Following Ferguson: City Council Announces Reforms

Following Ferguson: City Council Announces Reforms

Following weeks of unrest and last week’s announcement that the Department of Justice is investigating its police force, Ferguson’s City Council yesterday announced a raft of reforms. Their intent according to the AP is to repair residents’ relationship with their local government. Some of the planned reforms include establishing a review board “to guide the police department” and reducing revenues from court fines. It has been widely reported that criminal and court fines levied on Ferguson’s residents are the city’s second largest source of revenue.

Read more about the planned reforms on the AP. *This Tuesday evening is the first meeting of the city council since weeks of unrest and global media coverage following the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson.

* Post has been updated

Domestic Violence Win for Black Women Tenants in Pennsylvania

Domestic Violence Win for Black Women Tenants in Pennsylvania

The city of Norristown, Pennsylvania, is awarding $495,000 to resident Lakisha Briggs who faced eviction from her home after calling cops one too many times on her abusive boyfriend. The city will also repeal the law allowing landlords to evict tenants who request police assistance at least three times in four months. According to an August 2013 New York Times article, in one Milwaukee study of similar laws—often called “nuisance” or “crime-free property” ordinances—domestic violence was involved in nearly one-third of the cases and rentals in largely black communities were disproportionately singled out. The ordinance, in practice, punishes domestic violence victims for crimes occurring in their homes, the ACLU said in a statement yesterday.

Read more about the dangers Lakisha Briggs survived on the ACLU Web site and at Patriot-News.

MH17 Investigation Results, Enterovirus D68, Supermoon Photos

MH17 Investigation Results, Enterovirus D68, Supermoon Photos

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • President Obama releases a statement saying, “Hitting a woman is not something a real man does.” Ugh. 
  • Sales at McDonald’s are down for the fourth month in a row. 
  • Meanwhile, Amazon drops its Fire phone to just 99 cents with a two year contract.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

Watch ‘Fox & Friends’ Anchors Poke Fun at Ray Rice Beating

Watch 'Fox & Friends' Anchors Poke Fun at Ray Rice Beating

On Monday morning, before Ray Rice was cut from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended from the NFL indefinitely, “Fox & Friends” anchors Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy trolled for lolz while discussing the elevator video of the football player knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.

After Kilmeade, Doocy and co-anchor Elizabeth Hassleback recount Rice’s two-, and later six-game suspension, Doocy points out how Palmer married Rice after the beating. 

Brian Kilmeade brings up Rihanna saying that she served as a poor example for kids when she resumed her relationship with Chris Brown after he brutally beat her. Even more randomly, Doocy brings up the elevator fight involving Solange Knowles, Jay Z and Beyonce. 

After pointing out that Jay Z stood still during the video, Kilmeade announces,”I think the message is, ‘Take the stairs.’” Doocy, Kilmeade and Hassleback chuckle. Doocy adds, “The message is, ‘When you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.’” Continuing the quip Doocy says, “And there’s camera right now on Heather Nauret, whose got headlines.”

h/t The Raw Story

The Racial Wealth Gap in the U.S., Or, Whites Own Almost Everything

The Racial Wealth Gap in the U.S., Or, Whites Own Almost Everything

Demos continues to highlight the nation’s extraordinary racial wealth gap with Matt Bruenig’s review of the Federal Reserve’s recently released 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). While the median white family has a net worth of $134,000, figures drop precipitously for families of color. As of 2013, the median Hispanic family’s worth is $14,000. The median black family has a net worth of $11,000. Research has long singled out wealth accumulation—what families own minus debt—and not income as the key driver of upward mobility for both parents and their children.

Read more on Demos, especially Bruenig’s distillation of which whites own “almost everything.” The bottom 50 percent of white families own 2.2 percent of white wealth. The top 10 percent own 72 percent. This Fed video explains the skewed distribution of wealth, regardless of race.

The SCF collects data on families’ balance sheets, pensions, income and demographic characteristics. 


