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Young Chicago Gang Members Charged In Shooting Death of 15-Year Old Hadiya Pendleton
Just a few days after the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton two young gang members have been charged with first degree murder. Hadiya was a 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama's recent inauguration, and was shot and killed in Chicago as she talked with her friends. The two young gang members responsible for her death have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. One of the shooters, Michael Ward, is just 18 years old, and the other, Kenneth Williams, is just 20. Sadly, both have thrown their lives away over what turned out to be a mistaken identity. They have admitted that they shot and killed the wrong person, in a retaliation attempt stemming from another murder. Nathaniel Pendleton, father of Hadiya Pendleton, commented, "I’m ecstatic that they found the two guys. I’m thanking God that these two guys are off the streets, so that this doesn’t happen to another innocent person." He says its the first time he's smiled since his daughter died. Hadiya was killed in January 2013 in the Harsh Park area of Chicago, only just a mile from President Barack Obama’s Kenwood home. Her case was one of more than 530 homicides in the city in the last 14 months.
Tonya Battle, African American Nurse, Sues Michigan Hospital For Race Discrimination
A nurse's skin color is the subject of a recent lawsuit filed against a Michigan hospital accused of racial discrimination. According to the suit, Tonya Batlle was barred from treating an infant patient at Hurley Medical Center because she is African American, WNEM TV 5 reports. In the complaint, obtained by the local TV station, Battle claims that the newborn's father showed her supervisor "a swastika of some kind" and asked that no Black people be involved in his child's are. Battle, who was taken off the case, was allegedly later told by a supervisor that the patient's request was granted. The suit also states that a note was appended to the patient's file that read "No African American nurse to take care of baby."
Although attorneys for Hurley Medical later objected to the decision, as UPI notes, the hospital is believed to have honored the patient's request for more than a month. Though Battle initially filed a complaint with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency tasked with enforcing federal employer discrimination laws, she is seeking compensatory damages for the emotional stress and harm to her reputation through the lawsuit.
The EEOC conducts its own investigation and either files an employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the individual who made the claim, or dismisses the charge, granting the employee the ability to file his or her own lawsuit. Typically, the commission, which receives 99,000 complaints per year, only takes on select employee discrimination cases. In 2011, the EEOC filed a class a class action racial discrimination lawsuit against a Chicago hospital, alleged to have segregated black female employees because of their race. The case was concluded within a few months when Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center agreed to pay a $80,000 settlement.
500 Homicides For Chicago in 2012
Oldest Living American, Mamie Rearden, Dies at 114-Years old.
Mamie Rearden, recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living American, has died at 114-years old. Rearden was born on September 7, 1898, in Edgefield, South Carolina, where she was raised and lived all her life. She was a school teacher for a short time, and was married to her husband for 59 years until his death in 1979. She raised 11 children. At the time of her death, she lived in the family homestead with a son and a daughter on land that had been in the family since her father’s accumulation of acreage that made him one of the area’s largest black landowners.
5-Year Old Boy Banned From School For Having Long Hair
A 5-year-old boy was turned away from Roberts Road Elementary School in Hockley, Texas. because school officials say his hair is too long. His mom, Ursula Martin, said that when she tried to enroll her son, she was told that her son's hair needed to be cut first. Apparently, the school’s dress code does not allow for a boy’s hair to go beyond a shirt collar. Martin contends that her son’s hair is a religious statement.
Martin commented, "I don’t understand. What does the length of his hair have to do with him being educated?"
The school district responded by releasing a statement that said: "The principal of each campus shall apply the grooming code and make all final decisions regarding what is acceptable and appropriate, considering the age and activities of the students. Guidelines and administrative decisions regarding appropriate dress will reflect concern for health and safety of students and the influence of specific dress or grooming on the overall educational climate of the school."
31-year-old Florida woman who fired what her family calls a warning shot at her abusive husband, was sentenced Friday morning to 20 years in prison. Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing into a wall near her husband and his two young children at their Jacksonville home in 2010. Alexander has maintained that she wasn't trying to hurt anyone and that she was standing her ground against a man who had over the course of nearly a year punched and choked her on several different occasions. Alexander says that she believed she was protected that day under the state's Stand Your Ground Law, which gives people wide discretion in using deadly force to defend themselves.
A judge and a jury disagreed.
The State Attorney's Office offered a plea bargain that would have sent Alexander to prison for three years, but she rejected it, hoping to convince a jury that she had been defending herself when she fired the weapon.Alexander's case has become the latest battleground in a fight against what Alexander's supporters call the misapplication of the Stand Your Ground Law and Florida's mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which offer stiff sentences for crimes involving guns.
According to Florida's 10-20-Life statutes, anyone who pulls a gun during a crime receives a mandatory 10-year sentence. Firing a gun during the commission of a crime equals a mandatory 20-year sentence. Anyone convicted of shooting and killing another person during a crime is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Alexander, who did not have a criminal record before the shooting, was convicted of felony assault with a gun.
"Florida's mandatory 10-20-life gun law forced the Court to impose an arbitrary, unjust and completely inappropriate sentence,” said Greg Newburn, Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group that fights to repeal such laws. "As long as Florida keeps its inflexible gun sentencing laws, we will continue to see cases like Ms. Alexander's."
Alexander, a mother of three, and her family have vowed to keep fighting.
"It's like a nightmare that we can't wake up from," Helen Jenkins, Alexander's mother, told HuffPost shortly after the sentencing. "But we just take it one day at a time. Emotionally we are spent, but every day we start over because we have to fight for Marissa."
Jenkins said the family is currently raising funds to hire another attorney to appeal Alexander's case.
Angela Corey, the state attorney who oversaw the case against Alexander, said that justice was indeed served and that Alexander was angry and reckless, not fearful, on the night of the shooting. Just because no one was harmed in the incident doesn't make the shooting any less a punishable crime, Corey said.
"I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of a home with two children standing in the direction where the bullet was fired, we have to have tough laws that say you don't do that," Corey told HuffPost. "Justice, with the laws of the state of Florida, was served. But I don't believe her supporters will ever believe that."
The Jacksonville courtroom in which Alexander was sentenced was packed with Alexander's family and supporters. At one point, according to news reports, a group of young supporters stood up and sang or chanted, "We who believe in justice will not rest!"
One by one, Alexander's family members addressed the court, including Alexander's mother and father, a sister and a brother who broke down in tears as they talked about their sister and how they believe the system had wronged her.
Alexander's daughter, Havelin, 11, read from a letter she'd written and questioned "how my mom could be beaten but she's the one arrested," according to Lincoln Alexander, the girl's father and Marissa's ex-husband.
"That's the reason why I'm fighting," Lincoln Alexander told Huffpost. "I'm fighting for my kids ... I knew this day was coming and my thoughts were on them. Would they be strong enough?"
If Alexander's future appeals are unsuccessful, and she serves her full 20-year term in prison, her twins will be 31 years old when she is released. Her youngest will be 22.
"Today was another tough day for them," Lincoln Alexander said of his kids. "Once they took Marissa away and we walked out of the court and everything was over, that's when it was toughest."
On Aug. 1, 2010, a fight between Alexander and her husband, Rico Gray, 36, left her cornered in the couple's home. She fled into the garage to escape but was trapped behind a jammed door, she stated in court documents. She said she grabbed the gun she kept in the garage, returned to the house and, when Gray threatened to kill her, fired a single shot to ward him off.
Gray ran out of the house with his two sons and called the police. Alexander was arrested and charged. She unsuccessfully invoked her right to stand her ground in court. Alexander's sentencing comes 435 days after the shooting. It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty.
Gray himself admitted in a deposition to abusing "all five of his babies' mamas except one," and to hitting Alexander. Alexander's family and supporters say that Gray's testimony should not be trusted, because he perjured himself by changing his account of events on the night of the shooting between his early depositions and later court hearings -- a claim that was not disputed by Corey, the state attorney.
Alexander’s case has drawn comparisons to the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was initially released after the police said he was within his legal rights to defend himself. He was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder more than 40 days later.
Both the Martin and Alexander cases have stirred controversy around Florida's self-defense and gun laws, but it wasn't until some media pivoted from the Martin case to Alexander's that her name became known outside of Jacksonville.
Her family has set up a website and has appeared on cable news shows and nationally syndicated radio programs to spread the word about the "injustice" that they believe Alexander has suffered.
But in the past week, Angela Corey, the state attorney (who also is prosecuting Zimmerman in the Martin case), has launched a media offensive to combat what she has called "misinformation" being spread by the family about the circumstances of the shooting.
