The Tuesday March 1 primary election in Jefferson County saw a record number of African Americans run in judicial races. Of the 26 Democrat candidates for the bench, 21 or 81 percent, were Black, according to a review of polling data. “As far as 10 or 15 years ago you didn’t have that many,” said Birmingham lawyer Emory Anthony, who is president of the Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council, a political action group. “You have young lawyers who are a little bit more aggressive than lawyers have been in the past . . . who believe they are capable of being elected a judge in Jefferson County.” The historic number of Black candidates ran for circuit court judge and district court judge seats in both the Birmingham and Bessemer Divisions. Winners and those who advance in April runoff elections, face Republican opponents in the November general elections. Primary winners in the Birmingham circuit court judge races included Javan Patton, Place 4; Linda Hall, Place 11; Elisabeth French, Place 17; Tamara Harris Johnson, Place 22; Agnes Chappell, Place 23 and Everett Wess, Place 26. In other races of local note, Lynniece Oliver-Washington won the district attorney, 10th Judicial Circuit Bessemer primary race while Raymond L. Johnson Jr. lost a bid to become district attorney in the 10th Circuit, Jefferson County primary race. In the presidential races, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton captured the Democratic primary with 79 percent of the vote and businessman Donald Trump won the Republican primary with 44 percent. Clinton overwhelmingly won the Black vote with nine in 10 African Americans in Alabama supporting her over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Toni Young, a young Black woman, has filed a discrimination lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court, alleging she was ordered to sit in the back of a Greyhound bus. Young claims she left San Franciscon on the bus to attend a family event in Sacramento, but she had to transfer to another bus in Oakland and that’s when a problem occurred. She says the bus driver ordered her to give up a seat in the front because he was expecting an older passenger to board in Sacramento. She reportedly told him she was getting off in Sacramento. But she decided to comply and before she could get up, the driver ordered her off the bus and called her a racial slur. The civil rights complaint seeks punitive damages for what Young describes as “psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety,” according to the Griot.
The Donald Trump presidential campaign is facing renewed scrutiny as 30 Black college students from Valdosta State University were asked to leave a rally for Trump on Super Tuesday, March 1. This comes just days after Trump was criticized for failing to deny an endorsement by the Klu Klux Klan’s David Duke. According to multiple news agencies, the Republican candidate held a rally at Valdosta, which is in southern Georgia. But reportedly before the candidate got up to speak, his security staff asked that the 30 Black students waiting in the back leave the premises. They were reportedly quietly sitting at the top of the bleachers, and they have told media outlets that they were not there to protest, but to listen. According the national newspaper USA Today, the sight of students being forcibly removed from the rally has had a strong impact on the atmosphere at the college campus. Those who were being forced to leave “were visibly upset, [and] being led outside by law enforcement officials created a stir at a university that was a White-only campus until 1963.” No reason was given for the students being asked to leave. One student, Tahjila Davis, told USA Today that, “We didn’t plan to do anything. They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.” Reportedly crying, she added, “I just don’t know why they would do something like that … I have not experienced any racism on this campus until now.” Trump was later asked about the incident and claimed he knew nothing about it.
A man walking his dog near a northeast Atlanta recording studio thought he heard fireworks last Friday night, March 4. But it turned out the sound was actually gunfire, and after the incident ended, at least one man was dead. The deceased has been identified as an up-and-coming rapper in Atlanta—Bankroll Fresh. The 28 year old was reportedly gunned down inside the recording studio by automatic weapons. “It was rapid fire,” said Paul Springer, who had been walking his dog near the scene, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC). “After a while, that quieted down, then there was a loud boom that I recognized as gunfire and machine guns.” Dozens of shots were reportedly fired, with as many as a dozen hitting the rapper. Police responded to the scene —the Steet Execs Studio on Defoor Place—after 11 p.m. to find shell casings scattered around the area. According to the AJC, the police say that when they arrived on the scene, people scattered in different directions. Someone reportedly loaded the rapper, whose real name is Trentavious White, in a car and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A motive was unclear. According to the AJC, Friday night’s incident was the fifth involving recording studios in that area of the city in the last two years.
There’s a lot of negative news about rappers, but rapper Lil Wayne just made the skies a lot friendlier for some military men at an Indiana airport. The rapper had the pilot of the Gulfstream jet he was on stop its engines so he could disembark and greet the 30 or so servicemen who had just gotten off a military plane, according to a Facebook user who photographed the meeting. Amanda Cooper Lickliter wrote that Lil Wayne and his crew shook the hands of all the personnel. “There was no press and no one to show off for … just a seemingly genuine act of respect,” she wrote. “I know a lot of controversy surrounds him but, today, I was impressed.”
Child advocacy groups demanded reform of Baltimore public school policies, after city police began conducting a criminal investigation Thursday March 3 into a cellphone video showing an officer slapping and kicking a young man inside a school. The male officer, identified by his lawyer as 44-year-old Anthony C. Spence, as well as a female officer shown standing by in the eight-second clip and Baltimore School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin have all been placed on paid administrative leave pending internal and external investigations into the March 1 incident at REACH Partnership School. Baltimore is the only city in the state whose school district has its own police force, separate from municipal police. The school system asked city police to conduct a criminal investigation, which city police Lt. Jarron Jackson said was in the early stages last Thursday. Attorney Mike Davey told The Baltimore Sun that his client, Spence, thought the boy was trespassing on school grounds and questioned him. Davey said he could not go into specifics because of the ongoing investigation.
