Michael Sabbie, an inmate at the privately operated Bi State Jail in Texarkana, died in his cell in July 2015. The medical examiner declared that Sabbie, 35, a father of four, died of “natural” causes related to heart muscle damage, according to the Huffington Post. However, a video recently released shows there may be more to the story of Sabbie’s death who was in custody at the jail for about 48 hours. In the video, several corrections officers pile on top of Sabbie, who tells them that he can’t breathe. A corrections officer sprays him in the face with pepper spray while other officers hold him down. Eventually, they take him to a staff nurse, who had seen him the previous day for complaints about trouble breathing. Sabbie was then taken back to his jail cell, where he collapsed and died overnight. According to the Post, the Justice Department informed Sabbie’s wife in a letter on Aug. 1 that “after careful consideration,” the department found insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone.
In a petition filed Oct. 3 with the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Los Angeles Chapter of All of Us or None is seeking to compel Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and the county’s registrar, Dean Logan, to allow eligible voters in county jail to register to vote without having to submit an “inmate request form.” Inmate request forms often take months to process, so the requirement effectively disenfranchises many otherwise-eligible voters. Proponents of the request say there is no legitimate justification for the requirement, and election forms should be freely available to all eligible voters, claim officials at the A New Way of Life organization. Most people in county jail retain the right to vote. In practice, however, very few of them register to vote, mainly because of the widespread misconception that one cannot vote while in jail, according to a press release from the group. Says All of Us or None Community Organizer Amber Rose Howard: “Sheriff McDonnell and Respondent Logan have taken very little initiative to correct this misperception, despite repeated advocacy by concerned groups.” The inmate request form only adds to the misconception, say the organizations. When election materias are not immediately available upon request, it further reinforces the idea that people in jail cannot vote.
“Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge and Me” is set to premiere on Oct. 15 on Lifetime, but if Dr. Dre has his way, it won’t air. The millionaire and founding member of N.W.A. has thrown down a gauntlet against Sony Pictures, saying that if the biopic on singer Michel’le airs showing him abusing her, he will sue. Dre’s legal team fired off a cease-and-desist letter against the entertainment conglomerate in which he flatly denies ever abusing Michel’le. According to news sources, the letter makes reference to the fact that the two dated nearly 30 years ago and that Michel’le never spoke about the alleged abuse until a 2013 reunion for the reality show “R&B Divas,” where she said that the producer broke her nose. Dr. Dre also notes that the singer never sought medical treatment nor filed a police report.
District of Columbia
In its 45th year, Howard University’s School of Communications is set to formally rename itself after media mogul Cathy Hughes, according to the Hilltop. An undisclosed source from Howard’s Department of Development and Alumni Relations reportedly told the school’s student newsapaper, the Hilltop, that Hughes donated a gift of $4 million to the campus. Hughes, chairperson and secretary of Radio One, served as general manager at Howard’s Radio station, WHUR, in the 1970s. She’s credited with creating the “quiet storm” format along with fellow radio personality Melvin Lindsey. Hughes founded Radio One in 1980, along with then-husband Dewey Hughes. Today, Radio One is the largest African-American owned and targeted multi-media company in the United States. Radio One, which celebrated 36 years on Oct. 3, is the parent company of Interactive One, which owns the media conglomerate NewsOne.
McIntosh County Sheriff’s Deputy Brant Gaither and another local officer were caught swapping racist and misogynistic jokes on Facebook, and allegedly making plans to pull over Black drivers, reports the Daily Mail. Internal affairs did an investigation into Deputy Gaither’s online conversations with former deputy, Jeremy Owens, ending with Gaither’s termination and Owens quitting his post. Records from the internal investigation show that Gaither and Owens, who are both White men and Facebook friends, exchanged racially-charged jokes on Facebook’s instant messaging service, which included the use of the term “colored people” and the n-word. In one conversation, the pair discussed an apparent plan to stop Black motorists while patrolling the highway. Gaither’s messages were discovered by a colleague who was using his computer, and was let go back in July. When he learned of his termination, the deputy reportedly acknowledged that he made a “stupid mistake,” saying, “It was just a joke, we all do it.” Deputy Owens was also let go for violating the department’s policies concerning immoral conduct and behavior unbecoming a deputy.
Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy has put his money where his heart is. The outspoken advocate against domestic violence and rape is partnering with the Detroit Hustles Harder clothing line to sell “Our Issue” T-shirts. All of the proceeds from the shirts will go to the Enough SAID program in Detroit. Enough SAID is a collaboration between multiple organizations and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office and is raising money to test more than 11,000 rape kits found in a warehouse in the motor city in 2009. In a recent Instagram post, Levy said in part that #DomesticViolence and #SexualAssault aren’t just women’s issues. They’re #OurIssue.”
