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Amanda Coyne May-25-2017 130 0
Four teachers from Gwinnett County schools have two things in common: They all passed background checks to get their jobs, and they’re all charged with sexually assaulting students.

Allegations in police reports and warrants include molestation, groping, rape and a two-and-a-half year sexual relationship. The alleged abuse occurred over a period of more than two years, but all four arrests were made this month.


The teachers arrested this month are:

• Michael “Mikey” Henderson, a former math teacher and assistant football coach at Parkview High School. Henderson has been accused of a two-and-a-half year sexual relationship with a female student. The student is now 18 and was in Henderson’s class. A school clerk is also being investigated in connection with this case.

• Villie Jones, a former band director at South Gwinnett High School. Jones has been accused of raping a student multiple times and having sexual relationships with multiple other students.

• Ronnie Jackson, a former physical education teacher and track coach at Meadowcreek High School. Jackson is accused of groping and kissing a female student’s genitals.

• Derren Evans, a former assistant football coach and long-term substitute teacher at Providence Christian Academy. Evans is accused of groping and forcibly kissing a student on multiple occasions and asking her for nude photos on Snapchat.

Jackson is free on $22,200 bond. Evans, Jones and Henderson are being held without bond.

The four teachers, three of whom taught at Gwinnett County public schools, and one who taught at private Providence Christian Academy, are a small minority of the district’s and schools’ faculty. Gwinnett County Public Schools employs 12,000 teachers and Providence Christian Academy, a K-12 school in Lilburn, employs 79.

All four men went through extensive background checks to get their jobs. Nothing in any of those background checks arose suspicion or concern, Gwinnett County Public Schools and Providence Christian Academy said.

The teachers also underwent training that addressed inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, as well as sexual harassment, assault and abuse.
CBS May-25-2017 86 0
A middle school is under fire for its reaction to a violent brawl between a teacher and a staff member inside a classroom that was caught on video by a student.

CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports the fight broke out on May 19 at Stone Mountain Middle School, northeast of downtown Atlanta. WGCL obtained video of the dramatic incident, which shows two women punching each other and pulling each other's hair while students scream for them to stop.

WGCL reports one woman is a teacher and the other is a teaching assistant.

"From what I think I know the teachers were arguing about a teacher, a male teacher, and they started arguing and it went on for about three to five minutes," one student told WGCL.
Teachers fight in a classroom in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in a video captured by a student on May 19, 2017. CloseWGCL-TV
The fight was eventually broken up by another adult. Students told WGCL that officials came into the classroom after the incident and forced them to delete any evidence of the brawl on their cell phones.

"Nobody apologized. They just came in and were like, 'Who videotaped this?' and stuff like that," one student said. "I think they were trying to push it under the rug so nobody would know about it and the school's reputation wouldn't be messed up."

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) told WGCL it was not aware of school officials examining students' phones. After WGCL sent the video to DCSD's communications director, the district issued a statement saying the staff members involved in the fight would be disciplined.

"Those staff members that participated in the conduct have been removed from the learning environment," the statement read. "Following our process, DCSD will act swiftly and decisively to hold those employees accountable for their actions."

"Safety and security procedures are in place to help maintain a safe campus," Hinton wrote. "Anyone who creates an unsafe learning environment for our students receive swift disciplinary actions."

Julia Berry, whose daughter was in the classroom at the time of the fight, told WGCL she wants the teacher and the assistant fired.

Berry said failure to fire those responsible would send a message that "it's OK to fight if you can't deal with a problem. This is how you deal with it -- you punch the teacher in the face."
AP May-25-2017 102 0
The family of Alton Sterling is demanding the immediate firing of the two officers involved in the man's death.

In a letter Wednesday to Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., attorneys contend the officers violated the police department's policy regarding de-escalation.

"It specifically cites information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice during a meeting in early May that Officer Blane Salamoni put his gun to Sterling's head and, using an expletive, threatened to shoot him.

"Not only is this a direct violation of BRPD's policy regarding de-escalation, but also a violation of multiple police procedures and policies recognized nationwide. More importantly, Officer Salamoni's actions directly escalated the entire interaction with Mr. Sterling, having placed in Mr. Sterling's mind that he was going to be killed no matter what he did, even if he complied," attorneys representing Sterling's children said.

Sterling, 37, struggled with the officers before Salamoni shot him six times outside a convenience store last July. He was selling homemade CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart when police were called to the store to investigate a report of a man with a gun.

