, a Flint activist and plaintiff in a lawsuit that forced the replacement of water lines, told the Associated Press. “There’s no way they can say it’s safe.”

Resident Ariana Hawk doesn’t trust the water, either. “Everything that me and my kids do from cooking to boiling their water for a bath, we’re using bottled water,” she told the local ABC-affiliate news station.

The New York Times reports that about 6,000 of Flint’s lead or galvanized steel pipes have been replaced, but there could be 12,000 more lines to go. According to the World Health Organization, there is no known safe level of lead exposure.

“This is wrong,” tweeted Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Flint doctor whose research exposed lead poisoning in the city. “Until all lead pipes are replaced, [the] state should make available bottled water and filters to Flint residents.”

But after the remaining free bottles are collected, only water filters and replacement cartridges will be provided.

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These 5 artists are sketching out the future of climate action.

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Flint’s free bottled water is ending, but locals aren’t convinced the tap water is safe.

Now, those lawsuits are here, and that prediction could bite the multinational oil company in the ass.

A treasure trove of documents released Thursday provide new evidence that Shell, like Exxon, has been gaslighting the public for decades. The documents, dating as far back as 1988, foretold “violent and damaging storms,” and said that “it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything.”

At that point, the documents predicted, “a coalition of environmental NGOs brings a class-action suit against the U.S. government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done.” Sound familiar?

When the scientific community began warning that the world could go down in fossil-fueled flames, Shell tried to convince them to take a chill pill, derailing global efforts to curb climate change.

And it gets shadier: This whole time, Shell has known exactly how culpable it is for a warming planet. By the mid ’80s, it had calculated that it was responsible for 4 percent of global carbon emissions.

That means San Francisco, Oakland, and New York now have more ammo for their lawsuits against Shell. The biggest hurdle to their cases wasn’t proving that climate change is a thing — even Big Oil’s lawyers can’t argue that anymore — but that fossil fuel companies can be held legally liable for the damages caused by climate change.

Shell just made that a lot easier.

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Flint’s free bottled water is ending, but locals aren’t convinced the tap water is safe.

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John Oliver just tore into Scott Pruitt’s latest scandals.

Now, those lawsuits are here, and that prediction could bite the multinational oil company in the ass.

A treasure trove of documents released Thursday provide new evidence that Shell, like Exxon, has been gaslighting the public for decades. The documents, dating as far back as 1988, foretold “violent and damaging storms,” and said that “it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything.”

At that point, the documents predicted, “a coalition of environmental NGOs brings a class-action suit against the U.S. government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done.” Sound familiar?

When the scientific community began warning that the world could go down in fossil-fueled flames, Shell tried to convince them to take a chill pill, derailing global efforts to curb climate change.

And it gets shadier: This whole time, Shell has known exactly how culpable it is for a warming planet. By the mid ’80s, it had calculated that it was responsible for 4 percent of global carbon emissions.

That means San Francisco, Oakland, and New York now have more ammo for their lawsuits against Shell. The biggest hurdle to their cases wasn’t proving that climate change is a thing — even Big Oil’s lawyers can’t argue that anymore — but that fossil fuel companies can be held legally liable for the damages caused by climate change.

Shell just made that a lot easier.

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John Oliver just tore into Scott Pruitt’s latest scandals.

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Scientists won’t debate climate science on a national stage, but cities and oil companies will

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had a vision: Scientists would clash onstage in a televised debate over the already-established science of climate change as one side poked for weaknesses in the others’ arguments.

That dream is now dead — at least, the EPA-sponsored version is. The New York Times reported last week that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly quashed the so-called “red team–blue team” plan after senior officials met to discuss its possibilities in December. Kelly worried the military-style display would be an exercise in futility, if not a politically dangerous spectacle.

Scientists already scrutinize one another’s work through a process called peer review. It’s critical to sound science, though admittedly it lacks the thrill of a live debate. And as was noted above: The science on climate change is already established, via mountains of peer-reviewed journal articles.

For his part, Pruitt won’t let the idea go. He was still pushing for the showdown in February, saying he wanted an “honest, transparent debate about what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.”

While Pruitt won’t get exactly what he wished for, a court hearing next week could end up coming pretty darn close.