Instead of placing his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance before a council meeting Tuesday, Buffalo Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. raised his fist in the air. Wingo had protested police brutality by not putting his hand over his heart before, but this time, about 50 clergyman joined him, reports the Huffington Post. The clergy attended the meeting to support Wingo’s protest. Franchelle C. Hart, executive director of the civic organization, Open Buffalo, told the Buffalo News that the supporters were proud of the councilman. Hart said Buffalo is facing many of the same racial issues as other cities across the country. “Not just with issues of law enforcement, but access to jobs, workforce development—you name it.” Despite the support, Wingo, who first protested in late September, told Buffalo News that he doesn’t plan on raising his fist at the next meeting. He said that his protest prompted a necessary conversation, but now it’s time to move forward by joining conversations about race in their city and empowering Black citizens to use their political power.
The United States Supreme Court is strongly indicating it will side with a Black Texas prison inmate who argues that improper testimony about his race tainted his death sentence, reports the Associated Press. Conservative and liberal justices alike agreed last week that inmate Duane Buck is entitled to a new court hearing. The only issue in arguments at the high court appeared to be whether to throw out Buck’s sentence altogether and order a new punishment hearing. The court also could merely instruct lower courts to decide whether the death sentence can stand. Buck has been trying for years to get federal courts to look at his claim that his rights were violated when jurors were told by a defense expert witness that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black.
Due to footage of police killings of Black men, Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream maker based in Burlington, is now publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. On Oct. 6, the company released a statement declaring that “Black lives matter” and that systemic racism is an issue, and requested that customers “join us in not being complicit.” The company release said: “It’s been hard to watch the list of unarmed Black Americans killed by law enforcement officers grow longer and longer. We understand that numerous Black Americans and White Americans have profoundly different experiences and outcomes with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. That’s why it’s become clear to us at Ben & Jerry’s that we have a moral obligation to take a stand now for justice and for Black lives.” The company even provided a seven-point list on how systemic racism is real, from housing segregation and the racial wealth gap to the criminal justice system.
Thanks to Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” the story of Nat Turner has once again pricked America’s popular imagination. Turner led one of the bloodiest slave rebellions in American history in 1831. About 55 White men, women and children were killed, but retribution against the Black community was swift, as more than 200 African Americans in Virginia lost their lives becaause of payback. Turner escaped into the woods and was captured two months later. He was then tried and executed by hanging on Nov. 11, 1831, in the town of Jerusalem, now called Courtland. What happened to his remains was a mystery until now. The National Geographic reports that Turner’s descendants, Shannon Batton Aguirre and Shelly Lucas Wood, both great-great-great-great granddaughters, finally recently received his skull this weekend from a former mayor of Gary, Ind., 83-year-old Richard Gordon Hatcher, who served as the first African-American mayor of Gary from 1968 to 1987. National Geographic reports that Hatcher received the skull from Franklin and Cora Breckinridge, civil rights activists in Elkhart, Ind., who donated the skull to Hatcher in 2002. The Breckenridges received it from Bob Franklin, also of Elkhart, who says the skull was passed down in his family for three generations. Franklin’s grandfather, Dr. Albert Gallatin Franklin, was a physician in Richmond, who about 1900 received the skull from a female patient who inherited it from her father—one of the doctors who handled Turner’s body after he was executed, according to National Geographic.
According to a post on her Facebook page, architect Trish Cole Doolin relocated to Seattle in September to work at Nelson Connections as a job captain in architecture. Last week, Doolin sought to deposit her paycheck into her account at Key Bank. But 15 minutes after she deposited her funds, Doolin got a call from someone from the bank asking her to come back because there was “a problem.” The bank employee—Thor Loberg—apparently thought that something about Doolin was suspicious, based on his line of questioning. Doolin says Loberg called the human resources department to confirm her employment, and he also Googled her company and asked for her personal desk number, among other probing questions. Doolin was then reportedly told that the bank would place a hold on her paycheck for nine days because her account had not been open for 30 days and the bank needed to verify the funds. Doolin had opened the account 29 days before depositing the check. “When I realized that I was defending who I was, trying to prove to someone I didn’t know who I was, I knew I was being discriminated against,” Doolin told Buzzfeed after her ordeal. Doolin reportedly then spoke to a woman at the bank who assured her that race played no part in her experience. As a result of the story, KeyBank released an official statement defending their actions and denying any racism or discrimination. Doolin decided to move her account from the bank.