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HeroZona Foundation Establishes Nation’s Largest COVID-19 Testing Site

NNPA NEWSWIRE — A.P.” Powell, the founder and CEO of HeroZona, calls the recently established free drive-thru testing site “COVID City.” Funding for the site came via the CARES Act established earlier this year. “We saw high demand, so we acted,” said Powell. “While the [South Mountain Community College] site was established because of the increase in local cases, others from outside the area are also welcome.”

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Hospitals throughout the state are reporting overflows in their intensive care units, creating a shortage in available hospital beds.
Hospitals throughout the state are reporting overflows in their intensive care units, creating a shortage in available hospital beds.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Like most of Arizona, Phoenix has suffered a tremendous spike in COVID-19 cases, and coronavirus testing has been limited.

In response to the rapidly expanding numbers of the virus in Arizona and the need for additional testing, Alan “A.P.” the HeroZona Foundation has partnered with the American Legion’s Travis L. Williams Post 65. HeroZona and the American Legion are hosting free drive-through COVID-19 screening in the parking lot of South Mountain Community College.

Florida-based genetics testing laboratory, Lab 24, has agreed to perform the testing at what’s now considered the largest testing site in the country.

According to reports, Arizona now has the highest per capita new case rate in the nation.  HeroZona and the American Legion specifically selected the South Mountain Community College site to ensure that African Americans and other minorities could have access to quality testing. They hope to mitigate the virus’s impact in a state with more than 120,000 cases and over 2,100 deaths.

Hospitals throughout the state are reporting overflows in their intensive care units, creating a shortage in available hospital beds.

HeroZona is a non-profit organization that empowers heroes in the community through entrepreneurship, employment, and education. HeroZona works with veterans, first responders and those that bring social good to or future generations and under-served communities.

A.P.” Powell, the founder and CEO of HeroZona, calls the recently established free drive-thru testing site “COVID City.” Funding for the site came via the CARES Act established earlier this year. “We saw high demand, so we acted,” said Powell. “While the [South Mountain] site was established because of the increase in local cases, others from outside the area are also welcome.”

According to Powell, 1,700 people are being tested each day. COVID City is open Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We are testing everyone in the car,” Powell declared, referring to a policy which ensures testing for every passenger in arriving vehicles. “You just need a valid I.D. and we’ll get you tested. We want to make sure that if you have to go out and work, you can get tested first.”

“We had a lady who wanted to see her daughter. She didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t see her doctor, but we gave her the test, and without it, she wouldn’t have been able to see her daughter,” Powell stated.

“We wanted to do something for this community to ensure that they have the same resources that every community in the state has. We wanted to give them something they can feel good about it, and keep their families safe,” Powell added.

Once tests are administered, Powell said it would take seven to 10 days before results come back. “If the test is positive, you will get a call from a doctor,” said Powell, who recovered from COVID-19 earlier this year but has recently lost five friends.

“If it’s negative, you will get an email. We’re trying to make it more efficient, but the demand is high. However, we know it’s at least good to know you can get something back and that there’s some solution.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and the CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) emphasized, “The (NNPA) salutes the leadership of AP Powell and the HeroZona Foundation for effectively responding with a much-needed testing solution for Arizona’s COVID-19 crisis. HeroZona’s successful model for COVID-19 testing in Phoenix, should be urgently replicated across the nation.”

John Leon, a barber in the Pheonix area, recently got in line at 4:30 for a test after experiencing an itchy throat and other symptoms.

He told a local television station that he followed precautions during the pandemic. “I keep [the barbershop] sprayed down. I wipe everything down. I wear a mask and make everybody else wear a mask who comes into the shop,” Leon said.

Despite waiting more than two hours, Leon appreciated the organizers’ efforts. “I like the way they have this setup,” he said. “They set it up real nice so that they can take a lot of people.”

Powell again emphasized the importance of bringing testing to the South Phoenix community, which includes ZIP codes with some of the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona.

“We wanted to make sure we do our part to keep veterans and citizens of this community safe and make sure that they feel like they’re going to get the same resources anybody else can get,” Powell said.

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

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Pomona Presses for Police Oversight and Monitoring

PRECINCT REPORTER GROUP NEWS – “If you talk about solutions, we have to look back at the framework of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s most successful campaigns were strikes and boycotts, they were economics. He made sure wherever they were going to strike, he’d shut down a bridge. That was strategic,” said Donovan Caver, 33, who grew up between Pomona and Ontario.