Shortly after the sentencing, Corey echoed comments she made to HuffPost earlier this week, saying that Alexander's own actions on the night of the incident and in the following months have landed her in the position that she is in. While Alexander's family has portrayed her as a victim at the end of her emotional rope and in fear of her life, Corey says Alexander fired in anger and not in fear. Corey disputes the so-called warning shot into the ceiling with photographs that show bullet holes much lower, going through a kitchen wall and into the living room where Corey said Gray and his boys were.
"The fact that nobody got hurt has to be balanced with the fact that someone could have gotten hurt," Corey said. "The kids being right next to him changed everything."About four months after Alexander was released on bail, on orders to have no contact with Gray, she got into an altercation with him at his home that gave him a black eye, Corey said. Alexander was arrested and charged with battery, to which she pleaded no contest. Corey said that Alexander's actions -- engaging with a man of whom she claimed to be deathly afraid, and assaulting him -- "didn't show much of her being remorseful" or "being a peaceful person."
"Everybody is still ignoring that she got out on bond and chose to go back over there and hit him a second time," Corey said. "That was kind of an indication of where putting her on probation, where you might have been able to do that before, was off the table since she disregarded a judges order."Alexander's family said the second incident took place just days before her newborn would have been dropped off of her insurance, and that she went over to Gray's home to have him sign paperwork that would have kept the baby insured. The family say that he attacked her that night and provided HuffPost with her medical records, which show that she suffered minor scrapes and bruising on her face, hand and arm. After the altercation, Alexander left Gray's house, and Gray called the police. On Friday Corey's office provided a police report, photographs and a 911 call that counter Alexander's claims.
In the police report, Gray claimed that Alexander came over to drop off their daughter, and that when he rebuffed Alexander's request to spend the night, she "became enraged and began striking him on the face." Gray said he raised his hands, the report continues, and he yelled out to his sons to call the police. The responding officer wrote that Gray's children corroborated that account. When the police contacted her an hour or so later, according to the report, she said she didn't understand why they were contacting her and that she had an "alibi." The police noted swelling and a cut under Gray's left eye and no visible injuries on Alexander. But on the way to the jail, Alexander said she felt light-headed and became unresponsive. An officer then "observed that there was a small cut under the suspect's eye that was not there prior to her being placed in my back seat."Alexander was rearrested that night and has remained in custody ever since.
Homeless man commits crime just to go back to prison.
Columbus, GA(May 2, 2012) -- Lance Brown was hungry and homeless, so he decided to get thrown in jail by hurling a brick through a glass door at the Columbus courthouse building. Brown, 36, spent nine months in jail before his April trial. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to another month behind bars, and three years of probation that includes a six-month stay in a halfway house. Brown's case illustrates the struggle prosecutors face when dealing with homeless defendants who resort to crime to seek the safety of prison. They weigh whether to devote scarce resources to prosecuting a lower-level offense with the burden that comes with upholding the law and deterring others from breaking it.
Faced with more nights on the street, Brown said he thought lofting the brick through the building would give him at least a few hours in a place where “someone's going to offer me a sandwich and drink.” U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said he had little other choice than to charge him with malicious mischief, a crime that carried a 10-year maximum prison sentence. “The unfortunate circumstances in which Mr. Brown found himself cannot be a justification for destroying property of the United States,” Moore said. “And while I am personally saddened by Mr. Brown's plight, I regret that he chose to violate the law instead of taking help from those who offered it.”
Brown was previously convicted of bank robbery and released from a North Carolina prison in July. He headed to the courthouse in downtown Columbus with a strange request for his probation officer: He wanted to know what he could do to get back behind bars. The officer, Billy Johnston, offered him a list of social services, but it didn't take long for Brown to come up with his own answer. He threatened to kill the president, a threat officers didn't deem credible. Then he stormed from the building, found a brick and heaved it through the front door, tearing a gaping hole in the glass that cost about $1,400 to fix, court records show. He was immediately arrested by federal authorities and soon indicted by a grand jury on a charge of malicious mischief.
At his two-day trial in April, prosecutors called seven witnesses, including Johnston, who carefully recalled what led to Brown's outburst. They also showed the jury a series of pictures of the damaged door and the brick he used. Defense attorney Victor Arana called only Brown to the witness stand. He wanted to tell jurors about his attempts to avoid homelessness. He said he became homeless after suffering a nervous breakdown and being kicked out of a local shelter because of a fight with another resident. It took the jury only about 20 minutes to convict him, and at Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Brown spent most of the time leaning back in his chair and staring into the ceiling.
His defense attorney argued that he should be released with time served. Prosecutors didn't disagree. When it was Brown's turn to talk, he issued a warning of sorts to the FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the courtroom. “You can keep that probation,” he said in a brief but rambling statement. “I will probably make you guys chase me all around the country a few times.” Prosecutor Mel Hyde was then asked what he thought about Brown's statement. He grimly advised the judge of his hunch. “I think you can probably take Mr. Brown at his word,” he said.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright Claims He Was Offered Hush Money By Obama Camp
It’s election time and that means Reverend Jeremiah Wright is back on the scene. In 2008, the retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago caused a maelstrom of controversy for then Senator Barack Obama as he fought Hillary Clinton in a furious battle for the Democratic nomination for president. Now, after being “betrayed” by his long-time church member and friend, Wright decided to confide in Edward Klein, author of the unauthorized Obama biography, “The Amateur,” that the Obama camp attempted to bribe him out of the pulpit via email.
“Who sent the e-mail?” [Klein] asked Wright.
“It was from one of Barack’s closest friends.”
“He offered you money?”
“Not directly,” Wright said. “He sent the offer to one of the members of the church, who sent it to me.”
“How much money did he offer you?”
“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” Wright said.
“Did Obama himself ever make an effort to see you?”
“Yes,” Wright said. “Barack said he wanted to meet me in secret, in a secure place. And I said, ‘You’re used to coming to my home, you’ve been here countless times, so what’s wrong with coming to my home?’ So we met in the living room of the parsonage of Trinity United Church of Christ, at South Pleasant Avenue right off 95th Street, just Barack and me. I don’t know if he had a wire on him. His security was outside somewhere.
“And one of the first things Barack said was, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election.’ He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, ‘I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.’
“And what did you say?” I asked. “I said, ‘I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?’ And he said, ‘Well, I wish you wouldn’t speak in public. The press is gonna eat you alive.’
“Barack said, ‘I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is?’ And I said, ‘No, what’s my problem?’ And he said, ‘You have to tell the truth.’ I said, ‘That’s a good problem to have. That’s a good problem for all preachers to have. That’s why I could never be a politician.’
“And he said, ‘It’s going to get worse if you go out there and speak. It’s really going to get worse.’
“And he was so right.”
Two of Wright’s more controversial sermons, at least by GOP standards, were at the center of the storm. “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall” delivered on September 16, 2001″ called the United States out for it’s hypocrisy when retaliating for the World Track Center attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The unrepentant Wright held no punches:
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye… and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Then, in “Confusing God and Government,” delivered on April 13, 2003, Wright exposed the United States government for its role in the horrific Tuskegee experiment and it’s systemic racism against people of African descent in the nation:
“The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, ‘Let me make myself perfectly clear…’ Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie…. The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie.
“When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that’s in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.”
Voicing their concern that Obama was “anti-American,” many conservatives (and Hillary Clinton) wondered aloud that some of Wright’s hate had to have rubbed off on Obama; he had, after all, “sat in his church for 20 years.”
Before caving to the conflict and disowning his “spiritual advisor” in May of 2008 — the man who penned the sermon “The Audacity of Hope,” on which Obama based his electric 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that catapulted him into America’s conscious — Obama delivered his “A More Perfect Union” speech on March 18, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA, in hopes of taking control once again of the political momentum.
“I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community,” said Obama. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.”
But when Wright refused to go away, making more inflammatory statements as Obama was locked in the fight of his political career, the candidate made the choice to cut ties, claiming to be “saddened” and “outraged” by Wright’s remarks.
I find it no small coincidence that Wright has returned just in time for Obama’s re-election. He has cast himself as the proverbial friend scorned and proven that every ounce of political support that he threw behind Obama was based on friendship not politics. All the speeches and sermons, evoking racial fidelity and identification to shore up Obama’s support within the church, all the statements saying that Obama was the right choice for America, it all boiled down to a broken friendship.
With shades of Dr. Cornel West evident in his tone — a man whom I respect greatly, but who diminished his credibility as it pertains to Obama criticism when he complained that “the guy who picks up [his] bags from the hotel had a ticket to the inauguration” and he did not — it appears Rev. Wright is back with a agenda.
