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Across Black America week of Sept. 24



At least one Stockton police officer has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly striking a teenager for refusing to move off a street. A video has surfaced showing a Black teen being struck by the officer with his baton during a struggle that ensued after the 16 year old refused to comply with the police officer’s request. On the video, the policeman can be heard telling the teen to stop resisting before the cop strikes him with both ends of the baton. Right after the officer is seen trying to control the young man, several other officers show up and all work to wrestle the teen to the ground, cuff and arrest him. The teen was cited for jaywalking and released to his mother. He was reportedly unhurt.


The legendary Muhammad Ali was honored last week with the first-ever Grawemeyer Spirit Award by the University of Louisville. The 73-year-old former boxing champ continues to battle Parkinson’s Disease, but he did attend the presentation, although he did not speak. Louisville is his hometown. His popularity remains in full effect; the crowd in attendance chanted “Ali, Ali, Ali” as he entered the room. His wife, Lonnie, spoke for the former pugilist. “In accepting this award, we are reminded that Muhammad’s life continues to inspire generations of people to discover and cultivate their own path to greatness and to use their talents and successes to empower others in communities all over the world,” she said.


A Baltimore teen has been charged with attempted murder after taking part in a brawl in a cafeteria. A video of the fight shows the teen repeatedly punching his football teammate in the face and then stomping on his head when the victim fell to the floor. Once the fight was cleared, the victim was on the floor having a seizure while lying in a pool of his own blood. He was hospitalized and required surgery. The video of the fight went viral within hours. The 17-year-old allegedly responsible for the attack has been denied bail. His attorney believes the charges would be less, if the video hadn’t gone viral.


A Boston transit police officer has been put on administrative duty after video surfaced that appears to show him repeatedly striking a woman. According to the Boston Globe, the video shows the cop raising his baton and hitting the woman aboard a MBTA bus. He allegedly pushes her into a seat, but then as he walks away, she reportedly lunges at him. Transit police say that the officer approached the woman after a vendor at a stop pointed her out as having stolen an item. Allegedly, the woman threw rubbing alcohol in the officer’s face when he tried to talk to her. The person who recorded the video said the officer did not try to diffuse the situation. “He ran up to her and started barking in her face,” the witness said. “He didn’t do anything to de-escalate the situation or calm her down. He escalated the situation.”

Hakim Khalfani, the writer and director of “Forgiveness,” won the HBO Best Feature Film award at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival last month. Khalfani is a graduate of Morehouse College, where Spike Lee is an alumni. Lee was the guest speaker at the director’s brunch during the festival. Since winning the prestigious award, Khalfani has entered talks with the show VICE for a drama series involving Mikhi Pfiefer and Wood Harris.


According to the Associated Press, a former University of Mississippi student who admitted helping place a noose on a statue of a civil rights activist is going to prison. A federal judge sentenced Graeme Phillip Harris to six months in prison beginning Jan. 4. During the hearing in Oxford last week, he also ordered Harris to serve 12 months of supervised release. Harris’ lawyer argued he didn’t deserve jail time. Harris pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor charge of using a threat of force to intimidate African American students and employees. Prosecutors say he and two other former students placed a noose on the statue of James Meredith, a Black man who integrated Ole Miss amid rioting in 1962. A second man, Austin Reed Edenfield, had been scheduled to plead guilty sometime this month. The third former student has not been charged.