Stevie J and Mimi Faust, two cast members of “Love & Hip Hop” reportedly escaped death over the weekend of Feb. 27 when automatic gunfire broke out at their hotel. It appears that some people were after Stevie J after a disagreement at a club that carried over to the Hyatt Place Hotel in Charlotte during the CIAA basketball tournament. Stevie J and Mimi were reportedly hanging out at a nightspot called Club Empire. Multiple media sources say that witnesses report that Stevie J got into a war of words with some other patrons of the club. “They had a lot of friends. Before you know it, a bunch of people jumped Stevie and Mimi,” the witness reportedly told WBTV. The two apparently managed to get out of the club with only minor injuries. Mimi’s clothes were reportedly ripped. Allegedly, the people that were upset with the pair found out what hotel they were staying at and sprayed it and a van with bullets from an automatic weapon. One witness, Gary Contes, told WBTV. No one was reported hurt.
Earl Wolff, a Jacksonville Jaguars player, was apparently the victim of a kidnapping in Fayetteville, according to CBS News. Wolff, who grew up in nearby Raeford, was reportedly abducted by a group of men and later released unharmed south of Fayetteville. “We don’t know how long he was kidnapped, but it was a short period of time, said Fayetteville Police spokesperson Antoine Kinkaid. According to the CBS story, Wolff was fairly shaken up. The Fayetteville Observer reports that a man has been arrested in the case and has been charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping, conspiracy, larceny, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of marijuana. Bail was set at $156,000.
An 18-year-old from Memphis is being charged with murder, after police say she shot and killed a man and his pregnant girlfriend during an altercation that reportedly was over weave hair. In Tennessee, an unborn child past the first trimester is considered a human being, thus the triple-murder charge, Action News 5 reports that the families of E.J. Tate and Edwina Thomas are outraged over the senseless deaths of the couple. Police believe Shelby Isaac, 18, committed the murders during a robbery of bundles of Brazilian hair valued at $250 a piece. Tate operated a hair shop with his cousin, the Virgin Hair U.S. store. The two were robbed, say police, by Isaac and her accomplice, Victoria Seay. Isaac had apparently bought products from Tate before without incident. But this time, Isaac reportedly shot Tate and Thomas while they were sitting in their vehicle, and then went through Tate’s pockets as he lay in his car in a pool of blood. Seay reportedly acted as the driver of the getaway car and is being charged as an accessory, “They didn’t have to do this,” lamented Tate’s father. “If they wanted hair, I’m pretty sure he would have said ‘you can have the hair. My life is not worth it’.”
A Texas trooper indicted over his arrest of a Black woman who was later found dead in a jail, has been formally fired, three months after his bosses first announced they would do so, state officials said Wednesday, March 2. Former Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia can still appeal the decision to fire him, which came after a grand jury indicted him on a perjury charge in December. He is accused of lying about his July 2015 arrest of Sandra Bland and their confrontational traffic stop that was caught on dashcam video. Encinia met last month with Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, but their conversation gave the agency leader no reason “to alter my preliminary decision,” according to a termination letter signed by Encinia on March 2. Encinia’s attorney, Larkin Eakin, has previously called the indictment unjustified and said Encinia was looking out for his own safety. Bland’s family sued after the 28-year-old Black woman died last summer in jail following her arrest on the outskirts of Houston. Her death was ruled a suicide. The case provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement, with protesters linking Bland to other Black suspects who died in confrontations with police or while in police custody. Encinia had been on paid desk duty since Bland’s arrest and remained on the payroll after McCraw announced in December that the agency would begin the process of firing him. He is now no longer a paid employee and will remain that way, even if he appeals his dismissal to the state’s Public Safety Commission, Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said.
Flavor Flav, once a member of the legenary hip hop group Public Enemy, seems to have a lot of talents. In addition to rapping, he’s been a reality television star, and tried to operate a chicken and waffles restaurant in Las Vegas as well. Now he’s trying his hand at delivering the weather “The weather’s gonna be kind of good today, you know what I’m saying,” he could be heard reporting as he pointed to the weather map in Salt Lake City on Fox 13. The station gave the rapper his shot at the job, as he informed the citizens of Salt Lake City what they could expect for coming days. “I’m here to bring you the weather. Not only for the good, but for the better,” he quipped as he bounced around Flavor Flav style. “Now check this out … you got 56 degrees, you know what I’m saying?” He messed up one local city’s name, saying “Echo” instead of “Elko.” At the end of his weather report, he admitted, “I’m not really a weather person … I’m a rapper.” Flavor Flav was reportedly in Salt Lake City visiting his brother, who works as athletic director at an area high school. He didn’t limit his services to delivering the weather. He also helped the news crew find a home for a dog named Patch.
A seventh grader at West End Christian School in Hopewell was reportedly told to cut his dreadlocks, if he wanted to continue to attend the school. Isaah Freeman is just 13 and has reportedly sported dreadlocks since he was in the third grade. Even though he pulls his hair back, he was still told that his hair was unacceptable, according to the Griot. Freeman’s father has pulled his son out of the school. “I think it’s a form of not being culturally aware, a form of stereotyping,” Shawn Freeman, the father, said. “As he gets older, people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger. It’s an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young Black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity.”
Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.