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Gang rape was a 'hoax' by bloody teen who ran into church half-naked, Denison police say
An 18-year-old Texas woman's claim that she was abducted and assaulted two weeks ago were a hoax, Denison police said Wednesday.

The incident caused a whirlwind of speculation in the town near the Oklahoma border after the bloody woman ran into a church wearing only a shirt, bra and underwear and lied about two black men raping her while a third held her down, Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said.

The woman, identified as Breana Harmon Talbott, confessed to the hoax Tuesday, Burch said.

Talbott was arrested Wednesday on a charge of making a false report to a peace officer.
Police still aren't completely clear on the teen's motive, Denison police Lt. Mike Eppler later said.

In a searing statement, Burch said Talbott caused fear in the area and wasted the department's time and resources.

"Breana Harmon Talbott's hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and so unnecessary."

The Denison Police Department also plans to seek restitution for the cost of the investigation.
"It's unfortunate a person can falsely report such a major incident in our community that wastes the time of law enforcement and needlessly puts some people in fear," Burch said.

The department believes Talbott staged the crime scene March 8. She also admitted that the cuts on her body were self-inflicted.

Officers initially responded to a call from a man, who described himself as her fiancé and claimed she was missing. He said her vehicle had been found outside an apartment in the 3800 block of Texoma Parkway about 5:30 p.m. with the driver's door open and her phone, keys and a shoe nearby.

The department mobilized all available resources to look for her, even putting other cases aside to focus on the apparent abduction.

She later walked into New Creation Church, in the 3400 block of South Eisenhower Parkway, where she told witnesses she'd been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in the woods behind the building.
Talbott told detectives she was near her vehicle at the apartment when "three black males" in ski masks kidnapped her in a black SUV before raping her.

She was taken to a hospital, where, Burch said, "it is our understanding that medical personnel who examined Talbott were unable to corroborate that Talbott had been sexually assaulted."
Within a day or two of the incident, detectives doubted most of her allegations.

"The puzzle pieces just weren't coming together," Burch said. "We were unable to corroborate any of Talbott's allegations that she had been abducted or sexually assaulted."
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Liz Farmer Mar-22-2017 245 0
An 18-year-old Texas woman's claim that she was abducted and assaulted two weeks ago were a hoax, Denison police said Wednesday.

The incident caused a whirlwind of speculation in the town near the Oklahoma border after the bloody woman ran into a church wearing only a shirt, bra and underwear and lied about two black men raping her while a third held her down, Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said.

The woman, identified as Breana Harmon Talbott, confessed to the hoax Tuesday, Burch said.

Talbott was arrested Wednesday on a charge of making a false report to a peace officer.
Police still aren't completely clear on the teen's motive, Denison police Lt. Mike Eppler later said.

In a searing statement, Burch said Talbott caused fear in the area and wasted the department's time and resources.

"Breana Harmon Talbott's hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax. The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and so unnecessary."

The Denison Police Department also plans to seek restitution for the cost of the investigation.
"It's unfortunate a person can falsely report such a major incident in our community that wastes the time of law enforcement and needlessly puts some people in fear," Burch said.

The department believes Talbott staged the crime scene March 8. She also admitted that the cuts on her body were self-inflicted.

Officers initially responded to a call from a man, who described himself as her fiancé and claimed she was missing. He said her vehicle had been found outside an apartment in the 3800 block of Texoma Parkway about 5:30 p.m. with the driver's door open and her phone, keys and a shoe nearby.

The department mobilized all available resources to look for her, even putting other cases aside to focus on the apparent abduction.

She later walked into New Creation Church, in the 3400 block of South Eisenhower Parkway, where she told witnesses she'd been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in the woods behind the building.
Talbott told detectives she was near her vehicle at the apartment when "three black males" in ski masks kidnapped her in a black SUV before raping her.

She was taken to a hospital, where, Burch said, "it is our understanding that medical personnel who examined Talbott were unable to corroborate that Talbott had been sexually assaulted."
Within a day or two of the incident, detectives doubted most of her allegations.

"The puzzle pieces just weren't coming together," Burch said. "We were unable to corroborate any of Talbott's allegations that she had been abducted or sexually assaulted."

EVAN GROSSMAN Mar-21-2017 104 0
Colin Kaepernick may be out of a job and he may have pledged to end his kneeling protest of the national anthem, but he continues his work to make the world a better place.

Kaepernick recently made twin $50,000 donations to Meals on Wheels America and the Love Army for Somalia, a social media campaign that’s trying to raise $2 million for food and water for starving people in that African nation.

Since he began his social justice crusade last year, Kaepernick has donated an estimated $500,000 to assorted charities and community groups. On the free-agent quarterback’s website, kaepernick7.com, there is a running log of the donations he’s made.

