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Black police chiefs come under sharp criticism

LOUISIANA WEEKLY — Black police superintendents in two of California’s largest cities have come under intense criticism for their officers’ handling of two high-profile incidents.

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Photo by: Pexels.com

By The Louisiana Weekly

Black police superintendents in two of California’s largest cities have come under intense criticism for their officers’ handling of two high-profile incidents.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott recently defended his officers’ raid on the home of a freelance videographer who was suspected of stealing a police report concerning the death of public defender and San Francisco mayoral candidate Jeffrey Gordon Adachi. He was found dead of a drug overdose February 22 in his Telegraph Hill apartment.

Police critics charge the cops carried out a legally questionable raid May 10 at the home of Bryan Carmody, but Chief Scott defended the officers’ actions, arguing they executed search warrants issued against Carmody.

Scott argued Carmody exceeded his role as a journalist when he obtained and sold a police report concerning Adachi’s death. Carmody admits he sold the story of Adachi’s death to numerous news outlets, but he said he did not buy the report, according to various news reports.

The San Francisco PD has come under criticism for obtaining the search warrants, which is a possible violation of state and federal laws protecting journalists from having search warrants issued against them.

Scott declined to disclose the evidence against Carmody, who the San Francisco DA charged with being involved in a criminal conspiracy. Two judges had to approve the warrant.

In Sacramento, police have come under intense criticism for their arrest of a 12-year-old Black boy who was handcuffed and slammed face first to ground where he was then restrained by several cops.

The boy is 4’ 8” tall and weighs 80 pounds. Police also applied a spit mask over his face to prevent him from spitting at the cops after he allegedly threatened to spit on them.

A security guard at Walgreens charged that the boy was trespassing because he was asking shoppers to buy undisclosed items from him. Police arrested the boy on April 28.

Police said they are reviewing the child’s arrest. Police later released him to his mother. Daniel Hahn is chief of the Sacramento Police Department.

In March, Sacramento police shot to death an unarmed Stephon Clark.

This article originally appeared in the Louisiana Weekly.

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Afro

Family Awarded $1.1M By Baltimore County

THE AFRO — The controversial death of Baltimore County resident Tawon Boyd in police custody has led to a $1.1 million settlement for the family. The deal comes after a contentious battle in federal court during which county officials argued Boyd’s death was an accident. 

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Baltimore County Police were summoned to the home of 21-year-old Tawon Boyd in Sept. 2016, because he was in mental and emotional distress. After being severely beaten by police, four days later he was dead. (AFRO Photo)
Baltimore County Police were summoned to the home of 21-year-old Tawon Boyd in Sept. 2016, because he was in mental and emotional distress. After being severely beaten by police, four days later he was dead. (AFRO Photo)
By Stephen Janis

The controversial death of Baltimore County resident Tawon Boyd in police custody has led to a $1.1 million settlement for the family.

The deal comes after a contentious battle in federal court during which county officials argued Boyd’s death was an accident.

But, A Dwight Pettit, who represents Boyd’s family, countered with expert testimony that said Boyd’s death was the result of positional asphyxiation and a brutal beatdown by police.

“We were satisfied, the family is satisfied,” Pettit told the AFRO. “We knew there would be a very conservative jury in federal court.”

The incident raises more questions about the procedures for investigating police custody deaths; including a series of rulings that classified the death of African-American men who died during police encounters accidents, but outside experts has argued were due to excessive force.

Boyd’s ordeal began when he called police on Sept. 18th, 2016 to his Middle River home seeking assistance for a possible intruder.

When police arrived Boyd first tried to get into a parked car, and then ran to a neighbor’s house across the street, according to court documents. It was at that point Boyd’s fiancé said police began trying to restrain him, which devolved into an unnecessary beatdown.

“Defendants Garland, Seckens and Bowman punch and kick Mr. Boyd in his head, face and all over his body while he is on the ground. Mr. Boyd does not strike any officer back or attempt to strike any officer back, but moves his arms as best as he could in a protective position to cover his body from the attack he is receiving,” court filings alleged.

The lawsuit also contends a Baltimore County EMT unnecessarily administered Haloperidol (Haldol) a muscle relaxant and treatment for schizophrenia to Boyd during his encounter with police. The filings alleged the drug caused cardiac arrest.