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Civil Law attorney Francisco Suarez has represented numerous police brutality and misconduct cases in the area. In the past six months, he said there have been three fatal police shootings in the city. “We just feel that we’ve got to put a stop to it. We have a coalition named after the codes to protect to police, Police Oversight Starts Today Coalition. It’s [acronym] mocking POST California law,” he said. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Civil Law attorney Francisco Suarez has represented numerous police brutality and misconduct cases in the area. In the past six months, he said there have been three fatal police shootings in the city. “We just feel that we’ve got to put a stop to it. We have a coalition named after the codes to protect to police, Police Oversight Starts Today Coalition. It’s [acronym] mocking POST California law,” he said. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Dianne Anderson, Precinct Reporter Group

An alleged headlight stop in the days of his youth along with countless other police misconduct cases still drives Donovan Caver to fight the broken system.

While he was in college, Pomona police pulled him over on his 21st birthday.

“They asked me where’s the dope? I said sir, I don’t have any dope. They slammed my face on my hood, and they searched my car. They arrested me on my birthday,” said Caver, a member of Black Lives Matter Inland Empire.

His family is also no stranger to police violence.

“Police killed my great-granddad, they shot my cousin,” said Caver, 33, who grew up between Pomona and Ontario.

To say that Caver is pessimistic that change can come without a radical overhaul is an understatement.

One constant example of Driving While Black happened about six months ago as he was leaving a Pomona fish market and saw police had a Black man down at curbside. He grabbed his cell phone and started recording. He said the police then changed course.

“Something didn’t sit right with it. I put my fish down and started recording it and I saw them searching his car, and he yells record this,” he said. “They let him go. If I didn’t pull the camera out when they were searching his car, would they have ‘found’ drugs?”

Pomona City Council approved the No Knock Warrant ban unanimously on February 1.

Last June, Caver was also arrested with others peacefully protesting the Lawrence Bender case in front of the San Bernardino courthouse, known as the “IE 11.” In all, he said the sheriff’s arrested 15 BLM IE members and protest participants.

Caver feels that one approach that might work is using independent prosecutors with no bias or affiliation with the sheriff’s department.

But of all the methods to change the system, he believes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holds the best model of success.

“If you talk about solutions, we have to look back at the framework of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s most successful campaigns were strikes and boycotts, they were economics. He made sure wherever they were going to strike, he’d shut down a bridge. That was strategic,” said Caver.

Civil Law attorney Francisco Suarez has represented numerous police brutality and misconduct cases in the area. In the past six months, he said there have been three fatal police shootings in the city.

“We just feel that we’ve got to put a stop to it. We have a coalition named after the codes to protect to police, Police Oversight Starts Today Coalition. It’s [acronym] mocking POST California law,” he said.

The coalition is pushing for independent civilian oversight of the Pomona Police Department.

Every ten years, he said a review commission looks at the city charter, but this time around, he and other advocates are proposing to establish a commission with subpoena power to monitor the police department.

“There’s been a lot of problems in Pomona with the police and they always get away with it, so we’re really hoping to put this on the ballot,” he said.

Suarez said the group Police Oversight Starts Today proposes subpoena power to compel the department to hand over any relevant information that is needed.

“Everyone is having problems, not just Pomona, but the unions are constantly fundraising and backing up police,” he said.

To see the case history of Pomona police corruption in Blair V. City of Pomona: https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1296526.html

The post Pomona Presses for Police Oversight and Monitoring appeared first on Precinct Reporter Group News.

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Migos’ Takeoff cleared of sexual assault allegations

ROLLING OUT – The “Stir Fry” rapper was sued last year by a woman using the alias Jane Doe, who claimed that Takeoff raped her at a house party. The lawsuit sought damages for sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Takeoff at WGCI BIG JAM 2019 (Photo by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre for rolling out)
Takeoff at WGCI BIG JAM 2019 (Photo by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre for rolling out)

By Michael “Ice-Blue” Harris, RollingOut

Takeoff of the Migos won’t face criminal charges related to 2020 allegations of sexual battery, assault, and emotional distress. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case due to insufficient evidence.