In January, the last month listed on the site, Kaepernick donated $25,000 each to Brooklyn-based Black Veterans for Social Justice and 350.org, the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, and the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

Since October, Kaepernick has donated $100,000 a month, mostly in $25,000 increments, to a variety of social and community programs dedicated to helping the less fortunate among us.

While President Donald Trump, among others, continues to rip Kaepernick for kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” (and recently presented a federal budget that aims to de-fund programs like Meals on Wheels), Kaepernick has worked to improve the lives of veterans, poor people, minorities, women and immigrants.

It makes you wonder, exactly, who is really working to Make America Great, and who is full of it.

MOLLY CRANE-NEWMAN Mar-21-2017 75 0
A brutal Bronx nanny was sentenced Tuesday to up to four years in prison for fatally stomping a 20-month-old boy in a bizarre wrestling match at her home day-care center.

The dead boy’s parents choked back tears as Athena Skeeter stood only a few feet away to hear Judge Miriam Best impose the sentence.

Little Cardell Williamson was killed in August 2014 while under the care of Skeeter, 42, a state-licensed day-care provider. She arrived in court wearing prison beige prison garb for the hearing.

In a strange twist, the suspect — who took a March 2 plea deal to a manslaughter count — could possibly walk out of prison in the very near future.

The sentence is 1 1/3-to-4 years in prison, and Skeeter has already served more than two years behind bars. The state parole board will determine her release date — or if she does all four years.

Authorities said Skeeter placed the mortally injured boy into a scalding hot tub after throwing the child on a hardwood floor and stomping on his stomach.

She also acknowledged throwing her own son on top of Cardell — and then stepping on both boys another three times.

“Never got to take him trick-or-treating, Halloween,” said the morose Williamson, 58. “Doing a real good birthday where he understands. I missed all that.

“I missed all them Kodak moments.”

Cheatham, 35, stood with tears in her eyes as prosecutor Danielle Pascale read her victim impact statement.

“I’m just kind of upset that it turned out the way it did,” said Cheatham after the hearing. “I think it is not enough time.”

But the DA’s office said the parents signed off on the deal allowing Skeeter to plead down from a murder charge.

“Three years of misery’s enough for me,“ said Williamson. “I’m just trying to maintain my sanity, what I have left, and move on to the next battle.”

Ian Auzenne Mar-18-2017 131 0
OPELOUSAS - Three former Westminster Christian Academy students accused of hanging a noose on campus are now charged with intent to intimidate and public display of a noose.

The school released an updated statement today, which says that none of the students involved are enrolled at the school now.

Judah Benjamin Barber, 18, surrendered to deputies at the St. Landry Parish Jail after warrant was issued for his arrest. He was booked and bonded out. The two other students, both juveniles, were booked and released into their parents' custody.

Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says he moved forward with the charges after an investigation found enough probable cause to arrest the students.

"This kind of incident should never happen and will affect both sides the rest of their lives," Sheriff Guidroz said in a press release. "Jokes or actions like this are hateful, humiliating, and degrading to the persons who they are directed to and will cast a very dark shadow on the students that preformed the actions for the rest of their lives."

Paula Rogo Mar-18-2017 103 0
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to make philanthropic waves after securing a way to provide relief to the people of Somalia.

After joining a Twitter campaign begging Turkish Airlines to send a cargo plane with aid, the former quarterback announced on Twitter Friday that he had secured one from the airline to bring supplies to the East African nation.

Colin Kaepernick ? @Kaepernick7
We got the plane! Now it's time to raise funds for food and water. You can donate at http://GoFundMe.com/lovearmyforsomalia … #LoveArmyForSomalia

“Amazing news, Turkish Airlines granted us an airplane to fly to Somalia, a 60-ton cargo plane so we can fly there with food, with water for these people,” said Kaepernick in a video. “Now we’ve started a GoFundMe page to allow anyone to help us donate food, donate water. We’ll make sure every cent goes to help these people.”

Turkish Airlines is one of the few that travel to Somalia, and the flight is expected to take place March 27.

The GoFundMe page’s goal is $1 million, a number it quickly surpassed in 24 hours.

“This is a victory for the people, this is a victory for the people of Somalia,” said Kaepernick. “It was done out of love, out of respect for these people. We wanted to bring structure to this so we’re going to use the name Love Army for Somalia. So use the #LoveArmyforSomalia. This is amazing, let’s keep building, let’s keep going.”

TERENCE CULLEN Mar-18-2017 124 0
An unarmed man was shot to death by Tennessee cops — after they claim he tried to run him over while acting unstable — recorded the shooting live on Facebook.

Rodney James Hess, 36, streamed two videos Thursday as he sat in his parked SUV, which cops said was blocking an off-ramp in Alamo, Tenn. He was shot after police claim they became worried he’d mow them down with his car.

