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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Graphic Design Company in Hot Water Over Noose Ad

Graphic Design Company in Hot Water Over Noose Ad

On Sunday, Seasalt & Co., a graphic design company, placed the following post on its Facebook page—which it removed around 2:15 p.m ET on Monday:

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Comments and shares started pouring in—including those from people who were offended at the imagery of a noose hanging from a tree, which has become synonymous with racial terror and the lynching of black people in U.S. history. Many user comments had been removed from the Facebook post; the first that appeared from the company itself was a reply thanking a supporter “for thinking outside the box on this. Being hung wasn’t designed just for one race of people. There is a long standing history and more to what is being seen in this advertising image. It represents so much more.”

It’s unclear how big the company is or where they’re located, although an interview with “sole owner and designer” Brittany Davis from June 2013 indicates they may be in Tampa, Fla. 

The product, which is described as a “Creative PS/PSE Action Collection” appears to be a set of Photoshop actions that company has developed.

Tweets made by thousands of Twitter users admonished the ad, and Seasalt & Co. weighed in with a Facebook response today, which it also removed after about three hours:

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Ostensibly due to the federal holiday, the company sent Colorlines an automated e-mail today in response to a request for comment:

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We’ll try to reach the company again on Tuesday. 

Seasalt & Co.’s advertisement came out just days after the Equal Justice Initiative published a report, researched over the course of five years, showing that more than 700 lynchings had occurred than were recorded in 12 states the South—especially in places that have fought against commemorating racial terror and have chosen instead to memorialize the Confederacy. 

Watch Lisa Ling’s Husband Devour a Chicken Wing in 2 Seconds Flat

Watch Lisa Ling's Husband Devour a Chicken Wing in 2 Seconds Flat

We’re calling it Man Crush Monday, Chicken Wing Edition.

Journalist Lisa Ling has got a talented husband in Paul Song, who’s got his own career and identity, yes, but who we’re celebrating today for…his chicken-eating skills. Ling shared this Instagram over the weekend and it’s something to behold:

#familydinner #speedchickenwingeating @paulysong

A video posted by Lisa Ling (@lisalingstagram) on

Don’t pretend you’re not going to be trying this for yourself tonight.

Milwaukee Cops Let A Reporter In; Here’s What They Say

Milwaukee Cops Let A Reporter In; Here's What They Say

Have you ever called 911 on the cops? That’s what African-American mom Lisa Mahone did after Hammond, Ind., police officers pulled her and her family over last year for a seatbelt violation. Cell-phone video of the incident went viral. But WBEZ’s “This American Life” expands the story by following up with Mahone and getting audio from her conversation with an incredulous 911 dispatcher, too, all in an effort to highlight something larger: the Grand Canyon-sized gulf between how police officers (and, perhaps, TAL’s mainstream audience) and many African-Americans view the same incident. Mahone’s exchange with the dispatcher opens Part One of TAL’s insider’s look at how “Cops See It Differently”, set in Milwaukee.

Unsurprisingly in Milwaukee as in elsewhere, past and current police abuses or incompetence as well as arrest disparities cast a heavy shadow on all interactions between police and African-Americans. Trust is built in inches and lost in miles, it seems. But by the end of the episode I wondered, too: Do black and brown communities need police officers to be friendlier, or do they need officers, when wrong, to be held accountable by their city? And if improving police accountability is a measure of political power, can highly policed, low-income black and brown communities achieve that goal, locally, on their own?

The episode is worth the listen, as is last Friday’s Part Two, which covers last week’s unprecedented race speech from FBI director James Comey. The episode revisits the Eric Garner video and moves from Staten Island, N.Y. to Miami Gardens, Fla. and Las Vegas for a look at police-community relations there.

How easy or difficult is it for police to be held accountable in your own community?

