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Across Black America week of March 23, 2016



The Grio reports that a high school student has started a movement to stop boys from wearing saggy pants. “Seeing a bunch of boys sagging at school and in public … I was just so disgusted by it that I wished that somebody or something would make them change,” said Morgan McCane, 15. So her mother told her that she should start a movement, which inspired the teen to create Girls Against Boys Sagging (GABS). The movement is actually targeted at women and girls rather than at men and boys, Morgan said. “I feel like women can change men’s minds most,” she explained. Her goal is to get girls to wear the shirts to let boys know that they do not approve of their fashion choices. Her father, Howard McCane, said that he supports the message his daughter is trying to spread. “If you go ahead and start making some good choices about how you carry yourself,” he said. “Then maybe as you go forward, you won’t project such a negative connotation to people. I’m really so pleased as a father to be able to have a daughter who really wants to step up and make some type of movement to try to change something.”


Protestors were once again successful in disrupting a Donald Trump rally, this time right outside of Phoenix last weekend. This time protestors used their vehicles to block the road leading to the site of Trump’s rally, as he continues his bid to gain enough caucus votes to earn the Republican nomination for president of the United States. Only a few arrests were made. However, the protesters were able to block the road for two hours. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was supposed to speak along with Trump at a site in Fountain Hills. Arpaio has been a controversial figure for years because of his adamant policies against Latin American immigrants. The largely peaceful protesters held banners reading “Dump Trump,” “Must Stop Trump” and “Trump is Hate” as traffic behind them came to a standstill and drivers honked their horns in frustration. Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said officers asked the protesters to move their vehicles, and those that didn’t comply had their cars/trucks etc. forcibly removed with tow trucks. Three protesters tied themselves to their cars to delay getting towed. They were arrested after officers cut them loose, and two vehicles were towed, Enriquez told NBC News. The situation happened just a week after protestors in Chicago forced the presidential candidate to cancel a rally at the University of Chicago.


That same day—March 19—a protestor at a Trump rally is Tucson was punched and kicked by a Trump supporter as he was being led out of the rally there. “We had to get involved in that,” Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan told news reporters. Dugan said that at the event, a man dressed in an American flag shirt and holding a sign showing Trump’s face that said “Bad for America” was pulled to the ground by someone in the stands. He was punched and kicked at least once before police separated the two. Police handcuffed the one who attacked the protestor and took him outside. No word whether he was formally arrested or charged. Trump continues to deny that his rhetoric is promoting supporters to react violently to those who oppose him.


Ralph David Abernathy III, son of civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy, died last week two days before he  would have turned 57. He was a former state senator. He died from complications affiliated to colon cancer. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Rev. Al Sharpton said that he felt a great loss with Abernathy’s passing. “He was my friend and brother, an activist in the truest sense of the word, and the bearer of the flame of his father, who co-piloted the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He would often come and speak at National Action Network, and we spent many hours talking. Even as he suffered with cancer throughout the last several months, we shared advice and a close relationship. He was a model for continuing the work in our generation and of the generations past. He will be missed. He will be mourned. He will be loved. He was the son of a true giant who became a giant in his own right.”


Chicago blues musician Daryl Davis is determined to win over racists with friendship and kindness, and he says that his method has already convinced 25 men to leave the KKK. The documentary “Accidental Courtesy” premiered at the SXSW festival last week and follows his journey, even showing Davis standing alongside people in white robes and hoods. “I try to bring out the humanity in people,” he told The Daily Beast. “We all are human beings at the end of the day.” Davis said that his journey began in 1983, when he played a country and western music set in an all-White lounge. A White man approached him and said that he had never heard a Black man play as well as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Davis responded by saying that he knew Lewis and that Lewis had been trained by Black men. “He was fascinated,” Davis said. “But he didn’t believe me. Then, he told me he was a Klansman.” Eventually, the man, Roger Kelly, an Imperial Wizard and the KKK’s leader in Maryland, struck up a friendship with Davis that ultimately led to him giving up his role in the Klan and handing his robes over to Davis. Davis kept the robes, along with about 20 others from other men that he has successfully reached out to as proof that what he is doing is having an effect.


A 47-year-old man claims he is allergic to Black people. Andy Benavidez reportedly used racial slurs during an altercation in Iowa City when he attacked a Black man. Police say he was wearing a surgical mask at the time of the assault. According to CBS News, police say Benavidez said he wore the mask so that “he wouldn’t catch germs from Black people.” He has been charged with assault in violation of individual rights, which is a hate crime under Iowa law.


