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Rob Parker on RGIII’s blackness
Dec-13-2012 1585 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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Sheila Abdus-Salaam's body was discovered along the riverside near Harlem on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said. Police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma.

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Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state Office of Court Administration's website.

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Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and just days ago was acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.

The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.

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Hernandez was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fianc?e Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hernandez's death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House today to mark their Super Bowl win. Team spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez's death but didn't anticipate the club commenting Wednesday.

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Facebook murderer Steve Stephens shot and killed himself in Pennsylvania Tuesday morning, ending a three-day manhunt for the Cleveland killer, state police confirmed.

Stephens turned the gun on himself after an attempted traffic stop in Erie County, police said. He was found in a white Ford Fusion in Erie, according to GoErie.com.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf commended police for the pursuit and said no one else in the state was hurt.

Stephens, 37, remained on the run for nearly 48 hours after shooting a stranger in the head in Cleveland and posting the snuff footage on Facebook. 

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Authorities in several states were on the lookout Monday for a man police say shot a Cleveland retiree collecting aluminum cans and then posted video of the apparently random killing on Facebook.

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Police Chief Calvin Williams warned residents to be careful as the go about their day.

Authorities also warned people in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be alert for Stephens, who was wanted on a charge of aggravated murder.

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The suspect then pointed a gun at Godwin, who shielded his face with the plastic bag.

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The suspect identified as Steve Stephens is believed to be armed and dangerous, police said.

The suspect also claims to have committed other homicides, police said.

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The video posted to Facebook around 2 p.m. appears to belong to Stephens under the profile name Stevie Steve, NBC4 reported.

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In the end, a Suffolk County jury simply couldn’t buy the entire story that Alexander Bradley, the compromised star witness for the prosecution, was spinning.

So they found Aaron Hernandez not guilty on Friday of murdering Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston’s Theatre District. The jury deliberated for 37 and a half hours, spread out over six days.

As the not-guilty verdict was read, some family members of de Abreu and Furtado rushed out of the courtroom in tears. Hernandez’s fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who only days earlier arrived in court with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, sobbed.

“We based our decision on the evidence and the law,” foreperson Lindsey Stringer said in a brief statement.

Hernandez was found guilty of the unlawful carrying of a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and was sentenced by Judge Jeffrey A. Locke to four-to-five years.

The decision changes little for Hernandez, who was already serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in a Massachusetts prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough. While that first conviction will be automatically appealed, it is unlikely the former New England Patriots star will be granted a new trial, let alone ever walk free.

The not-guilty verdict comes one day before the two-year anniversary of Hernandez’s conviction for the murder of Lloyd.

As he walked out of court escorted by at least four officers, heading back to prison, Hernandez turned toward Jenkins-Hernandez and mouthed, “I love you.”

The verdict is a difficult blow for prosecutors and the families of two innocent men who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time – running into Hernandez and Bradley on a summer Sunday night in a Boston nightclub. The Commonwealth tried the case in an effort to deliver justice and closure for the victims and their supporters.

It is a massive victory, however, for Jose Baez, the celebrated defense attorney hired to defend Hernandez. Baez, who was not in court for the reading of the verdict reportedly due to a medical issue, can add this high-profile victory to helping young Florida mother Casey Anthony beat a charge that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter in 2011.

Too much of this case relied on the word of Bradley, an admitted drug and gun dealer who is serving time in Connecticut for an unrelated incident in which he shot up a Hartford nightclub after being involved in a gunfight. Bradley testified that Hernandez, angry at de Abreu for spilling a drink on him at a nightclub, was still fuming some two hours later when he unloaded five shots into the BMW carrying de Abreu and Furtado.

The defense countered that it was, in fact, Bradley who pulled the trigger due to a drug deal gone bad.

Neither side disagrees that Bradley was the wheelman that night. He proved, however, to be the only witness who identified Hernandez as the triggerman. Bradley had multiple motives to lie – from an immunity deal to his own hatred of Hernandez, whom allegedly shot Bradley in the face in 2013 and left him to die.

On the witness stand Bradley acknowledged he was testifying as a means of revenge only because his preferred method – murdering Hernandez – was not available due to Hernandez being incarcerated.

With so little physical evidence it was not simple to determine whether it was Hernandez who was the triggerman or Bradley. On that precise, but all-important point, there was clearly reasonable doubt.

“The man who committed these crimes was given immunity by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will be out of prison soon,” defense attorney Ronald Sullivan said, referring to Bradley and according to Chris Villani of the Boston Herald.

Hernandez, 27, may have beaten the charge of the actual killings, but he was hardly innocent that night. He didn’t report the crime and afterward helped stash the murder car in a Connecticut house garage he was connected with.

The fall of Hernandez ranks among the most baffling and tragic in modern sports history. He, at the very least, was witness to the murder of de Abreu and Furtado just months after catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and just weeks before signing a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots. He and his longtime girlfriend/fiancée had a baby on the way at the time.

The trial played out across six weeks in downtown Boston, just across the street from where Hernandez’s former teammates held another Super Bowl parade and celebration in February.
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In February, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race improperly tainted Buck's death sentence and remanded the case to the lower court for a new hearing.

In a two-page ruling filed Thursday, the federal appeals court also ordered him released unless the state initiates proceedings for a new trial for punishment within six months or "elects not to seek the death penalty and accedes to a life sentence."

Buck was convicted in Houston 20 years ago for the killings of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler. He was sentenced to death after a psychologist testified he would be a continuing threat to society because he is black.

The case, which has made national headlines for years, could be a harbinger of how the country's highest court deals with death penalty cases with racial overtones, experts have said.

After February's decision, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office would review Buck's case, including speaking with the victims' families and looking over mitigation evidence, before deciding how to proceed.