Last year, San Francisco, Oakland, and other California cities sued a bunch of oil companies for contributing to climate change and covering up what they knew about it. The case, California v. BP et al., took an unexpected turn when U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that it would proceed to trial in a federal court, rather than a state court, where the cities thought they had a better chance of winning.

Alsup also made an unusual stipulation that there would be a five-hour climate change “tutorial” during a March 21st hearing in San Francisco. Both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence about the history and current science of global warming.

“This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date,” Michael Burger, a lawyer at Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, told McClatchy.

Like Pruitt’s favored red team, the oil companies’ lawyers are expected to emphasize the “uncertainties” over how future impacts of climate change might unfold, trying to downplay the industry’s responsibility for what’s already happening and could happen years from now.

On the other side, lawyers for San Francisco and Oakland will likely present evidence that oil industry scientists informed the companies what climate change would mean as far back as the late-’50s. Instead of sharing what they’d been told, leadership at the firms ignored the dangers and doubled down on fossil fuel production.

So, climate hawks are obviously getting excited. They’re finally getting their day in court. But New York University physicist Steven Koonin is also psyched — and he’s the very same person who conceived of the climate change debate and introduced Pruitt to the plan.

“Anybody having to make a decision about climate science needs to understand the full spectrum of what we know and what we don’t know,” he told McClatchy, unsurprisingly echoing Pruitt’s red team–blue team pitch.

Bully for Koonin, but as noted before: The science of climate change is already established. Don’t believe us? Take it from the Trump administration itself.

The Washington Post reported Monday that The National Academies had released a 1,500-page draft of its U.S. National Climate Assessment for general peer review — though 16 experts have already interrogated its findings. According to the Post, “That document found that there was ‘no convincing alternative explanation’ for climate change other than human activities such as fossil fuel burning.”

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Scientists won’t debate climate science on a national stage, but cities and oil companies will

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Cape Town may have conserved enough water to avoid running out this year.

In a ruling this week, Judge William Alsup said that plaintiffs can sue greenhouse-gas emitters in federal court. That’s a big reversal. So far, the courts have held that it’s up to the EPA and lawmakers — not judges — to bring polluters into line.

In this case, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco sued a bunch of oil companies for contributing to climate change, raising sea levels and damaging their waterfronts. Because federal courts had previously said they wouldn’t regulate polluters, the cities were trying to move their lawsuit into the California court. If federal court wouldn’t punish polluters, the lawyers figured, maybe state court would.

Alsup denied the cities’ motion to move to state court. But instead of bowing to precedent and punting responsibility over to the EPA, he’s letting the lawsuit go to trial — in federal court.

“[The oil companies] got what they wanted; but they may be sorry they did,” said Ken Adams, lawyer for the Center for Climate Integrity, in a statement.

Of course, after opening this door, the courts could very well slam it shut again. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2011 that it’s the job of Congress and regulators, not the court, to police emissions. But that decision concerned an American electric utility. Alsup said this case was different because the cities are suing international corporations.

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Cape Town may have conserved enough water to avoid running out this year.

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The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

As you might have heard, those of us who live in the Bay Area are breathing air this week that rivals Beijing’s, thanks to the fires raging across Northern California. West Oakland deals with bad air quality all the time, so I reached out to some folks there seeking perspective.

Margaret Gordon, a local grassroots activist, suggested I talk to Eryk Maundu. He’s a techie-turned-urban farmer who takes a data-driven approach to agriculture, and he had an inkling before most of us that something very bad was happening to the Bay Area’s air.

Just last week, he put up some new air quality sensors around his food plots. They registered a huge spike in contamination levels on Sunday night — three times worse than when he had tested the sensors around some friends who smoke. “I never thought I’d see it go higher than that,” he told me.

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Maundu thought he might have to throw the sensors out, until news broke Monday morning of wildfires tearing through Napa and Sonoma counties, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Within the next few days, all of us in the Bay Area could see the same thing Maundu’s sensors were telling him: Our air was unhealthy to breath.

“The numbers are off the charts,” says Walter Wallace with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The big health concern: Particulate matter carried by the smoke sticks to our lungs and can cause breathing and other health problems. “It’s so small that our bodies can’t defend against it.”

Suddenly, everyone in the region is getting double dose of what the air is like in parts of West Oakland, where one of the country’s busiest ports brings in a steady stream of truck traffic, nearby highways ferry tens of thousands of cars every day, and asthma rates are some of the highest in the state. On Thursday, the air quality throughout Oakland was second-worst in the nation behind Napa, where fires raged.

