Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Maricopa County’s Former Top Prosecutor Andrew Thomas Disbarred

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his onetime deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, will be disbarred effective May 10 by the Arizona ethics panel for failed corruption probes. Thomas worked closely with Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is also under investigation.

A three-member panel found Thomas violated professional rules of conduct for lawyers in bringing unfounded criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009.

George Zimmerman’s Lawyers Lose Contact, Withdraw From Case

George Zimmerman's Lawyers Lose Contact, Withdraw From Case

Attorneys for George Zimmerman said Tuesday at a news conference they haven’t heard from George Zimmerman since Sunday, the AP is reporting. Attorney Craig Sonner said they have withdrawn as his counsel, saying they have lost contact with him.

They that against their advice, Zimmerman contacted the special prosecutor who will decide if he should face charges.

Activist Challenges Georgia ‘Kill at Will’ Law in Federal Suit

Activist Challenges Georgia 'Kill at Will' Law in Federal Suit

A federal lawsuit was filed Monday asking that Georgia’s “kill at will law” be struck down because it’s vague and could result in a disproportionate number of people of color being shot.

Civil rights activist Rev. Markel Hutchins says he filed the lawsuit in response to the death of Trayvon Martin. “Georgia has a statute comparable to the controversial Florida law at the center of the Trayvon Martin tragedy,” Hutchins wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

“It is not clear what actions would create ‘reasonable belief’ that deadly force is necessary,” said the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. “An individual seeking to stand their ground and assert self-defense has no way of knowing if their ‘reasonable belief’ comports with the standards protected by the law and [they] want to ensure that they do not subject themselves to criminal penalties.”

Rick Santorum Suspends Presidential Campaign, Leaves Behind A Bunch of Racist Gaffes

Rick Santorum suspended his White House campaign Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon. The former Pennsylvania senator made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The former Pennsylvania Senator leaves behind a few (some of them racist?) gems for us to go down memory lane with.

There was that one time when Santorum vowed he wouldn’t give black people “somebody else’s money.”

Baseball’s Ozzie Guillen on Fidel Castro: ‘I Betrayed My Latin Community’

Baseball's Ozzie Guillen on Fidel Castro: 'I Betrayed My Latin Community'

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games Tuesday because of comments he made about Fidel Castro in a recent Time Magazine interview. Guillen said he “love[s] Fidel Castro…I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there.”

At the news conference in Miami, Guillen said his comments were misinterpreted by the reporter, and he doesn’t love or admire the dictator.

“I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” Guillen said, according to ESPN’s translation of his comments in Spanish. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I’m sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly.”

“The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen,” read a statement from the team. “The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship.”

Romney Escapes Green Bay Man’s Questions About Mormonism and Race [Video]

Romney Escapes Green Bay Man's Questions About Mormonism and Race [Video]

The first question for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisc. on April 2nd came from a man who wanted to quote the Book of Mormon. The man, who’s been identified as a Ron Paul supporter, wanted to know if Romney thought it was a sin for a white man to marry and pro-create with a black woman.

BYU: Same Sex Crushy Feelings Are Okay, Just Don’t Act On Them

BYU: Same Sex Crushy Feelings Are Okay, Just Don't Act On Them

A collective of LGBT students at Brigham Young University, the nation’s largest religious university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have created a video that speaks to other LGBT mormon youth.

Below is how the group describes themselves on YouTube:

A message of hope and love to LGBT Mormon youth from the students of USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) which is an unofficial group of Brigham Young University students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction.

Campus Progress’ Shay O’Reilly points out that the group isn’t allowed to form an official group or use the word “gay” in their description so they identify as a collective. The group is not recognized by the school.

According to BYU 14% of students are of color with the majority of them being Asian/Pacific Islanders. Latino, black and American Indian students follow, in that order,

On Tuesday, CNN reported Carri Jenkins, an assistant to the president of BYU, said that that for the video alone, the students would not be punished. The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling, and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

Zimmerman Goes Public, Launches Website to Raise Funds

zimmerman-website.jpgGeorge Zimmerman, the Florida man who claims he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense, has set up a personal website to collect money for his legal expenses, his attorneys confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel on Monday.

Domain records show the site was created Sunday, is real and is operated by Zimmerman himself. It solicits donations through PayPal with a promise that “any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment.”

“I am the real George Zimmerman,” declares Zimmerman’s website.

The website, which has an U.S. flag background, includes a statement from Zimmerman and features a photo of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University.