Victor Holt and Reginald Windham have been indicted in a case involving a Black teen who died while in police custody. They were each charged with one count of second-degree official misconduct in the death of Gynnya McMillen, 16. Medical examiners said that the teenage girl died in her sleep from a rare, previously undetected genetic disorder that caused an irregular heartbeat while she was being held in detention at a state facility. However, the investigation concluded that the two officers failed to conduct regular bed checks on McMillen and then reportedly falsified records relating to the checks. Windham has been fired. Both face 90 days of jail time. Four other staffers have been placed on special investigative leave or were suspended or resigned as a result of the investigation.


A story is developing in Prince George County where a Black police officer was reportedly shot and killed by another officer in what is being called a bizarre case of “friendly fire.” Jacai Colson died, says Police Chief Hank Stawinski, ” by way of an act that was perhaps brought on by the ‘heat of the moment.’ The shot that struck and killed Detective Colson was deliberately aimed at him by another police officer. It’s another tragic dimension to the unfolding story.” The chief added that the situation was chaotic and that he does not believe any malice was involved. Colson was reportedly in plain clothes without a bulletproof vest, when he jumped out of his car on Sunday, March 13 to confront a gunman outside of a police station. Three officers shot at the assailant and Colson was hit. The alleged gunman, Michael Ford, was taken into custody and is being held without bond.


Kashawn Harris, a DJ known as DJ Boogy, has allegedly been fined for playing “Fk the Police” while police officers cleared out an overcrowded bar. It happened at Shenanigan’s Pub in Westfield. Harris was charged with disorderly conduct. According to the police report, what Harris did is considered “an intentional act by the DJ to incite the crowd, which showed a reckless disregard for public safety.” Harris claims he didn’t play the N.W.A. song, that is was cued up before the police arrived. The fine was $50. But when word got out about the fine, Harris received notes from people on his social media that they would pay the fine for him.


Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said last week (Wednesday, March 16) that he is not going to gather a grand jury to consider the indictment of two Minneapolis police officers who reportedly shot and killed 24-year-old Black man Jamar Clark last November. Freeman told reporters that he will make the determination whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge the cops involved. “The accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome,” Freeman said. “We are Hennepin County will not use a grand jury in the Jamar Clark case.” While some witnesses have claimed that Clark was already on the ground and handcuffed when he was shot, others say he was trying to get a police officer’s gun. Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said in a statement that she respected the “challenging decision” made by Freeman. “The legal standards and thresholds remain the same, whether this case is looked at by a grand jury or reviewed by the county attorney,” she said. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing how the city of Minneapolis responded to the protests after the shooting.


According to the Huffington Post, a high school coach is facing an investigation after he allegedly told Black student athletes that he would hang them by their toes from a tree if they didn’t behave. Todd Campbell was an assistant coach at Centennial High School in Frisco. He resigned after about 50 parents and other community members approached the school’s principal voicing their concern. Reportedly, Campbell made those remarks as well as other racially charged comments. According to documents obtained by the Dallas Morning News, students told their parents and school administrators how Campbell would say things only around Black students. One said the coach told them they ran fast because they eat fried chicken and drink Kool-Aid. School administrators told the News that no disciplinary action will be taken until the investigation is complete.


Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network founder and president, was presented the Mandela Legacy Hope, Success and Empowerment Award at the Canadian Museum of History on Saturday, March 19 in Ottawa, Canada. Rev. Sharpton and Nelson Mandela met many times and worked alongside each other to make the world a more just place. The award was presented by the former South African president’s daughters, her excellency, Zindzi Mandela, ambassador of South Africa in Denmark, and her excellency Zenani Mandela, ambassador of South Africa in Argentina. Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela, also was part of the presentation. “Nelson Mandela is an icon who changed the course of the world and set an example for generations of activists like myself. Mandela inspired us to be better in every way, to transcend the pettiness that so often dominates our politics and to aspire to true equality. To receive this award—in his name and from his family—is one of the highest honors I’ve received,” Rev. Sharpton said. “We are honored to be recognizing Rev. Al Sharpton, a renowned civil rights mover and shaker and it is a pleasure to be recognizing him on the very same stage that Nelson Mandela received his honorary Canadian citizenship in 2001,” said Gwen Madiba, ambassador of the Nelson Mandela Legacy in Canada and the USA.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya