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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (AFP) – African-American faith leaders vowed Tuesday to harness anger over the Trayvon Martin case to overturn “stand-your-ground” laws and reassert the case for greater civil rights.

Speaking outside Department of Justice headquarters, Reverend Al Sharpton announced a National Justice for Trayvon Day for Saturday with rallies outside federal buildings and court houses in more than 100 cities nationwide.

“People all over the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit,” said the civil rights firebrand, flanked by more than a dozen other African-American clergy members. “This is a social movement for justice.”

Sharpton added that “tens of thousands” would converge on Washington for a protest march on August 24, the Saturday before the 50th anniversary of the late Martin Luther King’s historic mass march on the US capital.

Saturday’s acquittal of gun-toting neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Martin has stirred anger and unrest across the African-American community.

Sharpton is pressing the Department of Justice to reopen a civil rights investigation into the incident that was suspended when Zimmerman was arrested six weeks after the killing.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling Martin’s death “tragic and unnecessary,” called Monday for a dialogue on the racially-charged issues it raises, but he stopped short of announcing civil proceedings.

Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, pledged a major campaign against so-called stand-your-ground laws in Florida “and 29 other states” that allow citizens who feel threatened to use lethal force in self-defense.

“The stand-your-ground law was not used directly at this (Zimmerman) trial, but it had everything to do with what happened at this trial,” he said, adding that such laws represented “a new threat to civil and human rights.”

“Let us be clear. It is now because of these laws where anyone walking, committing no crime, can be followed or approached by another civilian, and they can use deadly force and say it was self-defense,” he added. “That is something that is frightening and cannot be allowed to sustain itself in this country.”

Setting out a strategy against stand-your-ground laws — including a boycott of corporations known to support such legislation — will be the topic of a three-day meeting of faith leaders in Miami next week, he said.

Separately, the Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday that pop music legend Stevie Wonder has vowed never to perform in any state or country with a stand-your-ground law on its statute books.

“I decided today that until the stand-your-ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” it quoted Wonder as saying Sunday in Quebec City, where he was playing the Canadian city’s summer festival. “As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]