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No Charges for NYPD Cops Who Killed Kimani Gray

No Charges for NYPD Cops Who Killed Kimani Gray

Brooklyn’s district attorney’s office will not file charges against police officers who shot and killed Kimani Gray last year, CBS reported Wednesday.

Kimani Gray was standing with friends after a birthday party on March 9, 2013, says Gray’s mother, Carol. When officers from the Brooklyn South Anti-Crime Patrol approached Gray and other young men on East 52nd Street, Gray began acting “suspiciously,” CBS reported, before pulling out a gun. Officers shot and killed Gray.

As of Gray’s death last year, both officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, had been named in five federal lawsuits alleging civil rights violations, illegal stops and false arrest, the New York Daily News reported.

On Thursday night family and community held a vigil for Gray on the corner where he was killed, News12 Brooklyn reported.

Broken Ceasefire, House Delays Vacay, and Gorgeous Velella Velellas

Broken Ceasefire, House Delays Vacay, and Gorgeous Velella Velellas

Here’s what I’m reading up on this first day of August: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

U.N. Warns Against Deportations of Child Migrants

U.N. Warns Against Deportations of Child Migrants

The deportations of child migrants have already begun, and if President Obama gets his way, many more will follow. On Thursday, outgoing U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the U.S. ought to protect the roughly 57,000 child migrants who’ve arrived here this year by themselves.

“I am particularly concerned because the United States appears to be taking steps to deport most of these children back,” Pillay told Reuters. “There are almost 100 reports of physical, verbal and sexual abuse by agents towards the children filed in a complaint by NGOs [non-governmental organizations].”

Reuters’ Stephanie Nebehay reported:

But Pillay said children should only be deported if their protection was guaranteed in the countries that are returned to.

Those needing international protection should be identified and granted protection in the United States, she said.

Mandatory detention of child migrants should only be a “last resort option” as it contravenes the legal principle of upholding a child’s best interests, she added.

Arthur Chu: Faking a Chinese Accent Is a Fraught Task

Arthur Chu: Faking a Chinese Accent Is a Fraught Task

Arthur Chu, best known as a controversial Jeopardy gameshow champion, happens to be a voice actor. And along the way, picking up work has meant being asked to fake a Chinese accent, one he grew up around but worked hard to wash clean from his diction. 

It’s an irony not lost on him, and he explores the sensitivities of it over at NPR’s Code Switch. Chu writes:

Nearly every Chinese immigrant I’ve met does, in fact, “talk like that,” because it’s almost impossible not to have a thick accent when your first language is as fundamentally phonetically different from English as Mandarin or Cantonese is.

But it’s equally true that every single Chinese-American kid born here I’ve met emphatically does not “talk like that.” In fact, there isn’t a Chinese-American accent the way there’s a distinct cadence to how black Americans or Latino Americans talk. Most Chinese-Americans have a pitch-perfect “invisible” accent for wherever they live.

The “Asian accent” tells the story of Chinese-American assimilation in a nutshell. Our parents have the accent that white Americans perceive as the most foreign out of all the possible alternatives, so our choice is to have no accent at all. The accent of our parents is the accent of the grimy streets of Chinatown with its mahjong parlors and fried food stalls and counterfeit jewelry, so we work to wipe away all traces of that world from our speech so we can settle comfortably into our roles as respectable middle-class doctors, lawyers, engineers, hundreds of miles from Chinatown.

No wonder we react so viscerally to the “ching-chong, ching-chong” schoolyard taunt. To attack our language, our ability to sound “normal,” is to attack our ability to be normal. It’s to attack everything we’ve worked for.

I’d caution against Chu’s generalizations about the speech and assimilation patterns of Chinese or Asian-Americans raised in the U.S. I can think of second-generation Asian-Americans I’ve met, for instance, who may not have an identifiable “Asian-American” accent, but do speak with tones inflected by the Latino or black and even Asian immigrant neighborhoods they were raised in. Still, it’s a thoughtful take from a person with a unique perspective on the voiceover industry. Read the rest at Code Switch.

Want to hear Arthur Chu’s voice? Listen to his demo. (Sorry, none feature a Chinese accent.)

Brokers Call East New York ‘The New Frontier’

Brokers Call East New York 'The New Frontier'

East New York is home to people of color—less than 4 percent of the population there is white. Many of its residents are also poor: In 2012, more than half of the population was eligible for some kind of public service due to low incomes. But will East New York stay a working class community of color? 

A new listing is interchangeably calling East New York the “New Frontier” and the “Next Frontier,” key terms that suggest a neighborhood that’s ripe for change by white residents. For instance, the eight units at 577 New Lots Avenue has been completely gutted and brokers are offering one and two bedroom apartments between $1,100 to $1,500 with no fee—cheap by some New York City standards, but much higher than many other apartments in the neighborhood. The ad, which literally reads, “come claim your LOT,” seems to target gentrifiers who are moving further east in search of cheaper housing.