NASA Earth Observatory

More than 20 blazes consumed more than 200,000 acres of land statewide, largely north of the Bay Area, where at last count 31 people have died, close to 500 are missing, and 90,000 have been displaced. The largest of the fires, the so-called Tubbs fire, which is primarily raging in Sonoma County, was just 25-percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fires have destroyed homes and businesses in the region north of San Francisco often called “wine country.” In the Bay Area — which includes Oakland, where I live — we have been told to stay indoors. It’s a tall order in a part of the country where the predictable weather and the natural beauty begs residents to be outside. And our current predicament may continue through this weekend.

Anthony LeRoy Westerling, an environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Merced, says that wildfires are bigger, more frequent, and burn for longer now than they did in the 1980s. You’ll never guess what Westerling concludes is behind this phenomenon: A warmer climate that dries out forests. And more fires means more destruction where they burn and more intolerable air downwind.

The smoke blowing into the Bay Area has prompted a run on 3M N95 Particulate Respirator masks and air purifiers. Many who have the means have taken spontaneous road trips south or east to flee the particulate matter readings hovering around five times normal. Others are reporting headaches and respiratory problems. I suffered from childhood asthma, and spending about 10 minutes outside without a mask, breathing in air that smells like a campfire, made my lungs feel heavy.

All of this sent me to the Ace Hardware on 3rd St and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in West Oakland, where I joined a flow of customers buying N95 masks that sold for $2 a piece (I bought 12). The store has sold tens of thousands of masks in the past few days, struggling to try to keep up with demand.

“Yesterday morning was the big push, and then today has been even bigger,” the store’s general manager, Brian Altwarg, told me on Thursday. “And from what I see on the news, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Florine Mims has lived in the area for nearly 60 years, and she arrived at the Ace around 2 pm on Thursday, riding and then pushing her electric wheelchair after its battery lost its charge. She has a number of health problems, including asthma, and hoped getting a mask would bring her some relief.

“They gave me two,” she says about the N95 masks she carried out of the store. “I’m hoping they’ll help me breathe better.”

Mims, and a significant percentage of West Oakland residents, are the group most at risk over the remaining days if fire containment, a change in wind direction, or rainfall doesn’t help clear out the noxious air, says John Balmes, a medical doctor and environmental health scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

“A week of exposure to this level, it’s going to affect people with preexisting asthma, but it won’t cause their asthma to stay bad,” Balmes says. “They have bad pollution all the time in a lot of the megacities in Asia.”

While the regular air quality readings in West Oakland don’t quite rival those in places like Beijing or New Delhi, its residents are used to living with pollution. The community recently filed a federal civil rights complaint against the port of Oakland and the city for discriminating against the largely black part of town by allowing more development to creep into the area and ignoring pleas to monitor air quality.

For now, though, the experience of breathing in dirty air is a shared burden for people in the Bay Area. And that’s an irony that isn’t lost on those living in West Oakland, like Margaret Gordon.

“This whole thing with the fire was a real equalizer for everybody,” she says.

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The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

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Black Lives Matter is Bailing Out Women for Mother’s Day

Mother Jones

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Black Lives Matter has a big gift for some moms this Mother’s Day—their freedom. Groups affiliated with the police and criminal justice reform movement have been bailing black women out of jail ahead of the holiday on Sunday. The nationwide effort, dubbed National Black Mamas Bail Out Day, seeks to reunite the women with their families and raise awareness of the disparate impact of incarceration and the bail system on black women.

So far, more than 50 women around the country have been bailed out by the Mother’s Day effort. Organizing groups in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Oakland, and 13 other cities, have been raising money through an online fundraising campaign. So far, they have brought in nearly $500,000 for the campaign, with $25,000 set aside for use in each city. The average bail paid off has varied widely; organizers in Atlanta bailed out 19 women with their pot of money, whereas 4 women have been bailed out in Oakland.

