As U.S. consumers worry about the rising cost of gas, Nigerians are paying a heavier price. More than 250 villagers in the Niger Delta died in a pipeline explosion yesterday. Police sealed off the scene of Monday’s explosion at Adeje village outside the oil city of Warri and close to Jesse Town, where a thousand people died in a similar disaster in 1998. The Niger Delta is crisscrossed with old, leaky oil pipelines that go unfixed by multinational oil corporations for decades. The companies use them to extract their wealth from Africa’s most populous country.
An African-American man was found hanged from a tree near a park yesterday in Bossier City, Louisiana—gagged, handcuffed and wearing women’s clothes. Police said the death was accidental and sexual in nature. Mike Halphen, spokesperson for the Bossier City police, would give few details about the case, but said specifically the man was not lynched. Television reporters said the man was about 19, wearing women’s clothes. They also said he was gagged and handcuffed. Halphen refused to comment on the clothes, gag or handcuffs. It was the second hanging of a young black man in recent weeks. The other was June 16 in Kokomo, Mississippi, when Raynard Johnson was found hanging from a tree in his yard. Medical examiners declared it a suicide. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called it a lynching, because the teenager had been dating a white girl. This weekend, Jackson led nearly 1,000 people in a blistering sun to march along the country road in southern Mississippi and call for justice in the mysterious death of 17-year-old Raynard Johnson. The march ended hours later at what Jackson called “the hanging tree,” the small pecan tree on the front lawn of the Johnson family home where the popular youth was found hanging that night of June 16.
A 1996 photograph of New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman frisking a black man during a drug sweep has sparked outrage from critics, who say it’s another example of racial profiling. Whitman has maintained her patdown of the unidentified man while accompanying New Jersey state police on a tour of Camden, the state’s poorest city, was an attempt to understand the rigors of police work. Troopers had searched the man at least once during the sweep before offering him to the governor. A photograph obtained by the Associated Press shows Whitman, who appears to be smiling, standing behind a black man while his arms spread and his palms pressed up against a wall. The photograph, taken by an officer, was subpoenaed in May by several black and Latino troopers who claim their superiors subjected them to discrimination.
Both presidential candidates faced protesters yesterday. Anti-death-penalty activists interrupted an introduction for George W. Bush at the NAACP national convention in Washington, with one shouting, “An innocent man was murdered by Governor Bush!” Security forces led he four or five protesters out after they waved signs with pictures of Gary Graham, also known as Shaka Sankofa, who was executed June 22 in Texas. Graham, who was convicted largely on the testimony of one eyewitness, was the 135th prisoner executed since Bush became governor in 1995. “Remember Gary Graham!” the protesters shouted as Bush was introduced, but before he began to speak. The NAACP has called the execution of Graham a “gross travesty of justice” and has called for a national moratorium on all executions.
And this news from Knoxville, Tennessee: Environmental protesters took over Vice President Al Gore’s East Tennessee campaign office yesterday, chaining themselves together for about three hours before leaving peacefully. The occupation comes just weeks before Republicans and Democrats hold their presidential nominating conventions, events expected to draw thousands of activists and protesters. When the office opened at 10, four women entered and tied themselves together with a motorcycle chain and several bicycle locks, the same time, witnesses said, about a hundred others moved in front of the two-story building’s entrance, and at least two more barricaded themselves on the roof with a banner that said, “The president is for hire.” The protesters represented several groups who have campaigned against a wide variety of issues over the past year, including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and protecting the environment.
Leaders of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO have endorsed a large protest march on the eve of the Republican convention, and other unions are expected to follow suit next week, this according to union officials and rally organizers. The union endorsements, particularly the support of the one-million-member state AFL-CIO, could help boost participation and financial support for the Unity 2000 rally set for July 30, the day before the four-day Republican convention begins in Philadelphia.