Hess was transported to a hospital where he later died. Cops responded to calls around 2:15 Thursday afternoon that a truck was parked sideways on a highway exit.

The first video captures mostly before cops arrive. The 17-minute recording is relatively quiet and shows the car moving before the first Crockett County deputy arrives.

Family of mentally ill Ky. man shot by police demanding answers
Hess was acting “erratic” by the time more deputies arrived at the scene, said Josh DeVine, spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Hess allegedly attempted to run deputies over twice during this unstable period, he added.

“At one point, preliminary information indicates Hess tried to use his vehicle, his SUV, to strike the officers at least twice,” DeVine told reporters Thursday night.

In the second video — which lasts just more than a minute — deputies are seen surrounding Hess’ car.

Hess' fiance told a local newspaper he was suffering from bipolar disorder. (VIA FACEBOOK)
Repeatedly, Hess is heard asking to speak with “the higher commands.”

“I would like the higher commands to come out,” he says in the video.

That’s when his car is seen moving in reverse. A deputy at the driver’s window waves something in his hand.

Then gun shots are heard, followed by Hess screaming in pain. The car is then seen moving before coming to a halt.

DeVine said a deputy shot Hess through his windshield as authorities became concerned he’d run them over.

“The information suggests that multiple officers were at risk of injury when this situation escalated,” he said.

Hess then drove his car “a short distance away” before crashing into a ravine, DeVine said.

Hess was shot by police after deputies surrounded his car as seen on his Facebook Live stream.
The slain man was not armed at the time, DeVine said, but added cops considered his car a weapon.

The videos don’t show Hess trying to run police over, but it appears there’s a time gap between the two recordings.

In an email to the Daily News, DeVine said TBI is aware of the recordings, but have yet to confirm their validity at this point.

Hess had a New Orleans address, and authorities initially weren’t sure what he was doing in Tennessee.

But relatives told NBC News he moved to Tennessee from Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina.

His fiancé told the Jackson Sun that Hess suffered from bipolar disorder.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will hand over its findings to a district attorney general, who will then determine if cops acted improperly.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel Mar-17-2017 157 0
After meetings with the Trump administration last month, leaders of historically black colleges and universities expressed cautious optimism that the increased funding they requested might actually make it into the White House budget. It did not.

Instead, Trump’s first presidential budget released Thursday calls for “maintaining” $492 million in appropriations for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. Combined discretionary spending for those schools, however, is actually $577 million right now. The White House directed questions about the discrepancy to the Education Department, which did not respond to requests for comment.

There is no mention in the budget of any federal investment in scholarships, technology or campus infrastructure for historically black colleges that leaders requested. And instead of expanding Pell grants for low-income students to cover summer courses as they had asked, the budget raids nearly $4 billion from the program’s reserves.

“Less than three weeks ago, this administration claimed it is a priority to advocate for HBCUs but, after viewing this budget proposal, those calls ring hollow,” Rep. Alama Adams (D-N.C.), a graduate of the largest HBCU, North Carolina A&T State University, said in a statement.

Johnny Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said the proposed appropriations could be a lot worse considering the total amount of cuts on the table for the Education Department. He said HBCU advocates had to fight the Obama administration for funding, and stressed that the lines of communication remain open with the current administration.

“This is a process,” Taylor said. “We’re already had phone calls with the administration to say that as we go into the specific lines of this budget, this is where we’d like you to consider increases. This is only stage one.”

There was plenty of skepticism when the Trump administration made overtures toward black school leaders, including from students who questioned whether their college presidents were only being used for photo ops. It didn’t help when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called historically black institutions “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” a statement that HBCU advocates said ignored that the schools were a response to racist Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation.

Despite the controversy, HBCU leaders remained focused on funding and held out hope that Trump’s executive order regarding their schools would include some money. It did not. The order, signed in February, directs the White House initiative on HBCUs to operate from the White House instead of the Education Department. While some viewed the move as a signal that the more than 100 historically black schools were a priority for the administration, others said it was purely symbolic without monetary support.

At the time, United Negro College Fund President Michael L. Lomax, who attended the ceremonial signing, lamented the lack of financial support in the order, noting that none of the funding recommendations were included. Nevertheless, he encouraged HBCU advocates to continue to work with the administration and Congress. On Thursday, the UNCF urged the president to reconsider federal funding commitments and sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney reiterating recommendations made during last month’s meetings.

“President Trump pledged to do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before. However, this budget is not reflective of that sentiment,” Lomax said Thursday. “Without strong federal investments, President Trump’s commitment to HBCUs and the rebuilding of African American communities will be promises unfulfilled.”