Obama did throw away their friendship for political ambition, and I personally find that reprehensible, but just as the church has no place in state policy, neither do personal vendettas have a place in political elections. There are a plethora of issues that one could challenge President Obama on, but to become entangled in a “you took your ball and went home, so now I’m tattling” dialogue is absolutely ridiculous.
That is something one would think a man of Rev. Wright’s caliber would understand.
George Zimmerman charged with 2nd-degree murder in Trayvon Martin shooting
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman turned himself in Wednesday to face a charge of second-degree murder after a Florida special prosecutor announced she had concluded that his claims of self defense were not supported in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Special prosecutor Angela Corey's announcement marked a turning point in the high-profile case, as weeks of outrage and speculation about Zimmerman's motives culminated in his arrest -- something that Martin's family and their supporters have argued for since the Feb. 26 shooting in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. But Zimmerman's new lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said his client will plead not guilty, and he is "hoping that the community will calm down" after the intense scrutiny of the case in the community and the media drove Zimmerman into hiding.
Zimmerman, 28, was booked Wednesday evening into the Seminole County Jail, and he could face a minimum of 25 years in prison or a maximum of life if convicted. He is expected to make his first appearance in court in the next day or two, and O'Mara plans to ask for bail. In announcing the arrest, Corey would not discuss how she reconciled the conflicting accounts of what happened or explain how she arrived at the charges, saying too much information had been made public already. But she made it clear she was not influenced by the uproar over the past six weeks. "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida," Corey said.
A second-degree murder charge in Florida is typically charged when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and where there is no premeditated plan to kill someone. Meanwhile, Martin's parents said charges against Zimmerman in the killing of their son would start the healing process, but they won't stop fighting until the shooter is convicted. "We just wanted an arrest and we got it," Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said. "The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon's eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger? Or would he have just let him go on home?" father, Tracy Martin, said. The shooting brought outspoken demands from black leaders for Zimmerman arrest and set off a furious nationwide debate over race and self-defense that reached all the way to the White House. Martin was black. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
One of the biggest hurdles to Zimmerman's arrest over the past month was Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger. The lack of an arrest had sparked outrage and rallies for justice in the Orlando suburb and across the country. Many legal experts had expected the prosecutor to opt for the lesser charge of manslaughter, which usually carries 15 years behind bars and covers reckless or negligent killings, rather than second-degree murder, which involves a killing that results from a "depraved" disregard for human life. The most severe homicide charge, first-degree murder, is subject to the death penalty in Florida and requires premeditation -- something that all sides agreed was not present in this case. The confrontation took place in a gated community where Martin was staying with his father and his father's fiancee. In phone calls, Zimmerman told an emergency dispatcher that Martin looked suspicious, and he followed the teen despite the dispatcher's advice.
Zimmerman's father said that Martin threatened to kill his son and that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose. A video taken about 40 minutes after the shooting as Zimmerman arrived at the Sanford police station showed him walking unassisted without difficulty. There were no plainly visible bandages or blood on his clothing, but Zimmerman may have had a small wound on the back of his head. On Tuesday, Zimmerman's lawyers announced they were withdrawing from the case because they hadn't heard from him since Sunday and didn't know where he was. They portrayed his mental state as fragile. Zimmerman had been in hiding for weeks, his former lawyers, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, said. "He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case," Uhrig said. The U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division is conducting its own investigation. But federal authorities typically wait until a state prosecution is complete before deciding how to proceed.
Road Sign Hacked To Show Racial Slur Against Trayvon Martin
Detroit, MI (April 9, 2012) -- The Michigan Department of Transportation is working with police to determine who hacked into a road sign and posted a racial slur along a freeway seen early Monday morning. The portable electronic sign contained a reference to Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American who died Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., after being shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The Michigan State Police began receiving calls about the sign at about 1 a.m., according to Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi. "We were made aware that at about 1 a.m. someone hacked into a portable electronic message board we had on a trailer on WB Interstate 94 approaching Michigan Avenue," Morosi said. "The sign is there as part of a big project we have at the I-94/M-39 (Southfield Freeway) interchange. Calls were coming in from motorists who were shocked, disturbed and every emotion you can imagine." Within an hour of being notified, MDOT contracted the subcontractor in control of the sign and a worker was dispatched to change the message.
"We also checked on the other signs to see if any of them had been hacked, but they were untouched," Morosi said. The hacker was able to access the controls of the sign by breaking off a lock. "So we're looking at vandalism and breaking and entering," Morosi said. "The hacker also took a keyboard from the sign. We're working with the MSP to find out who was responsible for this unfortunate act." Hacking message board signs along freeways has been reported all across the U.S., with most messages confined to tongue in cheek warnings about zombies, ninjas, pirates, raptors, UFOs and the ever popular "the British are coming." "This sort of thing pops up every construction season, but usually the messages are relatively harmless and quirky references to zombies and things like that," Morosi said. "But nothing as insensitive as this. We hope that people understand that message boards are meant to be a public service warning drivers about upcoming work zones, closed ramps and things of that nature. "We hope people are as offended by as we were."
Hate Crime Two White Men Arrested For Allegedly Shooting 5 Blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa, OK (April 8, 2012) -- Police backed by a helicopter arrested two men early Sunday and said they would face murder charges in the recent shootings that terrorized Tulsa's black community and left three people dead and two others critically wounded. Police spokesman Jason Willingham said the two men were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa about 2 a.m. Sunday and were expected to be charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill in the spate of shootings early Friday. He said police made the arrests after receiving an anonymous tip. While police identified the men as white and all the victims are black, authorities have not described the shootings as racially motivated and declined to discuss that issue Sunday. The killer did not utter slurs before blasting his victims with a small-caliber handgun, said investigators, who are trying to learn if the same weapon was used in each attack. But, police did not rule out the possibility of a hate-fueled rampage.
“If that’s where our investigation takes us, that’s where we’ll go,” Willingham told The Post. Community leaders, however, expressed concern about the motivation for the shootings on Tulsa's predominantly black north side, as well as the possibility that they would provoke a vigilante response. The Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa NAACP, said Sunday that word of the arrests had provided a great sense of relief. "The community once again can go about its business without fear of there being a shooter on the streets on today, on Easter morning," he said. Police said they linked the shootings because they happened about the same time within a few miles of each other, and all five victims were out walking when they were shot. Four of the victims were found in yards, and one in the street. Police have said they don't believe the victims knew one another. They identified those killed as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31. They declined to name those who survived. "There obviously still is a lot of investigation" ahead, Willingham said Sunday. "We don't have a motive at this time. We are still asking questions and hopefully that will become clear in coming days."
He identified the men in custody as Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, but gave no hometowns for them. He said they were taken early Sunday for questioning at a downtown Tulsa police station, where they would be booked and jailed. More details would be provided at an afternoon news conference, he said. It was not clear early Sunday whether the men had attorneys. Tulsa police had at least two dozen officers investigating the case, along with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies. A special operations team and a fugitive operations group helped make the arrests, Willingham said. He did know whether the men were armed when they were taken into custody. After receiving a tip, police found the men at one spot and then followed them as they walked to another place about a half-mile away, where they were arrested, he said. "We've been on them since early in the evening (of Saturday)," Willingham said. "We had been doing surveillance and using a helicopter."
Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Saturday that police would do whatever it took to apprehend suspects in what he called vicious and cowardly attacks. The shootings took place within three miles in Tulsa’s mostly black north side. At 1:03 a.m, the gunman shot Dannaer Fields, 49, police said. She was rushed to the hospital where she died. Three minutes later, he fired at two unidentified men, hitting one in the arm and the other in the torso. They were hospitalized in critical condition, but are expected to live, said cops. Before 2 a.m., Bobby Clark, 54, was shot dead, also in the torso. A fifth victim, William Allen, 31, was discovered in the yard of a funeral home at about 8:30 a.m., police said. He had also taken a fatal shot to the torso. “We assume that a [fifth] shooting occurred in the same time frame as the last four,” said Willingham. Fields was found on Charles Shoemaker’s front lawn. Shoemaker said he didn’t hear any commotion before the bloodshed. “I was awoken by my dog making a bunch of noise around one-fifteen,” said Shoemaker, 43. “I opened my front door and there’s a police officer.