Takeoff’s lawyer, Drew Findling, told TMZ that his office spent countless hours investigating the case and came to the same conclusion as the prosecutors. “The allegations were patently and provably false, Findling stated.

The “Stir Fry” rapper was sued last year by a woman using the alias Jane Doe, who claimed that Takeoff raped her at a house party. The lawsuit sought damages for sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Takeoff’s lawyer first addressed the charges last year and told the media that they didn’t have much weight.

“We have reviewed the allegations and have similarly done our own due diligence. What has become abundantly clear is that the allegations made against Takeoff are patently and provably false. The claims and statements made regarding this lawsuit indicate that the plaintiffs’ representatives have not spoken with relevant witnesses or reviewed available evidence,” added Findling.

Although the criminal charges have been dismissed, the civil suit filed by Jane Doe still remains. Neama Rahmani, the lawyer representing Takeoff’s accuser, also spoke with Pitchfork after the decision, and revealed that that the legal fight was not over.

“Our client is disappointed in the decision of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, who has once again shown he is soft on crime and cares more about the rights of criminal defendants than victims of sexual assault. She looks forward to receiving the justice she deserves in her civil case,” added Rahmani.

Findling also previously called the lawsuit an attempt to secure a financial gain from the Migos rapper.

The post Migos’ Takeoff cleared of sexual assault allegations appeared first on Rolling Out.

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Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Physicians Make a Positive Impact on National Doctors’ Day

THE LOS ANGELES SENTINEL – “Knowing that health care workers have been on the frontline for the past year, and given so much of themselves, we’re awed by their extending themselves even further to support families in need in our community.”

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March 30, 2021, during their weekly physician meeting, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles physicians presented a $20,000 check to St. Margaret’s Center, a community center serving Inglewood and Lennox residents. Many tuned in virtually to watch the celebration. (Courtesy Photo)

By Sentinel News Service

On March 30, 2021, during their weekly physician meeting, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles physicians presented a $20,000 check to St. Margaret’s Center, a community center serving Inglewood and Lennox residents. Many tuned in virtually to watch the celebration. “Supporting those in need is not only part of our career as physicians but part of who we are at Kaiser Permanente,” said Dr. Kirk Tamaddon, area medical director and chief of staff, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.

“This National Doctors’ Day my colleagues were inspired to donate to St. Margaret’s Center because of the powerful work they do for communities in need. We strongly believe that health does not exist without food and shelter.

”St. Margaret’s Center provides a comprehensive range of emergency and supportive services to about 10,000 unduplicated individuals annually. Over the years, many have relied on St. Margaret’s Center for services and referrals for food, shelter, legal, medical, employment, housing, education and social services. Currently, about 700 people, many of whom live below the federal poverty level, visit the Center each week for one or more of its programs.

“We are immensely grateful for the physicians’ support!” said Mary Agnes Erlandson, director for the St. Margaret’s Center. “Knowing that health care workers have been on the frontline for the past year, and given so much of themselves, we’re awed by their extending themselves even further to support families in need in our community.”

When asked how this donation will impact the work being done at the Center, Erlandson added, “We’ll be able to help many more people with the vital services needed by low-income residents to keep a roof over their heads, and food on the table during these difficult times. Some of our emergency services funding has dried up, so this gift comes at a perfect time!

”On National Doctors’ Day, take the time to thank your physician for all that they do to keep their patients and communities healthy and thriving.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Birmingham Restores Two Paid Holidays For City Workers 

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES – “Now that the American Rescue Plan has been signed into law, we have a clearer view of what it can mean for the city. There is a great deal of guidance we must consider from the federal government, but I commit to the employees today that we are focused on supporting all of them for their continued service due to this pandemic,”

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By Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to restore two paid city holidays for employees.

Workers will receive pay for Good Friday and Memorial Day, two of nine of city paid holidays suspended last year as part of cost-cutting measures in the 2020-21 fiscal budget caused by COVID-19.

On Monday, Mayor Randall Woodfin recommended restoring the pay following a presentation by the city’s finance director to members of the City Council’s Committee of the Whole.

“I want to thank members of the council for working with me to take the steps to address these holidays,” Woodfin said. “Our employees have shown their commitment to public service and as we move closer to the new fiscal year, the projected budget numbers support the opportunity to revisit the conversation about city holiday pay [for Good Friday and Memorial Day]. This represents part of our deep appreciation and respect to each and every one of our city employees.”