Historically black schools educated nearly 300,000 students in 2014, the latest figure available from the National Center for Education Statistics. Education Department data shows that three-quarters of all doctorates awarded to African Americans and 80 percent of black federal judges earned an undergraduate degree at historically black schools.

Though the federal government sets aside money in the budget for historically black colleges, those schools have not benefited from the same level of public funding as other institutions of higher education. The disparity in funding public HBCUs, in particular, has resulted in a series of lawsuits, including a decade-old case in Maryland that is still being fought in the courts.

“You can’t just have a photo op for HBCUs and not create more funding for them,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said on a call with reporters Thursday. “These schools have been under austerity for years, and if they’re going to compete with others, they need more funding.”

Taylor Lorenz Mar-17-2017 116 0
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on Friday called for President Trump to apologize to former President Obama for accusing him of "wiretapping" Trump Tower without evidence.

"I see no indication that's true. It's not a charge that I would ever have ever made, and frankly unless he can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think President Obama is owed an apology in that regard," Cole said.

"If he didn't do it, we shouldn't be reckless in accusations that he did."
Cole is the first GOP lawmaker to call for an apology, although other Republicans have questioned why Trump made the accusation without proof.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday defended Trump, saying: "The president has already been very clear that he didn't mean specifically wiretapping. He had it in quotes. So I think to fall back on that is a false premise. That's not what he said. He was very clear when he talked about it yesterday."

Spicer said Trump stood by his claim, after the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier Thursday said it sees "no indication that Trump Tower was a subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016."

Trump earlier this month wrote in a series of early Saturday morning tweets that "Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower" during the campaign, calling his predecessor a "bad (or sick) guy!"

Brian Lisi Mar-15-2017 115 0
Authorities are charging a 26-year-old man with the murder of a 2-year-old and the boy's uncle in Chicago, a shocking incident that was broadcast as it happened via Facebook Live.

Lazaric Collins, 26, was driving through the North Lawndale neighborhood on Valentine's Day with his pregnant girlfriend and nephew, Lavontay White, when their car was struck by gunfire, the Chicago Tribune reports.

As she sang along to some music, Collins' girlfriend was streaming their ride together on Facebook Live before Devon Swan allegedly shot at the vehicle, killing Lavontay and Collins while also wounding the unnamed woman.

She escaped the besieged car with her phone and ran to a nearby home for help, crying out that she had "a bullet in my stomach."

Shooting that killed Chicago toddler captured on Facebook Live
Both White and Collins were shot in the head.

Police believe Swan had intentionally targeted Collins, who they say was a documented gang member.

Collins' girlfriend, who is four months into her pregnancy, is in fair condition. Her unborn child also reportedly survived the attack despite the mother's gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Swan faces first-degree murder charges while authorities believe there will be additional arrests in the Tuesday afternoon attack.

RICH SCHAPIRO Mar-15-2017 119 0
The lawyer for a black Brooklyn man who was beaten in a racially-charged attack is accusing prosecutors of refusing to indict one of the assailants because of his family’s political ties.

Five Hasidic men were charged in the brutal assault of Taj Patterson, who was jumped four years ago while walking down a Williamsburg block.

But with the last defendant slated to be sentenced Thursday, Patterson’s lawyer is calling on the Brooklyn district attorney’s office to charge a man identified at trial as one of Patterson’s attackers.

“One token felony conviction does not placate Taj and his family, when one of the primary assailants remains protected for corrupt, political, and frankly, racial reasons,” Patterson’s civil attorney Andrew Stoll told the Daily News.

Sentencing postponed for Hasidic man who attacked gay black man
Stoll was referring to Yoelli “Joel” Itzkowitz, whose brother Yanky is the politically-connected coordinator of the Williamsburg Shomrim volunteer security patrol.

Two people who testified at the trial of suspect Mayer Herskovic — a witness to the assault and an NYPD detective who reviewed surveillance video — identified Itzkowitz as one of Patterson’s attackers.

Yet authorities never questioned Yoelli Itzkowitz, who is a member of the Shomrim along with some of the other men charged with attacking Patterson.

“One witness and an NYPD Detective have already identified Itzkowitz in court under oath. Two defendants copped out, can be subpoenaed, and can no longer plead the fifth,” Stoll said.

Hasidic men blow off suits for alleged beating of gay black man
Calls to Yoelli Itzkowitz were not immediately returned.

Herskovic, who is awaiting sentencing, is facing up to 15 years behind bars for his role in the attack.

Stall has written two letters to the DA’s office calling for the arrest of Itzkowitz. Neither was returned.

A spokesman from the prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the investigations and refused to say whether Itzkowitz was or is considered a suspect.

“We can only conclude that this DA's office remains unwilling to grant equal access to justice to all Brooklyn communities,” said Stoll.