Three days after Boyd was hospitalized he was taken off life support due multiple organ failure and swelling of the brain.

The Maryland State Medical Examiner ruled Boyd’s death an accident. “It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” The Baltimore Sun reported. The Sun also reported that use of a drug called N-Ethylpentylone, or “bath salts,” also contributed to his death.

However, outside pathologists hired by the plaintiff said during depositions that Boyd died as result of the beating and positional asphyxiation, a condition that arises when excessive weight is placed upon on a person lying on the ground.

The settlement came after federal judge Ellen Hollendar allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial against the officers on counts of excessive force and unlawful death. The county had argued that the officer’s response was reasonable and that the officers were not responsible for Boyd’s death.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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D.C. Activist Leads Search for Solutions to Shootings

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Most of the nation’s attention continues to rest on the cities of El Paso and Dayton where families, friends and local officials struggle to make sense of last weekend’s two mass shootings that left a collective and rising death toll of 31 with dozens injured and still hospitalized.

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A little girl holds a candle during a vigil in southeast D.C. for Karon Brown, 11, who was killed by an adult after a dispute with other children. (Courtesy of Ward 8C07 Commissioner Salim Adofo)
A little girl holds a candle during a vigil in southeast D.C. for Karon Brown, 11, who was killed by an adult after a dispute with other children. (Courtesy of Ward 8C07 Commissioner Salim Adofo)

By D. Kevin McNeir

Most of the nation’s attention continues to rest on the cities of El Paso and Dayton where families, friends and local officials struggle to make sense of last weekend’s two mass shootings that left a collective and rising death toll of 31 with dozens injured and still hospitalized.

But closer to home, community activists like D.C.’s Roach Brown, known for his zeal and commitment on behalf of returning citizens, has taken on another mission: finding solutions to the District’s rising gun violence.

On August 6 during Brown’s monthly “Crossroads Radio Show” (WPFW, 89.3 FM), which airs live every first Tuesday from Ben’s Chili Bowl in Northwest, he facilitated two panel discussions in a room filled with interested local residents for a lively two-hour conversation about the impact that escalating shootings have had throughout the District.

But his most ardent concern, he says, remains the rise of injuries and deaths among children.

“We have reached a point where our children are being shot and killed in our streets before our very eyes,” he said. “We can no longer sit by idly as the death toll rises. If you can ignore what’s happening in the Black community to our babies, then there’s something terribly wrong with you. We can stop this – we must stop this.”

“And it doesn’t matter what color these babies are. Nor do I care if they’re the children of Black folks or children whose parents are members of the Ku Klux Klan. Children deserve being protected and having the chance to grow up and go after their dreams. It’s our job to keep them safe,” Brown exclaimed.

Before turning the conversation over to his first panel, Brown pointed to poverty which disproportionately lays claim over Blacks in America as a significant reason for the frustration and disillusionment that have led to numerous examples of misdirected violence erupting in recent months in his hometown of D.C. as well as other mostly-Black urban cities including Baltimore and Philadelphia.

“Since the 40s when the U.S. government began to develop the projects where they ushered Black families in and forced us to live on top of one another, we’ve had to live like crabs in the bucket,” he said. “Each time the fire has been turned on, we’ve crawled over one another desperately trying to get out.”

Panelists for the first session, whose reflections mirrored the passionate pleas of the talk show host, included: co-host, Kymone Freeman, We ACT Radio; Tyrone Parker, director, The Alliance of Concerned Men; Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, Nation of Islam; and the Rev. Tony Lee, founder and senior pastor, Community of Hope AME Church.

“We have far too many guns on our streets and many of those weapons have been illegally acquired,” Parker said. “And while there are organizations like ours that are out in the community doing everything we can, we still haven’t received the full support of District government, particularly in terms of the kinds of resources that the City could but has yet to provide.”

“In addition, we are in short supply of men who are willing to join us. The numbers are simply inadequate given the challenges before us. Thirty percent of District youth are currently living in poverty. That’s something that city officials must address.”

“When an 11-year-old child was recently shot and killed in D.C. by another youth, the police found that the fight and shooting that subsequently occurred happened because the children were fighting for the right to control a street corner where they could make a few dollars selling legal goods to people in the community. They were trying to make a few dollars so they could make ends meet,” Parker said, adding that his organized has compiled a conflict resolution manual that many believe could positively change the mindset of youth if placed in the hands of the District’s public school leaders and utilized in classrooms.

