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Rob Parker on RGIII’s blackness
Dec-13-2012 1255 0


Robert Griffin III has been asked about his race repeatedly this season. He has not, to my knowledge, ever brought the subject up himself. Every time he’s been asked about it, he has managed to appear thoughtful and considerate without possibly offending anyone.

I’m not sure he’s ever handled the race question better than on last week’s Comcast SportsNet special, when Chick Hernandez talked about being a black quarterback in D.C.

“Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special,” Griffin said. “I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.

“But to the fans, and to the fans who think that way and look at me as an African American, it’s important that I succeed, not only for this team, but for them,” he continued. “Because it gives them that motivation, that hey, you know, an African American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins. So I appreciate that; I don’t ever downplay anything like that. Whoever I can go out every week and motivate to do better and to try to go after their dreams, I’m up for that.”

Again, I don’t know how he could possibly have handled that issue — which he did not raise himself — any better.

But people keep asking. The rookie was asked about race yet again on Wednesday, this time by an ESPN reporter. He delivered a similar answer. It was an answer that showed he’s actually thought about the issue, but it was steadfastly non-controversial.

“I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”

Well. This led to a Thursday discussion on First Take, ESPN’s abysmal debate program. Panelist Rob Parker was asked, ‘What does this say about RGIII?”

“This is an interesting topic,” Parker said. “For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.

“I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,” Parker continued. “Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.

“But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,” Parker went on. “And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”

What does that mean, Parker was asked.

“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us,” Parker explained. “He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”

Why is that your question, Parker was asked.

“Well, because I want to find out about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”

Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII’s braids.

“Now that’s different,” Parker said. “To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”

Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.

“Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,” Smith said. “RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.

“What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,” Smith went on. “I think it’s something that he may feel, but it’s also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I’m finding relatively irritating, because I don’t believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things.

“Let me say this clearly. I don’t know of anybody who goes into something trying to be the best black anything. We understand that. That’s a given,” Smith said. “But I do think it’s important to acknowledge a level of pride and a feeling of a level of accomplishment for being somebody who happens to be of African American descent, who competes and achieves and accomplishes things on the highest level while also bringing attention – to some degree anyhow – to the pride that they feel being black. Because they’re allowing themselves to be a reminder to those who preceded them, who worked so hard, accomplished and achieved so much, but were denied the accolades that that individual is receiving.”

Later, Parker was given an opportunity to clarify whether he was judging Griffin’s blackness.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barbershops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself. People will say all the time, you’re not gonna get a job in corporate America wearing those braids. It happens all the time. Let’s not act like it doesn’t, because it does.”

The only conclusion I’m willing to make about all of this is that the show would have been much more thoughtful had Griffin been on the panel. Or had he replaced the panel.


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ap May-25-2015 74 0
A woman accused of having tied a man to a bed, doused him with a flammable substance and set him on fire before fleeing in his van was later arrested in a neighboring county, authorities said.

Christina Leach, 27, is charged in Cumberland County with aggravated assault, arson and theft, according to police and court documents.

Police in Silver Spring Township said the man, whose name wasn't released, told them that a woman offered to give him a massage in his home Saturday.

"She tied him to the bed and poured a flammable substance on his upper torso and lit him on fire," Sgt. Leroy Hippensteel told reporters at a news conference Saturday evening.

Investigators said he managed to free himself and jump out of a second-story window, then drove to a convenience store to call for help. He was flown to Lehigh Valley burn center, where his condition wasn't immediately available, Hippensteel said.

Fire crews quickly put out the blaze in the home, officials said.

Sgt. Gabriel Olivera of the Harrisburg police department said Leach was arrested in Harrisburg in Dauphin County on Saturday night in a white work van reported stolen from the Cumberland County home.

Hippensteel told PennLive.com in an email that Leach also faces charges in Dauphin County and is being held at the Dauphin County Prison.

Court documents didn't indicate she had a lawyer, who could comment on the charges; a listed number for Leach couldn't be found Sunday.