FAA Drone Proposal, DJ Zane Lowe Leaving BBC for Apple, New Aggressive HIV Strain

FAA Drone Proposal, DJ Zane Lowe Leaving BBC for Apple, New Aggressive HIV Strain

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

  • Two people are arrested in connection with the killing of two people at a free-speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark; the suspect was killed after the shooting. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Houston’s Islamic Institute Fire Likely Caused by Arson

Houston's Islamic Institute Fire Likely Caused by Arson

A fire that destroyed a building at Houston’s Quba Islamic Institute early Friday morning was set intentionally. This, according to the Houston Chronicle:   

Ahsan Zahid, 25, said arson investigators with the Houston Fire Department told him that an accelerant was used in the fire that broke out about 5:30 a.m.  at Quba Islamic Institute at 730 FM 1959 near Gulfstream Park.

Zahid, a political science student at the University of Houston, said two working theories are being pursued. The fire was started on purpose to damage the building or it was started by a homeless person who broke in to the building because of the cold. 

The fire department, meanwhile, has not confirmed the cause of the fire to reporters. 

On its Facebook page, the Quba Islamic Institute posted that “all activites will continue today” at the center: 

According to its website, the Quba Islamic Institute holds the first of five daily prayers at 6:15 a.m. this morning—just an hour or so before the fire broke out. Aside from individuals who may have set the fire, no one was inside the building when it started. 

Today’s fire in Texas comes on the heels of the killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina Tuesday evening, which is now the subject of an inquiry by federal investigators

Spread Love, It’s the Newark Way

Spread Love, It's the Newark Way

This Valentine’s Day and for couples only, Newark plans to sell 100 city-owned lots for—get this—$1,000 each. It’s called a “Valentine’s Day Land Sale.” From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. this coming Saturday, the predominantly African-American city will sell lots on a first-come, first-served basis out of its city hall. There are a few rules, but none too stressful for presumably committed couples. And get this: Couples don’t have to be Newark or New Jersey residents to get in on the deal. 

The V-Day Land Sale is the brainchild of Baye Adofo-Wilson, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development. He tells The Wall Street Journal, “For young families trying to find a place to put down roots, we want to give this place as an option. We want them to know Newark is welcoming.”

It’s also not a bad way to turn abandoned eyesores into a new tax base for the city, either.

For rules and lot locations, visit Mayor Ras Baraka’s Web site.

FBI Opens Inquiry Into Chapel Hill Shootings

FBI Opens Inquiry Into Chapel Hill Shootings

Update, 3:40pm ET: President Obama has made his first public statement about the Chapel Hill shootings, calling the killings of Dean Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha “brutal and outrageous.” “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship,” Obama said in a statement,” The Hill reported.

……………

While Chapel Hill, N.C., police continue to investigate Craig Hicks’ motives in the shooting deaths of Dean Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, the FBI has opened its own inquiry into the Tuesday night homicides. 

The FBI’s inquiry should not be confused with a full investigation, the Washington Post reports. Rather, the federal agency will be doing a preliminary review of the evidence to figure out whether Hicks broke any federal laws when he killed Barakat, a 23-year-old student, his 21-year-old wife Yusor, and her 19-year-old sister Razan. While Chapel Hill police say all motives are on the table—in early remarks Police Chief Chris Blue said the shooting seemed to have its origins in a parking dispute. Outraged, the Mohammad sisters’ father called their killings the very definition of hate.

Regardless of what conclusions the FBI or local police come to, former UNC-Chapel Hill professor Omid Safi wrote for The Guardian, that we as a society must look beyond the narrow legal definitions of what constitutes a “hate crime.” Vitriolic anti-Muslim sentiment in the post-9/11 era has cost real people their very lives. “The more important question is how we are going to introduce love and justice back into the public arena, and how to insist on the dignity and sanctity of all of our lives,” Safi wrote.

And, in a final, heartbreaking note, StoryCorps segment allowed the public to hear Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha’s own voice this week when it shared a conversation she had with her third grade teacher Mussarut Jabeen. “Although in some ways I do stand out, such as the hijab I wear on my head, the head covering,” Abu-Salha said, there’s still so many ways that I feel embedd in the fabric that is, you know, our culture.” Listen to the rest at NPR.