The letter suggests that the department has known about Salamoni's alleged behavior since the night of the incident "and did not take any action to terminate his employment for putting a gun to Mr. Sterling's head, simply because his hands were not flat on the hood and he was asking why he was being confronted."

Broome, in a statement late Wednesday, said she has consistently sought "an expedited resolution to the investigation into Mr. Sterling's death" and called "for disciplinary actions against" the officers.

"I have advised (Dabadie) of my concerns regarding the employment status of these officers. I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni's case, this warrants termination," the mayor said.

Dabadie did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officers involved in the deadly encounter. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has begun his own investigation into the shooting.

Landry's investigation "is not related to whether or not Officer Salamoni keeps his job and is fit to be a member of the BRPD, that decision was made by Officer Salamoni himself when he put a loaded department firearm to Mr. Sterling's head without justification and with reckless disregard," the attorneys said.
Jose A. DelReal May-25-2017 74 0
n an interview released Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said that a "certain mindset" contributes to people living in poverty, pointing to habits and a "state of mind" that children take from their parents at a young age.

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there," he said during an interview on SiriusXM Radio with Armstrong Williams, a longtime friend.

"And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom," Carson said.

The retired neurosurgeon, who ran for president during the 2016 GOP primary, regularly speaks about his experience growing up in poverty and his road to the top of the medical field. Before entering the political fray, Carson was best known as a motivational speaker. His story was turned into a Lifetime movie and made him a role model for young people of color. But his conservative politics and denunciations of government assistance have eroded that image as he became a right-wing icon.

Carson said during the interview that "the wrong mindset" is the product of negative parenting habits and exposure.

"There's also a poverty of spirit. You develop a certain mindset," he said.

Carson made the comments during a town hall recorded Tuesday which will air in full on SiriusXM Wednesday night. Sirius released clips of the interview to news organizations to promote the show.

The secretary said that he believes that government can provide a "helping hand" to people looking to climb out of poverty. But he warned against programs that are "sustaining them in a position of poverty. That's not helpful."

"I think the majority of people don’t have that defeatist attitude, but they sometimes just don’t see the way, and that’s where government can come in and be very helpful," he said. "It can provide the ladder of opportunity, it can provide the mechanism that will demonstrate to them what can be done."

The Trump administration's 2018 budget blueprint, unveiled Tuesday, would cut more than $6 billion from HUD's budget. The cuts would end popular grants that facilitate first-time home ownership and revitalize economically distressed communities, including the Community Development Block Grant. The budget would also cut billions of dollars in funding for public housing support, gutting dollars used to fund big-ticket repairs at public housing developments around the country.

Carson has spoken at length in the past about personal responsibility and its intersection with poverty, bemoaning systemic dependence on public assistance.

On the campaign trail, Carson repeatedly pushed back against accusations that he wanted to end social safety net programs; he stressed, instead, that he believed government assistance was not always given to people who truly needed it.

"I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people," he said in the 2015 speech announcing his candidacy. "And we’re not doing people a favor when we pat them on the head and say, 'There, there, you poor little thing, we’re going to take care of all your needs. You don't have to worry about anything.' You know who else says stuff like that? Socialists."

FOX 4 May-24-2017 99 0
A jury couldn’t agree on a verdict in the trial of a Fort Worth police officer who shot a man who was holding a barbecue fork.

Jurors on Wednesday sent two notes to the judge saying they were deadlocked with five people reaching one verdict and seven reaching the other. They couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict and the judge was forced to declare a mistrial.

Officer Courtney Johnson was on trial for aggravated assault for shooting and wounding Craigory Adams in June of 2015. Dashcam video shows him responding to a call of a prowler with a knife. The knife turned out to be a barbecue fork.
May-22-2017 93 0
The Freddie Gray case lives on with the Baltimore Police Department’s decision to bring internal charges against five of the six officers involved in the case, with at least three of them also facing termination.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the police van in which Gray sustained fatal injuries, along with Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, could all be fired as a result of the internal disciplinary action.

Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, who made the initial arrest of Gray, face up to five days’ suspension without pay. Officer William Porter is currently not facing any disciplinary action in the case.

Investigators from the Montgomery and Howard County police departments finished reviewing the case earlier this month and handed in a report indicating the results of the investigation to city police May 12. However, as the Sun reports, that report has not been released.

The BPD asked the Montgomery and Howard departments to conduct the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest.

The five officers facing punishment were informed of the charges Friday, according to the Sun. Michael E. Davey, an attorney who deals with internal-affairs cases for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said that they are charged with “violations of policy and procedure.”

The officers can choose to accept the recommended punishment or contest the charges before an internal disciplinary panel or “trial board.” Those trial boards are open to the public under a new state law, the report notes.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis imposes the discipline and will ultimately have the final say, the Sun reports.

Gray was arrested April 12, 2015, and died a week after of a severe spinal injury that an autopsy ruled he sustained while riding in the back of a police van without being properly restrained with a seat belt.

Prosecutors charged the six officers in the case with charges varying from misconduct to manslaughter to second-degree murder, and all officers pleaded not guilty.

Porter went to trial in December 2015, but that trial ended in a hung jury, resulting in a mistrial. Nero, Rice and Goodson were all acquitted in bench trials last year. Prosecutors subsequently decided to drop the remaining criminal cases.

What the internal disciplinary action means, however, is that investigators concluded that officers did break department rules in the case.
carrie wells May-22-2017 191 0
Authorities are investigating whether the stabbing death of a black college student who was visiting the University of Maryland during graduation weekend was a hate crime.

The chief of the university police said Sunday the suspect, a white University of Maryland student, is a member of a racist Facebook group. An FBI official said the federal agency will assist with the investigation.

The victim, identified by police Sunday as Richard Collins III, was due to graduate from Bowie State University this week. The Calvert County man had completed ROTC in college and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army on Thursday, according to school officials and a family spokesman. He was 23.

Police have charged Sean Christoper Urbanski, 22, of Severna Park with first-degree murder in the attack. He was being held without bail. His family did not respond Sunday to a request for comment, and online court records did not list an attorney.

In this new digital age, it’s easy to assume change is limited to only technology, but it encompasses society and demographics as well—basically the very nature of work itself.

"We are looking forward to the quickest investigation as possible," he said. "Hate has no place in America. Hate has no place on a college campus where young minds are coming together to try to change the world."

The Rev. Darryl L. Godlock, serving as a spokesman for the Collins family, said the young man had obtained his airborne certification. Collins wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a military veteran, Godlock said.

"He wanted to make his parents proud of him so he went into the military to serve his country," Godlock said. "It was a great opportunity for him to advance forward and make the most out of his career."

Godlock said Collins was close to his family.

"This was not a thug," Godlock said. "This was a very caring individual. He was highly intelligent and he was at the peak of his career. He loved his family, he loved people that he came in contact with, and more importantly he loved his God."

Collins was a vibrant, funny and outgoing student whose ambition rubbed off on his friends, said Vidal Adams, a fellow Bowie State student and friend. Collins talked about wanting to travel the world and go skydiving and surfing, he said.

"He wanted to be a general of the United States Army, that was his ultimate goal," said Adams, a senior criminal justice major. "He was the definition of a leader. I can't really say the same about a lot of people."

Collins was waiting with two other students for an Uber ride outside the Montgomery Hall dormitory on Regents Drive near U.S. 1 at about 3 a.m. Saturday when he was attacked.

The stabbing was captured by a surveillance camera, police said. They called it unprovoked.

Witnesses said the suspect was intoxicated and incoherent at the time of the attack, police said. Police have said the victim and suspect did not know each other.

Officers called to the scene found Collins wounded on the sidewalk, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Urbanski was arrested at the scene, police said. Officers recovered a folding knife, police said.

Collins' friends told police they heard the suspect scream as he approached them.

The suspect said "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," police wrote in charging documents. Collins said "no," police wrote. The suspect continued to approach, and stabbed him once in the chest.

Police said initially there was no indication that race played a role. But University Police Chief David Mitchell said information about the Facebook group was brought to their attention on Sunday.

AP May-19-2017 193 0
A judge confirmed Prince's six siblings to be his rightful heirs in a ruling released Friday, bringing them a big step closer to collecting their shares of the music legend's multimillion-dollar estate.
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide formally declared that Prince died without a will and that his heirs are his sister, Tyka Nelson, and five half-siblings — Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson.

The siblings will still have to wait to inherit their shares of Prince's estate, which court filings suggest has an estimated value of about $200 million, though taxes are expected to consume about half of that.

More than 45 people came forward in the wake of Prince's death, claiming to be his wife, children, siblings or other relatives. Some, including a Colorado prison inmate who said he was Prince's son, were ruled out through DNA testing. Others, such as a woman and girl who claimed to be Prince's niece and grandniece, had their claims rejected as a matter of law.

Some of those people filed legal appeals, and Eide said that if appellate courts send any of the rejected claimants back to him, he will consider them. And until the appeals are resolved, Eide said the siblings won't be able to collect anything without his approval.