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Nicole Hensley May-25-2015 51 0
A pastor decorating for a Memorial Day sermon was wounded in the first of two drive-by shootings in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday.

The 6:30 a.m. shooting left Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy, 54, with three gunshot wounds to the shoulder and leg outside First Church of Nazarene, where authorities found him lying in the street, according to the Hartford Courant.

He had been planting flags in the grass for his church’s Memorial Day sermon when a black Nissan Altima slowed down to fire about seven shots before speeding off, a witness told authorities.

“It’s very sad,” Marthe Simpini told WFSB-TV. “If a pastor can’t be safe, I guess we can’t be safe either.”

Sealy, a resident of Shrewsbury, Mass., is listed as serious, but stable condition at a local hospital, the Courant added.

Rev. Sealy had been planting small American flags along the grass outside the First Church of Nazarene when he was shot on Sunday morning.

The shooter slowed down to attack Rev. Augustus Sealy, 54, early Sunday morning as he prepared for Sunday’s sermons.

Authorities found Rev. Augustus Sealy, 54, in the street after being shot three times outside the Hartford Church of Nazarene.

A note on the church’s website asked its 220 members to keep the pastor and his family in their prayers.

The second shooting reported only 15 minutes later left another man wounded with several gunshot injuries, though it’s not clear if the encounters are related.

The second victim is 27-year-old Robert Jones, of Hartford.

"A Sunday morning shooting at this hour is rare. For two to come in is an anomaly," Hartford Deputy Chief Brian J. Foley told the Courant.

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Hospital officials say a Jacksonville teenager with liver cancer who went to her high school prom with an NFL player has died.

Wolfson Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Cindy Hamilton told The Florida Times-Union that 18-year-old Khameyea Jennings died Thursday.

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Dreams Come True of Jacksonville had approached the Jaguars about the prom invitation, and Marks said he jumped at the chance to make a difference in Jennings’ life.

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Melissa Chan May-24-2015 673 0
The acquittal Saturday of a white Cleveland cop for firing the final blasts of a 137-shot police barrage that killed two unarmed blacks ignited outrage and protests.

Demonstrators seething over the acquittal of Officer Michael Brelo, 31, flooded the streets following the verdict — leading to several arrests.

As darkness cloaked the city, groups of protesters clashed with officers in riot gear.

Demonstrators also got into a raucous fight with patrons at a downtown restaurant.

Three people were led away in handcuffs and charged with felony assault and aggravated riot, authorities said.
A fourth person was charged with assault after throwing an unknown object through a window — injuring a female patron.

By early Sunday, at least nine people were arrested, including a reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Brelo, 31, was the only one of the 13 officers who opened fire in November 2012 to face criminal charges — and a Cleveland judge found him not guilty in the bench trial.

Prosecutors charged Brelo unloaded 49 shots, including a 15-bullet fusillade while standing on the hood of the car and blasting through the windshield at victims Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30.

Brelo wept, held his head in his hands and occasionally made the sign of the cross as Judge John O’Donnell found him not guilty.

The shooting followed a 62-car, 100 mph chase that one prosecutor said looked like a clip from the movie “The Blues Brothers.” The chase was triggered in downtown Cleveland after cops reacted to what they believed was a gunshot, but was instead Russell’s Chevy Malibu backfiring.

For more than 20 miles, the phalanx of cops chased Russell’s 1979 Malibu. The officers unloaded on the vehicle after finally cornering it.

Russell was shot 23 times, and Williams was struck by 24 bullets. Neither victim was armed. Inside the vehicle, investigators discovered a crack pipe.

Russell’s family blasted the judge’s decision.

“Fleeing is not grounds for death,” read the family statement. “The exoneration of Officer Brelo speaks to a complete disregard for the extreme and unnecessary force meted out against some American citizens who happen to be black and brown.”

More than 200 angry but mostly peaceful protesters immediately took to the Cleveland streets, some carrying signs asking, “Will I be next?”
The demonstrators marched through the city’s downtown — at times squaring off with cops.

Three protesters were handcuffed and taken into police custody near Quicken Loans Arena.

