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When the past is present…

 

Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old Will No Longer Face Charges

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz, the Huffington Post

The Detroit police officer who fatally shot a sleeping 7-year-old girl will not be retried, officials said Wednesday.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office was moving to dismiss the case against Officer Joseph Weekley. He was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor, after Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in 2010 during a botched police raid at her home.

Weekley’s first trial in 2013 ended in a mistrial. In a second trial last year, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge after a motion by the defense. The jury again deadlocked while deliberating whether to convict Weekley of the lesser charge, causing a second mistrial.

“Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanley–Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case,” Worthy said, calling Hathaway’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge “unfortunate.”

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed by Detroit police during a 2010 raid.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed by Detroit police during a 2010 raid.

Shortly after midnight on May 16, 2010, members of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team initiated a raid on the Stanley-Jones home in search of a murder suspect. Weekley was first through the door and allegedly had difficulty seeing when another officer threw a a flash-bang grenade. Weekley fired his gun, killing Aiyana, who had been asleep on the couch with her grandmother.

Weekley maintained that he only shot because the grandmother, Mertilla Jones, struck his gun. She denied touching his weapon, and at trial the prosecution questioned why Weekley had his finger on the trigger.

As activists around the country have widely protested the police killings of unarmed black individuals, Detroit residents have added Aiyana’s name to the list of victims. In October, Roland Lawrence, chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, condemned the judge’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge against Weekley.

“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said in a statement at the time.

The prosecution will move to dismiss the case against Weekley Friday morning. Civil lawsuits filed by the family are still pending trial.

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Fired McDonald’s Employees: We Were Told, ‘Too Many Black People’ Working in the Store

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

Ten former employees at three different Virginia locations of the chain restaurant allege in a lawsuit that they were fired because of their race.

McDonalds_sign

McDonald’s is under intense scrutiny after 10 former employees filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday, claiming that they were fired in May 2014 because of their race. They allege that they were told there were “too many black people working in the store,” according to a press release.

The employees—nine black and one Hispanic, who worked at three different franchise locations in Virginia—claim that supervisors habitually called one of the branches the “ghetto store” and called the black employees “ghetto” and “ratchet.”

“All of a sudden they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” Willie Betts, a former cook at one of the restaurants, said in a press release. “I had no idea what they meant by the ‘right profile’ until I saw everyone else that they fired as well.”

The employees say that when 17 minority staffers were fired in May, managers said that the restaurants were “too dark” and they “need to get the ghetto out of the store.” However, Mike Simon, who owns the three franchises is black himself, has denied any discrimination.

“I continually strive to maintain an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. To protect the privacy of current and past employees, I’m not at liberty to discuss issues regarding employment or termination,” Simon said in a statement released in May, the Washington Post notes. “However, my organization has a strict policy of prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment in hiring, termination or any other aspect of employment.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit intend to hold McDonald’s Corporation accountable, even though the company has repeatedly claimed that it is not in control of the franchises.

“We asked McDonald’s corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee—the same franchisee that just fired us,” plaintiff Pamela Marable said in the release. “McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags—but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem.”

In a written statement to the Root, McDonald’s USA said, “We have not seen the lawsuit, and cannot comment on its allegations, but will review the matter carefully. McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent Franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values. McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

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Woman Shocked to See Brother’s Mug Shot Used as Police Target Practice

Six mug shots used for target practice by snipers from the North Miami Beach (Fla.) Police Department.

Six mug shots used for target practice by snipers from the North Miami Beach (Fla.) Police Department.

By Stephen A. Crockett Jr., theRoot.com

Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant was reduced to tears Saturday after she arrived at a firing range and found that target photos left behind by a local police sniper team were live mug shots, including a photo of her brother.

The North Miami Beach, Fla., police department is under fire after a woman discovered that not only were police using actual mug shots of African-American men as shooting targets at a firing range, but that one of the men in the photos, bearing bullet holes from a police pistol, was the woman’s brother.

On Saturday, Sgt. Valerie Deant went to a shooting range with other troops from the Florida Army National Guard for “annual weapons qualifications training,” according to NBC Miami.

North Miami Beach police snipers had used the range before them, and once Deant and her fellow guardsmen arrived they were shocked to see that mug shots of African-American men were used as target practice. Deant found that one of the men in the photos was her brother, Woody Deant, whose mug shot was taken 15 years ago. Woody Deant was 18 years old when the photograph was taken

“I was like, ‘Why is my brother being used for target practice?'” Deant told the news station. “There were like gunshots there, and I cried a couple of times.”

