Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Marissa Alexander’s Retrial Postponed to December

Marissa Alexander's Retrial Postponed to December

Marissa Alexander’s retrial has been postponed until December 1 due to questions about whether a new Florida bill can be used retroactively in her case. She originally faced retrial on July 28. 

Alexander, 33, was convicted of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot during a fight with her abusive husband. But she was released on bond last November after an appeals court ruled in September that the jury in her trial was given flawed instructions. She was originally sentenced to 20 years; if convicted in a retrial, Alexander faces up to 60 years in prison.

Judge James Daniel was set to determine this morning if Alexander was eligible for a Stand Your Ground hearing—which was denied to her previously. Florida lawmakers passed a Warning Shot Bill in March that Alexander’s legal team says can protect her, but Governor Rick Scott has yet to sign it into law. Because of that pending law, attorneys on both sides asked for an extension. A decision on whether Alexander can get a Stand Your Ground hearing is now postponed until August 1.

One of Marissa Alexander’s most ardent supporters, Mariame Kaba, published an anthology whose proceeds will benefit the Alexander’s legal defense. “No Selves to Defend” is available today, and features writing and artwork that “locates Marissa’s case within a historical context that criminalizes and punishes women (particularly of color) for self-defense.” Only 125 copies of the anthology are available for purchase for $50—and there will be no reprints. 

Supreme Court Sends Young Visa Seekers to Back of a Very Long Line

Supreme Court Sends Young Visa Seekers to Back of a Very Long Line

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some children who apply for visas to reside in the U.S. age out, and have to begin the process all over again after they turn 21 years old. The decision is expected to affect not only those young people, but their parents as well.

Back in 1998, Rosalina Cuellar de Osorio applied for visas through her mother, a U.S. citizen, for her and her son, Melvin. Melvin was 13 at the time and both he and his mother lived in El Salvador. The application itself was approved within a month, but the actual visa wasn’t presented until 2005. Melvin had already turned 21 years old by then, and the U.S. insisted that he had to begin the process all over again. His mother was allowed entry to the U.S., but the son was denied.

The 2002 Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was created to protect people like Melvin from having to initiate the process all over again. But in 2009, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that the legislation wasn’t straightforward enough and could be understood to mean to only protect children applying through a Green Card holder, not through a citizen. An appeals court disagreed in 2012, citing the intent behind the law. And in 2013, a bipartisan group of senators who helped pass the CSPA —including John McCain (R-Az.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.)— issued a brief explaining that the legislation was indeed created to protect young people like Melvin.

The justices ultimately sided with the Obama administration on Tuesday. The divided ruling includes at least four different interpretations of the CSPA.

If children are placed in the back of the line at 21, it’s likely their parents may continue to wait with them, even if already approved. It’s not unheard for family-based immigration visas to take more than a decade. In fact, one brief filed when de Osorio’s case was at the appeals court indicated the backlog for certain visa applications from Mexico “is approximately 115.5 years.”

Texas Judge Bars Walmart Workers From Protesting

Texas Judge Bars Walmart Workers From Protesting

A Texas judge last week issued a temporary restraining order barring OURWalmart and others from protesting on or around Walmart store properties in the state. Judges in at least five other states have issued similar injunctions over the last couple of years, writes Ryan Williamson, an adviser to unions watch group Worker Center Watch. This Texas ruling is only a snippet of the ongoing, behind-the-scenes legal war over whether and how Walmart, fast-food, retail, college football players and other low-wage or unpaid workers can protest and ultimately, unionize. 

A hearing to appeal the temporary restraining order is scheduled for June 16. 

(h/t Washington Free Beacon)

Fresh Attack in Pakistan, FAA Approves BP Oilfield Drone, and Twins Born 24 Days Apart

Fresh Attack in Pakistan, FAA Approves BP Oilfield Drone, and Twins Born 24 Days Apart

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

  • The captain and crew of the South Korean ferry that sank, killing more than 300 people, go to trial
  • eBay’s PayPal president David Marcus resigns and joins Facebook
TAGS: Morning Rush

North Carolina Waitress Forced to Return $1,000 Tip

North Carolina Waitress Forced to Return $1,000 Tip

In odd news of the day, a Waffle House in Raleigh, N.C., forced a waitress to return the $1,000 tip she received on Mother’s Day. During her late shift, a gentleman customer made Shaina Brown’s night after leaving a $1,500 tip—$500 of which was asked to be shared with another woman, a down-and-out-looking customer at a nearby table. Brown, according to the News & Observer’s Josh Shaffer, is a 26-year-old single mother of three working two jobs.