Obama Stalls on Immigration, Same-Sex Marriage Cases, RiRi at Fashion Week

Obama Stalls on Immigration, Same-Sex Marriage Cases, RiRi at Fashion Week

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • A federal appeals court will hear cases about same-sex marriage in three states that will likely affect many others.
  • announces a $100 million venture capital fund. 
  • RiRi debuts Alexander Wang for H&M during Fashion Week. 
  • Serena Williams wins her 18th Grand Slam title. 
  • Children in three states suffer from an unidentified respiratory illness. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama Moving on Immigration ‘Fairly Soon’

Obama Moving on Immigration 'Fairly Soon'

President Obama is once again hinting that he’ll move forward on some kind of executive action on immigration before the end of summer.

Just a week ago, the president suggested he wouldn’t take action to provide relief for some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States before November’s election. But it’s possible Obama’s changed his mind yet again.

Speaking to reporters in Wales at the conclusion of the NATO summit, Obama said he’s busy dealing with several crises—but that he’ll start reviewing suggestions from Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on immigration on his flight back to the States. In a now familiar sentiment, Obama also took the opportunity to once again deride Republican lawmakers for not taking action on a comprehensive immigration reform bill:

That has damaged the economy, it has held America back, it is a mistake. And in the absence of congressional action, I intend to take action to make sure that we’re putting more resources on the border, that we’re upgrading how we process these cases, and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration and give people some path so that they can start paying taxes and pay a fine and learn English and be able to not look over their shoulder but be legal, since they’ve been living here for quite some time.

Although Obama said that he’d be “making an announcement soon,” he has yet to set a date. 

How To Do Activism Now: Grace Lee Boggs and Rosa Clemente

How To Do Activism Now: Grace Lee Boggs and Rosa Clemente

Lifelong activists Grace Lee Boggs, 99, and Rosa Clemente, 42, came together on MSNBC’s Reid Report for an intergenerational discussion on how they became activists—and what sustains them today. In Clemente I hear echoes of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay on the value of “true education.” She also offers an accessible entry point for folks searching for ways to contribute, now: 

Activism can happen with 5,000 people or it can happen when you’re walking home and you see police putting three black kids against the wall. Are you gonna keep walking home? Or are you gonna stand there? Are you gonna watch? Are you gonna at least be a witness to what’s happening?

Boggs, a living memorial to many of the 20th century’s defining chapters, believes she is witnessing a second American revolution as powerful as the first.

Watch these two women, one Asian-American and the other Afro-Latina, above on Reid Report. How did you become an activist?

Back to School: New York City Teachers Welcome Kids with NYPD Shirts

Back to School: New York City Teachers Welcome Kids with NYPD Shirts

Despite warnings from their union, some New York City teachers this week wore NYPD shirts back to school “as a show of support for cops in the wake of the Eric Garner death and union-backed rally for Al Sharpton,” the New York Post reports. At the heart of the ensuing conflict are teachers’ union and department of education rules regarding dress code as well as public perception of the teachers’ actions by parents and children. “Certain T-shirt messages may appear to be supportive, but individuals (parents, students) may see a different meaning in that message,” an e-mail sent by a union official and obtained by the Post says.

One Facebook image shows teachers from Staten Island, the borough in which video shows the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police officers, posing in gray NYPD T-shirts. Another photo, the Post reports, shows “white T’s bearing a heart-shaped image of a handshake and the words, “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest.”“

“Most notably,” the Post reports, teachers at IS 72 also defied the union’s warning. IS 72 is named after Rocco Laurie, a white 23-year-old police officer slain in 1972 along with his partner, a black officer and fellow Vietnam veteran, Gregory Foster, 22, by members of the Black Liberation Army. Their deaths are still honored today.

Read more and see images at The New York Post.