During the committee meeting, Finance Director Lester Smith detailed that current trends for city revenue have improved since the initial projections based on economic declines early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city initially projected a $63 million revenue shortfall based on economic declines in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic. Part of that shortfall would be offset by taking $26 million from reserve funds leaving a $37 million shortage. Federal stimulus funds coupled with the partial recovery of tax revenue following the initial decline has led to the city revising the initial projection.

Actual year over year revenue losses for fiscal year 2021 through seven months are just over $17 million, reducing the projected impact on the reserve fund to about $3 million.

Woodfin has also committed to employees and the council to include merit pay, Cost of Living Adjustment, longevity pay and full pay for city holidays to the proposed 2022 budget. Even during reductions in the 2021 budget, the city committed more than $28 million to the pension fund, more than double the amount contributed by the city to the pension in 2017.

In addition, Woodfin told members of the council that stimulus funds from the recently passed American Rescue Plan may provide additional funding for city employees’ current pandemic-related service.

The city will receive $148.8 million as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law last week by President Joe Biden.

“Now that the American Rescue Plan has been signed into law, we have a clearer view of what it can mean for the city. There is a great deal of guidance we must consider from the federal government, but I commit to the employees today that we are focused on supporting all of them for their continued service due to this pandemic,” Woodfin said.

birminghalal.gov contributed to this post

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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COMMENTARY: The life taking oppressive knee on our necks comes in more ways than one

THE WESTSIDE GAZETTE – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

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A Message From The Publisher

By Bobby R. Henry, Sr., Publisher, The Westside Gazette

Seeing the video of the torturous death of George Floyd stirs up inside of me emotions that are hard to suppress and what’s even harder is the will to want to stop them. I understand that we can’t always resort  to our physical impulses in combating and destroying   that witch does not receive us as human beings.

Yes my heart goes out to the family members of George Floyd and to his friends and sympathizers. Yes we want justice, yes we want to be recognized for our humanness and compassion. Yes, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Are we to stop or are we to continue to forged on by any means necessary to obtain those unalienable unalienable rights? We will go to the ends of legitimacies even though our spirit tells us to circumvent and go straight to the quick to get our justice. Nevertheless, we fight on.

There is more than one kind of oppressive killing knee to our necks that we need to address.

Why do we spend our money and support those businesses who don’t support or respect us?

So many times we look at the news and we ride through our Black communities, and we see places that are deplorable in their conditions and they allow illegal and disrespectful things to happen on their premises, and we don’t say or do a damn thing to try to stop it?

I am appalled even more at a news story that I saw on channel 10 recently where a young Black 19-year-old sister recorded an incident at Kwik Stop Rims & Tires, 3091 NW. 19th St. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Stearlia Dormeus went to return a tire that was the wrong size. She said she asked if she could get her money back, and the guy with the gun said no and threatened to damage her car if she didn’t give him the tire she purchased or more money. The guy said he was gonna break her window if she didn’t take the tire out of her car because he was “the boss”.

If any of you Black men have seen this video, how can we sit idly by and watch our sister be disrespected and our brothers who are perhaps being manipulated because of their addiction to drugs and alcohol be used as puppets to do the orchestrated work of a menace to our society as this operator did when he told a ‘do boy’ to break her window.

These oppressive knees on our necks are an extension to deep rooted racism and communicable self-hate akin to a powder-keg waiting to ignite civil unrest in this country.

Brothers and sisters, we have to stop the madness one way or another. It is extremely difficult for anybody to put their knee on your neck when you are standing tall with your head held high.

Mama  told us a long time ago to walk tall and straight with your head up! You ain’t got nothing to be ashamed of”.

The post The life taking oppressive knee on our necks comes in more ways than one appeared first on The Westside Gazette.

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COGIC national election lands two local bishops on General Board

THE NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — Bishop J. Drew Sheard of Detroit has been elected Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ.  “After being re-elected to the General Board, Bishop J. Drew Sheard, our new Presiding Bishop, asked me to serve the board as its secretary, which is a strategic part of the new administration,” Porter said.