Mar-15-2017 184 0
The FBI is actively investigating whether "additional people" were involved in a conspiracy by Heather Mack and her then-boyfriend to murder Mack's mother during a luxury vacation in Bali, a court filing made public Friday revealed.

The disclosure came in a search warrant seeking to extract information from Mack's iPhone, which was confiscated after her arrest in Bali in 2014 but remained locked because she refused to give investigators her password, court records show.

The phone had remained in the custody of Indonesian authorities until December, when it was turned over to the FBI in Jakarta and later brought to Chicago.

Mack, 21, and her ex-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 23, were convicted by an Indonesian jury in 2015 of killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack and stuffing her body into a suitcase at a Bali resort hotel. Both are serving prison sentences — 10 years for Mack and 18 years for Schaefer.

Federal prosecutors had asked that the search warrant remain sealed, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez denied the request on Thursday.

Despite the couple's conviction, the warrant makes clear that the investigation into the murder continues — in part "to determine whether additional people may have been aware of and involved in the conspiracy."

The warrant's 29-page affidavit, filed under seal on Jan. 4, sought to have the phone analyzed by an FBI forensic specialist to extract text messages, call records, photographs and at least one "Facetime" chat Mack had with Schaefer during their trip to Bali, records show. If the specialist was unable to unlock the phone, prosecutors planned to serve Apple with a search warrant request for access to the device, the warrant said.

The warrant was filed as part of the case against Robert Bibbs, a cousin of Schaefer's who pleaded guilty in Chicago in December to helping plan the murder in exchange for $50,000 of Mack's expected inheritance money.

The confirmation of an ongoing federal investigation comes a year and a half after the Chicago Tribune first revealed that U.S. authorities had flown Indonesian law enforcement officials to Chicago at least twice in 2015 to answer questions about the murder.

Besides the murder itself, the victim's family has long questioned whether the daughter's $1.56 million trust fund might have been accessed to illegally bribe Indonesian officials during the criminal proceedings, the Tribune has reported.

The FBI, which has an office in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, was involved in the murder investigation from the onset. Besides ensuring that the victim's body was flown back to the United States, federal agents assisted Bali police with technical support related to texts and emails on phones that belonged to the victim and Schaefer, records show.

After Mack and Schaefer were charged, a Cook County judge overseeing the trust fund case allowed about $150,000 to be wired in increments to the daughter's overseas criminal attorney. But after she had been found guilty, the judge balked at a demand for another $200,000 in one lump sum to pay for legal costs related to the appeal.

Lawyers have since been trying to hammer out a settlement with Mack in the trust matter, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, an unusual custody battle is playing out involving the daughter born to Mack and Schaefer while the two were awaiting trial. The girl, Stella, is next in line for the money.

Under Indonesian custom, she has been allowed to stay with her mother behind bars until her 2nd birthday on St. Patrick's Day. The girl's paternal grandmother has petitioned to become her legal guardian, but a Cook County judge refused the emergency request last week.


David Boroff Mar-15-2017 609 0
A pregnant 19-year-old Texas woman was fatally struck by a train while having photos taken of her on the tracks in a bid to launch her modeling career.

Fredzania Thompson attended Blinn College in Bryan but wanted to put her education on hold to begin modeling, her mother told the Eagle.

"That's definitely what she wanted to do," Hakamie Stevenson told the newspaper. "It's what she had started to do the day she was deceased."

Thompson was standing between two sets of tracks Friday in Navasota when a BNSF Railway train approached, according to the paper. She moved out of the way, but was apparently unaware that a Union Pacific train was coming in the opposite direction.
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The teen passed away from her injuries on her way to the hospital, according to the newspaper.

"Zanie had the most beautiful smile," fiancé Earl Chatman told the Eagle. "I believe she would want everyone to know what a kind and caring person she is."

Chatman, the father of a 7-year-old son, found out in recent weeks that Fredzania was going to give him another child.

"She said, 'You're going to be a dad again,'" the 25-year-old Chatman told the Eagle.

The funeral service for Fredzania will be held on Saturday. She would have turned 20 this past Monday.

"If you ever needed someone to talk to she was always there," wrote a description on a GoFundMe tribute.

NEKESA MUMBI Mar-12-2017 150 0
Joni Sledge, who with her sisters recorded the enduring dance anthem "We Are Family," has died, the band's representative said Saturday.

She was 60.

Sledge was found dead in her home by a friend in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday, the band's publicist, Biff Warren, said. A cause of death has not been determined. He said she had not been ill.

"On yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We welcome your prayers as we weep the loss of our sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin," read a family statement.

Sledge and her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy formed the Sister Sledge in 1971 in Philadelphia, their hometown, but struggled for years before success came.

