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. 

What’s Different About Fast Food Worker Strikes This Thursday?

What's Different About Fast Food Worker Strikes This Thursday?

This Thursday marks another day of planned walkouts by fast food workers. This time they’re ratcheting up the stakes by adding sit-ins and inviting home care workers to join protests expected to take place in more than 100 cities. Organizers hope sit-ins will increase pressure on the restaurant industry and invoke the legacy of the Civil Rights movement for their cause. And in an attempt to broaden the low-wage labor fight into a movement, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is inviting the nation’s two million home care aides to join this week’s protests, too. SEIU has bankrolled the fast food worker drive to unionize and raise the minimum wage to $15 since the first round of protests in November 2012.

(h/t The New York Times)

Donation Pages for Officer Darren Wilson Suddenly Closed This Weekend

Donation Pages for Officer Darren Wilson Suddenly Closed This Weekend

Donation pages raising more than $400,000 for Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson were suddenly shut down without explanation this weekend, the LA Times reports. Wilson is the officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on the afternoon of August 9th. Neither owners of the two fundraising efforts with similar names have explained why both GoFundMe pages appear to have shut down around similar times on Saturday. They had inspired controversy some weeks ago for defending Wilson, drawing racist remarks and lack of accountability. The page “Support Officer Darren Wilson,” which has so far raised more than $230,000 is run by an anonymous organizer.

“Support Officer Wilson,” run by a St. Louis police charity, Shield of Hope, has so far brought in slightly less than $200,000. One of the organization’s three named officers is a Democrat and member of the Missouri House of Representatives Jeffrey Roorda. This January, Roorda sponsored a bill that would keep officers’ names secret if involved in a police shooting unless they were criminally charged. The bill “went nowhere,” according to the LA Times.

A GoFundMe set up by lawyer Benjamin Crump for Michael Brown’s family has so far raised more than $300,000.

U.S. Airstrike in Somalia, Israeli Land Grab, Cantor Takes Wall Street Job

U.S. Airstrike in Somalia, Israeli Land Grab, Cantor Takes Wall Street Job

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

  • Are you an iOS developer wondering why your app was rejected? Apple lists the reasons for about half the time apps are turned down. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Students to Boycott Newark Public Schools

Students to Boycott Newark Public Schools

When Newark public school students return to class this Thursday, some children will be missing their first day. A local parents’ group announced last week that some 600 parents have pledged to keep their children out of classes to protest the district’s sweeping new reform plan, One Newark. Campaign leaders have described the boycott as move of desperation for a community that has felt steamrolled by the high-powered reform agenda and the state control that has governed their schools for two decades.

One Newark has been billed as a massive overhaul of the struggling school system. Under the plan, which was approved last December, the district will close, phase out or reformulate roughly one-third of its schools. Students will no longer be assigned to their neighborhood schools. Instead, a complex algorithm will match families with schools of their choice across the district.

The plan, which focuses elementary and middle schools,has had a rough rollout over the past couple of weeks. Parents who were invited to register their children for school have waited in line for hours, CBS reported. New Jersey’s News 12 found a family with five children who were assigned to five different schools.

“The superintendent announced this plan as an opportunity of choice, but what it’s turning out to be is an opportunity of chance,” says Sharon Smith, a co-founder of Parents United for Local School Education (PULSE). “At some point parents don’t have a chance to get into their schools of choice, or even into a school at all.”

The boycott is only the latest battle in a long-running feud that pits teachers’ unions and progressive education advocates aga

Obama Suggests He Won’t Provide Immigration Relief Before Election

Obama Suggests He Won't Provide Immigration Relief Before Election

Deportation relief for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. may not come before November’s midterm election.

President Obama made clear in June that, because Congress hadn’t moved forward on legislation, he’d take major action himself on immigration by the end of the summer:

If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.  I expect their recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay.

When Obama made his remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden in late June, he also provided more resources to secure the border—but many have been waiting patiently for some kind of deal that would allow undocumented immigrants some kind of administrative status change, even temporarily. The president’s comments claiming he’d take action on immigration by the end of the summer have also been backed by insiders and senior advisors. Some groups were already preparing undocumented immigrants for what Obama was expected to do in the next couple of weeks. 

But now, it seems, he’s changed his mind. Obama told reporters on Thursday that his timeline on immigration action may change. According to the New York Times, Obama’s calculation has everything to do with key Senate races:

Under pressure from nervous Democratic Senate candidates in tight races, President Obama is rethinking the timing of his pledge to act on his own to reshape the nation’s immigration system by summer’s end, and could instead delay some or all of his most controversial proposals until after the midterm elections in November, according to people familiar with White House deliberations.

And, according to the Los Angeles Times, immigration enforcement could, in fact, increase before the election:

Under that plan, the president would first announce measures aimed at tightening enforcement of current law, then put off until the end of the year a decision on a more sweeping program that could temporarily shield millions of immigrants from deportation.

Obama’s administration has already deported more than two million people—more than have been deported under any other president.  