Activists have also raised money individually as well. Members of the Atlanta chapter of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), an LGBT-focused racial justice group, canvassed neighborhoods and collected small donations in a hat, according to Mary Hooks, an organizer with the chapter who came up with the idea for the nationwide initiative. “Black people have a tradition of using our collective resources to buy each other’s freedom,” she says, referring to the slavery-era practice of free black people saving money to purchase the freedom of their enslaved family members and friends. “We have an opportunity to do that when we understand how the cash bail system works. The sooner we can get folks out, the ability for them to mitigate their cases increases and the less collateral damage they are likely to incur.”

The organizers have drawn on their existing relationships with other criminal justice organizations to identify women to bail out of jail. In Oakland, the public defender’s office sent organizers names of women in jail, says Gina Clayton, an organizer with Essie Justice Group. Essie Justice organizers also sat in on arraignment hearings to identify women who would need to be bailed out. One of the people bailed out in Oakland was a mother of two who was jailed on a $10,000 bail about a week earlier, Clayton says. When organizers visited the woman to tell her they were paying her bail, she cried. Organizers with the Oakland office of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, an immigrants’ rights group that focuses on black migrants, bailed out a Haitian woman who had been held in a detention facility in Southern California. The woman had fled domestic abuse in her home country, according to Devonte Jackson, an organizer with the group. BAJI bought the woman a bus ticket to Florida so she could visit her family for Mother’s Day.

The term “mama,” as it’s used by the National Black Mamas Bail Out Day campaign, is broadly defined to include not just women with biological children, but all women—including trans women—who are linchpins for their families and neighborhoods. “It’s about knowing and naming that black women play such a critical role in our communities,” Hooks says.

The number of women behind bars in the United States has increased 700 percent since 1980, according to the Sentencing Project. More than 100,000 women are currently in jail. Many have not been convicted of anything but are unable to make bail, and a disproportionate number of them are black. Eighty percent of incarcerated women are mothers, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

Nationally, the median bail set for a felony charge is $10,000, almost a year’s income for the average person unable to meet bail, according to the Sentencing Policy Initiative. Nearly 90 percent of inmates awaiting trial can’t afford bail; The average bail amount in felony cases has nearly tripled since 1990.

Bail reform is a key part of the national policy platform released last summer by the Movement for Black Lives, a broad coalition of groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of the groups bailing out women this week are also working on efforts to pass local and state legislation that would abolish cash bail in their jurisdictions. Earlier this year, New Orleans and New Jersey eliminated cash bail requirements for a range of low level offenses.

This weekend, organizers in some cities are holding events to welcome newly freed women back home. In Atlanta, organizers are hosting a picnic for the women and their families on Mother’s Day. Volunteers will help connect the women with resources for housing, employment, and legal assistance, Hooks says. The groups are also raising money for a possible bail-out effort to commemorate Father’s Day on June 18.

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Black Lives Matter is Bailing Out Women for Mother’s Day

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Instead of Trashing Homeless Camps, This City is Providing Them With Trash Pickup

Mother Jones

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It’s cleaning time at one of the several encampments set up in the shadow of the elevated MacArthur Freeway in West Oakland, California. More than two dozen tents in various states of repair sit in the musty space beneath the stark overpass. Axel, a black man in his late 40s who lives along the camp’s outskirts, pushes a broom across the sidewalk that serves as a front porch for his tarp-draped tent. After a few minutes of sweeping, the trash he has arranged into a neat pile is collected by Abby Harrison, who places it into one of the five shiny Waste Management trash cans circulating in the camp. In a little while, the cans will be arranged on the street bordering the camp’s southern edge, where they will wait to be emptied by a garbage truck.

The cleanup continues by the camp’s two portable toilets, where a man is gathering used toiletries for disposal and clearing the path for a pumper truck to back in. The truck arrives a few minutes ahead of schedule, and the driver hops out to quickly clean and service the porta-potties. The driver is gone after a few minutes of pumping and wiping, much to the relief of another man patiently waiting to use the facilities.

In many respects, this homeless encampment is like hundreds of other camps that have mushroomed in cities across America, especially in the West. But what distinguishes the camp beneath the 580 freeway is that rather than being targeted for removal, it’s receiving public services from the city of Oakland. Instead of razing the encampment, Oakland and Alameda County policymakers set up a pilot program that offers basic services to some unsheltered residents. This includes not just waste pickup and porta-potties, but a mobile health clinic and the placement of large concrete barriers to protect the camp from traffic. Oakland has also directed its social services and relief employees to work with the residents of the MacArthur Freeway camp to help them find permanent housing. Since the pilot started in October, city officials report that 17 of the camp’s 42 original residents have moved into stable living situations.

