Last week, a judge ruled that a Phoenix grandmother who has been accused of flying cross-country with $500,000 worth of cocaine will not be returning home for the time being. According to federal court paperwork, Cheryl Cheatham flew from Las Vegas to Detroit with the cocaine bagged in two pieces of luggage. She will remain in custody in Michigan rather than return to Arizona. Federal officers reportedly became suspicious when they saw Cheatham looking at several pieces of luggage at the baggage claim. When she didn’t check into a hotel but got into a chauffeured SUV, police stopped the car. A drug dog alerted them to something in the car, and the cocaine was found in her luggage.
A singer knelt while performing the national anthem at a Miami Heat basketball game on Oct. 21 and opened her jacket to reveal a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter.” Like other anthem protests, the gesture by Denasia Lawrence was intended to highlight what activists say is unfair police treatment of minorities. Lawrence, a social worker, wrote on Facebook that the opportunity at the pre-season Heat game “was bigger than me … I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us. I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that, I too, am America.” In a statement, the Heat organization replied: “We were unaware of it ahead of time.” The Heat players and coaches stood and locked arms during the anthem as they have done throughout the pre-season as a show of unity. “Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out of this is a very poignant, thoughtful dialogue,” said head coach Erik Spoelstra. “We’ve had great dialogue within our walls here, and hopefully this will lead to action.”
A Chicago-area woman is facing hate crime charges after a video showed her spitting and repeatedly shouting a racial slur at a Black couple during a margarita festival over the summer, reports the Huffington Post. Jessica Sanders, 26, was arrested last week and charged with two felony counts of committing a hate crime and two misdemeanor counts of battery/making physical contact, according to Chicago police. Her arrest comes nearly three months after the July 30 incident was filmed and uploaded to social media. The incident began as a dispute over a beanbag tossing game at the city’s Margarita Festival, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. In the approximately 1-minute clip, Sanders gets into an altercation with Ernest Crim, who is filming. Sanders appears to knock Crim’s phone out of his hand. “You’re acting like a nr. Go home,” she tells Crim, who is Black. At one point, she shouts the word multiple times in a row. She also reportedly spit at Crim, and it hit his wife.
Earlier this month, just ahead of Indiana’s voter registration deadline, state police executed a search warrant at the office of an organization that had set out to register Black voters in a state with the worst voter turnout in the country, reports the Huffington Post. Officers conducted their search on the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s headquarters just a few weeks after Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson sent a letter to state election officials warning that “nefarious actors are operating” in the Hoosier state and asking them to inform authorities, if they received any voter registration forms from the group. The publicity surrounding the actions taken by Lawson and Indiana’s state police have cast a shadow over the third-party nonprofits voter registrants, and elicited many stories accusing them of voter fraud. Varoga said the Oct. 4 police action prevented the group from registering 5,000 to 10,000 additional voters ahead of Indiana’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. He’s worried that clerks won’t count some of the 45,000 applications the group had already collected.
The NCAA accused the University of Louisville of four violations stemming from its investigation into allegations that a former basketball staffer hired escorts and strippers for sex parties with recruits and players. The investigation stems from Katina Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” where the African American escort alleged that a staff member paid her $10,000 for strippers to perform 22 shows for recruits and members of the school’s basketball team. The NCAA’s report last week does not mention a lack of institutional control—the most serious violation—but says coach Rick Pitino failed to monitor staffer Andre McGee, who reportedly worked with Powell. The NCAA’s letter is the first step in a process that could extend into next spring, according to the timetable of responses and hearings on the allegations. Louisville has 90 days to respond.
Police have dismissed a citation issued last week to a Black man for allegedly walking in the middle of a street, government officials said. A state authority is now investigating the controversial incident. The mayor of Edina announced last week that the citation will be dismissed, following a firestorm of attention over the Oct. 12 arrest of Larnie Thomas, which was filmed and widely seen on social media. In the video, Thomas is seen arguing with an Edina police officer, who accuses him of inappropriately walking in the middle of the street. The city later acknowledged in a statement that one of the surrounding sidewalks had been closed for construction. The statement nonetheless accused Thomas of being “belligerent” and refusing to obey orders. Thomas was eventually taken into custody and cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal, the city said at the time.