Eide previously signaled that the six siblings would likely be named Prince's heirs, but he also had said he wouldn't make the declaration until appeals had been decided. Lawyers for the siblings didn't want to wait, though, saying further delays would increase costs to the estate and impede its efficient administration. The siblings' attorneys didn't immediately reply to phone calls seeking comment Friday.

Attorneys for rejected claimants had urged Eide to wait for appeals to be resolved before naming the heirs. Andrew Stoltmann, a lawyer for the woman and girl who say they are Prince's niece and grand-niece, said Friday that he hadn't seen the new ruling but would examine it and determine whether to appeal it.

Prince died April 21, 2016, of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Since his death, Prince's Paisley Park studio complex and home has been turned into a museum and concert venue. His estate has also struck deals to make his albums available by streaming, and next month plans to release a remastered "Purple Rain" album as well as two albums of unreleased music and two concert films. The values of those deals and revenue generated from Paisley Park tours have not been disclosed.
MEGAN CERULLO May-18-2017 173 0
A 6-year-old Mississippi boy was kidnapped and found shot to death in the back seat of a Toyota Camry Thursday, police said.

Kingston Frazier was sitting in the back of the car when it was stolen from a grocery store parking lot.

“We had everyone on the lookout for this particular vehicle. It was discovered abandoned on the side of the road in Madison County,” police said.

Kingston’s mother, Ebony Archie, left the car running with her son sleeping inside, while she went grocery shopping, the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department said. Two men pulled up to Archie’s car, jumped inside, and sped away with her car and her son, local media outlets reported.

Suspects Dwan Wakefield and DeAllen Washington are in custody.
CHRISTINA CARREGA May-18-2017 224 0
A man who hired a hitman to murder his lover’s husband was jealous and wanted to replace him, according to an attorney.

“You saw a better life with Alishia, would you say that?” attorney Damien Brown asked Alishia Noel-Murray’s former lover, Dameon Lovell.

Brown represents alleged shooter Kirk Portious, 28, who is accused of getting paid $3,500 to kill Omar Murray, on Feb. 24, 2013. Lovell, 33, allegedly propositioned Portious to kill the man after another pal didn’t complete the job on Feb. 6, 2013.

Brown grilled Lovell as to why he did not shoot Omar Murray himself.

NYC woman’s boyfriend says he advised divorce over hit on spouse
“That’s not what I do,” said Lovell, who admitted he had other lovers while his wife was pregnant with his fourth child.

“Isn’t it true you wanted him to get beat up but couldn’t do it yourself because he’s bigger than you?” asked Brown.

“No,” said Lovell, who has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 15 years to life.

“Isn’t it true you wanted to beat him up in his own house to have him suspect Alishia was cheating and then move out so you can move in?” asked Brown.

Brooklyn woman 'seemed calm' after hit man killed husband
“No,” said Lovell.

If convicted, Portious faces 25 years to life in prison.

Noel-Murray, 28, faces life without the possibility of parole if convicted for setting up the murder-for-hire plot.
RACHEL DESANTIS May-18-2017 209 0
A week after Steve Harvey issued a controversial note to his staff, his ex has issued her own sort of memo.

The TV star's second ex-wife, Mary Harvey, has sued the "Family Feud" host for $60 million, alleging that he damaged her "soul," TMZ reports.

Harvey's ex, whom he married in 1996 and divorced in 2005, is reportedly suing for child endangerment, torture, conspiracy against rights, kidnapping, murder, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They share one son, Wynton, and Mary reportedly alleges in her lawsuit that the pain of losing him (Steve has custody) has robbed her of the joy of Mother's Day, and has left her suicidal and self-medicating to cope.

In the document, which was filed not by a lawyer but by a "civil rights activist," Mary writes, "All was loss Mary L. Harvey was dead," the gossip site reports.

Harvey's representatives declined comment.

Harvey, 60, and Mary endured a contentious breakup, and this is not the first time the two have had to settle drama in court.

Though their divorce was finalized in 2005 and Harvey has since remarried, drama erupted in 2011 when Mary posted a series of YouTube videos claiming Harvey had an affair during their marriage and left her with nothing when they divorced.

A judge later slammed her in a court declaration for potentially breaking a gag order and spreading false information, pointing out that she was given three homes in the property settlement and received $40,000 each month through March 2009, as well as an additional $1.5 million.

In the videos, Mary also accused Harvey of taking their son from her, but the 2011 court documents revealed that Mary knowingly sent their son to Harvey without Harvey's knowledge.