According to NBC Miami, the Medley Firearms Training Center leases the shooting range to law-enforcement agencies in the area and is not responsible for supplying targets to visitors.

While North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admits that the snipers could have used better judgment, he doesn’t believe that the use of an all-African-American photo lineup for target practice is racial profiling, and added that his sniper team has minority officers. Dennis also told the news station, “Pictures are vital for facial-recognition drills.”

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Poll: 50% of Americans Say Race Relations Have Gotten Worse Since Obama Took Office

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele, TheRoot.com

Nearly 50 percent of Americans said that race relations in the U.S. “have gotten worse” since Obama took office and a mere 15 percent said that race relations had improved under Obama’s tenure, results from an Al Jazeera and Monmouth University poll reveal.

People’s opinions about the state of race relations differed along racial lines.

“White respondents were most likely to say things had gotten worse, whereas African-Americans were nearly evenly split on the question,” Al Jazeera explained.

obama_poll

African American and Latino communities seemed to hold very different views on the subject.

“Both African-Americans and Latinos were more likely than whites to say things had not changed since Obama was elected president, though Latinos were more likely than African-Americans to say that things had gotten worse” Al Jazeera’s analysis continued.

Nearly 70 percent of black and Latino respondents said that racial and ethnic discrimination was “a big problem,” while fewer than half of white Americans agreed.

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Jamal Rutledge, Florida Teen, Honored For Saving Cop’s Life After Arrest

By Andres Jaregui, Huffington Post

A Florida teenager under arrest for violating his juvenile probation will be honored as a hero for saving the life of the Fort Lauderdale police officer who was booking him.

Officer Franklin Foulks, 49, was completing booking paperwork on Jamal Rutledge, 17, when he collapsed to the floor clutching at his chest. Rutledge, who was in handcuffs, sprang into action. He kicked at the security door and yelled for help, alerting other officers to the emergency.

Sergeant Todd Bunin arrived within moments, called a rescue crew and radioed for assistance. Officers Robert Norvis and Raymond Ketchmark responded minutes later. Together the officers applied an electric defibrillator and performed CPR on Foulks.

From left to right: Officer Ketchmark, Officer Foulks, Jamal Rutledge, Officer Norvis, Serbeant Bunin

From left to right: Officer Ketchmark, Officer Foulks, Jamal Rutledge, Officer Norvis, Serbeant Bunin

When rescue crews arrived, Foulks was taken to an area hospital. Medical personnel said that he survived in part due to Rutledge’s quick thinking and the officers’ prompt response. Foulks has been on light duty since collapsing, but is expected to return to full duty by the end of the month

Rutledge and the three Fort Lauderdale police officers will be honored in a ceremony on January 21, according to CBS News.

On the day Foulks collapsed, Jamal Rutledge was under arrest for violating probation stemming from earlier charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

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Diversity Targeted in ‘White Genocide’ Billboard Near Birmingham, AL

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

Commuters driving along Interstate Highway 59, located near Birmingham, Ala., are once again being greeted by a billboard bearing a racially charged message steeped in segregationist belief, AL.com reports. It is the second time in less than a year that such a billboard has popped up in the area. This latest one reads, “Diversity means chasing down the last white person,” and includes a #whitegenocide hashtag.

billboard

According to Al.com, the phrase is used by the White Genocide Project, a white supremacist and separatist group. This particular phrase appears to be one of the group’s “repeater phrases,” which the group encourages activists to use often.

Another such phrase, “Anti-racist is code for anti-white,” appeared in June 2013 in a billboard near Leeds, Ala., leading the mayor of that city, David Miller, to condemn the “racist message.”

Al.com reports that Dyar Signs in Trafford, Ala., appears to own the Birmingham billboard but did not respond to requests for comment.

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George Zimmerman Arrested On Aggravated Assault Charge

 

LeBron James wears ‘I Can’t Breathe’ t-shirt for warmups

By Brian Mahoney,   theGrio.com

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and several Brooklyn players are wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts as they warm up for Monday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an 'I Can't Breathe' shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams were among four Nets wearing the shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner, who died July 17 after a police officer placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

“It was a message to the family. That I’m sorry for their loss, sorry to his wife. That’s what it’s about,” James said after the Cavaliers’ 110-88 victory. “I think everybody else gets caught up in everything else besides who’s really feeling it, and that’s the family. That’s what it’s about.”