One Small Step for Vanity Fair: Sofia Vergara on Cover of TV Issue

vanity-fair-1.jpgVanity Fair has a tradition of having fold out covers for their Hollywood and TV related issues. Usually there’s up to a dozen actors on the fold out cover with light skinned actors and actresses on the front page while actors of color make the inside pages—if there are any included at all.

The latest issue is the umpteenth time a Vanity Fair cover pushes a black actress to the back pages while actresses with lighter skin make the cover. This time around they did include Colombian actress Sofia Vergara on the cover but pushed Kerry Washington, Grace Park and Archie Panjabi to the back pages inside the magazine. 

That last spread is below along with an abridged history of Vanity Fair’s fold out covers.  


George Zimmerman’s Lawyer Cites ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ in Trayvon Martin Shooting

George Zimmerman's Lawyer Cites 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' in Trayvon Martin Shooting

Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who is representing George Zimmerman made an appearance on CBS’s “This Morning” last week and shared a glimpse of their defense.

“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on CBS This Morning. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”

“He didn’t commit any crime,” Unrig went on to say. “He was attacked, broke his nose, hit his head into the ground and he defended himself. That’s not against the law.”

Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton Dons Hoodie, Speaks Out for Trayvon Martin

levarburton.jpgFrom Common, P Diddy to the entire Miami Heat basketball team, celebrities from across the entertainment and sports industries have spoken out publicly in support of justice for Trayvon Martin and his family.

But most recently it was a nice surprise to see a man who’s been entertaining children for decades speak out.

LeVar Burton was the host of the PBS children’s program “Reading Rainbow” that opened up the minds of young viewers on PBS from 1983 to 2006. Currently Burton is the voice of Doc Greene on “Transformers: Rescue Bots” on the Hub (the network that replaced Discovery Kids.)

He updated his Twitter profile picture to a picture of him wearing a hoodie and recently tweeted a message wondering why Martin’s killer George Zimmerman was still free. 

Sources Say Zimmerman Could be Arrested This Week

Sources Say  Zimmerman Could be Arrested This Week

WFTV.com on Monday reported that two different sources have said Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman could be arrested this week, and that a Grand Jury will not meet on Tuesday.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey on Monday also said she will not take the Trayvon Martin shooting death before a grand jury.

Corey told the AP she continues to investigate the case and will not involve a grand jury that had been set to meet Tuesday in Sanford, Fla.

AP with more details:

Corey said her decision to skip the grand jury shouldn’t be considered a factor in determining whether charges will be filed against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has admitted to fatally shooting the unarmed Martin.

The announcement means the decision on charges now rests solely with Corey, who had a reputation for not presenting cases before grand juries if it wasn’t required. Under Florida law, only first-degree murder cases require the use of grand juries.

Corey took over the case last month after the prosecutor who normally handles cases out of Sanford recused himself. That prosecutor, Norm Wolfinger, had originally called for the case to be presented before a grand jury.

“From the moment she was assigned, Ms. Corey noted she may not need a grand jury,” said a statement from Corey’s office.

Sean Bell’s Fiancée Writes Open Letter to Trayvon Martin’s Parents

Sean Bell's Fiancée Writes Open Letter to Trayvon Martin's Parents

The fiancée of Sean Bell, the Queens man who was shot and killed by police outside a strip club on the night before his wedding in 2006, recently wrote an open letter to the parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

“At the outset, I would like to stress that writing this letter has been a tedious and tasteless challenge for me,” wrote Nicole Paultre-Bell in the letter published on TheGrio.com. “Yet again an innocent black man has been killed, in Trayvon’s case, “walking while being black.”

Tulsa Cops Not Ready to Call Shooting Spree Racially Motivated

Tulsa Cops Not Ready to Call Shooting Spree Racially Motivated

Jake England, 19, and his 32-year-old roommate Alvin Watts were arrested Sunday in connection with a shooting spree that left three people dead, two others wounded and an entire black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma shocked.

All five victims were black. Police described the suspects as white, but a family friend said one was Cherokee, the LA Times points out.

Dannaer Fields, 49; Bobby Clark, 54; and William Allen, 31, were all shot and killed as they were walking within a few miles of one another on Tulsa’s predominantly black north side.

Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the gunmen appeared to have chosen their victims at random.