“I didn’t even believe when he told me there was a body on my front yard so I came out.“It looked like she was laying balled up in the fetal position,” he said. Cathy Privette, one of Fields’ neighbors, said the victim was deeply religious. “I would give her rides to church,” Privette, 54, said. She added that Fields, who lived alone, was always dressed as if she was headed to Sunday Mass. Residents of the north side fear an armed bigot is roaming the streets. “We’re all nervous,” said Renaldo Works, 52, who was getting his hair cut at a salon yesterday morning. “I’ve got a 15-year-old, and I’m not going to let him out late,” Works added. “People are scared.” More than a half-dozen citizens have sued the city, claiming wrongful arrest, and almost 40 people have had convictions overturned or sentences cut in a federal corruption probe of the Tulsa police. “The police chief has assured me they are doing all they can,” Blakney added. “We don’t want anybody else hurt, white or black.” Shoemaker, one of the few white people living in the neighborhood, said he feared being targeted for retribution. “I’m always armed,” he warned. “I’m more inclined to carry now,” he said, although he concedes he doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit.
Recognizing Slaves Who Built White House
Congress two years ago acknowledged the work of slaves in building the United States Capitol, and a lawmaker Thursday argued that it is time for President Barack Obama to do the same at the White House. Slaves were recognized on the Hill with plaques in the new visitor center's Emancipation Hall and outside the galleries to the Senate and House chambers following a study by a congressional task force led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). "It was a shameful omission that visitors to the Capitol could tour the building to learn its history but not learn that slave labor was used in its construction," argued Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) in a statement. "I'm proud Congress took action to correct this failure and I now urge the White House follow suit."
There is extensive documentation of the slaves' role in building the commander-in-chief's residence. Ackerman said he was inspired to look into slave labor at the White House by one of his constituents, Mandingo Tshaka, an activist from Queens, N.Y., whom Ackerman credited with educating people about slaves' experiences on Capitol Hill. "Slaves helped dig the foundation for the White House," Ackerman wrote in a letter to the White House Thursday. "They quarried stone that would be used for the walls, dug up clay for thousands of bricks, cut timber, sawed lumber, and performed carpentry inside the White House. Even after White House construction was completed, slaves continued to support White House operations. Slaves served in White House domestic staff from 1800 through the Civil War." In a country that names freedom as its top value, Ackerman argued that history should be acknowledged.
"From the U.S. Capitol Building to the White House, our national symbols that represent freedom to so many of us, were built by people who were anything but free," Ackerman wrote. "While the larger injustice of slavery can never be adequately corrected, the continuing failure of properly informing visitors to Washington of the history of slaves building our national structures--including the White House--should be remedied." The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ARKANSAS CITY, Ark. (February 1, 2012) -- Publisher John H. Johnson, who created Ebony and Jet magazines, will be honored on this year's Black Heritage stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service. A Tuesday ceremony is planned in Johnson's hometown of Arkansas City, where he lived until moving to Chicago with his family at age 15. Johnson founded Johnson Publishing Co. on a $500 loan using his mother's furniture as collateral. At the time, he was working as a clerk at a black-owned life insurance company. He created Ebony in 1945 with a press run of 25,000 copies. Its circulation topped 1.6 million at the time of Johnson's death in 2005 at the age of 87. Johnson also founded the newsweekly Jet in 1951. "His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and he played an important role in the civil rights movement," Stephen Kearney, manager of USPS' Stamp Services, said when announcing the stamp last year. The magazines became two of the longest-running black-oriented magazines in the country. The Black Heritage stamp, featuring a color photo of Johnson taken by photographer David McCann, goes on sale Tuesday and is being issued as a Forever stamp. Past honorees include Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, singer Ella Fitzgerald, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, poet Langston Hughes and baseball player Jackie Robinson.
Mumia In General Prison Population?
FORMER DEATH row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved into the general prison population, it has been announced. This is the first time since his arrest for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer in 1982. On Friday (Jan 27), the former Black Panther was moved from a restricted housing unit where he had mostly been in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day. "This is a very important moment for him, his family, and all of his supporters. We are all grateful for the roles played by so many in getting him off death row after so very long," said Judith L. Ritter, a law professor, who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the alleged 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. Prosecutors agreed to a life term after a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing, citing flawed jury instructions. In early 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that the original trial judge’s instructions to the jury had been unfairly weighted toward execution and the decision was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in October. In December, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he would not seek a new death penalty hearing, and agreed to a life term.
Minorities becoming the majority
ETHNIC MINORITIES now make up the majority of the population in eight of America's major cities, it has been reported. Washington, Las Vegas, New York and San Diego are just some of the States which now boast "majority-minority communities," writes the Washington Post The report, based on a recent study released by the Brookings Institution, found that over the last decade, the black population has become the "dominant minority in many metropolitan areas" and also revealed a pattern of African-Americans choosing to move to Southern states The study also showed that overall white population in large metropolitan cities had shrunk, with 100 of the largest cities in the US showing declines from 2000 to 2010. On of the studies researchers, William Fey, called the shift in race majority a "pivitol" change. He said: "Large metropolitan areas will be the laboratories for change. The measures they take to help minorities assimilate and become part of the labor force will be studied by other parts of the country that are whiter and haven't been touched as much by the change."
Local KKK Store Is Black Church's Property
Columbia, SC(January 4, 2012) -- After a lengthy legal battle between a black South Carolina church and members of the Ku Klux Klan, a judge has ruled that the church owns a building where KKK robes and T-shirts are sold. A circuit judge ruled last month that New Beginnings Baptist Church is the rightful owner of the building that houses the Redneck Shop, which operates a so-called Klan museum and sells Klan robes and T-shirts emblazoned with racial slurs. The judge ordered the shop's proprietor to pay the church's legal bills of more than $3,300. Since 1996, the Redneck Shop has operated in an old movie theater in Laurens, a city about 70 miles northwest from Columbia that was named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens. Ownership of the building was transferred in 1997 to the Rev. David Kennedy and his church, New Beginnings, by a Klansman fighting with others inside the hate group, according to court records. That man, according to Kennedy, was feuding with store proprietor John Howard over a woman and "developed a spiritual relationship" with Kennedy's church, the judge wrote. But a clause in the deed entitles Howard, formerly KKK grand dragon for the Carolinas, to operate his business in the building until he dies.
After years of trying to have the property inspected, Kennedy and New Beginnings sued Howard and others in 2008. On Dec. 9, a judge ruled in Kennedy's favor. Reached on his cell phone, Howard said he did not know about the judge's decision and deferred comment to his attorney, who did not immediately return a message. It wasn't immediately clear if the judge's ruling would mean Howard must close the shop. Howard hung up on a reporter when asked about the shop's status, but an outgoing message on the shop's answering machine said it's only open one morning a week. Howard has defended his business in the past. "If anything turns people off, they shouldn't come in here," Howard told The Associated Press in 2008. "It's not a thing in here that's against the law." The Redneck Shop has been the target of protests and attacks from the start. A few days after it opened, a Columbia man crashed his van through the front windows and was charged with malicious damage to property. High profile black activists have staged several protests outside the store, and Kennedy has regularly picketed there as well. Kennedy has a long history of fighting racial injustice.
He protested when a South Carolina county refused to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and he helped lobby to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome. Kennedy said Tuesday his congregation was elated by the judge's decision, which he said he had already discussed with local police in hopes of being able to visit and inspect the property this week. "It has been a long time coming," said Kennedy, who learned of the ruling this week. "We knew we had done everything right. ... The court knows that we have suffered." Kennedy said his congregation's numbers have decreased in recent years as some of its 200 members became fearful of reprisals from Klan members. Nazi and Confederate symbols have been tacked to the door of the double-wide mobile home where New Beginnings now meets, Kennedy said, and dead animals have been left at the building. "A lot of people became so afraid," Kennedy said. "I just told them that it is part of our faith to endure." Kennedy, who has previously said he would like to close the store and hold his church meetings there, declined Tuesday to detail his plans, saying only that he thought some parishioners would feel uncomfortable worshipping in the structure that once segregated moviegoers and now sells Klan-related materials. "I don't count anything out," Kennedy said. "I think that the church would do good in that building."
If you thought tots with tiaras were bad, how about tots with tattoos? Georgia mom Chuntera Napier says she couldn't tell her 10-year-old son Gaquan no when he asked to get a tattoo honoring his brother who had been killed by a teenage driver two years prior. Authorities called Napier's action illegal, arresting and charging her with misdemeanor cruelty and being a party to a crime, according to ABC NEWS' Atlanta affiliate WSBTV. "My son came to me and said, 'Mom, I want to get a tattoo with Malik on it, rest in peace. What do I say to a child who wants to remember his brother?" Napier said yes and took her son to a tattoo artist in Smyrna where he received a tattoo featuring his brother's name and former basketball jersey number. According to a 2010 law, however, "it shall be unlawful for any person to tattoo the body of any person under the age of 18, except for a physician or osteopath..." Napier says she was unaware of the law, which was shown to her by police. She bonded out of jail on Wednesday but is in disbelief that her consent wasn't enough to let her son get a tattoo.