Garbage cans sit by an encampment beneath the MacArthur Freeway in Oakland. Matt Tinoco

This approach is unique, especially as many cities double down on anti-camping laws and controversial “sweeps”, often conducted under the guise of protecting public health. The process is familiar: Homeless people set up a camp, bringing with it trash, human waste, and sometimes crime. Neighbors complain, and, before long, the local government serves the camp’s residents with a notice to vacate. The camp is cleared, but it either moves or returns after a few weeks.

San Francisco’s municipal authorities cleared out a large camp of 250 people from beneath one of the city’s freeways earlier this year. In November, the city’s voters passed Proposition Q, which prohibits assembling a tent on a public sidewalk. As Supervisor David Campos explained in a September statement, “encampments are not a solution to homelessness. They are unhealthy for homeless people, and they are unhealthy for residents and businesses around them.” Yet homelessness advocates note that clearing out camps is often little more than a cosmetic solution.

Like Oakland, other cities have also experimented with an approach that moves away from simply removing homeless people. Though sweeps still occur in Seattle, the city has set up a partnership with religious organizations that allows some homeless people to live on the organizations’ property. (Nevertheless, 2015 motion that would have authorized city services like waste pickup at encampments died after Seattle residents objected.) Santa Barbara, California, has a “safe-parking” program that allows people who live in vehicles to park in public parking lots without threat of citation.

The Oakland pilot project is based on the understanding that if unsheltered residents have, at the very least, a reliable and sanitary place to pitch their tents, they can devote more time and energy to finding a more stable place to live. “Breaking camps apart takes them farther away from permanent housing,” says Alex Marqusee, a legislative analyst for City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, the chief sponsor of the project in Oakland. “It’s opposite of the direction we want to go.”

“It’s like, where am I going to go?'” says Harrison, a black woman in her early 40s who lives under the MacArthur Freeway. “When I have to move it messes everything up. I get them people up in their nice houses not wanting to see any of this. I don’t want to see this. But I need to live, and it’s not like I want to live here.”

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Instead of Trashing Homeless Camps, This City is Providing Them With Trash Pickup

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We Can’t Stop Looking at These Unforgettable Images of the Black Panthers

Mother Jones

For the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, two exceptional new books take on the legacy and history of one of the most powerful and controversial community empowerment movements in America. One book offers a succinct but in-depth history of the party at its peak. The other scratches the itch that always surfaces around anniversaries like this, asking, “Where are they now?”

In 1968, as a student at the University of California-Berkeley, Stephen Shames befriended Bobby Seale, who became a mentor to Shames. Recognizing the importance of having someone document their revolution, Seale gave Shames unfettered access to himself and the Black Panther Party network to take pictures. It gave Shames an unparalleled, insider’s perspective on the party, from 1968 through Bobby Seale’s campaign for Oakland mayor in 1973. It’s a remarkable body of work, not just for its historical significance, but for the poignancy of the images.

Oakland, 1971. Black Panther children in a classroom at the Intercommunal Youth Institute, the Black Panther school. Stephen Shames from the book Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers (Abrams). Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, July 28, 1968. Kathleen Cleaver, communications secretary and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making Central Committee, talks with Los Angeles Panthers at the Free Huey rally in DeFremery Park (which the Panthers dubbed Bobby Hutton Park). Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers, Shames’ new book with Seale, collects photos he shot through 1973 and pairs them with Black Panther Party ephemera and oral history. It’s an excellent introduction to a movement many people see only in a dramatically cinematic fashion. In popular culture, the Black Panthers are associated with tough dudes in cool leather jackets toting guns, fed up with racism and injustice. The truth, of course, is much more nuanced.

The book details how the Black Panthers took a proactive role in bettering poor communities that were ignored, if not outright shit on, by the powers that be. Their school breakfast program—famously reviled by J. Edgar Hoover—set a now-common standard for making sure school children don’t start the day hungry. The Black Panthers helped get old people to the grocery store and, in particularly tough neighborhoods, escorted them to cash their Social Security checks. They launched schools and newspapers, organized strikes, arranged health care for people. Such community “survival programs” were the backbone of the party. As Seale puts it, “The real heroes of the Black Panther Party were the thousands of sisters and brothers who made our survival programs work.”