Police Blame Man Whose 911 Call Led Cops to Kill Unarmed Black Teen

Police Blame Man Whose 911 Call Led Cops to Kill Unarmed Black Teen

Funeral services were held Saturday for 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, who was shot and killed by Pasadena, California police on March 24. Police say they thought McDade was armed, so they shot him when he reached for his waistband but McDade was unarmed, he never had a gun.

The complicated sequence of events started out with a 911 call from Oscar Carrillo, 26, who told the dispatcher his laptop was stolen at gunpoint by two armed men.

“Eh, miss, two guys just stole my backpack. They put a gun on my face right now,” Carrillo told the 911 operator. “I’m on Raymond and Orange Grove. They just run away.”

Carrillo later admitted that the suspects were not armed and had taken his property out of his car. He said he told police the suspects had guns in order to get officers to respond faster.

Now Pasadena Police want to charge Carrillo with involuntary manslaughter.

Invisible Children Release Kony 2012 Update With ‘More Details and Context’

Invisible Children Release Kony 2012 Update With 'More Details and Context'

Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video became the most viral video in history when it was released on March 5th, 2012. The organization released an update on Thursday called “KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous” which they say offers more details and context about the conflicts in Uganda.

This generation has responded to the call to make Joseph Kony famous,” the new video’s description reads on YouTube. “Now we need to dig deeper and turn awareness into informed action.”

The follow-up video was made without input from the group’s co-founder who starred in the initial ‘Kony 2012’ video—he who suffered a breakdown following publicity generated by the film, according to the BBC.

The organization’s director of ideology, Jedidiah Jenkins, told Reuters the sequel is intended for an international audience and will more accurately chronicle the conflict in Uganda.

The original video has more close to 87,000,000 views on YouTube.

Burger King Apologizes for Mary J. Blige Chicken Ad

Burger King Apologizes for Mary J. Blige Chicken Ad

Burger King has apologized for releasing an ad featuring Mary J. Blige singing about Crispy Chicken Snack Wraps. The fast food restaurant chain said the ad was unplugged because of licensing issues but Blige has a slightly different story.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Blige said, “I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence.Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out.”

The video, which went viral on Monday, was pulled down by Burger King after viewers began to complain. According to Burger King, the reason the spot was yanked from the Web was because the ad was “released prematurely before all of the licensing and final approvals were obtained.” Burger King wrote in a statement to AP, “we would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.”

Other celebrities in the campaign (who’s videos are still live on YouTube) include soccer star David Beckham, Jay Leno and, in Spanish-language ads, actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara.

Nichelle Nichols Throws Vulcan Signs with Obama in the Oval Office

Nichelle Nichols Throws Vulcan Signs with Obama in the Oval Office

If you’re following Barack Obama on Tumblr, you saw this adorable photo yesterday — the President with Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek, showing the Vulcan salute. (Lt. Uhura was a human, not a Vulcan, but there’s only so many recognizable hand signs a franchise can produce.)

Obama has long identified as a comics-and-sci-fi geek, but it’s also worth noting that Nichols has a history with social justice; here she is talking about how Dr. Martin Luther King begged her to stay with the series, to continue inspiring young people by portraying a professional black woman on a hit TV show. Perhaps she even inspired a young Barry Obama? And recently, Nichols has been using Twitter to give Geraldo Rivera some well-deserved heat for his ‘hoodie’ comments about Trayvon Martin.

New Orleans: All Four Danziger Bridge Cops Sentenced to 40-65 Years

New Orleans: All Four Danziger Bridge Cops Sentenced to 40-65 Years

On Wednesday the Justice Department announced five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for the shootings of unarmed civilians in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

On Sept. 4, 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina, police officers responded to a call that there were two snipers shooting at officers on the Danziger Bridge. According to the Department of Justice, once officers arrived they began shooting into the crowd, killing two men, a teenager named James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, a man with mental disabilities. Four others were shot, including Susan Bartholomew, who lost an arm in the shooting.

Some Skeptical of Perfect College Rate at Chicago’s Urban Prep

Some Skeptical of Perfect College Rate at Chicago's Urban Prep

For the third year in a row, every senior at Urban Prep Academy, the only all-black male charter high school in Chicago, has been accepted to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. The school has made international headlines year-after-year for their perfect college going rates—including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show—but some say the successes also begs questions.

“This is so tough—I consider myself among those who cannot accept this news at face value, and it’s disheartening that wonderful news like this is seen as too good to be true,” said Colorlines.com’s education reporter Julianne Hing.

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