For more on Waffle House’s policy regarding large tips like Brown’s, read Shaffer’s thoughtful piece, which may just have gotten Brown her tip back.

The customer, a Raleigh businessman, prefers to remain anonymous.

(h/t Raleigh News & Observer)

Las Vegas Shooting, Audra McDonald’s Tony Speech and the First Vine from Space

Las Vegas Shooting, Audra McDonald's Tony Speech and the First Vine from Space

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

  • Today’s Google Doodle is fifth grader Audrey Zhang’s creation. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Why Are So Many Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America for the U.S.?

Why Are So Many Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America for the U.S.?

Scores of children, most of them from Central America and the majority without family or adults to accompany them, are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border at a staggering rate. Since November of 2013, some 47,000 unaccompanied children have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. Between 2004 and 2011, the number of apprehended unaccompanied minors averaged at around 6,800, according to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (PDF). The influx has become a “humanitarian situation” of such significant proportions that this week the White House announced a coordinated federal response spearheaded by FEMA. 

But why are so many children taking such harrowing risks to make the journey from Central America to the U.S.? There are currently three prevailing theories, but no easy answers.

1) To reunite with family in the U.S. More than one-third of unaccompanied minors from Central America who crossed the border had at least one parent in the U.S., Vox’s Dara Lind reportedBrian Duran, a 14-year-old from central Honduras, told the AP

[Duran] knew that a couple of friends who left before he did had given themselves up after crossing and been reunited with family in the U.S. Sitting inside the walled compound of a migrant shelter in this Mexican border city across the Rio Grande from Texas, Brian wonders if that is still the case as he seeks a way to make his own crossing.

“I don’t know what the environment is like now, if they (Border Patrol) are supporting or if they are returning the minors,” he said Tuesday. He said he has an uncle in the U.S., but doesn’t know where because he lost his number while journeying north.

2) To escape violence and economic instability in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. While factors in every country are unique, “one overriding factor has played a decisive and forceful role in recent years,” reads the USCCB report (PDF). “Generalized violence at the state and local levels and a corresponding breakdown of the rule of law have threatened citizen security and created a culture of fear and hopelessness.” The USCCB report paints a portrait of rapid destabiliziation aggravated by transnational criminal networks responsible for wanton extortion, kidnappings, threats and forced conscription of youth into criminal activity.

PRI reported on the story of Eric, a teen from Honduras, whose father sent him to the U.S.:

Eric, who was 16, lived in Honduras with his father, who was a banker. Police would frequently detain Eric for petty infractions, and extort money from his father. Eric’s parents stopped paying the “fines” and ultimately Eric landed in a prison with adult inmates. Eric’s father paid what Cruz called a “ransom” to get him out of jail. Eric’s family sent him to California but he was ultimately deported, and returned to Honduras where he was killed. Authorities have not found those responsible for the murder.

3) To take advantage of lenient U.S. immigration policy regarding children. This line is particularly politicized, as it’s being pushed much more heavily by immigration restrictionists and Republican lawmakers. “Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies, and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America,” Virginia Rep. Robert Goodlatte told the New York Times’ Julia Preston. Ana Solorzano, an immigration official based in El Salvador, told the New York Times that policy and deportation shifts, however subtle, left families with the impression that the U.S had “opened its doors” to women and children.

Not necessarily, reports the Washington Post’s Katie Zezima, who writes that while the U.S. does have more lenient policy for unaccompanied minors, it’s not clear that youth crossing right now are even aware of those policies shifts.

Connecticut Considers Transfer of Transgender Teen Held in Adult Prison

Connecticut Considers Transfer of Transgender Teen Held in Adult Prison

Jane Doe, a transgender 16-year-old girl being held in an adult women’s prison in Connecticut without charge, may soon be transferred to a private treatment facility in Massachusetts. The state’s commissioner for the Department of Children and Families, Joette Katz, says that her agency has identified an unnamed location that Doe may be transferred to in the next two weeks. 