Alabama Cop Fired After Video Slamming Indian Grandfather to the Ground

Alabama Cop Fired After Video Slamming Indian Grandfather to the Ground

The Madison, Ala., police department has released video of officer Eric Parker slamming 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel to the ground during a stop on a suburban street last Friday. According to AL.com, Parker has turned himself in and is now facing assault charges.

In a recording also released by police, the caller who contacted the department about Patel describes him as “a skinny black guy,” who was “walking around close to the garage,” adding that he was scared for his wife’s safety.

Patel is hospitalized for the injuries he sustained, which left him nearly paralyzed. 

Report: New York City Charter Schools Discipline Rules Violate Students’ Rights

Report: New York City Charter Schools Discipline Rules Violate Students' Rights

New York City charter schools’ harsh discipline policies violate city standards and state law, researchers at the New York City group Advocates for Children (PDF) found. A new report, released Thursday, details a troubling narrative: the joyful relief families feel over their children’s admission to a charter school soon gives way to frustration and confusion when their students are suspended, and then often summarily expelled by those same charter schools that promise extra supports for students.

In their review of 164 New York City charter schools, researchers found that 107 had policies that allow for the suspension or even expulsion of a student who violates any part of the school’s discipline code, regardless of the infraction. Even though charter schools are exempt from these regulations, the New York City Department of Education stipulates that children under 17 and those with disabilities are not allowed to be expelled, and forces schools to make punishments proportional to the type of infraction.

For 133 of 164 city charter schools, administrators are not required to offer a written notice prior to the suspension of a child. New York state law requires such a notice. Thirty-six of 164 New York City charter schools have no extra protocols for dealing with the suspension or expulsion of students with disabiliites, also in violation of state and federal law. 

Further compounding the difficulties of understanding the full scope of the issue is the fact that state law does not disclose the number of students whom charter schools expel, according to AFC. But, AFC says, even those data would be incomplete as the organization works with many parents who say charter schools urge them to remove their children in order to avoid expulsion—something that’d be harmful and embarrassing to both parties. 

“We hear from parents who celebrated winning the charter-school lottery only to have their students face repeated suspension or expulsion from school with no opportunity to challenge it,” Paulina Davis, a staff attorney for Advocates for Children, said in a release. “Students do not give up their civil rights when they enter charter schools.” AFC released the report with recommendations for lawmakers to force charter schools to comply with city and state policies. 

Obama’s Cybertech Executive Order, The Fitbit Rash, Drake’s Mixtape, NASA’s Jedis

Obama's Cybertech Executive Order, The Fitbit Rash, Drake's Mixtape, NASA's Jedis

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

*Post has been updated to reflect that Drake’s new releaseis a mixtape rather than a full studio album.
TAGS: Morning Rush

One Image Captures Loss in the Muslim Student Killings

One Image Captures Loss in the Muslim Student Killings

Mohammad Alsalti is a student at the University of Cincinnati’s design school, but his family lives in Raleigh, N.C., close to where three Muslim students were shot and killed by a white gunman Tuesday evening. When he heard about what happened in Chapel Hill, Alsalti says he instinctively created a design that’s popping up all over social media today:

“First off, being a Muslim-American myself, this really hit home,” wrote Alsalti in an e-mail to Colorlines. “And with [their] ages being so close to mine, 21, it could have easily been me.”

You can check out more of Alsalti’s work on his site, teddycreates.com, and on his Instagram page

Indian Grandfather Nearly Paralyzed After Police Encounter in Alabama

Indian Grandfather Nearly Paralyzed After Police Encounter in Alabama

Police in Madison, Alabama—a growing town just west of Huntsville—say they were responding to a call about a “suspicious person” walking around looking in home garages. That’s when they found Sureshbhai Patel, a 57-year-old grandfather with permanent residence status in the U.S. who was visiting from India. What happened next left him nearly paralyzed.

Patel, who doesn’t speak much English, was being questioned by officers who wanted to search him when, apparently, he tried to walk away. He was then thrown to the ground and eventually taken to the hospital where he’s being treated for fused vertebrae.