Pepsi To Pay $3.1 Million In Racial Bias Case
Washington, DC(January 12, 2012) - Pepsi Beverages Co. will pay $3.1 million to settle federal charges of race discrimination for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants - even if they weren’t convicted of a crime. The settlement announced Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is part of a national government crackdown on hiring policies that can hurt blacks and Hispanics. EEOC officials said the company’s policy of not hiring workers with arrest records disproportionately excluded more than 300 black applicants. The policy barred applicants who had been arrested, but not convicted of a crime, and denied employment to others who were convicted of minor offenses. Using arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal if it’s irrelevant for the job, according to the EEOC, which enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws. The agency says such blanket policies can limit job opportunities for minorities with higher arrest and conviction rates than whites. The company has since adopted a new criminal background policy and plans to make jobs available to victims of the old policy if they are still interested in jobs at Pepsi and are qualified for the openings.
“I commend Pepsi’s willingness to reexamine its policy and modify it to ensure that unwarranted roadblocks to employment are removed,” EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien said in a statement. Pepsi Beverage spokesman Dave DeCecco said the company’s criminal background check policy has always been neutral and that the EEOC did not find any intentional discrimination. He said after the issue was first raised in 2006, the company worked with the EEOC to revise its background check process “to create a workplace that is as diverse and inclusive as possible.” “We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and we have been widely recognized for our efforts for decades,” DeCecco said. He said the new policy would take a more “individualized approach” in considering the applicant’s criminal history against the particular job being sought. Pepsi Beverages is PepsiCo’s beverage manufacturing, sales and distribution operating unit in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Under the settlement, the company will provide the EEOC with regular reports on its hiring practices and offer antidiscrimination training to its hiring personnel and managers. About 73 percent of major employers report that they always check on applicants’ criminal records, while 19 percent do so for select job candidates, according to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.
But increased federal scrutiny of such policies has led some companies to reevaluate their hiring process. Pamela Devata, a Chicago employment lawyer who has represented companies trying to comply with EEOC’s requirements, said there has been an uptick over the past year in EEOC charges over the use of background checks. “The EEOC has taken a very aggressive enforcement posture on the use of criminal background and criminal history,” Devata said. The commission held a special meeting on the topic last summer, and Devata said employers have been expecting the EEOC to issue more specific guidance. EEOC officials have said, for example, that an old drunken driving conviction may not be relevant to a clerical job, but a theft conviction may disqualify someone from working at a bank. Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis office, said the EEOC recommends that employers consider the nature and gravity of offenses, the time that has passed since conviction or completion of a sentence, and the nature of the job sought. “We hope that employers with unnecessarily broad criminal background check policies take note of this agreement and reassess their policies to ensure compliance” with antidiscrimination laws, Schmid said in a written statement.
MLK: DC Memorial to Broadway
Washington, DC(January 16, 2012) - On the National Mall in Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. is a towering, heroic figure carved in stone. On the Broadway stage, he's a living, breathing man who chain smokes, sips liquor and occasionally curses.
As Americans honor King's memory 44 years after he was assassinated, the image of the slain civil rights leader is evolving.
The new King memorial, which opened in August in the nation's capital, celebrates the ideals King espoused. Quotations from his speeches and writings conjure memories of his message, and a 30-foot-tall sculpture depicts King emerging as a "stone of hope" from a "mountain of despair," a design inspired by a line of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Some gaze upon this figure in silence. Some smile and pull out cell phone cameras. Others chat about how closely the statue resembles King. And some are moved to tears.
"Just all that this man did so that we could do anything and be anything," said Brandolyn Brown, 26, of Cheraw, S.C., who visited the memorial Saturday with her aunt and cousin.
"I know it took a lot more than him to get to where we are, but he was a big part of the movement."
Brown's aunt, Gloria Drake, 60, of Cheraw, S.C., said she remembers King almost as though he was Moses leading his people to the promised land, even when there were so many reasons to doubt things would get better in an era of segregated buses, schools and lunch counters.
"It was really just hostile," she said. "... And then we had a man that comes to tell us things are going to be better."
"Don't be mad, don't be angry," she recalled King's message. "Just come together in peace."
They said King's lasting legacy is the reality of equality and now having a black president. Drake said President Barack Obama reminds her of King with his "calmness" even in the face of anger.
Christine Redman, 37, visited the memorial with her husband, James Redman, 40, and their young son and daughter. She said they also feel a personal connection to King.
"We're a mixed family, and we know that without a lot of the trials that he went through to help end segregation and help the races to become one, we would not be able to have the freedoms to love who we want to love and be accepted in the world," she said.
Her son, 8-year-old Tyler, echoed his mom: "And be who we want to be."
The family tries to celebrate King's birthday by finding a way to serve others, they said. They were thinking about volunteering at a food pantry or donating toys for needy kids.
When he thinks of King, James Redman said he thinks of hope. Still, he said, King's legacy is lost on many.
"Dr. King was about love and about cooperation and compromise and working together," he said. "We don't see a whole lot of that in our leaders. We don't see a whole lot of it in our citizenry."
On Broadway, theatergoers are seeing a different version of King - one that is more man than legend.
The realism was refreshing for Donya Fairfax, who marveled after leaving a matinee of "The Mountaintop" that she had never really thought of King cursing, as actor Samuel L. Jackson does while portraying King in the play.
"He was human and not someone who was above fault," said the 48-year-old, visiting from Los Angeles. "He cursed. He did things that people do behind closed doors. He was regular."
For some, such a portrayal would seem to chip away at King's memory. But for Natalie Pertz, who at 20 has come to know King only through the gauzy view of history, it seemed a precious reminder that it is not beyond the reach of the ordinary and the flawed to effect change.
"It's important for people our age to see that he wasn't this saint-like figure," she said. "It's making you see that just because you're not perfect, it doesn't mean you can't do good."
For M.E. Ward, seeing an in-the-flesh incarnation of King brought her back more than 40 years, to when she watched his soaring speeches on the television. No matter how human he seemed on stage, she said, he still carried a godly gift.
"Still charismatic, still an orator, and an individual who was able to move people through his speech," she said, adding that King enlightened the world with a message "to be peaceful, to be patient, to be non-violent."
No matter how distant his presence is now, that legacy is still very relevant, she said, in what she called "a world of turmoil and violence, constant violence."
Do people idealize him too much?
"They don't do it enough!" said 64-year-old Elisabeth Carr, who cried through most of the play, feeling some of the pain she felt when the civil rights leader died. "The younger generation, they don't know anymore. ... They don't understand what they went through."
After traveling more than five hours with three friends - all of them African-American - to see Saturday's matinee, Mariko Tapper Taylor said seeing King in all his flaws did nothing to diminish his legacy.
"It's better to remember him as human," she said. "Who's flawless? It just shows that there's another side of him."
For her, the holiday remains very personal, Taylor said.
One of her friends, Dr. Donnita Scott, chimed in:
"If it wasn't for him we probably wouldn't be doctors," she said, nodding at the group, which includes two ER physicians and a psychiatrist.
Dr. Jan Thomas agreed:
"We're standing on that mountaintop."
Detroit officer charged in 7yr old Aiyana Jone's murder
A Detroit police officer was charged Tuesday in the slaying of a 7-year-old girl who was shot to death during a midnight raid on her home by a special unit that was being shadowed by a reality television show crew.
officer Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team, was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge after a nearly yearlong Michigan State Police investigation into the May 16, 2010, death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Aiyana was on a sofa on the first floor of a two-family home when Detroit police tossed a flash grenade through a window and burst through the front door. Detroit police have said Weekley's gun accidentally discharged after he was bumped or jostled by the girl's grandmother. A film crew with the A&E Network's "The First 48" crime reality cable TV show was shadowing Detroit police on the raid. The TV show tracks murder investigations during the first two days after a slaying, and Aiyana's death put a spotlight on the growing number of reality shows focusing on law enforcement. Prosecutors announced Tuesday that the TV show's principal photographer, Allison Howard, also was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. According to the indictment, Howard, of Brooklyn, N.Y.,is accused of lying to prosecutors about showing or giving video footage of the raid to "third parties." It did not specify who the third party was, but after the raid, an attorney for the family told reporters they had seen a few minutes of the video footage.