NATO Approves Troops, Ebola Patient Transferred to Nebraska, 65 Ton Dino

NATO Approves Troops, Ebola Patient Transferred to Nebraska, 65 Ton Dino

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Virginia former first couple, Bob and Maureen McDonnell are found guilty of corruption. 
  • This video is part of the way Jay wished Bey a happy birthday. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

7 Fast Food Worker Strikes—And Arrests—Hit Cities Near You

7 Fast Food Worker Strikes--And Arrests--Hit Cities Near You

Fast food workers are showing resolve. Today’s strikes and protests in more than 100 cities are seeing arrests as workers stage sit-ins in front of McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants and refuse to move. The addition of civil disobedience to the two-year-old fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is new and a follow-through on an idea discussed at a first-ever workers convention this July. Also new: an invitation to home care workers to join their fight for a higher minimum wage and the right to unionize without retaliation. Below, some of what’s happening in cities around the country from Nevada to Minneapolis to San Diego. And check this USAToday map for a status update on the states responding to minimum wage increase demands.


New York City



Durham, North Carolina

Richmond, Virginia

Charleston, South Carolina

Oklahoma Cop Held on Rape Charges Also Accused of Wrongful Death

Oklahoma Cop Held on Rape Charges Also Accused of Wrongful Death

Daniel Holtzclaw, the 27-year-old Oklahoma City police officer charged with sexually assaulting eight black women, is also a defendant in a wrongful death suit filed earlier this year.

According to court documents, on the evening of May 1, 2013, Clifton Armstrong, a 39-year-old black man who suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia, called 911 for medical assistance. Holtzclaw, along with three fellow officers, arrived to his home. When given the option, Armstrong declined to enter a squad car in order to be taken to the hospital because he only wanted to travel in his grandmother’s vehicle. The officers then proceeded to hogtie Armstrong into submission using belts. He was declared dead shortly afterward, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by Armstrong’s mother, Velencia Maiden:

Upon information and belief, in attempting to subdue Mr Armstrong, the officers used force to restrain and subdue him, by placing him in handcuffs, and using belts to restrain his leg movement, which is famously referred to as the “maximum restraint hobble system” with malicious intent and without justification, pursuant to Oklahoma City Police Department’s policy, practice or custom, I reckless disregard for the welfare of Clifton Armstrong.

As a result of this altercation, Mr Armstrong collapsed, and paramedics where summoned who transported Mr Armstrong to the emergency room at the Baptist Hospital where Armstrong was pronounced dead.

Court documents indicate that the police department opened an internal investigation into the incident and exonerated all four officers involved: Jeffery Dutton, Gregory Franklin, Mohammed Tabaia and Daniel Holtzclaw. 

Oklahoma’s medical examiner ruled Armstrong’s death an accident, citing “excited delirium syndrome.” Many medical practitioners don’t recognize excited delirium syndrome as a legitimate medical condition—and civil rights groups point to the fact it is often used to justify excessive force. Armstrong was also under the influence of methamphetamines at the time of his death. The medical examiner’s report did add that his physical altercation with the police was an aggravating factor that caused his death.

Maiden’s lawsuit seeks damages totaling $75,000 for her son’s wrongful death, as well as pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral expenses and more costs related to Armstrong’s death at the hands of Oklahoma cops.

In an unrelated case, Daniel Holtzclaw is currently charged with 16 felony sex crime counts: burglary, stalking, two counts of rape, four counts of indecent exposure, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy—all allegedly committed against black women. Prosecutors say Holtzclaw threatened his victims with arrest or physical punishment in order to get away with sexual assault.

But Daniel Holtzclaw has his supporters. His sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, set up a page that raised more than $7,000 for her brother before it was abruptly shut down by the online fundraising service. A “Justice for Daniel Holtzclaw” Facebook page, meanwhile, has garnered more than 600 likes. Holtzclaw’s bond, originally set at $5 million, has been lowered to $500,000, and he’s expected to leave jail to live with his father, Eric—who’s a lieutenant in a nearby police department—while he prepares for trial.

Angela Davis: There Is No ‘I’ In Movement

Angela Davis: There Is No 'I' In Movement

“Even as Nelson Mandela always insisted that his accomplishments were collective—also achieved by the men and women who were his comrades—the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic individual.” Guarding against the overwhelming “depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals,” says Angela Davis in a new interview, is part of the work. 

Read more in The Nation’s special racial justice issue.