"The four of us had been in the music business for eight years and we were frustrated. We were saying: 'Well, maybe we should go to college and just become lawyers or something other than music, because it really is tough,'" Joni told The Guardian in an interview last year.

But then they met Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of the hit group Chic, and their breakout soon came. The pair wrote and produced their album "We Are Family," and soon the women had their first major hit with disco jam "The Greatest Dancer," which became a top 10 hit in May 1979. (It would sampled years later for Will Smith's hit "Getting Jiggy Wit It.")

But their biggest hit would come a month later with the title track, an infectious dance anthem that celebrated their familial connection with the refrain, "We are family, I got all my sisters with me." While it celebrated their sisterhood, the 1979 hit so also became an anthem for female empowerment and unity. It would become their signature hit, and was nominated for a Grammy. Both the song and album sold more than one million copies.

The women also had a hit with a cover of the Mary Wells song "My Guy" in 1982, but would never duplicate the success they had in the 1970s. Still, Sister Sledge continued; while sister Kathy left the group for a solo career, the trio of sisters continued to perform and record, including a performance for Pope Francis in 2015.

Warren said they last performed together in concert in October.

Joni Sledge is survived by an adult son, her sisters and other relatives.

>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Jan-15-2017 1156 0
In such a very short time, many are clearing their memories of how Donald Trump mocked a handicap individual, disrespected candidates, women, the media and anyone else who does not agree with him. Donald Trump has insulted women, called them by names other than their own, has disrespected President Obama and most recently insulted Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis. Despite his despicable behavior, many are of the mindset that we must meet with Donald Trump or risk being left out. Until Donald Trump proves this country wrong, I stand with the Honorable John Lewis.

Has Trump announced that he is cutting back major programs President Obama put in place specifically for black people? Some people are behaving as if Trump is now our savior and if we do not bow down to him he will not help us. If the problems in our communities were so bad and needed so much attention, why weren't people lined up the last 8 years to discuss these problems with President Obama?

Trump has succeeded in making people afraid and now some are living in fear. Trump said in his campaign speech that nothing had been done for the black communities in the last 8 years so what do we have to lose. Trump said he would change things and now people are saying we need to meet with Mr.Trump so that he can keep his promise. That alone really makes it appear as if President Obama did nothing for the black communities and Trump was right. Listen, we have to stop depending on the Government and do for ourselves. When you depend on a large machine like the Government it controls you. When something controls you it can destroy you.

Many of the colleges in Louisiana and throughout the U.S. are now dealing with financial issues because of the budget cuts. Most of the colleges are dependent on the Government to survive because of the little support from the communities and believe me that is a recipe for disaster. Have you ever wondered why Asians and other races are not lined up to meet with Trump? It's because they support their own businesses and circulate the dollars within their own communities so they are not as dependent on the Government. We don't need Trump. We need each other. You guys running behind Trump will make him look like the savior he say he is and as a result he will most certainly be in office for the next 8 years. This country is in the best shape it's ever been in for a very long time and will only get better because of the things President Obama put into place. The thing is, Donald Trump will get credit for it all. We will survive, especially if we begin to support each other.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Sep-20-2016 559 0
One must applaud the efforts and courage of Colin Kaepernick despite all of the negative criticism he’s received from the media, from fans, from athletes, current and former, and from certain owners of professional teams. Some have questioned his sincerity and others have questioned his methods but what many have failed to do is take notice of his message. Kaepernick has voiced on a number of occasions the reason for his peaceful protest yet many have failed to comprehend it.

What Kaepernick has done for the Movement is sparked conversation but many do not want to listen. He used his platform to bring attention to the injustices that are occurring on a daily basis yet an unarmed black man was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma while he held both hands in the air for the world to see.

One has to wonder if this would have occurred if there was more unity on the issues that Kaepernick brought to the forefront. One has to wonder if this would have happened if every professional athlete would have stood in solidarity. One has to wonder if this would have happened if Jerry Jones allowed his athletes to exercise their Constitutional rights. One has to wonder if this would have happened if all of the National Organizations would have issued press releases making their support of Kaepernick known to all. One has to wonder if this would have happened if the media was not so fast to label all police officers as heroes. One has to wonder if this would have happened if the officers who murdered Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile were in jail today.

Colin Kaepernick, did what many have accused athletes of not doing; he took a stance. He pledged One Million dollars to the cause but how many more came in support of his efforts? I would like to believe if more people would have come out in support of Colin Kaepernick, Mr. Crutcher would still be alive today. Colin Kaepernick took a knee and challenged everyone else to do so but instead of focusing on the message, people focused on the National Anthem. When the message is ignored the problems will persist. There is a National Stage. The time is now to bring a plan forward. Stop questioning his method and give him the support he needs. Two weeks ago, two young ladies were wrongfully arrested while eating at a Whataburger in San Antonio, Texas. A few days later, a 13 year old boy was shot multiple times by a police officer. On last week, the officer who killed Eric Garner received a bonus to bring his pay to $120,000. Now, we witnessed the shooting of an unarmed black man but there are those who still don’t get the message. Why? Colin Kaepernick has not received the full support he needs.