The incident isn’t necessarily isolated. South Asian Americans Leading Together, or SAALT, says that what happened to Patel illustrates the inequities communities of color face when dealing with the police.

“This incident is part of a pattern of racial profiling, surveillance, and violence that South Asians often face at the hands of law enforcement and part of the broader reality of police brutality in this country directed against Black and Brown communities,” says SAALT’s Suman Raghunathan via e-mail. The group says it’s echoing the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement to change the way that policing is done.

According to AL.com, the Madison Police Department has issued a statement that the case is under investigation and “the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.” 

Chapel Hill Police Say Killing of Muslim Students Due to ‘Parking Dispute’

Chapel Hill Police Say Killing of Muslim Students Due to 'Parking Dispute'

Update, 2:20p ET: Father calls killings a ‘hate crime’
The father of Yosur Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha is contradicting the narrative that the motive behind his daughters’ killings was caused because of a parking dispute. According to newsobserver.com, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, the women’s father, says that Craig Stephen Hicks had intimidated his daughters and son-in-law on other occasions prior to the killings:  

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

Abu-Salha adds that one of his daughters had recently talked about having “a hateful neighbor.” 

The Chapel Hill Police Department has issued a statement about the three Muslims students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, who were shot and killed by Craig Stephen Hicks, a 46-year-old white man Tuesday night. In it, authorities say their “preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder; police say he’s cooperating with the investigation. 

But many have pointed out that Hicks posted virulently anti-religion posts on his Facebook account. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), meanwhile, has released its own statement urging for a state and federal investigation in order to “quickly address speculation of a possible bias motive in the case.” In the statement, CAIR’s Nihad Awad points out Hicks’s anti-religion assertions—and that two of his victims were dressed in religious attire.

A vigil is scheduled in Chapel Hill’s Peace and Justice Plaza at 7 p.m. local time to honor the lives of Barakat, Mohammad and Abu-Salha. A smaller candlelight vigil is already being planned in the Philadelphia area at Bryn Mawr College. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Barakat attended school and Mohammad had planned to attend in the fall, has issued a statement that says the school is planning a vigil this evening, with details soon to emerge. According to ABC News, N.C, State Chancellor acknowledged in a statement that the victims include two current students and an alumni; it’s not clear whether N.C. State will hold its own vigil. 

New York City Cop Indicted in Akai Gurley Stairwell Shooting

New York City Cop Indicted in Akai Gurley Stairwell Shooting

A grand jury has indicted officer Peter Liang for manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley, 28, in the unlit stairwell of a Brooklyn public housing project last November. Gurley, the father of a 2-year-old, had just entered the stairwell landing after 11 p.m. with his girlfriend when Liang, a rookie officer on a routine-but-controversial stairwell patrol, fired his gun. The New York Times reported that Liang fired his gun as he was also turning the door knob to enter the stairwell; drawing weapons during stairwell patrols in public housing is “longtime police practice.”

Gurley’s shooting occurred in the tense days leading up to grand jury decisions in the police killings of two other unarmed black men—Michael Brown in St. Louis and Eric Garner in Staten Island—and helped spark local and national protests. Commissioner William Bratton had described the shooting as, “an unfortunate accident.” 

Liang reportedly faces multiple criminal charges and up to 15 years in prison. Grand juries rarely indict police officers. When they do, as FiveThirtyEight reports, police officers typically are not convicted, nor do they serve time.

(h/t NY Daily News)

Three Muslim Family Members Murdered in Chapel Hill; Suspect Surrenders [VIDEO]

Three Muslim Family Members Murdered in Chapel Hill; Suspect Surrenders [VIDEO]

Three Muslim-American family members, aged 19 through 23, all students, were killed Tuesday evening in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. What’s known in this developing story is that a 46-year-old white man, Craig Stephen Hicks, turned himself into police following the triple homicide of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Police have not released a statement on Hicks’ motive and while his religion has not been confirmed, one early WRAL report points to Facebook posts linked to Hicks about atheism. He reportedly lived in the same neighborhood as the three victims.