Shame’s photos concentrate on the Black Panthers’ activities in Oakland and Berkeley, but he also got around, traveling across the United States in 1970 to document Panther activities in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Toledo, Ohio, among other cities. This was at the height of tension between the FBI and the Black Panthers, when the group’s headquarters around the country were being raided and bombed and fortified in anticipation of shootouts. A time when Panthers like Fred Hampton were being killed. It was a heavy time.

Shames says his photos are “aspirational,” but the tension and disquiet come through. The photos don’t capture the more controversial aspects of the Panthers, which are instead bluntly dealt with in the text by Seale and others.

Oakland, 1971. Black Panther Gloria Abernethy sells papers at the Mayfair supermarket boycott, with Tamara Lacey in the rear. Abernethy now works for the state of California, and Tamara is a real estate agent. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, August 28, 1971. Party members carry George Jackson’s coffin into St. Augustine’s Church for funeral services. Jackson was killed in a San Quentin prison riot a week earlier, in which three corrections officers and two other inmates were also killed. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

August, 1970, Berkeley. Minister of Defense and Black Panthers co-founder Huey Newton listens to a Bob Dylan album at home shortly after his release from prison. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Oakland, 1973. Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale campaigns for mayor on a city bus. Seale came in second out of nine candidates that year, only to lose the runoff. But the party’s 1972 voter registration drive helped Lionel Wilson became Oakland’s first black mayor in 1977. Stephen Shames, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

Power to the People wraps up with Shames and Seale reflecting on the current mood in America and the legacy of the Black Panther Party, featuring photos of recent Black Lives Matter protests.

And that brings us to Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams‘ book, The Black Panthers: Portraits From an Unfinished Revolution (Nation Books).

While no doubt rooted in the past, Portraits From an Unfinished Revolution focuses squarely on the present, with portraits and interviews with former members today. While the authors did an excellent job of tracking down higher-ups in the party, the book smartly turns its focus to the “real heroes,” the group’s rank-and-file members, giving us a fuller picture of life as a Black Panther, and the impact those years had on people’s lives. Some of the former members are now academics. Some are solidly working class. Some are in prison. And many remain active as organizers and activists.

Shih’s simple, powerful, Richard Avedon-esque black-and-white portraits are paired with short pieces on each person: who they were then, where the Black Panther Party took them, and where they are now. Interspersed among the interviews are essays on different aspects of the Black Panthers.

Ericka Huggins was a leader of the Black Panthers Los Angeles chapter along with her husband, John Huggins, who was later killed in a shootout on the UCLA campus. She later founded the party’s New Haven chapter. A longtime director of the party’s Oakland Community School, she helped create educational and social justice programs with an emphasis on spirituality. She is also a professor of sociology and women’s studies at several California colleges and universities. (See our recent chat with Huggins here.) Bryan Shih

Phyllis Jackson grew up in Tacoma, Washington, before joining the party at its national headquarters. She served as a communications secretary and ran a voter registration campaign. She is an associate professor of art history at Pomona College, teaching arts and cinema of Africa and the African diaspora. Bryan Shih

Abdullah Majid (formerly Anthony Laborde), born in Flushing, New York, was a founding member of the Queens Chapter of the party and a full-time party member from 1968 to 1971. At the time of his death this past April, he was incarcerated in Five Points Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, for his role in the shooting death of one NYPD officer and the wounding of another. Bryan Shih*

Mike Tagawa was born in 1944 at the Minidoka Relocation Camp in southern Idaho, one of the locations where Japanese were interned during World War II. He and his family moved to Seattle. He joined the Air Force and later the Black Panther Party in Seattle, where he now works as a bus driver. Bryan Shih

B. Kwaku Duren coordinated the Black Panthers’ reorganized Southern California chapter (January 1977 to March 1982). After his sister was shot and killed by the police, he helped establish the Coalition Against Police Abuse, which became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the LAPD. The lawsuit was settled for $1.8 million and led to the disbanding of the LAPD’s Public Disorder and Intelligence Division. Duren worked as a paralegal and lawyer in the South Central office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles from 1977 to 1990. Bryan Shih