Colin Kaepernick took a knee but many have not been there to lift him up. This is not Colin’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem. If you can demand that people stand in solidarity during the playing of the National Anthem, you most certainly should demand that everyone stand in solidarity when there are injustices. Don’t leave it up to one person to do it all alone. We must up take a knee and move forward with a plan.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


Daryl K. Washington Jul-14-2016 887 0
I had the pleasure to witness four NBA superstars issuing a “Call to Action” to the thousands of athletes who were in attendance at the ESPY Awards. It was the moment I waited on for so long because I personally know the influence professional athletes have on society. They have the platform and the power to demand change. We saw the immediate change that occurred when athletes at Grambling State University, Missouri and the Los Angeles Clippers, to name a few, decided to take a stance. Athletes have the power, the platform and the support to make a difference but should they have to do it alone?

As a civil rights attorney I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of protests throughout the U.S. I’ve attended rallies and marches where some of my closest friends lived but as I thought about it, I generally did not get to see any of them until after the events were over. I recently received confirmation that there is a perception that the only individuals out marching are the victims’ families, individuals from the communities we moved away from or individuals who are wrongfully labeled as troublemakers. What really confirmed it for me was when it was stated that “men should get off the protest lines and instead fill out job applications.” I know that comment can be taken many ways but the way I took it was that men who are out protesting do not have jobs. The sad reality of it all is the reason statements like that can be made is because many who have been blessed to obtain multiple degrees, fortunate to be employed by major organizations, live in the nice neighborhoods, drive the fancy cars, have the IRA’s and are living what is considered the American Dream will not get involved with the movement out of the fear of losing it all yet those same people have the audacity to call out athletes.

Here is the bottom line. This movement cannot be placed on the backs of a few. Until organizations see their star players out in the communities voicing their concerns, they will think the injustices are acceptable. I know it shocked the conscious of America to see Trauma surgeon Brian Williams publicly share his fear of police officers. There were many who probably thought “how dare a doctor make such comments” and I’m sure Dr. Williams understood that there was some risks involved in making his comments but I'm sure he realized that many would listen if he spoke. His comments needed to be made because America now sees that this problem does not only exist in what many call the hood. Many now understand that for black and brown people the hood is America and we are not safe anywhere.

Just recently I was traveling to conduct depositions. I guess because I had on a suit and was sitting in First Class (I had an upgrade because of mileage) the white gentleman sitting next to me perhaps was of the opinion that I was not concerned about what was going on in the black communities. Little did he know why I was traveling and what I fight for on a daily basis. He had the audacity to say he could not understand why people were so upset about the incident in Baton Rouge given the background of Alvin Sterling. My response to him was when an officer decides to use excessive force against a black or brown person, in most cases they do not know the name of the person or whether they have a criminal background. Only one thing is seen; the color of the person’s skin. They know in most cases that the law and media have been on their side so there is no fear of killing because there will be plenty of support for them. By the time our flight landed he admitted that his own personal biases had not allowed him to look beyond a certain point but because we discussed it, he now had a clearer picture.

I say all of the above to emphasize that athletes are not the only individuals with the power and platform to demand change. There are Black Presidents, CEO’s, Coaches, CPA's, CFO’s, Managers, Politicians, Directors and future stars of large corporations who also have the platforms. There are Black doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, pilots, flight attendants, scientists, engineers, sales professionals, educators, business owners, entertainers, etc. who also have the platforms and power to make a change. It’s time that we gave our brothers and sisters, who are out fighting for justice on a daily basis, the help and support they truly need. I can assure you that should you become the victim of police brutality in your nice neighborhoods or fired from you nice jobs, you will then understand the value of being a part of groups that fight for change. We all need to be out protesting so that the victims’ families can properly grieve. We are in this current state of chaos because so many believe it’s not their problem. Just remember, we are in our positions because someone fought for us.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Jun-24-2016 916 0
On yesterday the officer responsible for the incident in McKinney, Texas was not indicted for the assault on the young teenager that was seen all over the U.S. Also, on yesterday one of the officers in the Freddie Gray case was acquitted. As expected, my timeline on Facebook was flooded with posts from individuals talking about the injustices that take place throughout the U.S. One of my good friends, who is like a brother to me, even blamed attorneys for the injustices throughout the U.S. Generally, I do not comment on these type of issues but because it's Friday I would like to give everyone who this may apply to something to think about.