According to WRAL, Barakat, a dental student at UNC-Chapel Hill, married North Carolina State student, Mohammad in December. Her younger sister Razan also attended NC State and is a graduate of a Raleigh high school. Barakat, seen in the call-for-donations video above, was scheduled to travel to Turkey this year as part of Project Refugee Smiles to provide free dental care to Syrians fleeing civil war.

The hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter appeared over night to protest an apparent lack of media coverage. News of the triple homicide, according to the NY Daily News, did not make national headlines last night.

The story is developing. 

Muslim Students Shot Dead, Jeb Bush Staffer Resigns, 10 Million Passwords Released

Muslim Students Shot Dead, Jeb Bush Staffer Resigns, 10 Million Passwords Released

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Lynching Report, Strauss-Kahn Trial, Warnings Against ‘Measles Parties’

Lynching Report, Strauss-Kahn Trial, Warnings Against 'Measles Parties'

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

  • Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn bites his lip in court as a sex worker describes his abuse of her during testimony at a trial in France.
  • Google is teaming with the Mayo Clinic to curate search results for those symptoms you’re always worrying about.
  • Researchers in Vermont claim that all languages are biased toward positivity. (Note they only examine English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian and Arabic, thereby leaving out an entire hemisphere’s worth of languages, yet come to a universal conclusion.) 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Al Sharpton Doesn’t Think Younger Activists Have a Movement

Al Sharpton Doesn't Think Younger Activists Have a Movement

Al Sharpton had some terribly patronizing and unfortunate things to say about young activists recently in a Washington Post profile. Like this comment in response to his national youth director, Mary-Pat Hector, 17:

“The issue with my generation is we’re more about the Occupy organizing model,” she told Sharpton now. “You know, everyone can be a leader, that kind of thing.”

“I hear them saying that,” Sharpton said. ” ‘We don’t want Al Sharpton taking over our movement.’ But my question is: What movement? Y’all ain’t got nothing to take over.”

“They want everything to rise from the ground up,” Hector said.

“Fine, okay, but then tell me your strategy,” Sharpton said. “You burned the building down. Great. Now what?”

And this:

Is there anyone else who can do all of this? Anyone other than me? Seriously, I’m talking about anyone else?”

This is what Sharpton was asking the next day, back in the hotel conference room, meeting again with the 25 community leaders from his National Action Network. The issue at hand was one Sharpton thought about often: Who, if anyone, was in place to become the next Al Sharpton? He wanted to invite some younger national leaders to join his vigil with the Garners on King Day, but he didn’t know whom to invite. “What ever happened to Ben Jealous?” Sharpton asked, referencing the former leader of the NAACP. “How about talented leadership in Chicago? Anyone good coming up behind Jesse in Chicago?”

Naturally, Sharpton’s comments have sparked outrage among younger generations of activists. 

Read more.

Watch: Family, Friends Say Goodbye to Jessie Hernandez

It’s been three weeks since 17-year-old Jessica “Jessie” Hernandez was killed by Denver police officers, and over the weekend her family and friends finally got the chance to say goodbye. Hernandez was laid to rest as questions continue to swirl around her death, which was the latest in a long and deadly list of fatal encounters between Denver’s residents and its police force.

“I’ve been crying the whole ride over here — I just don’t think I’m quite ready to look at her,” Quarron Floyd said outside the chapel where Hernandez’s body laid on Saturday morning. The Denver Postreported that a “massive crowd” gathered to pay their respects to the teen.

(h/t Denver Post)

Vox Interviews Obama, Samsung SmartTV Spies on You, Grammys Wrap

Vox Interviews Obama, Samsung SmartTV Spies on You, Grammys Wrap

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

  • A stampede in a clash between sports fans and police in Cairo leads to at least 19 deaths
  • Your Samsung SmartTV is listening to your personal conversations and the company warns people that: “be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
TAGS: Morning Rush
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