Ronald “Elder” Freeman grew up in Detroit and in the early 1960s moved to California, where he became a founding member of the Southern California chapter of the party, along with his brother, Roland. He was a priest in the African Orthodox Church, was affiliated with the Marcus Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association, and was a longtime prison reform advocate. Both brothers died of illness within a week of each other in October 2014, a few months after this interview was conducted. Bryan Shih

Elaine Brown chaired the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977, the only woman to serve in this top position. The author of two books, A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B, Brown is now executive director of the Michael Lewis (“Little B”) Legal Defense Committee and CEO of Oakland and the World Enterprises, a nonprofit that helps former prisoners create businesses—including an urban farm in West Oakland, where the party was headquartered. Bryan Shih

Taken together, the books offer a well-rounded primer on the Black Panther Party, then and now, top to bottom. You can find books out there with a more detailed history and books that go deep in the political thinking and revolutionary tactics employed by the Black Panthers. Dozens, if not hundreds of academic books parsing the party have been written. If you want to go deep on biographies, they’re out there, too. But for a solid introduction or a quick refresher, you can’t do better than this.

Shames’ photos are on exhibit at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City through October 29. Shames and Seales will be doing book signings in DC the last weekend of October, including one at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on October 30. Shih’s photos are part of the Oakland Museum of California’s impressive “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50” exhibition, on display through February 12.

* Name corrected.

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We Can’t Stop Looking at These Unforgettable Images of the Black Panthers

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Bay Area Police Sex Scandal Keeps Getting Weirder

Mother Jones

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This past Friday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced that she would pursue charges against seven officers for conduct related to a sex scandal that has been roiling Bay Area law enforcement since March. The announcement came days after Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, who has compared the Oakland Police Department to a “frat house,” said she would recommend that the OPD fire one cop (three others have already resigned), suspend seven, and provide training and counseling to yet another. Officers with at least four other Bay Area agencies have been fired, reassigned, or have resigned over the scandal, which claimed three successive Oakland police chiefs in just nine days in June. Oh, and one other thing: The victim is AWOL. Here are the dirty details:

1. Crimes: Five current and former Oakland police officers, a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy, and a former Livermore cop are to be charged on 16 counts including oral copulation with a minor and engaging in prostitution—both felonies—and engaging in a lewd act in public. Two cops will be charged with unauthorized use of a police database: Celeste Guap, the 18-year-old at the heart of the scandal, alleged that officers gave her confidential information about her friends’ arrest histories—not to mention money, protection, and information about upcoming prostitution stings—in exchange for sex. Another officer will be charged with failure to report a crime. The DA’s investigation—which included interviews with Guap and various officers, and a review of more than 100,000 pages of social media posts and text messages—determined that two of the officers not charged with sex crimes did actually have sexual contact with Guap. But because those alleged contacts occurred outside of Alameda County, O’Malley’s office has no jurisdiction, she said Friday.

2. Punishments: An investigator with the Alameda County DA’s office who formerly worked for the OPD was fired in July. A Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy and an officer with the Livermore Police Department resigned earlier this year over their alleged connections with Guap. Two Richmond officers who were determined to have had sex with Guap when she was 18 were reassigned from positions where they regularly interacted with youth. The Livermore Police Department said on Saturday that it had concluded a criminal investigation, but several police agencies are still conducting investigations related to the scandal.

3. Complications: O’Malley’s office can’t formally charge or arrest any of the officers yet, because Guap is no longer in California. She’s in a Florida jail cell. Late last month, the alleged victim checked into a Stuart, Florida, sex-and-drug addiction program. Three days later, according to the East Bay Express, the local weekly that broke the scandal, Guap allegedly bit a security guard and was arrested, charged with aggravated battery, and jailed—bail was set at $300,000. The Richmond Police Department used victim’s compensation funds to help pay for Guap’s rehab—the Contra Costa County DA’s office told the Express that it helped process the application for the funds. Guap’s mother and attorney Pamela Price, who represents Guap, suspect a cover-up of some kind: They questioned why Guap wasn’t placed in a local program instead. This latest news has renewed calls by local activists for federal or state authorities to launch an independent investigation. On Friday, O’Malley said the Richmond police did not consult her before paying for Guap’s trip to Florida, and that she would not have approved such a trip. She can understand the public outcry over the decision, she added. The Martin County DA is expected to decide this week whether to pursue the charges against Guap.

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Bay Area Police Sex Scandal Keeps Getting Weirder

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