Officers held up pepper spray as protesters surged towards those who had been arrested, but tensions quickly cooled.

Racial tensions in Cleveland were already strained by the killing six months ago of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy shot to death by a rookie white cop. The preteen was carrying a pellet gun.

“This verdict is another chilling reminder of a broken relationship between the Cleveland police department and the community it serves,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge.

Cleveland community activist Carole Steiner agreed: “Police murder people of color and not have to serve one day in jail.”

Russell’s sister, Michelle, called for peaceful protests and stressed the ruling was not the final word. “He’s not going to dodge this just because he was acquitted,” she said. “God will have the final say.”

But the U.S. Justice Department may get a crack at the case first. A review of evidence in the state trial could lead to a federal civil rights prosecution of Brelo, who was facing 22 years in prison before being cleared of voluntary manslaughter.

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An anonymous racist sent a hate note to an African-American family in Long Island, telling them “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE.”

Ronica Copes, 37, a resident of Lindenhurst in the town of Babylon, found the typewritten, all-capital-letter message in an addressed envelope in her mailbox on Thursday afternoon, she told Newsday.

“ATTN: AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY,” begins the letter, which she later posted to Facebook. “THIS IS COMING FROM LINDENHURST COMMUNITY.”

“LINDENHURST IS 84% WHITE POPULATION. YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!!! PLEASE LEAVE LINDENHURST AS SOON AS YOU CAN. IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US.”

“FIND THE TOWN WHERE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU,” the note ends, according to WCBS-TV. “SORRY IF THIS IS RUDE, BUT IT’S THE TRUTH.”

Suffolk County Police are investigating the correspondence as a possible hate crime, according to Newsday. Copes has lived in her house with her mother, her two siblings and five nieces and nephews since September 2013, but she told the publication that she hasn’t experienced any racism firsthand in the community.

Copes’ mother Darcell told WNBC-TV has jolted the family,

“I went from being fearful, protecting my family, to being totally confused, and wanted to know who and why,” the elder Copes told the TV station. “Today, it becomes even deeper: is it someone in the school district, is it the guy at the corner store, is it my neighbor down the street? Where?”

A dozen elected officials from Lindenhurst and Babylon, including Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and Lindenhurst Village Mayor Tom Brennan, condemned the letter in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

“The best way to fight bias is with solidarity and we stand with all of our residents in declaring that there is no place for this type of intolerance and hatred in the Village of Lindenhurst, the Town of Babylon, or anywhere in our community,” the officials said in the statement. “We are, and always will be, a strong diverse community that does not cede ground to hostility, ignorance, or hatred, wherever it may appear.”

The younger Copes told the local newspaper that the family has no plans to leave the south shore Long Island town, which has a population of 27,000 that is just over 84% white and nearly 2% black, according to census figures.

“We feel a great deal of fear, but it subsided a little now because, I have to say, there has been a great outreach from a lot of people,” Copes said.

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DEBORAH HASTINGS May-23-2015 170 0
A Cleveland cop accused of fatally shooting two unarmed people in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire is not guilty of voluntarily manslaughter, an Ohio judge ruled Saturday.

Michael Brelo, 31, was one of 13 officers who unleashed a hail of bullets into the couple's car during a high-speed chase in November 2012, killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

Prosecutors said Brelo reloaded his gun after they were no longer a threat, mounted the car's hood and fired 15 rounds into the windshield.

Brelo wept as the long judge's ruling was read Saturday and at times crossed himself and held his head in his hands. After being declared not guilty, he hugged his attorneys in the crowded courtroom. The verdict capped a four-week trial that ended on May 5.

Groups of angry protesters stood outside the courthouse shouting "No justice, no peace" and "Hands up, don't shoot," after the hour-long verdict was read. Sheriff's deputies with riot shields flanked the building. But there were no reports of violence and Mayor Frank Jackson admonished residents that demonstrators who crossed the line "cannot, and will not, be tolerated."

"I will never trust Cleveland police again," said Alfredo Williams, the female victim's brother.