Deborah Danner, 66, was shot and killed by an NYPD officer on Oct. 18 after she allegedly lunged toward officers while wielding scissors and a bat inside her Bronx apartment. New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said police were “called to help a person in crisis.” Sgt. Hugh Barry fired the two shots that ultimately ended Danner’s life. After being hit in the torso, she was pronounced dead at Jacobi Medical Center. O’Neill told ABC News: “That’s not how it’s supposed to go. It’s not how we train. Our first obligation is to preserve life, not to take a life, when it can be avoided. Cops know when you become a police officer you are 100 percent accountable for your actions—everything you do. When a life is taken, as one was last night, we have to ask tough questions.” Mayor Bill de Blasio called the shooting “tragic” and said it “should not have happened.” The NYPD has launched an investigation into the incident. Protests were underway in Danner’s honor.
A man was arrested in Charleston after he allegedly shouted racial slurs at a Black TV reporter on the street, reports The Grio. Steve Crump of WBTV, along with his videographer, were covering Hurricane Matthew’s impending arrival when Brian Eybers shouted out, “What are you doing here?” and called Crump the n-word before blocking the news van from leaving. According to Crump, Eybers was filming himself the entire time. “He was doing commentary of the neighborhood,” Crump said. “Then he starts off saying, ‘there’s a Black guy walking around here, no he’s a slave, no he’s the n-word.’ I went from zero to 60 like that.’” Officers arrived on the scene, and Eybers admitted to using the racial slurs. He was then booked on charges of congregating for an unlawful purpose and possession of drug paraphernalia.
CeCe Winans, 10-time Grammy winning American music icon and the best-selling female gospel artist of all time, announced a new distribution agreement with Nashville-based Thirty Tigers. The company will manage the physical and digital distribution of Winans’ music, including her first solo release in nine years coming in 2017. “CeCe Winans is a legend, but a legend who is not resting on her laurels,” said Thirty Tigers president David Macias. With a career in music that spans more than 30 years, Winans has sold more than 5 million albums in the U.S. alone; charted hit singles in multiple formats including R&B, Urban AC and Gospel; authored three books including her acclaimed memoir “On A Positive Note;” and acted in several television series. In addition to her 10 Grammys, she has won 20 Dove Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, and has a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. Earlier this year, Winans accepted an invitation to be a member of the 2016 Artist Committee for the Kennedy Center Honors.
A former University of Virginia football recruit claims he was left with a serious eye injury after upperclassmen forced him to fight a fellow 2016 recruit, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. According to USA Today, Aidan Howard, an African American recruit from Monroeville, Pa., alleged he was subjected to bullying and hazing in a 21-page lawsuit that seeks unspecified damages. The fight was arranged by UVA wide receivers Doni Dowling and David Eldridge that was the most striking allegation. The two receivers allegedly erected a makeshift ring in the locker room using athletic tape after an August practice and pitted Howard and freshman receiver Hasise Dubois against one another. The fight “was a part of Aidan’s ‘initiation’ into the football program and to prove his toughness and manliness,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
A high school in Seattle is under fire after a pledge created by the staff made parents of Black students angry. Only Black students were asked by school staff to sign a pledge called “Keepin’ it 100.” One student immediately told her mother about the pledge, which asked “African American scholars” to promise to come to class on time, complete high school, and hold themselves up to a high standard, according to The Grio. Franklin High junior Niya Thomas told her mother Neffertiti Thomas about the pledge. “I don’t think they read that letter feeling encouraged, uplifted at all. They walked away feeling like I can’t do enough, I still didn’t make it.” Mrs. Thomas said. The Seattle Public School Board issued a statement about the controversial pledge: “Seattle Public Schools (are) committed to eliminating opportunity gaps and accelerating learning for each and every pupil. After meeting with seniors, Franklin staff discontinued the covenant because it proved to be a distraction from the original intent which was to increase efforts and support for African American students and ensure college readiness.”