Further details about the charges against Howard were not immediately available. Assistant prosecutor Robert Moran told a judge on Tuesday that the investigation into the girl's death was delayed seven months "because of the perjury," but he did not elaborate. All Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy would say was that "impediments" surfaced during the investigation. She declined to provide more details. A judge entered a plea of not guilty for Howard on Tuesday at a court hearing. A message seeking comment was left with her Detroit-area attorney, Robert Harrison. A message seeking comment also was left after business hours Tuesday for an A&Espokeswoman. A judge also entered a plea of not guilty for Weekley at the afternoon court hearing. The involuntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. He also faces a charge of careless discharge of a firearm causing death. "He knows he was acting as a police officer in a dangerous mission," Weekley's lawyer, Steve Fishman, said of his client. "I don't think anybody realizes how their lives change," Fishman said of police officers involved in shootings. "People think they're androids and robots, and they're wrong."
Soon after Aiyana's slaying, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing banned reality television crews from tagging along with police. He also admonished then-Police Chief Warren Evans for not telling him that he was permitting TV cameras on raids. On May 18, 2010, an attorney representing the girl's family in a civil suit against the city and police department and told reporters that he viewed three to four minutes of video footage of the raid and that it showed a group of black-hooded officers approaching the house before the flash grenade was thrown through the window and the shot being fired. "We know there's only one shot," attorney Geoffrey Fieger said during the press conference last year with Aiyana's family. "It's vividly depicted in the videotape ... right after the throw and the explosion of the bomb. At that point the officers rush into the home." Fieger declined to say what footage he viewed and said he did not retain a copy. A message seeking comment from Fieger was not immediately returned Tuesday. The focus of the raid was Chauncey Owens, the fiance of Aiyana's aunt. Owens was wanted in the May 14, 2010, shooting death of 17-year-old Je'rean Blake outside a nearby convenience store. Owens was found in the separate upstairs apartment.
Owens pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder in Blake's death. On Tuesday, Worthy also announced that Charles Jones, the girl's father, had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Blake's slaying. Jones did not have an attorney on Tuesday and phone number for him and his family could not immediately be found. "It is alleged that after an argument, Jones accompanied Owens to the scene of the shooting and aided, abetted, and encouraged Owens during the murder of Blake," Worthy said in a statement. Charles Jones was expected to be arraigned Wednesday. A pretrial hearing is scheduled Friday for Weekley and Howard. Weekley was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond. Howard was required to come up with a $5,000 of a $50,000 bond to be released. "Our condolences remain with all affected by this tragedy. We must use this difficult moment to continue bringing our community and police department together," Bing said in a statement.
Brother of 14-year-old execution victim speaks out
Charles Stinney said he was never really as social as his older brother George. And he was amazed at how quickly George always finished his school work.
"It was such a short time [we had together]," Stinney told theGrio's Todd Johnson in an interview at his Brooklyn home. Charles is the brother of the youngest person executed in the US,George Junius Stinney, Jr. executed at the age of 14. He was convicted of killing two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944. The details surrounding his conviction and subsequent execution aren't pretty: No written confession exists, no witnesses were called on Stinney's behalf and a jury took some ten minutes to convict the young boy and sentence him to die. The two girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and seven-year-old Mary Emma Thames, had crossed paths with George and his sister Katherine Stinney the day the two girls would eventually go missing. Binnicker and Thames' bodies were later found in a ditch the following morning. "Everybody knew that he done--even before they had the trial they knew he done it," Lorraine Bailey said in a radio interview in June, 2004. (at the date of the interview, she was the only living sibling of Betty June Binnicker, one of the girls George Stinney was convicted of killing.) To this day, Charles Stinney and other members of his family still believe in George's innocence.
Saggy pants gains Georgia city $4,000
ALBANY, Ga. — Officials in Albany, Ga., say the city's ban on saggy pants has generated nearly $4,000 in fines in less than a year. Officials say the ordinance bans anyone from wearing pants or skirts more than three inches below the top of the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments. First-time offenders face a $25 fine. On further offenses, the fine can rise to $200. The ordinance also allows 40 hours of community service to be completed in lieu of fines. Albany is about 170 miles south of Atlanta.
Michigan State University racial tension
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The campus of Michigan State University has been rocked by recent acts of racial intimidation directed toward black students. The student body at the state's largest university made their voices very loudly heard on Tuesday night that these acts will not be tolerated. "The incident that really jump-started this movement was an incident at Akers Hall where someone wrote 'No Ni**ers, please' on a door of a young lady's room," said Mario Lemons, the president of the MSU Black Student Alliance (BSA). "The residence life staff told us not to talk about. Of course, someone took a picture of it and sent it to one of us." The picture set off a firestorm on campus and online, even starting the hashtag #MSUBlackUnity on Twitter. An estimated crowd of 1,000 MSUstudents of all races filed into Conrad Hall for a town hall meeting on the issue of racial intimidation on Tuesday night. "We put it on Facebook and Twitter and started a dialog about it," said Lemons. "From that came more stories of other people going through things on campus."These incidents included other racist messages being scrawled on doors; outright physical acts of racial intimidation; and the initial incident of a black doll being hung from a beaded noose in a chemistry lab shortly after the school year began in early September.
"There are people overtly saying the n-word," said Lemons, a senior from Detroit, majoring in education. "People telling other students that they don't belong here, saying that they only got here because of Affirmative Action. Very unwelcoming things done to black people on campus." The Akers Hall incident was directed toward Tinisha Sharp. Sharp was leaving her dorm room to go to chemistry class last week when she saw the slur written on the dry-erase board. Since she was the only black student living in the room with three other students, it was very clear the message was directed at her. "I couldn't believe my eyes," said Sharp, a sophomore from Detroit. "It was very surprising to see a message like that. I really thought this type of discrimination had been ceased by this time. But I guess not." Sharp moved that same day from Akers Hall to another dorm across campus. According to the MSU registrar, of the over 47,000 students that were enrolled at MSU in 2010, 3,175 -- or 6.7 percent -- were black. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon issued a statement, via e-mail, to the MSUstudents and faculty on Tuesday afternoon. It said that the university was investigating the matters and that she is concerned by these actions.
"The University supports free speech including the use of words that are offensive to most in our community," Simon said. "However, given the nature of these incidents, the MSU police were immediately contacted and the matter has been turned over to them to investigate, not only as a form of vandalism, but also as potential ethnic intimidation. I am personally awaiting the outcome of the police investigation." "In my many years at MSU, this rash of incidents at various parts of the campus in such a short timeframe is unmatched, is extraordinarily troubling and creates a legitimate concern that all of us must address." BSA feels that the University administration stood by and let these incidents happen. MSUhas no explicit policy on racial intimidation, and generally handles any incidents internally.
Civil Rights leader dies
Shuttlesworth, a former truck driver who studied religion at night, became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1953 and soon was an outspoken leader in the fight for racial equality. "My church was a beehive," Shuttlesworth once said. "I made the movement. I made the challenge. Birmingham was the citadel of segregation, and the people wanted to march." In his 1963 book "Why We Can't Wait," King called Shuttlesworth "one of the nation's the most courageous freedom fighters ... a wiry, energetic and indomitable man." He survived a 1956 bombing, an assault during a 1957 demonstration, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned fire hoses on demonstrators in 1963, and countless arrests. "I went to jail 30 or 40 times, not for fighting or stealing or drugs," Shuttlesworth told grade school students in 1997. "I went to jail for a good thing, trying to make a difference." He visited frequently and remained active in the movement in Alabama even after moving in 1961 to Cincinnati, where he was a pastor for most of the next 47 years. He moved back to Birmingham in February 2008 for rehabilitation after a mild stroke. That summer, the once-segregated city honored him with a four-day tribute and named its airport after him; his statue stands outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. And in November 2008, Shuttlesworth watched from a hospital bed as Sen. Barack Obama was elected the nation's first African-American president. The year before, Obama had pushed Shuttlesworth's wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during a commemoration of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. In the early 1960s, Shuttlesworth had invited King back to Birmingham.
Televised scenes of police dogs and fire hoses being turned on black marchers, including children, in spring 1963 helped the rest of the nation grasp the depth of racial animosity in the Deep South. "He marched into the jaws of death every day in Birmingham before we got there," Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador who was an aide to King, said Wednesday. Young said it was Shuttlesworth's fearlessness that persuaded King to take the fight for equality to Birmingham. "We shouldn't have been strong enough to take on Birmingham ... But God had a plan that was far better than our plan," Young said. "Fred didn't invite us to come to Birmingham. He told us we had to come." Referring to the city's notoriously racist safety commissioner, Shuttlesworth would tell followers, "We're telling ol' 'Bull' Connor right here tonight that we're on the march and we're not going to stop marching until we get our rights." According to a May 1963 New York Times profile of Shuttlesworth, Connor responded to the word Shuttlesworth had been injured by the spray of fire hoses by saying: "I'm sorry I missed it. ... I wish they'd carried him away in a hearse." Fellow civil rights pioneer the Rev. Joseph Lowery said Shuttlesworth a courageous and determined leader. "When God made Bull Connor, one of the real negative forces in this country, He was sure to make Fred Shuttlesworth." Lowery said Wednesday.