Russell, 43, and Williams, 30, were each shot more than 20 times in less than eight seconds. The chase began after officers in a patrol car mistook the sound of the couple's car backfiring for gun shots on Nov. 29, 2012. More than 60 squad cars chased the man and woman for about 20 miles.

Steve Loomis of the Cleveland police union said he hoped residents would respect the ruling.

Five other officers were indicted on lesser charges of dereliction of duty and are awaiting trial. There were no weapons found in the couple's car.

The controversial shooting is one of several noted in a 2014 U.S. Justice Department report that showed the Cleveland Police Department has a pattern of using excessive force.

"The officers, who were firing on the car from all sides, reported believing that they were being fired at by the suspects. It now appears that those shots were being fired by fellow officers," the report said of the fusillade of bullets.

The ruling follows a year of outrage and demonstrations over police violence towards unarmed black people in Missouri, New York, Baltimore and another Cleveland shooting involving 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot to death by police after he was seen playing with a gun, which turned out to be a toy.

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May-23-2015 736 0
A Brooklyn teacher who was arrested in 2011 on charges of drugging and raping a middle school student is demanding that the city let her keep her teaching job, according to a new lawsuit.

Claudia Tillery, 45, argues in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that she was acquitted of all criminal charges in April 2014 and the Department of Education’s hearing officer improperly used sealed evidence, DNA tests and the prosecutor’s testimony to toss her from the teaching post she's had since 1996.

The hearing officer, Haydee Rosario, said the acquittal does not excuse Tillery for “conduct unbecoming” her position because the evidence proved that she allowed the student into her home without the permission of his parents or school administrators, took him to the Atlantic Motor Inn multiple times and gave him $500 cash.

Rosario also faulted Tillery for not telling administrators or the student’s parents that he had stolen her daughter's laptop, a camera and her phone from her apartment.

“Such failure, I find, not only constitutes conduct that is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of her service but, most importantly, sheds light about the true nature of her relationship with Student A,” Rosario said.

The student told investigators that Tillery did not disclose the theft because she was afraid it would cause him to disclose the sexual conduct that they had had for two years.

In her papers, the teacher said it was arbitrary and capricious of the hearing officer to consider evidence that was sealed as a result of the acquittal and to hear directly from Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney Lisa Nugent.

"The hearing officer credited Student A's testimony in its entirety ... regardless of the numerous inconsistencies," according to papers Tillery's lawyer Stacey Van Malden filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Rosario said prior court decisions have permitted hearing officers to consider evidence normally sealed after acquittal in criminal charges, in part because the standard of proof is lower in disciplinary proceedings.


Claudia Tillery, 45, argues she was acquitted of all criminal charges in April 2014.
via Facebook

Claudia Tillery, 45, argues she was acquitted of all criminal charges in April 2014.


"This is not a 'he said, she said' case where my determination hinges on my credibility findings," Rosario wrote.

"In this case, the record is replete with evidence, including the DNA analysis report that corroborates the credible account given by Student A."

A former student at the Stephen Decatur School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the student testified that he and Tillery had oral sex and intercourse in her bedroom and a hotel room that she rented on multiple occasions.

A DNA analysis determined no semen on her bedroom comforter but one stain on it had vaginal fluids and saliva that contained both their DNA, according to court papers. Tillery suggested that the student came in contact with the comforter one day when it was in the hamper in her laundry room.

Rosario said the student's testimony was "candid, detailed, consistent and coherent" and is corroborated by other evidence.

For example, she said, the student said he had taken three videos of his sexual encounters with Tillery but erased them when his older brother found them on the phone. A school aide testified that she saw such a video when it was shown in school by the student's older brother and reported it to administrators.

Finally, Rosario said she rejected Tillery's defense that the student was manipulative and made her interact with him more extensively than she should have.