New York

The National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) has added Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee to its roster of speakers for the 29th annual NAMIC Conference. A two-day symposium held in conjunction with the television industry’s Diversity Week, the NAMIC Conference takes place Sept. 29-30 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Lee’s keynote presentation will highlight the NAMIC Conference general session scheduled for Sept. 30. “For more than two decades, Spike Lee has demonstrated his commitment to advocating for diversity on screen and behind the camera,” said Eglon E. Simons, president and CEO of NAMIC. “An icon within the entertainment industry, NAMIC is honored to have Mr. Lee share his insight and vast experience at this year’s conference.” Lee’s next feature, “Chiraq,” is scheduled for release later this year. An award-winning filmmaker recognized by numerous industry organizations and film festivals, Lee earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 1990 for “Do The Right Thing.” Lee received a second Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, Features for “4 Little Girls,” the critically acclaimed documentary of the Civil Rights-era bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Al.  Lee was also honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a 2015 Governors Award. Currently, Lee serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at New York University. Online registration is available at

South Carolina

Federal agents have arrested Joey Meek, a known associate of murder suspect Dylan Roof, as an alleged accomplice to Roof. Meek is facing federal charges of lying to agents and concealing information. According to multiple news sources, Meek said he didn’t know details about Roof’s plans to shoot church members at the Charleston church, but the FBI says he did. Apparently, Roof was living with Meek prior to the June 17 killing of nine Black people during Bible study at the A.M.E. church.


Scott Lattin of Whitney has been arrested for vandalizing his own truck but claiming BlackLivesMatter members did it. Police say Lattin did the damage himself, which included slashing the seats and spray-painting “Black Lives Matter” across the vehicle, for attention and to collect insurance money. Lattin claimed his truck was attacked because he supports the police. But after the police noticed the video officers took was different from the damage he initially reported, they became suspicious. Police Chief Chris Bentley called the incident “very disturbing,” and asked supporters to stop sending the Lattin family money. Lattin had set up a GoFundMe account that reportedly reached nearly $6,000 in donations, though it appears the page has been since taken down. The chief said Lattin has admitted he did it for insurance purposes, and is expected to face additional charges.


About 20 high school students from Christianburg were suspended last week for taking part in a rally that was protesting a new policy banning cars bearing Confederate flags. Some were also suspended for wearing clothing displaying the Confederate flag. “I feel like I should have the right to wear whatever I want, and I’m standing up for this,” said Houston Miller, the senior who allegedly organized the rally. The dress code at the school prohibits students from wearing clothing that reflects adversely on people because of race, gender or other factors. A new policy prohibits students from having Confederate symbols on their vehicles in the parking lot. Brenda Drake of the area’s school board said the school values the students’ First Amendment rights but has to maintain a safe and orderly environment. She said “incidents of racial tension” at the school have made the ban necessary.


According to the Huffington Post, a Seattle police officer—Cynthia Whitlatch—was fired last week for showing racial bias and a lack of remorse when she “improperly arrested” a 69-year-old Black man who was using a golf club as a cane. “I was disappointed by your failure during your Loudermill hearing to take any responsibility, or show any understanding that your conduct at issue here was inappropriate,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in her decision. “In particular, when I asked you what, if anything you would do differently in retrospect, you stated that you would do nothing differently. Your inability to understand, even in hindsight, that your behavior was unnecessarily  the community’s confidence in this police service, offers me no pathway to confidence that your behavior will improve or change. Without this ability to learn from your mistakes, understand how you can improve and do better, and recognize your own errors, you are unable to effectively function as an officer.”

‘Celebrate’ was the theme of the 27th Annual African American Heritage Festival in Staunton last week. “It’s so people know our struggles,” said festival-goer Melanie Jones to area newspaper The News Leader. About a thousand people walked around the event held at Gypsy Hill Park, enjoying arts and crafts, music, food and activities. “It reminds us where we came from and introduces the younger generation to their heritage,” added Pastor Elaine Rose. “It brings us together for a common good.” The largest of its kind in the state, the annual event is hosted by a non-profit, volunteer group and receives support from the Staunton Recreation and Parks Department and the Staunton City Tourism Department.


Presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump said on “The Bill O’Reilly Show” last week that the BlackLivesMatter campaign is “trouble.” He said, “I think they’re trouble. I think they’re looking for trouble. I looked at a couple of the people that were interviewed from the group. I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police, and what should be done to them. And that was not good. And I think it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.”