The High Price of Gun Violence

The High Price of Gun Violence

Gun violence cost U.S. tax payers nearly $700 million in 2010, according to a new study from the Urban Institute. Add “societal costs” and the number jumps to an estimated $174 billion. To help put these figures into context, note that the injuries associated with firearm assault, including homicide, aren’t evenly distributed across the country. Rather, they concentrate among uninsured black boys and men and in a relatively small number of communities. As an example, in Boston, one study found that more than half of all gun violence clustered around less than 3 percent of streets and intersections. And while firearm injuries typically affect black and Latino men and boys ages 15 to 34, in a study of six states, black females were found to have higher rates of hospitalization than white males in all but one. Such concentrations of violence, particularly among youth of color, study authors say, “should serve as a clear call to action to find new solutions to gun violence.”

The six states studied: California, Maryland, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Read the full report here.

(h/t CNBC)

Weekend Read: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Education and Segregation

Weekend Read: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Education and Segregation

For the educators and learners among us: Make time for this meandering introspection from The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates on learning a new culture, navigating its border police and finding out this summer that, “I was more ignorant than I knew.” Baltimore born and raised Coates spent the summer learning French at Middlebury College in Vermont. He uses this French immersion to understand and explain how segregation prepared him well to become a writer, less so a high-achiever in the classroom.

There’s much to dig in Coates’ essay. But I’m drawn to the notion that for members of marginalized communities, acquiring education does not necessarily mean an end to persecution. It has often meant the opposite:

In the early 19th century, the Cherokee Nation was told by the new Americans that if its members adopted their “civilized” ways, they would soon be respected as equals….

The Cherokee Nation…embraced mission schools. Some of them converted to Christianity. Other intermarried. Others still enslaved blacks….Thus the Native Americans of that time showed themselves to be as able to to integrate elements of the West with their own culture as any group of Asian or Jewish American. But the wolf has never much cared whether the sheep were cultured or not.

“The problem, from a white point of view,” writes historian Daniel Walker Howe, “was that the success of these efforts to ‘civilize the Indians’ had not yielded the expected dividend in land sales. On the contrary, the more literate, prosperous, and politically organized the Cherokees made themselves, the more resolved they became to keep what remained of their land and improve it for their own benefit.”

Cosmopolitanism, openness to other cultures, openness to education did not make the Cherokee pliant to American power; it gave them tools to resist. Realizing this, the United States dropped the veneer of “culture” and “civilization” and resorted to “Indian Removal,” or The Trail of Tears.

Read the whole essay, “Acting French” on The Atlantic.

15 Photos to Remember Hurricane Katrina

15 Photos to Remember Hurricane Katrina

Labor Day weekend marks a somber anniversary in the United States. Nine year ago, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. The storm itself, as well as the subsequent flooding, claimed nearly 2,000 lives and displaced some one million people.

Hurricane Katrina also illustrated systemic racism in the U.S. and in the New Orleans area specifically—from the collapse of the levees to the belated rescue efforts to police shootings to media coverage. Katrina first made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on Monday, August 29, 2005. By the time celebrities gathered to raise funds on television for the survivors four days later on September 2, Kanye famously blurted out “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” before his feed was cut off.

Here are some of the striking images from a devastating storm, nine years ago: 

08-29-14-katrina-1.jpgA man who refused to give his name covers his face as 50-mph winds blow in advance of Hurricane Katrina August 25, 2005 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-2.jpgTrinidad Ribero stands at the gate of her flooded home after Hurricane Katrina dumped as much as 15 inches of rain as it passed over this community south of Miami August 26, 2005 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-3.jpgPeople wait in line while attempting to rent a car at New Orleans International Airport in preparation for Hurricane Katrina August 27, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-4.jpgJeff Johnson holds his daughter Kayla, 1, in the nearly deserted French Quarter before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina August 28, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-5.jpgResidents wait in line to enter the Superdome which is being used as an emergency shelter before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina August 28, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-6.jpgWinn Dixie grocery store meat manager Amanda Keierleber stocks the last expected supply of meat before Hurricane Katrina moves through the morning of August 29, 2005 in Meridian, Mississippi. (Photo: Barry Williams/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-7.jpgA man peers out of a window broken by Hurricane Katrina at the Hyatt Hotel on August 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-8.jpgPeople walk down a flooded street after Hurricane Katrina hit the area August 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-9.jpgMark Benton, of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, helps to rescue three month old Ishmael Sullivan from a school rooftop after he and his mother were trapped with dozens of others in high water after Hurricane Katrina August 30, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mario Tama)


08-29-14-katrina-10.jpgA McDonalds lies in ruins across from the beach and Highway 90 August 30, 2005 in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Photo: Barry Williams)


08-29-14-katrina-11.jpgPatricia Barela (L) and Jose Samaniewo make a donation for victims of Hurricane Katrina at a daylong disaster relief collection event at Dodger Stadium August 31, 2005 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Ann Johansson/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-12.jpgDaryl Thompson holds his daughter Dejanae, 3-months, as they wait with other displaced residents on a highway in the hopes of catching a ride out of town after Hurricane Katrina August 31, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-13.jpgIn this handout photo provided by the White House, U.S. President George W. Bush looks out over devastation from Hurricane Katrina as he heads back to Washington D.C. August 31, 2005 aboard Air Force One. (Photo: Paul Morse/White House via Getty)



Evacuees from the New Orleans area take shelter in the Reliant Astrodome September 1, 2005 in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Dave Einsel/Getty)


08-29-14-katrina-15.jpgEvacuees from New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina arrive on September 2, 2005 at Kelly USA in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty) 

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