"Her defense of 'he made me do it' reasoning, that Student A, a minor entrusted to her care, caused all of her misery that she endured during her criminal trial and during this disciplinary proceeding, serves to demonstrate why termination of her employment is the only appropriate penalty in this case," Rosario said. -- Barbara Ross

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AP May-22-2015 776 0
Marques Haynes, the legendary Harlem Globetrotters showman often called the greatest dribbler in basketball history, has died. He was 89.

He died Friday in Plano, Texas, of natural causes, the Globetrotters said. CEO Kurt Schneider said “basketball has lost one of its most iconic figures.”

Haynes made the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, the first Globetrotter to be so honored. He had two stints with the touring team — from 1947-53 and 1972-79.

He played in more than 12,000 games, traveling more than 4 million miles and appearing in more than 100 countries for a team that combined dazzling skills, theatrical flair and circus antics. He was the Globetrotters’ player-coach in 1974-75.

“Marques was a pioneer, helping pave the way for people of all races to have opportunities to play basketball, and for the sport to explode on a global scale,” Schneider said. “His unique and groundbreaking style of play set the tone for modern basketball as we know it. Anyone involved with basketball worldwide is indebted to Marques. He was the consummate Globetrotter.

While playing at Langston (Oklahoma) University, the acrobatic Haynes caught the attention of Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein in 1946 after leading Langston to a win over Globies. Haynes remained at the school, but after graduation joined the Globetrotters. He led them to victories against the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA in 1948 and 1949.

Haynes was more than mere showman on the court, although his dribbling skills were show-stopping displays that often had opponents standing and watching in awe. He led Booker T. Washington High School in his hometown of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, to the unofficial national championship in 1941 and was a scholastic All-American that season. He then starred at Langston, an NAIA school where he was a four-time all-conference selection and team MVP.

Haynes led Langston in scoring all four years and the team had a 112-3 record, including a 59-game winning streak.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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JASON SILVERSTEIN May-22-2015 176 0
What began as a call about shoplifted beer in Olympia, Wash. early Thursday led to the police shootings of two unarmed black stepbrothers and, in response, intense street protests through the evening.

Hundreds of protesters stormed the Olympia police headquarters and City Hall, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” after the non-fatal shootings of Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21.

Thompson is in stable condition, while Chaplin was critically injured. Both are expected to survive Olympia’s first officer-involved shooting since 2012.

The protests over the shootings remained peaceful, and Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum urged citizens in a statement to “not be reactive."

The violent police encounter was sparked by a call from employees at a Safeway store around 1 a.m. Thursday, saying two men had tried to steal beer and threw the brews at workers who approached them.

Officer Ryan Donald, who is white, found the stepbrothers skateboarding near the store and believed they matched the descriptions given to police. Just moments later, he radioed his department to let them know he’d fired shots. Minutes later, he said both men had gunshot wounds to the torso.

Police later said the first shooting happened near Donald’s car and the second in a wooded area where the men fled. It has not been confirmed where each man was shot or how many times.

The officer claimed one of them had “assaulted me with his skateboard” and called the stepbrothers “very aggressive," as heard on a recording of his calls, which was released by the department. ("Shot fired" is first heard at 10:26 of the released recording.)

Donald was not hurt, and Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts later said the officer had “the right to defend himself” if he was under attack.

“There’s no indication that race was a factor,” Roberts insisted.

Donald, 35, is now on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for the force as a police shooting is investigated. He has been with the department for only three years and previously worked as an Army police officer.

The stepbrothers live in Vancouver, Wash., and grew up in Woonsocket, R.I., according to their Facebook pages.

Both have criminal records dating back at least three years, the Seattle Times reported. Thompson has pleaded guilty to several charges, including supplying liquor to a minor and obstructing a law enforcement officer. Chaplin pleaded guilty in 2012 to taking a motor vehicle without permission, and has an extensive juvenile court record with robbery, theft and assault guilty pleas.

Their sister, Jasmine Thompson, told the Olympian she saw the shootings on her way home from a hospital visit for a work-related injury. But she thought nothing of it until she got home and saw her brothers weren't there.

"That's when I started to worry," Thompson told the paper. "I thought, 'Did I just see my brother get shot?'"

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