Just last week, Harvey faced backlash after a memo sent out to members of his staff revealed that the talk show host did not want his employees to approach him.
AP May-18-2017 234 0
A jury on Wednesday acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer who says she fired out of fear last year when she killed an unarmed black man with his hands held above his head.

The family of Terence Crutcher burst into tears and expressed outrage after jurors found Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 shooting. About 100 demonstrators later gathered outside the courthouse and some briefly blocked a main street.

"Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder," Crutcher's father, Rev. Joey Crutcher, said after the verdict was announced.

A lawyer for Shelby said the officer was "elated" that the jury found her not guilty.

"She's ready to get back to her life," Defense Attorney Shannon McMurray said.

Shelby looked stone-faced when the verdict was read, but Crutcher's family was quickly ushered out of the courtroom sobbing and wailing.

At least four of the 12 jurors were crying as they left the courtroom and they did not look at either the family of Crutcher or Shelby. The jury comprised eight women and four men and included three African-Americans.

Shelby testified that she fired her weapon out of fear because she said Crutcher didn't obey her commands to lie on the ground and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun. Crutcher was unarmed.

Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted. They noted Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn't combative — part of which was confirmed by police video taken from a dashboard camera and helicopter that showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby, hands held above his head.

Shelby's attorneys argued that in the two minutes before cameras began recording the encounter, Shelby repeatedly ordered Crutcher to stop walking away from her and get on the ground.

Shelby also said she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a powerful hallucinogenic known as Angel Dust that makes users erratic, unpredictable and combative.

An autopsy showed PCP was in Crutcher's system, and police said they found a vial of it in his SUV.

Crutcher's family said police attempted to "demonize" Crutcher over the drug possession to deflect attention from the fact officers didn't find a gun inside his SUV.

The killing of 40-year-old Crutcher was among a spate of officer-involved shootings in recent years that helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted calls for more police accountability.

About 100 demonstrators gathered in a plaza outside the courthouse Wednesday evening to protest the verdict. They chanted: "No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police." A smaller group later briefly blocked a major downtown road but dispersed peacefully. Police kept a relatively low profile, standing about a block away.

Marq Lewis, organizer of the local civil rights group We The People Oklahoma said the verdict was a blow to Tulsa's black community.

"When is it going to stop — just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy?" he asked.

Tulsa has a long history of troubled race relations dating back to a 1921 race riot that left about 300 black residents dead. In 2015, a poorly-trained white voluntary deputy, Robert Bates, shot and killed a black man after Bates said he mistakenly reached for his gun rather than a taser. The shooting led to the departure of the sheriff.

Six days after the Crutcher shooting, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler charged Shelby. An affidavit accused her of "becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted."

Defense attorney McMurray argued that prosecutors rushed to charge Shelby for political reasons, fearing civil unrest like the angry street protests that erupted in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott four days after Crutcher was killed. But the reaction in Tulsa was more muted, with protests but no violence.

COLLIN BINKLEY May-17-2017 236 0
Black students at Harvard University are organizing a graduation ceremony of their own this year to recognize the achievements of black students and faculty members some say have been overlooked.

More than 700 students and guests are registered to attend Harvard's first Black Commencement, which will take place two days before the school's traditional graduation events. It isn't meant to replace the existing ceremony, student organizers say, but rather to add something that was missing.

"We really wanted an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless at Harvard," said Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, a campus group that is planning the ceremony. "So many students identify with the African diaspora but don't necessarily feel welcome as part of the larger community, and they don't feel like their stories are being shared."

Harvard joins a growing number of universities that have added graduation events for students of different ethnicities. Some have offered black commencement ceremonies for years, including Stanford University, Marshall University and the University of Washington. Some have added them more recently, and are also adding events for a variety of cultural groups.

The May 23 event at Harvard will feature four student speakers discussing the hurdles they faced on the way to graduation. Every student will receive a stole made of traditional African kente cloth, meant to symbolize their shared heritage and to be worn with their cap and gown at the university's graduation.

Students have raised $35,000 for the event, mostly from schools within the university. Organizers say some university deans and professors have agreed to attend. A Harvard spokesman declined to comment.

"This event is truly open for everyone," said Huggins, who is graduating with a master's in public policy this month. "We really want this to be an open affair where people can learn about some experiences that often go unnoticed."

Students at Harvard began an annual Latino graduation ceremony in 2015, and black undergraduates have held similar events. Students say the new event is the first that's open to black students across the university.