While King went on to international fame, Shuttlesworth was relatively little known outside Alabama. But he was a key figure in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary, "4 Little Girls," about the September 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black children. He also gained attention in Diane McWhorter's book "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002. Shuttlesworth was born March 18, 1922, near Montgomery and grew up in Birmingham. As a child, he knew he would either be a minister or a doctor and by 1943, he decided to enter the ministry. He began taking theological courses at night while working as a truck driver and cement worker during the day. He was licensed to preach in 1944 and ordained in 1948. It was 1954 when King, then a pastor in Montgomery, came to Birmingham to give a speech and asked to stop by Bethel Baptist and meet Shuttlesworth. Shuttlesworth already knew the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, who became a key aide to King, as they both attended Alabama State College, later known as Selma University. Meanwhile, in Montgomery, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in late 1955, prompting the boycott led by King that gave new life to the civil rights movement.
In January 1956, King's Montgomery home was bombed while he attended a rally. Eleven months later, on Christmas night 1956, 16 sticks of dynamite were detonated outside Shuttlesworth's bedroom as he slept at the Bethel Baptist parsonage. No one was injured in either bombing, although shards of glass and wood pierced Shuttleworth's coat and hat, which were hanging on a hook. The next day, Shuttlesworth led 250 people in a protest of segregation on buses in Birmingham. In 1957, he was beaten by a mob when he tried to enroll two of his children in an all-white school in Birmingham. In Cincinnati, Shuttlesworth left Revelation Baptist Church and became pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in 1966. He also founded a foundation to help low-income people make down payments on homes. In 2004, he was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for about three months. The troubled organization's board had suspended Shuttlesworth without giving a reason after he tried to fire a longtime official. He resigned, saying board members tried to micromanage the organization. He was 84 when he retired as the pastor of Greater New Light in 2006. "The best thing we can do is be a servant of God," he said in his final sermon. "It does good to stand up and serve others."
Black Famers settlement
The Court-ordered process of officially notifying African American farmers and their heirs about the 1.25-billion dollar "Pigford II" class action settlement is underway. African American farmers around the country who tried to file a claim in the 1999 Pigford Settlement but were unable to receive a decision on the merits because their claims were late are now receiving information about their legal rights and options under the settlement by postal mail.
The plaintiffs and USDA announced the proposed settlement in late 2010 and President Obama signed the bill authorizing payment. If approved by the Court, the settlement will resolve discrimination claims related to USDA farm loans and other benefits. Class members should visit www.BlackFarmerCase.com or call 1-877-810-8110 for complete information.
Class members eligible for the Settlement are African Americans who farmed or attempted to farm between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996; were prevented from applying for or were denied a USDA farm loan during that period or were given a loan with unfair terms; and who filed or attempted to file a late claim between October 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008 in the original Pigford case that was never considered because they tried to submit it after the late claim deadline.
Feds seek to close African-American health gap
Robertson, 52, finds free transportation for women who can't get to a screening or an oncologist. She hands out pamphlets. She comforts. She explains that cancer won't care that they don't have the time or money for treatment. "In the South, it's so different," Robertson says. "My mom didn't believe in going to doctors." As a volunteer for a program organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Alabama, Robertson is a diplomat, working to erase nagging health disparities between black Americans and all other Americans. Death rates for black Americans surpass those of Americans overall for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and homicide, the CDC reports. "Educationally, we're doing better. Economically, we're doing better, so why is it that this gap will not go away?" asks Michelle Gourdine, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and author of the newly released Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness. Reasons for the gap, according to Gourdine and other experts: •Poverty. Many black Americans have no health insurance and a trip to the doctor is a major expense, says Mona Fouad, director of the Minority Health and Disparities Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Take Renee Harris of Flomaton, Ala. The 41-year-old wife and mother has diabetes, high blood pressure and a benign breast lump doctors are watching. She has had her gallbladder removed. Harris can't swing her share of the health insurance offered through her security job at a paper mill, especially since her husband was laid off. "I just can't afford it right now," Harris says. •Fatalistic outlook. Leandris Liburd, director of the CDC's Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, says she is taken aback when she visits her hometown of Richmond, Va. "It's not uncommon for me to come upon people I grew up with who are in their early 50s who are double amputees" and who see this as the natural course of aging, Liburd says.
New efforts are attacking the gap. As part of last year's health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services put forth a plan in April to better understand and find solutions to health disparities. One element: expand data collected on hospital admissions to include the race, ethnicity and language of patients. "Health disparities … are often driven by the social conditions in which individuals live, work and play," according to the action plan. In May, the department announced $100 million in community grants for programs that promote healthier lifestyles among groups that experience more chronic illness. Separately, the CDC is targeting health problems that occur more frequently in African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities through a program called REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) that steers grants to local organizations. In Alabama's Black Belt, an area named for the color of its fertile soil but also associated with a high black population and poverty, the CDC and UAB are working to get more black women screened and treated for breast and cervical cancer. Staffers and volunteers are picked from community members who know everyone. Judy Compton, a retired second-grade teacher, holds weekly classes for two groups of eight to 10 women at Little Zion Tabernacle Holiness Church in rural Dixons Mills, Ala. She gives advice on transportation and on agencies that can help with low-cost care and screenings. Compton finds women ages 45 to 65 who are not getting regular health screenings by speaking at churches and social functions.
"Insurance is the biggest problem," she says. Jennifer Cole is the Lowndes County, Ala., coordinator. She teaches healthy eating and says she finds her students have limited access to low-cost nutritional foods. In Flint, Mich., the CDC and the Genesee County Health Department have tackled disparities in infant mortality by hosting tours that take new doctors to the poorest parts of Flint so they can see the barriers their patients face. "We forget, for instance, there are no stores in the neighborhood, and that may be why I'm not following your medical regimen for good vegetables," says Bettina Campbell, founder of a social service organization in Flint who works with the program. "If I'm not on time for your appointment, your staff may see it as me being willfully late, but in actuality, I had to take three buses." Robertson, the Montgomery volunteer, says some of the women she visited who were diagnosed with cancer came to rely on her for support. One showed Robertson her mastectomy scar. Another produced a bag of hair that had fallen out during treatment. "One thing I've learned: They don't want sympathy. They just want to get through it," Robertson says. "Sometimes, it's just listening, getting them transportation, getting the utility bills paid so they can begin to recover."
Black AIDS Institute and NAACP Say ’30 Years Is Enuf!’
As America marks a 30-year milestone in the fight against AIDS, communities around the world continue to be altered by the disease, which now knows no color or gender boundaries. A new report issued by the Black AIDS Institute and the NAACP seeks to explore the history of AIDS and how its shaped families, regions and even entire countries in three decades with the report “30 Years Is Enuf.” “No single report can possibly address all the various ramifications of the epidemic’s first 30 years, and this one certainly does not attempt to do so,” the Black AIDS Institute said in a statement posted on blackaids.org. “This report aims to provide a degree of context to our understanding of the epidemic, using the 30th anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on what we have experienced and to understand both the challenges and the opportunities that will face us in the future.” The report includes a historical overview of AIDS’ first 30 years and a report card grading the five most recent U.S. presidents’ response to the epidemic; HIV-themed essays from young people whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS in some way; news about scientific advances in the fight against the disease and findings from interviews with long-term survivors.
Citizens Bank Settles Claims of Racial Discrimination
The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a $3.6 million settlement agreement with two financial institutions to resolve allegations that they discriminated against African-Americans based on race by improperly favoring White residents in Michigan. The lawsuit against Citizens Republic Bancorp and its subsidiary Citizens Bank of Flint, Michigan, stemmed from allegations that the banks were expanding branches in White areas while closing them down in Black communities, decreasing access to their services. “There was a red line drawn around the city of Detroit,” Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general who heads the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said about the complaints that led to the lawsuit.
The settlement, which is subject to court approval, requires that the banks invest $1.625 million in Detroit in neighborhood stabilization by providing existing homeowners with matching grants of up to $5,000 to fund exterior improvements; $1.5 million in a special financing program to increase the amount of credit the banks extend to majority of African-American areas in Wayne County; and $500,000 for outreach to potential customers, promotion of their products and services and consumer financial education. “I am pleased that Citizens Bank approached us to ensure that their contributions were aligned with our neighborhood stabilization initiatives,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. “We welcome them to the growing number of partners who are working with us on behalf of our city and citizens.” he continued.Citizens Bank president and CEO Cathy Nash denies the allegations of discrimination but said that a court fight would have been too costly.