Here are some photos from the New Lots listing:

07-31-14-new-lots-1.jpg07-31-14-new-lots-a.jpg.jpg07-31-14-new-lots-2.jpg

(h/t Curbed NY)

Trans Girl’s Friend Helps Stop Stabbing Attack on D.C. Metro

Trans Girl's Friend Helps Stop Stabbing Attack on D.C. Metro

A 15-year-old transgender girl was stabbed in the back Wednesday while riding on a D.C. metro train. According to witnesses, 24-year-old Reginald Anthony Klaiber began verbally assaulting the teen before attacking her. One unnamed witness and friend of the teen told NBC News 4 that they intervened in the attack to protect her: “He pulled out a knife and he stabbed my friend. And that’s when I maced him.”

The girl is expected to recover from her injuries. Klaiber is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, which may carry an enhanced hate crime penalty because of the statements he made prior to the physical assault. 

Meet The Good Doctor At Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic

Meet The Good Doctor At Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic

Dr. Willie Parker provides abortions because he is a Christian. It’s a viewpoint that trips up the anti-abortion protesters outside Mississippi’s only (and besieged) abortion clinic, the doctor says in an amazing Esquire profile. A 2-to-1 appellate court ruling yesterday spared the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But that’s a small victory for women and families in the South. From the article:

…[A] similar law [requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges] may soon leave the state of Texas—home to twenty-seven million people—with just six abortion clinics. It is already law in North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah and looms over Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Louisiana and is likely to spread to other states, pressed by a nationwide conservative movement that uses regulation to force a result democratic votes cannot achieve. So Parker flies down from his home in Chicago for several days twice a month to perform the service so few other doctors are willing to provide.

Parker at one point in his career refused to do abortions. But he had what he calls a “come to Jesus,” moment. Check out his Esquire profile as well as the conditions facing women seeking help at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Let us know what you think.

16,000 IDF Reservists Called, Sierra Leone’s Ebola State of Emergency and Faster Immigration Court for Kids

16,000 IDF Reservists Called, Sierra Leone's Ebola State of Emergency and Faster Immigration Court for Kids

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

  • Sierra Leone calls up its troops to handle its Ebola quarantine epicenters—part of the nation’s state of emergency. 
  • Wisconsin’s Supreme Court upholds the state’s voter ID law—which currently isn’t in effect because it was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court earlier this year. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

For-Profit Schools Scoop Up Vets’ G.I. Bill Benefits

For-Profit Schools Scoop Up Vets' G.I. Bill Benefits

Major publicly-traded for-profit college corporations are profiting off veterans’ post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits—to the tune of $1.7 billion in the 2012-2013 year alone. What’s more, seven of the top eight for-profit colleges receiving these funds are currently under state or federal investigation for deceptive and potentially illegal recruiting practices. The findings were released in a new report (PDF) out today from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Veterans are a lucrative market for for-profit schools. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill allows those who’ve served a minimum of 90 days in the military since Sept. 11, 2001 access to $19,200 of student grants annually for four years. And the industry has taken advantage of it—for-profit schools that enroll just 13 percent of the nation’s college students, scooped up 25 percent of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds last year alone. Between 2009 and 2013, veteran enrollment in for-profit schools grew from 23 to 31 percent. 

One of the largest recipients of taxpayers’ veterans’ support was Corinthian Colleges, the disgraced for-profit giant which was recently forced by the federal government to offload or sell its 102 campuses nationwide. Corinthian Colleges received $186 million in Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds.

Student advocates have long been concerned that for-profit schools entice vulnerable students and saddle them with serious debt and degrees that are not valued in the marketplace—or sometimes no degree at all. Indeed, students from for-profit schools accounted for nearly half of those who defaulted on their student loans last year. 

In recent years, scandal-ridden for-profit schools have become the target of Senate investigations, lawsuits, and federal pressure for these very practices. The findings come two years after Sen. Harkin released a multi-year Senate investigation into the for-profit industry. The study found admissions officers preying on poor students in order to win access to their federal student aid and loans.

For-profit schools grew enormously in the last decade by aggressively enrolling veterans, as well as a disproportionately high number of black, Latino and poor students.

“While the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was designed to expand educational opportunities for our veterans and servicemembers, I am concerned that it is primarily expanding the coffers of the big corporations running these schools,” Sen. Harkin said in a statement.

Report: Most Child Migrants With Attorneys Show Up for Immigration Court

Report: Most Child Migrants With Attorneys Show Up for Immigration Court

In recent weeks, conservative lawmakers and anti-immigrant hawks have repeated a common refrain over the current unaccompanied minors crisis: that 90 percent of children who are released to family while they await immigration processing never show up for their immigration hearings. Children are being let loose into the country and fading into the shadows of the nation’s undocumented population, so the story goes.