Muhammad, a man who admits having once lived a life dominated by negative forces, agreed with Parker’s notion that changing the way youth think and often react when they feel threatened, remains the first step in reducing violence.

“Before our communities can be changed for the better, individuals have to regain control over their own minds,” he said. “Too many within the Black community have chosen to embrace a Satanic-led existence and have turned away from the Creator. It’s easy to understand why our children are in so much turmoil – in their homes they can easily pick up drugs, alcohol and guns all of which are just laying around on their parents’ kitchen tables.”

“Further, it’s imperative that we begin to agree to disagree in love. Even this panel illustrates the diversity within the Black community. But bickering among ourselves won’t get us anywhere. Even if those who are already out on the streets trying to bring peace in the hood don’t always see eye-to-eye, we can still work together,” Muhammad added.

Lee noted that viable solutions already exist but without financial support and a concerted effort to more effectively direct those resources, gun violence will inevitably continue to plague the city and its residents.

“Many activists are already on the scene, even before the police arrive, attempting to provide solace and some form of understanding when gunfire erupts – we often get there while the smoke from guns is still in the air,” he said.

“We don’t need to create strategies or look for answers – we already have them. But in the District, the vast majority of financial resources is going to building buildings rather than building people. Our City’s leaders don’t want to disrupt their program. Gentrification benefits those leaders who have found that it’s easy to paint our residents as barbarians so they can dismantle communities and move people so they can make way for business opportunities.”

“We must hold our leaders accountable and force them to transform people before transforming physical properties – a current policy that rarely benefits Blacks and more often bodes well for people who don’t have our welfare in mind and who don’t like anything like us,” Lee said.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Committee Chairs Request Information from Consumer Bureau on Efforts to Protect Student Loan Borrowers

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Former Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman asserted in his August 2018 resignation letter that CFPB leadership “has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting.” The position of Student Loan Ombudsman has been vacant since Frotman resigned in August 2018.

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), is the Chairwoman of the House Committee of Financial Services

Chairs Also Request Documents from Education Department, Loan Servicers

WASHINGTON – Today, Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen Kraninger requesting information and records concerning the CFPB’s efforts to protect consumers from unlawful student loan servicing practices.

In the letter, the Chairs raise concerns that “…the Consumer Bureau has taken actions that weaken its ability to fulfill its mission to protect student loan borrowers,” and that the agency is “…providing potentially harmful and conflicting advice to student loan borrowers.”  The Chairs request records from the Consumer Bureau by no later than September 9, 2019.

Former Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman asserted in his August 2018 resignation letter that CFPB leadership “has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting.” The position of Student Loan Ombudsman has been vacant since Frotman resigned in August 2018.

The Chairs also sent a letter to Betsy DeVos expressing deep concern over the Education Department’s failure to protect students and families from student loan companies. The letter addresses recent reports that the Department is shielding student loan servicing companies from state law enforcement and undermining the CFPB’s oversight of these companies. In March 2019, an independent watchdog found that the Department failed to establish policies to properly conduct oversight of student loan servicing companies.

“As Chairs of Committees with oversight responsibilities over the student loan industry, we are very concerned by reports that under your leadership, the Department of Education has failed to adequately oversee student loan servicers,” the Chairs wrote. “Reports indicate that improper practices by these servicers—including inaccurate determination of monthly payments, forbearance steering, and other practices—directly impact millions of Americans and have ripple effects on their families, communities, and the economy as a whole.”

In addition, the Chairs sent letters today to federally contracted loan servicers seeking information about their operations, including any strategies or policies that push students into more expensive repayment options.

The full text of the letter to the CFPB is available here.

The full text of the letter to the Education Department is available here.

The full text of the letter to Navient is available here.

The full text of the letter to Nelnet is available here.

The full text of the letter to Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is available here.

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Obama decries leaders “who demonize those who don’t look like us”

THE WESTSIDE GAZETTE — In a rare public statement Monday about twin mass shootings that have rattled the nation, former President Barack Obama offered a forceful rebuke of the growing gun violence in America, denouncing not only the lack of federal gun control measures but public leaders who demonize marginalized groups and stoke racial divisions.