The University of Delaware held its first ceremony for LGBT students this year, joining dozens of other colleges that have added such "lavender graduation" events in recent years.

Along with its traditional commencement, Virginia Commonwealth University last year added new ceremonies for black students, Latinos and military veterans.

"They're small affairs, but they're meaningful," said Michael Porter, a spokesman for the university. "It's really a social event, and one more time to get together as you wind down the college career."

Cultural graduation events are typically started by students, experts say, and often by those who feel marginalized on their campuses. They can be particularly important for black students, many of whom are the first in their families to graduate from college, said M. Evelyn Fields, president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education.

"When you're a little speck of pepper in a sea of salt, you can get lost," said Fields, who is also a professor of early childhood education at South Carolina State University. "They don't want to just be lost in the sea. They want the recognition that they believe they deserve, for the work that they've done."

Black students at Harvard represent 5 percent of the overall student body, compared with whites, who make up 43 percent, according to federal education data. Campus tensions at the Ivy League school have been heightened over the past two years after a series of racially charged episodes.

Harvard police called it a hate crime when framed portraits of several black law professors were defaced in 2015. No suspect was found. Months later, the law school agreed to abandon its official coat of arms after student activists protested the symbol's ties to an 18th-centry slave owner.

Organizers of the Black Commencement say it's partly meant to highlight racial disparities on campus. But ultimately it's a celebration of achievement, said Jillian Simons, a law student and president-elect of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance.

"We want to acknowledge how far we've come," Simons said. "We want to say that there is a time to be jubilant and to acknowledge something that is positive instead of something that is causing heartache."
Katie Mettler May-15-2017 249 0
As white parents of five black children, Deanna and Aaron Cook have taught their family to grow thick skin. They’ve endured odd looks at the grocery store in Malden, Mass., and ignored strange comments from Walmart greeters.

But nothing, Aaron Cook told The Washington Post, quite prepared them for the month-long battle they’ve been fighting with the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School over their daughters’ hair.

On April 14, twins Deanna and Mya Cook, 15, told their parents they wanted to have their hair professionally braided. The girls had always braided it themselves or had it chemically straightened, but as teens they were learning more about black culture and wanted to try something new.
Soon after, they went to school with long, braided hair.

The next day, the girls were called to the office for a “uniform infraction.”

Hair extensions are prohibited in the public charter school’s student handbook, alongside nail polish, makeup and dyed hair because it is “distracting.” An administrator told Deanna and Mya that their new braids — which combine artificial hair with their own hair — violated that rule.

The girls were instructed to remove their braids and they refused. The policy, they argued, was discriminatory against African American students and unevenly enforced.

With each day since, punishments from the school have escalated, Aaron Cook said, so much so that he and his wife eventually sought guidance from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union. Deanna, a runner who qualified for the state finals, has been kicked off the school track team. Mya was removed from the softball team and told she couldn’t attend the prom.

Last week, the fourth in turmoil, ended with the girls on the local news and sharp statements of support from the state association of charter schools, the ADL and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

“Denying young black women their opportunity to express their cultural identity will not make the school safer, more orderly, or less ‘distracting,’” the committee said in a statement. “It will diminish your students, and diminish your ranks. Doing this to high school students at a time when they are learning about self-expression and self-advocacy is particularly troubling.”

In response, Interim School Director Alexander Dan sent a letter to all Mystic Valley parents defending the policy. The charter school, the letter said, “promotes equity” with dress code policies that reduce “visible gaps between those of different means.”

“The specific prohibition on hair extensions, which are expensive and could serve as a differentiating factor between students from dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds, is consistent with our desire to create such an educational environment, one that celebrates all that our students have in common and minimizes material differences and distractions,” Dan wrote. “Any suggestion that it is based on anything else is simply wrong.”
May-14-2017 162 0
Former Dallas Councilman Don Hill died Saturday night. Hill, convicted of corruption, was released from prison after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Hill was serving 18 years in prison after being found guilty of bribery and extortion, among other charges in a high-profile corruption case in 2009.

His sentence is being commuted to time served. According to a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office, Hill has a life expectancy of less than 18 months. Hill was expected to live with his brother and niece in DeSoto.

The motion filed on Monday to reduce Hill’s term of imprisonment was approved in an order by U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn.

There were multiple defendants, including other city officials, in the 2009 corruption case: Sheila Farrington, Plan Commission Appointee D’Angelo Lee, activist Darren Reagan and businessman Rickey Robertson.

Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston weighed in on the commutation of Hill's sentence Wednesday afternoon on Twitter.
Rebecca Lopez May-13-2017 202 0
Two Dallas police officers fired their weapons into a car driven by 21-year-old Genevive Dawes on January 18. The mother of 2 little girls died a short time after.

“She was a good person. She was not a violent person at all,” said Mary Dawes the victim’s mother.

Dallas police say Dawes and her boyfriend were in a stolen car. When officers arrived on scene Dawes backed up the car and hit a squad car, then drove forward hitting a fence.

Dallas police held a news conference the day of the shooting.

"When it did not give way the suspect reversed the vehicle a second time at which point two uniformed officers discharged their firearms,”said Deputy Chief Tom Castro.

Sources who have seen the officers' body camera footage tell WFAA Dawes was going at a slow speed and question whether officers were in imminent danger.

Sources say one of the officers actually moved his squad car forward and that's why Dawes hit the car the first time.

"Clearly Rebecca the force that was used was extreme it was excessive. It was deadly force,”said the family’s attorney Daryl Washington.

Dawes' mother wants the video released and wants the officers involved Christopher Hess and Jason Kimpel prosecuted. Sources say it was Hess who fired first, killing Genevive Dawes.

"I think he should take responsibility for what he did. Took a mother away from 2 little girls,” said Mary Dawes.

Nowhere in DPD's public statements does the department say the officers used deadly force because they feared for their lives or the lives of other officers.

But officer Hess' attorney, Haakon Donnelly issued a statement saying, "What the officer did was appropriate. Once a grand jury reviews the evidence they will agree the use of force is appropriate."

Dawes' family and attorney say they want an independent investigation because they don't believe DPD can fairly investigate its own.

The officers did give verbal commands for Genevive Dawes to stop but she ignored those demands.

The officers have been on restricted duty since the shooting since mid January. Typically if the department feels the officers did nothing wrong they are back on the streets within a month.

The case has been turned over to the Dallas District Attorney who will take it to a grand jury.
Taryn Finley May-13-2017 113 0
An overwhelming number of all public school students placed in handcuffs by New York Police Department officers in 2016 were black or Hispanic ? a whopping 99 percent, to be exact.

Last year, there were 262 “child in crisis” incidents ? where an emotionally distressed student is removed from class and taken to a hospital for psychological evaluation ? in which handcuffs were used, the New York Civil Liberties Union reported Monday. Only three of those incidents didn’t involve black or Latinx students, who make up two-thirds of the city’s more than 1 million public school students.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman told the New York Daily News that police action in school has a big impact on kids’ academic and emotional well-being.

“When a child is handcuffed, the child is humiliated,” Lieberman said. “It’s incompatible with the safe and supportive learning environment a school is supposed to provide.”

In the report, Lieberman emphasized that the use of harsh police tactics in school “is neither necessary nor effective to keep children and staff safe.”

NYCLU also reported that there were 208 complaints made against school safety officers in 2016 ? 89 for use of force, 15 for abuse of authority, 17 for offensive language and 87 for discourtesy.

A representative from the NYPD said in a statement to Fox 5 that very few students are physically restrained, especially if they are emotionally distressed.

“The NYPD continues to work closely with city schools to reduce arrests and provide a safe learning environment for all students,” the representative said. “Arrests are down 55 percent over [the] past five school years. Summonses issued by the NYPD are down by 81 percent over the past five school years.”

In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would allocate $47 million annually for “restorative trainings, mental-health programs, and social-emotional supports” as well as other initiatives in public schools.

Despite the progress that’s been made in reducing school-based arrests in the city, 99 percent is beyond a troubling number. The figure only emphasizes the fact that black and Latinx children, who are disciplined more often and more severely throughout their years in school than white students, face an all too real school-to-prison pipeline. And too often, it puts students’ livelihoods at risk (see: 2015 assault at Spring Valley High School).

The NYCLU recommended that New York City move to limit the role of police in school discipline and “operate in a manner consistent with the best interests of children.”

“Police officers should never handcuff students who don’t pose an immediate safety threat,” NYCLU Advocacy Director Johanna Miller said in the report. “And the NYPD should not treat schools as places to hunt for students they believe committed a crime off of school grounds. Students should never be afraid to go to school.”


Aric Jenkins May-12-2017 125 0
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said she has "respect" for the students of Bethune-Cookman University who booed her Wednesday during her commencement speech at the historically black university.

"One of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to conserve with and learn from those whom we disagree," DeVos said in statement released Wednesday evening. "I have respect for all those who attended, including those who demonstrated their disagreement with me.