"Racially charged evidence has no place in any courtroom, and this administration will not tolerate its presence," she said. "We remain committed to seeking justice for the victims of Duane Buck's heinous criminal acts and will do so without what Chief Justice Roberts described as the 'strain of racial prejudice' present at the 1997 trial in which Buck was convicted."
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David Boroff Apr-13-2017 132 0
A Georgia police officer was fired one day after authorities say he kicked a handcuffed man in the face.

A shocking video shows Master Police Officer Robert McDonald of the Gwinnett County Police Department appearing to use excessive force on suspect Demetrius Hollins on a major roadway just outside of Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon.

McDonald "stepped outside the guiding principles of our agency," Thursday's statement from the Gwinnett County Police Department said."We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law."

The police department has also launched a criminal investigation of McDonald's behavior. He was sent home on administrative leave and his department-issued gun was taken.

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The statement emphasizes the video is "very disturbing and speaks for itself" and was "very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive."

Hollins appears to have blood on his nose and lip in a booking photo.He faces charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, failure to signal, having a brake light that's not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer and having less than an ounce of marijuana.

The video, posted to Facebook by Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, shows a white officer pulling a black man out of a car and placing him in handcuffs. The man can be heard yelling as the officer hovers over him.

Suddenly, a second officer comes running from the right hand side.

As the first officer observes, the second officer, seemingly unprovoked, stomps the handcuffed man in the face. Both officers then hold the man down before putting him in the backseat of their squad car.

"Stay down," one of the officers can be heard saying.

The violent incident occurred on Sugarloaf Parkway outside Lawrenceville around 5 p.m., according to Maejor Page, the President of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta.

Page told the Daily News that the maker of the video provided the clip to his organization shortly after the incident occurred.

The video maker charged that "blood splattered everywhere" after the officer landed the kick to the man's face, Page said.

In a statement, Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta praised the dismissal of the officer.

"We are extremely happy that the command staff of the Gwinnett Police Department heard our voices did the noble and honorable thing, and that's to fire this officer and seek criminal charges," read the statement. "We do not want to paint the entire GCPD as a bad group of people, when I know for a fact there a bunch of fine men and women who work for the department with respect, honor and integrity."
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Jeremy Gorner Apr-13-2017 243 0
Chicago police say the attempted armed robbery of a slain Cook County judge and his injured girlfriend early Monday was not a random act while announcing murder and other charges against the first of several suspects.

Police also revealed that shell casings found outside the judge's Far South Side home matched ballistics evidence from an attempted armed robbery in the early morning hours three months ago. The victim was shot and wounded.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at police headquarters, Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples answered few questions, emphasizing that the investigation remained "open and ongoing" and that more details would come out in court Thursday. But she did call the attack on Associate Judge Raymond Myles and his girlfriend "a targeted robbery." However, Staples wouldn't say whether it was the judge or his girlfriend who was the target of the robbery.

According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, Joshua T. Smith, 37, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery.

Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said Smith is expected to appear in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday.

Police would not identify Smith's role in the attempted armed robbery, but multiple law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune that he acted as the alleged getaway driver.

According to court records, Smith was charged in Cook County Circuit Court in 2002 with armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated unlawful restraint. He pleaded guilty the following year to armed robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison, the records show.
Police are still seeking the gunman and a third participant, according to sources.

At the news conference, Staples said video surveillance in the area of the judge's home in the West Chesterfield neighborhood played a crucial role in identifying the getaway car used in the attempted holdup and its license plate. The cameras did not capture the shooting itself, however, she said.
There had been a push recently to get cameras installed throughout the neighborhood - an effort that the judge had joined in.

"I can tell you that the placement and the concentration of cameras in and outside of the judge's neighborhood was instrumental for detectives to get a jump-start on this case," Staples said.

Tactical officers found the suspected getaway car - a red 2005 Pontiac Sunfire - in the Calumet Police District on the city's Far South Side on Tuesday night, even though its license plate had been switched since the shooting in an attempt to "hinder our investigative efforts," Staples said. The officers noticed the car had different plates on the front and rear, she said.

Records show that Smith shares an address with the woman who owns the Pontiac. But detectives do not believe she was involved in the attempted holdup, Staples said.

Staples told reporters that the shell casings found outside the judge's home matched those retrieved at the scene of an attempted armed robbery and shooting in the Englewood neighborhood in January, but she said the two shootings don't appear to be otherwise linked. Police said guns used in Chicago shootings often change hands and that the victim of the January holdup attempt was not cooperating with investigators. The victim, identified by police sources as an alleged gang member with a long arrest record, was shot in the leg.

The brazen attack on Myles, believed to be the first fatal shooting of a Chicago-area judge in more than three decades, touched off a massive investigation.

An early riser, Myles was up before dawn Monday, getting ready to go to the gym with his girlfriend before reporting to his courtroom. But as the 52-year-old woman left the two-story brick residence shortly before 5 a.m., she was confronted near the garage by a gunman who shot her in the leg, according to police. Hearing the commotion, Myles, 66, ran outside and exchanged words with the assailant before he was shot and killed.

A neighbor and friend of the judge told the Tribune he was awakened by the shouts of the woman and the crack of about six gunshots. "She was screaming, 'Don't kill him, don't kill him!' " the neighbor said.

An autopsy found Myles had been shot multiple times, the Cook County medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

The FBI has offered $25,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the killer.
Sheriff Tom Dart's office investigates about 10 death threats against Cook County judges a year but had no record of any threats against Myles in recent years.

News of Myles' death stunned colleagues at the county's main criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, where Myles had worked for years. Longtime courthouse employees described Myles as hardworking and friendly. He was assigned to the "youthful offenders" call, where he heard narcotics cases involving defendants about age 27 and younger.
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