“We’ve been in negotiations for about two years. To fight in open court is very expensive. If we’re going to settle for millions of dollars, I’d rather actually put the money to good use. It just didn’t make sense for us,” she told The Detroit News. “I’m not too keen that I had to settle with the Department of Justice on allegations that I don’t agree with, but I’m going to make lemonade out of lemons. She concluded, “I don’t like it, but this is the right thing to do for the city.” Joyce Jones is a book author, associate director of Publications at Spelman College, and contributing editor to Heart & Soul magazine.
PITTSBURGH -- A community group protested Friday outside the City-County Building, asking Allegheny County authorities to do what the Justice Department and the FBI will not -- file charges against Pittsburgh police officers who beat and arrested a high school student. Jordan Miles was an 18-year-old senior at the city's Creative and Performing Arts High School when he was severely injured in a police altercation in Homewood in January 2010 The group said they don't just want the three officers to be taken off the job. "Now that the Justice Department has closed the case, we expect DA Zappala to do his job and prosecute the police to the fullest extent of the law," said Pete Schell, one of the rally organizers. On Wednesday, Hickton released a written statement that said there wasn't enough evidence to show the three officers broke the law or department regulations when they violently detained Miles. The officers have said Miles resisted arrest when they claim he was acting suspiciously and thought he had a gun, which the officers said turned out to be a soda bottle. Miles said he was accosted because he was a young black man in a high-crime area and denies having a bottle, much less a gun. District Judge Oscar Petite dismissed all charges against Miles, including a count of assault, at the preliminary hearing in March 2010. Schell said that even though federal authorities have reached a decision, they hope local officials will move forward. "The city has not released their investigation by OMI [Office of Municipal Investigations]. However, we do think there is plenty of evidence for the DA to go to trial with," Schell said. The APA said they delivered thousands of petition signatures to the DA last fall, calling for action in the case. They said they were revisiting that message on Friday. Now that the lengthy federal investigation has ended, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Ewing, Saldutti David Sisak will go back to work, although they won't return to Zone 5. All three officers have been off with pay since February 2010.
Pregnant women African Women discrimination
Pregnant women are being held hostage at the Eastern Regional Hospital at Koforidua, because they were unable to pay for the cost of medication, beamed to our living rooms by E-TV, an Accra-based private television station, in the course of the week, was a disturbing spectacle. Most Ghanaians obviously are of the view that as a nation, Ghana has gone past the spectacle of our women being caged at medical institutions, where they had gone to deliver our future leaders. This is because in the previous administration, a mechanism was put in place under which all pregnant women were to be offered free medical attention. That laudable social intervention policy was implemented because it was de-humanizing for our young mothers to be detained in medical institutions, until some philanthropic individuals and institutions could bail them out. In addition to free medication for our young mothers, the previous administration also conceived the idea of a National Health Insurance Scheme, under which all Ghanaians could access medical care, after paying something minimum into an insurance premium. Both policies served Ghana well.
Unfortunately, the two schemes appear to be collapsing and the dreaded Cash and Carry system, under which customers had to pay before being attended to in our various hospitals and health centres, is gradually creeping back into the body politic. It is certainly not the best means of catering for the welfare of Ghanaians. It could certainly not have been what Ghanaians bargained for when the administration of Professor John Evans Atta Mills took charge of Government House, promising a 'Better Ghana' agenda. The Chronicle is worried by the subtle attempt to dishonour noble plans and programmes bequeathed to this nation by the Kufuor administration, while policy makers grope in the dark for new direction. We are getting sick and tired of looking on in paralysis, as the nation gradually sinks into the abyss, and citizens being subjected to roof-top advertisement of a 'Better Ghana' that no one is able to appreciate. When the former University don went round the country campaigning for votes to lead the country, he entered into some kind of social contract with the people. The contract was simply crafted; Give me your vote and I would take care of your welfare.
The people have delivered on their side of the bargain. The former law lecturer now sits at the Castle as a Constitutional Head of State of this Republic. It is now up to Prof. J.E.A. Mills to deliver on his side of the contract. The Chronicle is inviting the Head of State to read the riot act to all administrators frustrating the implementation of laid down policies. Our pregnant women should no more be held hostages at various medical centres across the country. It is inhuman. It does not speak well of Ghana as a developing nation. Prof. Atta Mills cannot pride himself of leading a nation of proud Ghanaians, if our pregnant women are caged, for the simple reason that they are unable to afford their medical fees. Pregnant women are supposed to have free access to medication. That is not negotiable. The good old Professor is on notice to perform!
May 1, 2011) -- It was bad enough that a tornado obliterated Derrick Keef's house. Worse still was the heartbreaking scavenger hunt for his most priceless possessions strewn across the devastated neighborhood. His guns were in the ruins of a neighbor's home. A Christmas heirloom shared space in a ditch with broken glass and jagged nails. And his seven-year-old son's bike - one of the few toys he could salvage - was pinned under a car a block away. I've been going from lot to lot finding stuff," he said as he rifled through debris in Concord, Alabama, in search of a family photo album. "It's like CSI. crews combed the remains of houses and neighborhoods pulverized by the nation's deadliest tornado outbreak in nearly four decades, survivors were left trying to figure out how to put their lives back together. At least 297 were killed across six states in Wednesday's outbreak. President Barack Obama planned a trip to Tuscaloosa on Friday to view storm damage and meet Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and shattered families. Late Thursday, Obama signed a disaster declaration for the state to provide federal aid to those who seek it. Those who took shelter as the storms descended trickled back to their homes Thursday, ducking police roadblocks and fallen limbs and power lines to reclaim their belongings. They struggled with no electricity and little help from stretched-thin law enforcement. And they were frustrated by the near-constant presence of gawkers who drove by in search of a cellphone camera picture - or worse, a trinket to take home. "It's just devastation. I've never seen this," said Sen. Richard Shelby during a visit to storm-ravaged Tuscaloosa. "This is the worst tornado devastation I've ever seen." The storms did the brunt of their damage in Alabama. More than two-thirds of the victims lived there, and large cities bore the scars of half-mile-wide twisters that rumbled through. The high death toll seems surprising in the era of Doppler radar and precise satellite forecasts. But the storms were just too wide and too powerful to avoid a horrifying body count. As many as a million homes and businesses there were without power, and Bentley said 2,000 National Guard troops had been activated to help. The governors of Mississippi and Georgia also issued emergency declarations for parts of their states.
"We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it," Obama said. "And I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover and we will stand with you as you rebuild." The storms seemed to hone in on populated areas by hugging the interstate highways and obliterating neighborhoods and even entire towns from Tuscaloosa to Bristol, Va. Concord, a small town outside Birmingham, was so devastated that authorities closed it down to keep out rubberneckers. Randy Guyton's family, which lived in a stately home at the base of a hill in the center of Concord, rushed to the basement garage, piled into a Honda Ridgeline and listened to the roar as the twister devoured the house in seconds. Afterward, they saw outside through the shards of their home and scrambled out. "The whole house caved in on top of that car," he said. "Other than my boy screaming to the Lord to save us, being in that car is what saved us." Alabama emergency management officials in a news release early Friday said the state had 210 confirmed deaths. There were 33 deaths in Mississippi, 33 in Tennessee, 15 in Georgia, five in Virginia and one in Kentucky. Hundreds if not thousands of people were injured - 800 in Tuscaloosa alone.
The loss of life is the greatest from an outbreak of U.S. tornadoes since April 1974, when the weather service said 315 people were killed by a storm that swept across 13 Southern and Midwestern states. Some of the worst damage was in Tuscaloosa, a city of more than 83,000 that is home to the University of Alabama. The storms destroyed the city's emergency management center, so the school's Bryant-Denny Stadium was turned into a makeshift one. School officials said two students were killed, though they did not say how they died. Finals were canceled and commencement was postponed. Shaylyndrea Jones, 22, had expected to graduate from the University of Alabama this weekend with a degree in sports science. Instead, she spent Thursday moving out of her ruined apartment, where she rode out the storm huddled in a hallway. But graduation suddenly isn't so important - she's just thankful she and her roommates survived the night. "It was the scariest thing I've been through," she said. "We were saying our prayers as it was coming down the street." Police used bullhorns to tell people not to cross the tape to a neighborhood they were searching. On the other side, people were walking over glass, through pools of water, endless piles of debris and smashed cars. The city imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for Thursday and an 8 p.m. limit for Friday.