"While we may share differing points of view, my visit and dialogue with student leaves me encouraged and committed to supporting [historically black colleges and universities]," the Education Secretary added.

The students' jeers during DeVos' speech got so loud at times that her voice was drowned out, and the university president was forced to come onto the stage in her defense.

DeVos' appointment as commencement speaker sparked controversy last week, as Bethune-Cookman students and alumni lambasted her and the Trump Administration's rhetoric on historically black colleges and universities since taking office.

DeVos began her speech with an acceptance of the right to respectfully disagree with one another as some students turned their backs to her.

"We can focus on differences that might divide us or we can choose to listen, be receptive and learn from other experiences and perspectives," DeVos said. "In my life, I have endeavored to do the latter."


Tracye Hutchins May-11-2017 148 0
A well-known Atlanta attorney could be on the short list of candidates to replace recently fired FBI director James Comey.

Larry Thompson spent time as a U.S. Deputy Attorney General, the second highest position in the Department of Justice and worked as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Thompson also worked in the private sector as Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and General Counsel for Pepsi Corporation. He was also a partner at Atlanta-based law firm King and Spalding.

Atlanta attorney Brian Douglas knows Thompson well and says he can see why there's so much speculation that Thompson could be the next director of the FBI.

"I think the diversity of his experience is fantastic because being general counsel for Pepsico, being in the government, being a special prosecutor, he was a fellow at the Brookings Institution, he's been around and he's done so many different things," said Douglas.

Douglas said Thompson also has a connection to the Trump administration.

"I think it's no secret that he's actually good friends with (U.S. Attorney General) Jeff Sessions. What a lot of people don't know is that the director of the FBI actually reports to the attorney general," said Douglas. "I don't think it hurts that Jeff Sessions and Larry Thompson are friends to get his name on the list."

CBS46 reached out to Thompson, but he declined to comment on the matter.



Read more: http://www.cbs46.com/story/35401706/atlanta-attorney-possible-replacement-for-fired-fbi-director-james-comey#ixzz4gnEcqGPl
May-10-2017 137 0
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced an auditorium of jeering Bethune-Cookman University graduates Wednesday as she gave a commencement address that many students and graduates said she was in no place to deliver.

As she opened her remarks, some students stood and turned their backs to her. At times hecklers drowned out her remarks.

Perhaps foreseeing the resistance she'd face during her speech, DeVos told the crowd, "While we will undoubtedly disagree at times I hope we can do so respectfully. Let's choose to hear one another out. I want to reaffirm this administration's commitment to and support for (historically black colleges and universities) and the students they serve."

The commencement program said she was slated to speak an hour or more, but she wrapped up her remarks in about 20 minutes.

A huge chorus of boos erupted when DeVos was awarded an honorary doctorate, and again when she said she would visit the home of school founder Mary McLeod Bethune to pay her respects.
School president warns students

Early in her speech, DeVos told the crowd, "One of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree."

At that point, the commencement became so rowdy that school President Edison Jackson interrupted DeVos' remarks to issue a warning to graduates.

"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you," he said. "Choose which way you want to go."

Many of the standing graduates took their seats, but a few remained standing, prompting Jackson to implore them again to sit down.

The tone seemed to soften as DeVos continued, exhorting the students to embrace service as they enter the next phases of their lives.

"The human heart is hard-wired for service, and it's embedded in the DNA of this institution," she said.

During the speech, a sophomore, Bobbie Luke, right fist aloft, was escorted out of the Ocean Center. He told CNN he didn't know why he was removed.

"I'm standing with my seniors, man. No one likes her, man. Period," he said. "I don't like what she said, and nothing at the end of the day is going to change my opinion."

Before DeVos' address, several students told CNN there was no place for her at commencement, and they're miffed they didn't have more say in picking a graduation speaker.

A primary reason for protesting her appearance -- and for petitioning school officials to cancel her address -- is her now-recanted statement that founders of historically black colleges and universities were "real pioneers" of school choice.

HBCUs, of course, were founded during segregation when black students were barred from attending white colleges in the South and beyond. DeVos walked back her comments, conceding the schools were born of racism, but it's not enough for many on this campus nor those who hold it dear.

"She's the secretary of education. Your job is to do research. Your job is to be committed to academia and know exactly what you're talking about ... what context you're saying it in," said 1996 graduate Fedrick Ingram, vice president of the Florida Education Association.

Asked if too much was made of her statement, he emphatically said no, calling her remark "blatant ignorance."
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