DOJ to Investigate Ferguson, Tough Words at NATO Summit, Tesla Plant to Open in Nevada

DOJ to Investigate Ferguson, Tough Words at NATO Summit, Tesla Plant to Open in Nevada

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Theodore Wafer Apologizes, is Sentenced to 17-32 Years for Renisha McBride’s Murder

Theodore Wafer Apologizes, is Sentenced to 17-32 Years for Renisha McBride's Murder

The man who shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride has been sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in prison. 55-year-old Theodore Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder nearly a month ago. Facing a long sentence before Judge Dana M. Hathaway, Wafer read the following statement:

To the parents, family and friends of Renisha McBride, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I am truly sorry for your loss. I can only hope and pray that somehow, you can forgive me. My family and friends also grieve. From my fear, I caused the loss of a life that was too young to leave this world. And for that, I’ll carry that guilt and sorrow forever. I only wish that I could take this horrible tragedy back. And I ask the court and your honor for mercy.

After his statement, Judge Hathaway sentenced Wafer to 15-30 years for the murder charge, along with an additional two consecutive years for a gun-related charge. That means Wafer will serve a minimum of 17 years.  

10 Incredible Plays from the WNBA’s Shoni Shimmel

10 Incredible Plays from the WNBA's Shoni Shimmel

Shoni Schimmel, the 22-year-old Atlanta Dream guard—who’s from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, and was coached in high school by her mom, Cecilee Moses—made some incredible plays her rookie season. Ten of them are highlighted in this WNBA in this video.  

New York Bank Accused of Not Lending to African-Americans

New York Bank Accused of Not Lending to African-Americans

Buffalo, New York ranks as one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. Yesterday New York’s attorney general accused Evans National Bank of making it worse through redlining, or denying the predominantly African-American section of east Buffalo access to mortgage credit. The charge comes as African-American and Hispanic communities nationwide, which were disproportionately sold high interest mortgage loans pre-2008, now face a credit drought. Banks are not lending at all. And so the pendulum appears to have swung from one extreme to the next with the same outcome: significant systemic hurdles are still preventing many people of color from building wealth for their families and communities.

The New York suit dates the existence of Evans’ redlining to 2009. Evans Bank is a regional lender whose business in the Buffalo area dates back to the 1920s. As outlined in The New York Times, similar redlining suits have been filed since the recession against banks in Providence and Los Angeles. The L.A. suit is particularly interesting, as it accuses JP Morgan of both reverse redlining—steering people of color to predatory loans—and traditional redlining.

José Couldn’t Get A Job—Not Until He Became Joe [VIDEO]

José Couldn't Get A Job--Not Until He Became Joe [VIDEO]

Months of sending out job applications yielded no replies until one day José Zamora decided to change his name to Joe. He changed nothing else in his resume. People judge all the time, Zamora says in the minute-long video from BuzzFeed—and they may not even be aware of it.

(h/t HuffPo)

Another IS Beheading Video, DNA Exonerates Black Brothers, TBS Cancels CeeLo’s Show

Another IS Beheading Video, DNA Exonerates Black Brothers, TBS Cancels CeeLo's Show

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Images of Darren Wilson Surface Online

Images of Darren Wilson Surface Online

So far, the only recent image we’ve seen of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has been one obtained through social media by Yahoo! News, which illustrates Wilson getting a certificate for good police work. When given the opportunity, the Ferguson Police Department didn’t issue an image of their officer who shot and killed Michael Brown more than three weeks ago. Instead, it provided reporters with still images from surveillance video of Brown at a convenience store close to where he was killed.

Media have reported that images of Wilson are hard, if not impossible, to come by. The Washington Post and the St. Louis Post Dispatch have speculated that Wilson deleted any social media accounts that he may have had. If that’s the case, the Ferguson police department’s decision to wait nearly an entire week before releasing Wilson’s name may have helped him remove his online presence. It’s unclear what internal protocols may have been in place, but Ferguson’s police department hasn’t been forthcoming with details about Wilson or the shooting itself

Colorlines has obtained several photos of someone who appears to be Darren Wilson. One, found on Facebook, features Wilson out of uniform. Colorlines has also confirmed that there are several others: two from a professional photographer who photographed Wilson’s wedding, as well as several other photos, likely taken by an amateur, also at his wedding in 2011. 

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