But Doe’s advocates are cautious of the latest development. ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio tells Colorlines that any update about moving Doe out of prison is an important one—but that the road ahead will still be tough. “No matter what happens in the future, she will need significant support to recover from the past decade of traumas,” says Strangio. “Including the trauma of spending the last three months in isolation or near isolation without peer interaction at this critically important stage of development.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Katz points out the possible transfer facility is one where staff is trained to meet the needs of transgender youth. Katz also says her desire is that “Jane Doe improves to the point that she can be placed with foster parents.” 

So far, Jane Doe has been at the York Correctional Facility in Niantic for 59 days.  

Weekend Listen: After Isla Vista, Male Voices on So-Called Women’s Issues

Weekend Listen: After Isla Vista, Male Voices on So-Called Women's Issues

The Isla Vista killings this May sparked much conversation about misogyny, with many women using the #YesAllWomen hashtag to express their daily fears of violence, as well as anger. But is misogyny a women’s issue only? — San Francisco’s KALW host Rose Aguilar posed that question yesterday with leading voices on gender-based violence and male socialization: Jackson Katz, Byron Hurt and Quentin Walcott.  The hour-long interview gives plenty of time to get into other current topics like the “rape culture” controversy and more.

(h/t KALW)

D-Day Anniversary, Vodaphone Tapping and Beastie Boys Win Lawsuit

D-Day Anniversary, Vodaphone Tapping and Beastie Boys Win Lawsuit

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

  • World leaders arrive in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Hundreds of Moms Protest Wal-Mart This Week

Hundreds of Moms Protest Wal-Mart This Week

Following last month’s gathering of fast food workers outside McDonald’s headquarters, moms are organizing for a living wage, too. Ahead of Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas tomorrow, hundreds of  so-called Wal-Mart moms are staging strikes this week in 20 cities across the country. At one candlelight vigil held outside board chair Rob Walton’s Phoenix home this Monday, 25-year-old Bene’t Holmes told CNN Money, “I am trying to tell Wal-Mart that they should not retaliate against workers, and that they need to raise wages and respect us.” Holmes earns $8.75 an hour at a Chicago-area store. The picket line moms say they want more full-time openings, wages of more than $25,000 a year and an end to retaliation against outspoken workers. Should Wal-Mart implement these demands, it would signify widescale change throughout the retail industry.

Wal-Mart employs about 1.3 million people or 1 percent of the working population in the U.S., making it America’s largest private employer. The Guardian reports that the company posted a $16 billion profit last year and the Walton family, which owns more than half of Wal-Mart, is worth almost $145 billion. 

(h/t CNN Money)

Commuter Attacked for Speaking Bengali

Commuter Attacked for Speaking Bengali

On a DC-area commuter train this May, 58-year-old Patrick Sullivan harassed and attacked a Muslim man who remains unidentified in yesterday’s news report from Fairfax, Va. Both government workers, Sullivan appears to have been enraged by the man speaking Bengali on his cell phone. “Speak English!”, he’s reported to have yelled before escalating to hitting the man and alerting the conductor that perhaps the victim had a bomb as he was Muslim.

Local police charged Sullivan with misdemeanor assault and battery as a hate crime. But a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations says the assault should be punished more severely. 

Do you agree? Watch WJLA’s report to hear CAIR’s reasoning.

(h/t WJLA)

Canadian Shooting, RIP Chester Nez, and Free Donuts

Canadian Shooting, RIP Chester Nez, and Free Donuts

Here’s what I’m reading up on today (and yes, free donuts!):

  • Chester Nez, the last surviving original Navajo Code Talker, has passed away
TAGS: Morning Rush

History: Why the Young Lords Took Over Lincoln Hospital

History: Why the Young Lords Took Over Lincoln Hospital

Back in 1970, according to the then head of pediatrics, children got lead poisoning while hospitalized at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. That and rats in the emergency room are only a couple of the indicators dramatizing just how neglected the public hospital was. Times have changed however, partly because of the Young Lords takeover of Lincoln in July 1970. With the help of nurses and doctors, the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican group similar to the Black Panthers, barricaded the doors and took over the hospital for 24 hours. Listen now to WNYC radio’s Amanda Aronczyk to hear how the stand-off ended and what the confrontation won for the South Bronx.