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Bishop David Allen Hall (left) was elected to the COGIC General Board, joining fellow Memphian Bishop Brandon B. Porter, who was reelected and will serve as secretary. (Courtesy photos)
Bishop David Allen Hall (left) was elected to the COGIC General Board, joining fellow Memphian Bishop Brandon B. Porter, who was reelected and will serve as secretary. (Courtesy photos)

By Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell, The New Tri-State Defender

“When it is known that you have some interest in church governance, your body of work becomes relevant,” said Bishop David Allen Hall, newly elected prelate to the Church of God in Christ General Board.

“I ran a good race in 2016, but I came, in 15th place. I felt this year, I had a good chance. I came in ninth.”

And ninth place was great standing in a field of 16 bishops vying for a seat on the 12-member General Board. Hall, who is pastor of Temple COGIC, ascended to the national church’s highest executive, governing body.

Bishop Brandon B Porter, pastor of Greater Community Temple COGIC, will serve his second term on the General Board.

Bishop J. Drew Sheard of Detroit has been elected Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ.  “After being re-elected to the General Board, Bishop J. Drew Sheard, our new Presiding Bishop, asked me to serve the board as its secretary, which is a strategic part of the new administration,” Porter said.

“So, my desire is to make sure I help our new leader, and advance the vision of the presiding bishop and general board.”

The elections were held on Feb. 23, but final results were delayed because of several challenges launched against the results.

The elections were never-before-seen, like so many other “firsts” spawned by the COVID-19 world pandemic.

The Church of God in Christ made history with its first election of new leaders on a virtual platform.

“In the past, the saints vote during the Convocation when it’s an election year,” said Hall. “But because of the pandemic, there was a virtual election to choose a new presiding bishop and general board.”

Porter also weighed in on this year’s first virtual election.

“Well, because the whole election process was new and not planned years in advance, I’m sure there are many things that could have been improved,” Porter said. “For one thing, questions and concerns from the General Assembly could not be heard.

“That’s normal in any democratic process. I believe, going forward, most would rather have our elections in an in-person voting setting, so that all concerns can be fairly heard and acted upon.”

The Church’s General Assembly is a body of delegates from all the jurisdictions. They vote each election year as a representative entity, voting the will of their particular jurisdiction.

Bishop Charles E. Blake decided not seek re-election as COGIC presiding bishop.
The current Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. of West Angeles COGIC in Los Angeles had announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election.

The new presiding bishop is elected from among the 12 bishops on the general board.

As the results were being calculated, there were charges of cyberattacks and other irregularities. Three days later, Blake issued a statement of rebuke for how the election process had played out.

Blake and the General Board had determined that the best course of action would be to postpone the elections, originally scheduled for November of 2020. However, Blake and the board of bishops never agreed to a re-scheduled election date.

Blake wrote that the “spirit of our election” and the “public display of our campaigns” challenged the fundamentals of Biblical principle.

“The unsuccessful attempt to conduct the Quadrennial election on Feb. 23, 2021, challenges our Constitution,” Blake said.

Blake also said that the chairman of the General Assembly does not have the authority or power to make decisions and take actions on behalf of the Church; that only the presiding bishop and the general board has that constitutional power.

The General Assembly chair re-set the election date.

Blake further used the statement to call for the postponement of the virtual election.

A resolution of the matter was signaled on March 1 when a joint statement was released by Blake and Bishop L.F. Thuston, General Assembly chairman. The show of unity touted a “high integrity third party vendor” that would be selected by March 5, to “administer the Quadrennial Election under the supervision of the Election Commission.”

A smoothly executed election process took place on March 20, and election results were published the same day.

“I ask all of you to pray for the future of COGIC,” Porter said. “We have several new officers, and we must work together for the edifying of the people. We are still a great Church with a great future, and I am excited to see the amazing things God has planned with our new leader and team.”

Hall asked for prayer for the church as “it seeks to change the hearts and minds of unbelievers.”

The Convocation, held annually in November, had a nine-year run in St. Louis. Last year, the confab was cancelled due to the pandemic. So, the city’s 10th year did not happen.

This year, the Convocation is slated to return to Memphis. Porter, who is credited with being instrumental in having the week-long event return, said, “It was time to come home.”

“We are certainly praying that our challenges with the pandemic will have reduced dramatically by November,” said Porter. “It would be heavenly to have all the saints gathering again after so many months of deaths, difficulties, and disappointments. Yes, it would be a glorious homecoming for Memphis and the COGIC saints.”

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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