In fact, for children who have attorneys, the opposite is true. Indeed, 92.5 percent of children with attorneys are present at immigration hearings, according to numbers released this month by the Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Just 27.5 percent of children without an attorney succeed in showing up.

In immigration court, adults and children alike do not have the right to an attorney. What that means is children who’ve arrived in the country by themselves and who do not speak English are being asked to navigate the notoriously labyrinthine immigration system on their own. An attorney makes a difference and can ensure that a child is able to properly make his or her case in front of an immigration judge. It is a key reason why in early June the Obama administration announced a $200 million Americorps effort to provide children with attorneys. Still, in early July civil rights groups in Washington and California filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of children with upcoming deportation hearings, AP reported. In the lawsuit, advocates demanded that those children be equipped with attorneys before they head in to see an immigration judge who could decide their life’s fate

Comedian Aamer Rahman Doesn’t Want to ‘Pander to White Audiences’

Aamer Rahman has sold out consecutive nights at London’s famed Soho Theatre and had a performance on so-called reverse racism go viral last year. But he says he’s tired of the expectation that comedians of color will make white folks feel comfortable in order to be successful. In an interview with CeaseFire, Rahman railed against the “expectation for non-white comedians to pander to white audiences. I think it is just unusual for people to see a brown person who makes comedy for black and brown people.”

TAGS: comedy video

Israel Strikes UN School, Landslide in India and Big Decision on McDonald’s Workers

Israel Strikes UN School, Landslide in India and Big Decision on McDonald's Workers

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Mother Sues U.S. Border Patrol in Slain Son’s Death

Mother Sues U.S. Border Patrol in Slain Son's Death

In October 2012 U.S. Border Patrol officers shot and killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez with 10 bullets as he walked down a street in the border city of Nogales, Mexico. Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on his mother Araceli Rodriguez’s behalf against the agency which it says operates with impunity.

“The U.S. Border Patrol agents who killed my son in a senseless act of violence are still out there and they need to be brought to justice,” said Araceli Rodriguez in a statement. “The U.S. government has not held the agents who shot my son accountable and that is why I am bringing this lawsuit.”

Border Patrol officers have killed dozens of migrants in recent years, and advocates say that those deaths have highlighted the agency’s lax use of force guidelines. Since 2005, Border Patrol officers have been involved in the deaths of at least 42 people, according to the ACLU. Fifteen of those deaths occurred in between 2011 and 2012. This spring, the agency “tightened” its rules of engagement for its officers, The Arizona Republic reported. 

Still, said ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project attorney Lee Gelernt in a statement, “Jose Antonio’s death is unfortunately not unique. Border Patrol is using excessive and unnecessary force against people on both sides of the border. Agents continue to violate the Constitution with impunity.”

Why Public Housing is Falling Apart in NYC

Why Public Housing is Falling Apart in NYC

A new report looks at how more than a decade of defunding at every level of government has led to the decline of New York City’s public housing, the largest system in North America. The report’s call for affordable housing funding akin to the Marshall Plan comes on the heels of outrage in the city over luxury building “poor doors”—separate entrances, wings and amenities for market-rate and affordable housing residents.

(h/t WNYC Radio)

Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks, High Debt and Va. Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks, High Debt and Va. Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

ICE Detains Pregnant Women Against Its Own Policy

ICE Detains Pregnant Women Against Its Own Policy

According to its own policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, only detains pregnant women if they pose a public safety threat—but new evidence illustrates the practice is quite common.

Over at Fusion, Cristina Costantini found that at 559 pregnant women have been detained by ICE in just six facilities since 2012, and there’s no reason to believe they meet ICE’s own policy for holding expecting mothers. At least 14 women suffered miscarriages while in detention in 2012. According to Fusion’s estimate, up to 57 pregnant immigrant women are being detained per day.

Read more over at Fusion

Fast Food Workers Show Strength in Numbers This Weekend

Fast Food Workers Show Strength in Numbers This Weekend

An estimated 1,200 fast food workers are back home this Monday morning after attending their first-ever national conference this weekend in Addison, Ill., about four miles from McDonald’s headquarters. The gathering dramatizes the resolve of fast food workers to escalate their campaign as well as the growth of the movement, which began with 200 workers in November 2012. Their main demands are a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) largely funded the two-day convention and North Carolina’s Moral Mondays leader Rev. William Barber III was a keynote.

Said one worker, according to The New York Times, “It’s awesome to see all these people here. I’m ready to take the next step.” This national conference comes after a mid-May protest forced McDonald’s to close company headquarters. 

For images from this weekend’s gathering, check Vice News as well as reporter Alice Speri’s Tweets from the convention hall.