(h/t WNYC Radio)

Angel Haze Drops Unlikely Song With Ludacris for ‘22 Jump Street’

Angel Haze Drops Unlikely Song With Ludacris for '22 Jump Street' Play

Looks like Angel Haze is relishing her crossover success. The openly queer rapper just dropped a track with Ludacris for the soundtrack of the upcoming “22 Jump Street” featuring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. The uptempo track features Haze singing and rapping the film’s theme song. The film hits theaters on June 13. 

(Hypetrak)

Bergdahl Release Video, Instagram 6.0 and the Secrets of Koala Tree Hugging

Bergdahl Release Video, Instagram 6.0 and the Secrets of Koala Tree Hugging

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning (feel free to skip to the koala cuteness, of course): 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Seattle Fought For $15 And Got It

Seattle Fought For $15 And Got It

Seattle beat out San Francisco yesterday to become the city in the nation with the highest minimum wage: $15-an-hour. Workers won’t see the bump in their paychecks until 2017 though. The increase will be phased in over three to seven years depending on the size of the business. In exchange for providing health insurance, businesses with 500 or more employees have a year’s extension giving them four years to implement the wage increase. Yesterday’s vote is being described as historic and a model for the rest of the country where continued fast food worker protests have drawn increasing attention to employees’ struggle to improve wages.

Some local businesses support the compromise plan reached after months of negotiation but many are torn, as the PBS News Hour video shows. One business group, the International Franchise Association plans to file suit, calling the increase “unfair” and “discriminatory.”

(h/t Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Syria’s ‘Election,’ Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage and RiRi’s Dress

Syria's 'Election,' Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage and RiRi's Dress

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

  • Two 12-year-old girls are being charged as adults for stabbing their friend for “Slender Man,” a fictional Internet character.
  • Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride (yes, there’s a company called that) are in a bidding war to take Hillshire Brands, which is itself trying to acquire Pinnacle Foods.  
  • Donald Sterling faces a lawsuit for sexual harassment and racist slurs. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

LAUSD Suspensions Down, But They Might Not Tell The Whole Story

LAUSD Suspensions Down, But They Might Not Tell The Whole Story

While Los Angeles public schools have dramatically cut their suspension rates, some youth advocates warn that the seeming improvements don’t tell the whole story.

The Los Angeles Times’ Teresa Watanabe reports on allegations of principals turning to off-the-books suspensions to continue punishing students while still reporting dips in suspensions:

The principal at Manchester Elementary in South Los Angeles was removed earlier this year following allegations that he sent at least 20 students home while directing staff not to mark them absent or suspended, according to two knowledgeable sources who asked for anonymity to avoid retaliation. A district official confirmed Gregory Hooker’s removal “pending the outcome of an investigation” but declined to provide further details.

A confidential report by two community organizations in 2012 found that some principals were using “work-arounds” to district mandates to reduce suspensions. Maisie Chin, executive director of CADRE, a South Los Angeles nonprofit that has long worked on the discipline issue, declined to release the report but said it showed that some students were being sent home, sometimes with no given reason, depriving them of the due process rights in the formal suspension process.

Los Angeles schools have faced pressure to cut their suspension rates as the school-to-prison pipeline has become a national conversation. But this kind of cut is probably not what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had in mind when he decried the overuse of suspensions in the nation’s schools. Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times.

White GOP Candidate Changes Name to Cesar Chavez in Arizona Race

White GOP Candidate Changes Name to Cesar Chavez in Arizona Race

Scott Fistler didn’t do too well in the 2012 election. The Republican ran (and lost) as a write-in candidate against Rep. Ed Pastor, a Democrat. But Fistler seems to have had a novel idea to take the 7th district—which is largely Latino—later this year.

About six months ago, Fislter petitioned a judge for a name change—to Cesar Chavez, ostensibly after the labor leader. He’s also switched parties and is now a Democrat running on the ticket to, once again, try to win. It’s unclear if any of his political views have changed.

But it gets better. Chavez’s election website (“CESAR CHAVEZ for CONGRESS 2014!”—that also includes a Spanish language translation) features images of masses of people wearing red t-shirts with the name Chavez plastered on them. But those folks aren’t out on the streets of Arizona for candidate Chavez; they’re on the streets of Venezuela for now-deceased President Hugo Chávez.  

To be fair, however, this wouldn’t be the first time someone would confuse Cesar Chavez and Hugo Chávez for the same person.

(h/t Arizona Capital Times)

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