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President Barack Obama

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

In a rare public statement Monday about twin mass shootings that have rattled the nation, former President Barack Obama offered a forceful rebuke of the growing gun violence in America, denouncing not only the lack of federal gun control measures but public leaders who demonize marginalized groups and stoke racial divisions.

Without naming President Trump or the divisive rhetoric of his successor on immigration and race — which some Democrats have said fans the hatred behind violent acts like Saturday’s massacre in El Paso — Obama urged the public to rebuff “leaders” who scapegoat certain groups and employ bigoted language.

“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,” Obama said in his statement.

Mr. Trump, during his first official televised remarks about the shootings on Monday, denounced white supremacy and “racist hatred.” But he did not concede that his own inflammatory — and at times racist — rhetoric has come under criticism from many Americans.

The nation’s first African American president also directly referenced and condemned the apparent racist and anti-immigrant motives of the 21-year-old white man who authorities believe killed at least 22 people inside a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday.

Obama said “indications” suggest the actions of the suspected shooter in El Paso are part of a “dangerous trend” of mass violence fueled by racism and white supremacy. “Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet,” he wrote.

The deadly rampage in this predominately Latino border city is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism by the Justice Department and a potential hate crime by federal investigators, who are probing a racist, anti-immigrant document purportedly authored by the suspect. The alleged manifesto decries the growing political power of Texas’ large Latino community and denounces progressive positions on immigration.

Urging Americans to heed the lessons of the past, Obama stressed that there must be a broad acknowledgment that racist language has “been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world.”

“It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans,” he wrote. “It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”

In his statement — one of only a couple of public proclamations he’s made since leaving office in early 2017 — the former two-term Democratic president said he and former first lady Michelle Obama are grieving with all the families affected by the massacre in El Paso and another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that killed nine people.

The two massacres over the weekend have reignited the divisive debate around gun control and exposing the deadly threat of domestic terrorism, radicalization of youth and white supremacy.

“No other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States,” Obama wrote.

“No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do.” 

Obama criticized the position of elected officials and members of the public who maintain that stricter gun laws will not stop a person determined to carry out mass violence, saying common sense measures can help prevent some killings and “save some families from heartbreak.”

“We are not helpless here,” he wrote. “And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”

This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.

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Congressman John Lewis to Receive Thurgood Marshall Award From American Bar Association

OAKLAND POST — The American Bar Association will present Congressman John Lewis with the Thurgood Marshall Award at its annual meeting in San Francisco, Sat., August 10.

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Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)
https://blackpressusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/John-Lewis.jpg

By Conway Jones

The American Bar Association will present Congressman John Lewis with the Thurgood Marshall Award at its annual meeting in San Francisco, Sat., August 10.

The Thurgood Marshall Award honors U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who epitomized individual commitment, in word and action, to the cause of civil rights in this country.

Congressman Lewis is one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, a founding member and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the only one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders who organized the 1964 March on Washington still living, He is a 17 term congressional leader, and one of only two Lifetime Achievement recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award.

“Congressman John Lewis is one of our most revered elder statesmen. His sacrifices for civil rights, justice and equality are unparalleled,” said Robert L. Harris, Esq., former president of the National Bar Association.

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post

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Mayor Bottoms Urges Immediate Senate Action on Gun Safety Legislation

ATLANTA DAILY WORLD — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined 214 bipartisan mayors from across the nation signing on to a letter from The United States Conference of Mayors urging immediate action from the federal government on gun safety legislation.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)
By ADW News

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined 214 bipartisan mayors from across the nation signing on to a letter from The United States Conference of Mayors urging immediate action from the federal government on gun safety legislation.

“Public servants—from the local level to Washington—have an obligation to protect the lives of those we are entrusted to serve,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “We need strong leadership willing to take the necessary measures to prevent heinous, senseless acts of violence. If we are truly serious about preventing one more family from knowing the pain of losing someone to another gun tragedy, we need Congress to enact commonsense gun safety legislation immediately.”

With over 250 mass shootings in 2019, the United States Conference of Mayors is urging the nation’s leaders to work with Congress, the Administration, and others to develop holistic remedies to the scourge of gun violence.

Read the full letter at this link.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Daily World

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