Call for Immigrant Rights Advocates to Boycott White House Meetings

Call for Immigrant Rights Advocates to Boycott White House Meetings

President Obama met with three Central American presidents at the White House Friday afternoon to address the influx of unaccompanied child migrants. According to The Hill, Obama claims to have come to agreement with El Salvador’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández, and Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina to “address poverty and violence” in order to stem the immigration tide. Meanwhile, the administration is still attempting to get Congress to approve a nearly $4 billion to increase detention facilities and to hire additional immigration judges to hasten the deportation of children, which seems unlikely to happen before lawmakers take off for vacation at the end of next week.

The White House has hosted several conversations and events about immigration—not just recently about child migrants, but also about the 11 million people who remain undocumented in Obama’s second term. But critics charge that the people most affected by the immigration system, the undocumented themselves, aren’t truly represented in Washington. In a sharp essay over at Latino Rebels, California Immigration Youth Justice Alliance member Hairo Cortes, addresses the issue, and calls for major non-profit immigrant rights advocates to boycott meetings at the White House until Obama discusses the issue with undocumented people. 

With this clear history of unwillingness to lead by taking politically risky positions, and of siding with the political interests over working class immigrant communities, I call on America’s Voice, the National Council of la Raza, the National Immigration Forum, the Center for American Progress, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and all those other advocates who were unwilling to take a stand against deportations when it was most critical for them to do so, to step aside and boycott all further White House meetings until President Obama sits down with and negotiates with the undocumented immigrant day laborers, trans and queer organizers, parents, and youth who brought the proposal of Administrative Relief to the public consciousness when everyone said we should be quiet.

Mainstream advocates have long suggested that grassroots activists should quiet down about the administration’s record-setting deportation numbers and concentrate instead on putting pressure on the Republican Party to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Yet it’s been politically clear that the GOP won’t be moving on such a bill in an election year. In response to partisan blame, Cortes makes clear that his allegiance isn’t with the Democrats, but with his community.

You can read the essay, titled “Undocumented People Must Be at Negotiation Table to Achieve Substantive Relief,” in its entirety over at Latino Rebels

‘Hogtying’ of Inmates Raises Alarm About Nevada Juvenile Detention Conditions

'Hogtying' of Inmates Raises Alarm About Nevada Juvenile Detention Conditions

A Las Vegas family court judge said this week that he would like to expand an inquiry into another juvenile detention facility after ordering that inmates at a juvenile detention center in Elko, Nevada be cleared out, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“If a parent did that, it would be child abuse — probably charged criminally,” Judge William Voy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“When you treat a kid like an animal, you’re going to get an animal,” Voy said. “There’s other ways of dealing with it, without resorting to something that would otherwise be child abuse if it wasn’t in an institution.”

Staff at the Elko facility reportedly restrained juvenile inmates at the Nevada Youth Training Center by linking handcuffs and ankle shackles. Reports of the technique, known as “hobbling” or “hogtying,” spurred Judge Voy to recall 12 youth from Las Vegas who’d been held at the facility. In 2002 the Department of Justice investigated the Nevada Youth Training Center staff after receiving complaints of detainee abuse, AP reported. Five employees were eventually fired.

It’s not just Elko. More than one in four youth held in juvenile detention told researchers with the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (PDF) that they’d been restrained in some way before in 2010. Those physical restraints include: “handcuffs, wristlets, a security belt, chains, or a restraint chair.”

h/t The Crime Report

Palestinian Artist’s Show Opens Without Him in New York

Palestinian Artist's Show Opens Without Him in New York

Palestinian Artist Khaled Jarrar was all set to travel to New York for two recent art openings featuring his work—The New Museum’s “Here and Elsewhere,” and a solo show at the Whitebox Art Center. The artist may be best known for his work at the Berlin Biennale, where he offered “State of Palestine” passport stamps.

But there was a problem. As curator Myriam Vanneschi writes in Hyperallergic, Israel wouldn’t allow Jarrar, who lives in the West Bank, to travel to New York:

Israeli soldiers kept him waiting for hours on end before transporting him, together with a group of others who were denied exit, to a spot further away from the Jordanian border crossing. When they were released, they had no other option but to travel back to Ramallah. It was two o’clock in the morning at that point and he had missed his flight. He had tried to reason with them to no avail. “There is no reasoning,” he said to me. “This is retribution on their part, it is revenge and you can’t reason with that.”

In a letter to Vanneschi included in the curator’s post, Jarrar explains how he was the target of racism and humiliation by Israeli border police.

But that didn’t stop Jarrar and Vanneschi from moving forward. “No Exit,” described as new work “that deals with his status as well as the current situation in Gaza,” opened Thursday evening in New York City. The show, hosted by Whitebox and Undercurrent Projects, runs through August 7.  

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