When is the last time you attended a judicial debate or even contacted an attorney to inquire about a judicial candidate or a DA to see if they had the proper temperament to serve? When is the last time you attended a rally or demanded that a DA present all of the evidence to the grand jury? When is the last time you took a day off from work to support the families who sons or daughters were wrongfully gunned down by a police officer? When is the last time you packed a courthouse to support a family you did not know? When is the last time you sent a letter to the family of a deceased offering your support, financially or emotionally? When is the last time you contacted your local city council member and asked them what they are doing to address the issue of police brutality and police misconduct?

I could go on and on with this but just know, the system will continue as is unless we become proactive and stop being so reactive. This system knows that people will get excited about an incident but once the media is gone, so is the support. As a Civil Rights attorney, I know who is putting it all on the line to bring about change. I know the people who are talking to the DA's, to the Chiefs of Police of various cities, to the city attorneys and others trying to save lives and/or bring about change. I know my friends who attend meetings when I'm in their cities trying to bring about change. It seems like an easy and at times, prestigious job but to be honest, it can be a lonely job. Many nights when most people are sleeping, I find myself in deep thoughts wondering if I could get the thousands of people I know to stand behind us in this fight, a major difference could be made.

Creating the wonderful posts on Facebook help bring attention to issues of injustice but we have to be consistent with our support. One million people strong can take a day off from work with very short notice to attend the CAVS victory parade but let a demonstration for the wrongful death of an unarmed black man or woman be planned and the hardest thing to do is get people to agree on a date or better yet, take off a day to show their support. I know many may not understand how deep this problem truly is but until you step out in the heat and show your support, you may want to stop some of the blaming. Just remember, there will not be change until we all change. Real support is needed to stop the injustices that are occurring throughout the U.S. Let's all come together to bring about a change in this country.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Nov-11-2015 13842 0
For years the question whether college athletes should be paid has been debated over and over only to be kicked down by legal rulings. The NCAA, the television networks, the media and large colleges have all profited off of the backs of primarily Black athletes, while the only colleges that would accept them are being forced to shut down because of a lack of resources. College coaches are earning millions of dollars per season, have large endorsement deals and live in upscale neighborhoods while college athletes, many who come from low income families, are penalize for accepting a meal from a booster, can’t afford to take a date out to dinner or a movie and can only wish that their families could afford to sit in the stands occupied by many who will not speak to them or support them after their college careers are over.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that in order for there to be a change within the system, the ones with the power would have to do something drastic. Two years ago the Grambling State University football team decided to stage a protest because of the lack of equipment and the conditions of Grambling’s facilities. Although I hated to see it come down to that, I understood their frustrations and realized that we were witnessing the beginning of a new movement. The day had come for college athletes to realize that they have as much power as professional athletes, to demand change.

Two years later, the football players at the University of Missouri made a bold statement that will have an everlasting impact on college sports. They walked away from a game they love to support their fellow students. They have now shown athletes at other schools the power they have when they join together in solidarity. As a result, the NCAA’s biggest fear just came to reality. There was not going to be any change or progress at the University of Missouri until the individuals responsible for generating a large share of the revenue said “Enough is Enough.” Within a few days of their walk-out, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, announced their resignation. That's power.

The NCAA has long made the issues with college athletes, a legal one. The NCAA created rules that prevent athletes from earning a living until after they’ve made everyone else rich. College athletes are required to sign over all of their rights in exchange for a scholarship and cannot earn one single dime to support a parent who is sometimes forced to work two jobs and in some cases still don't have the resources to attend a game. LSU’s superstar Leonard Fournette is being questioned about a business venture his family started before his college career really took off. Now that he’s signed away his rights, it’s being frowned upon by the individuals who were earn millions off of him. In other words, we the NCAA and LSU own his rights. The system is old, is broken and it’s unfair. Schools like LSU and Alabama earn over $70 million per year off of football but the players receive $0. The coaches earn over $3 million per season but the players earn $0.

I'm predicting that we are a season or two away from college athletes staging one of the largest boycotts in college sports because they have come to realize that the power is in their hands. The Missouri football players did not have to miss one single game to get what they demanded but the fight is far from over. Today, the students in Missouri are being faced with the harsh reality of the racist society we still live in. They should be preparing for exams but instead they are fearing for their lives. One hundred thousand fans will cheer on black athletes on Saturdays but many will criticize their efforts and make fun of them on Monday morning. I applaud the efforts of our college athletes. It makes me feel good to see that Our future generation will not stop fighting the fight that many started years ago. We can only pray that one day we will be able to take off the gloves. Until that time, the fight must go on so that the future generation can experience what Dr. King died for many years ago; True equality for everyone.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
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