Chicago star Derrick Rose wore one before a game Saturday and James said Sunday he wanted one. He got it from Nets guard Jarrett Jack, who provided them to players on both teams. A few NFL players had the saying written on different items of gear and shirts during pregame warmups before games on Sunday, including St. Louis Rams guard Davin Joseph, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush and Cleveland Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi.

James said he and Irving did not discuss their plans to wear the jerseys beforehand. Irving went to warm up first, and at that point James was still saying it was only a “possibility” that he would be wearing it.

“We’re our own men, and we didn’t talk about it,” James said. “When we seen each other wearing the shirts, we looked at each other and just gave the nod. It goes from there.” The statement from the players came before a game that was attended by Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.“I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules,” Silver said.

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New York Mayor Details Talk with Biracial Son on Dealing with Police

BY: , theroot.com

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hugs his son Dante de Blasio at his election night party on November 5, 2013 in New York City.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio made waves with the police union last week after comments that his biracial son needed to take special precautions when dealing with police.

According to the Huffington Post, De Blasio commented that after the Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict an officer responsible for the choking death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, he and his wife “had to literally train” Dante on how to handle dealing with police.  

“The head of the city’s police union said De Blasio’s statement ‘threw cops under the bus,” the Huffington Post notes.

De Balsio, who has refused to endorse the grand jury’s Eric Garner decision, didn’t back down from his position that the country, and the way children of color are policed is different from their white counterparts.

“It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country,” de Blasio said on ABC’sThis Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cell phone, because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”

De Blasio noted that he didn’t believe that he was any different from any of father who has children of color.

“I’m just saying what people are actually experiencing and have been for decades,” de Blasio said Sunday. “I’ve talked to a lot of families of color, well before this time, because I’ve said things like this before. And they’ve said to me over and over and over again that they appreciate someone finally acknowledging that they have that conversation with their sons. It’s a painful conversation. You can sense there’s a contradiction in that conversation.”

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Daniel Pantaleo’s ‘Apology’ to Eric Garner’s Family Was Just Plain Sorry

BY: , theroot.com

Demonstrators walk together during a protest Dec. 3, 2014, in New York City after a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a choke hold on July 17, 2014.

We’ve heard much over the past week about how Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson’s description of Michael Brown as a “demon” suggests that Wilson didn’t see Brown—and by extension doesn’t see black people in general—as fully human. And while these are different cases, in the wake of the failure to indict Eric Garner’s killer, I can only think of New York City police Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s less overt, but no less insidious, demonization of Garner in his version of an acknowledgment and “apology” for what he did.

His words are so incommensurate with what he did that they strain belief as having come from someone who, months ago, killed someone with his bare hands for nothing anyone would consider even a serious provocation.

“Harm” is a formal word; it comes from a clinical distance and also implies survivability. Someone with a dog bite is harmed. Calling someone choked to death “harmed” verges on abdication of responsibility.

“I feel very bad … ” Me, too—about the time I forgot to keep a neighbor’s lawn watered when she was on vacation once. If I had choked a man to death, however, I would express horror, guilt, the task of carrying the burden to my own grave. Pantaleo just feels bad. Aw.

“ … about the death of Mr. Garner.” Why the noun “death”? Here, using the noun connotes formality and therefore, again, distance: that is, his recoil from his having caused this death. More appropriate here would be “that I killed Mr. Garner” or even “that Mr. Garner died because of my actions.” A noun versus a verb can say much. Imagine someone who always said “since my marriage” as opposed to “since I got married.” Note that you would immediately smell that the person felt a certain distance from his or her spouse.

“Personal condolences” is a phrase one finds on cards sold in pharmacies. It’s so antique and overused that in this context it stands in relation to actual feeling as the phrase “How are you?” does to actually wanting to know. What’s next—a box of Whitman’s chocolates?

It is painfully clear from this statement that Pantaleo lacks the true feeling of horror we would expect of someone responsible for taking someone else from this earth for all but nothing. And it may well be that if he had killed a white man, his expression of responsibility would be equally chilly and distant. However, we are justified in suspecting not, given the realities of American psychology.

I am aware that some will say that it’s hasty of me to bring race into Pantaleo’s statement at all. However, it surely isn’t hasty to note that too many black men get killed by cops for murky reasons in this country. With not just Garner but also with Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and John Crawford all within one year, it’s time we turned a corner. What kind of nation is this, in which a race of people think of how the cops treat them, or mistreat them, as a core facet of their very identity?

Anybody who thinks that saying this is to bring up race unnecessarily is, frankly, not thinking very hard.

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