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Black McDonald’s Workers Fired ‘To Get the Ghetto Out,’ Lawsuit Alleges

Black McDonald's Workers Fired 'To Get the Ghetto Out,' Lawsuit Alleges

This morning 10 former McDonald’s employees filed a federal civil lawsuit alleging that they were fired from their jobs this past May because there were “too many black people” in the Virginia McDonald’s stores where they worked.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges that 15 black employees were fired in McDonald’s locations in South Boston and Clarksville, Va., after the franchise operator Soweva took over the stores in 2013. Soon after assuming management, the lawsuit alleges, Soweva owner Michael Simon complained that “the ratio was off in each of the stories,” and that restaurants were “too dark.” Black workers were called “bitch,” “ghetto,” and “ratchet,” and Latino workers were called “dirty Mexicans,” the lawsuit alleges. 

Nine of the plaintiffs are black, one is Latino, and they’ve worked a combined half century at McDonald’s restaurants. They also allege that in addition to racial harassment, management made anti-gay comments and sexually harassed workers.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” plaintiff Willie Betts, a cook at the South Boston McDonald’s, said in a statement. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. I worked at McDonald’s for almost five years, I was on time every day at four o’clock in the morning to open the store, and I never had a disciplinary write-up. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family.”  

If workers prevail, the lawsuit could have lasting impacts on the effort to hold major corporations responsible for what they’ve long contended are the labor practices of their franchise owners, Al Jazeera America reports. This past July, a landmark National Labor Relations Board ruling determined that McDonald’s should be considered a “joint employer” alongside franchise operators which run its stores. McDonald’s Corporate has claimed that they are not liable for their franchise operators’ labor practices.

The workers are supported by the NAACP and Fight for 15, a union-backed worker organizing group fighting for higher wages in fast food restaurants.

Romney and Bush to Meet, Darren Wilson Dodges DOJ Charges, Sundance Kicks Off

Romney and Bush to Meet, Darren Wilson Dodges DOJ Charges, Sundance Kicks Off

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

DOJ Memo: No Civil Rights Charges Brought Against Darren Wilson

DOJ Memo: No Civil Rights Charges Brought Against Darren Wilson

The Department of Justice is reportedly preparing a memo recommending that no civil rights charges be brought against Darren Wilson. Anonymous sources, The New York Times reports, say that the completed investigation “found no evidence” to support charges against the white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown on August 9 2014. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, has withheld comment until the Justice Department issues a formal decision.

The DOJ’s “pattern or practice” investigation into the majority white Ferguson police department continues. The force faces allegations of excessive force and discriminatory traffic stops.

Read more at The New York Times.

Clergy Stage a Die-in at Congressional Cafeteria for Black Lives Matter

Clergy Stage a Die-in at Congressional Cafeteria for Black Lives Matter

Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy and people of faith staged a die-in at the congressional cafeteria in Washington, D.C. to protest the killings of unarmed black people. Over at WaPo, Wesley Lowery explains how the die-in kicked off:

The Longworth Building cafeteria, a heavily trafficked lunch spot on Capitol Hill, was bustling around 12:30 p.m. when two to three dozen clergy members let out a cry of “Black Lives Matter” and lay down on the floor in front of the cash registers.

In a statement issued by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and Auburn Seminary, which organized the action, Jewish, Christian and Muslims came together to call attention to Black Lives Matter’s demands.

Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, who participated in the die-in, made clear that black women matter, too: “As we mourn the deaths of unarmed Black men killed at the hands of law enforcement, let us speak the names of Aura Rosser, killed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when police responded to a domestic quarrel in her home, and Sharon Mosley killed in front of her 3-year-old child at a Walmart in Georgia while being apprehended by police for alleged shoplifting.”

Participants laid down for four-and-a-half minutes to represent the four-and-a-half hours Michael Brown’s body was left on the ground after he was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.

This isn’t Bend the Arc’s first action around Black Lives Matter—the group worked with others* to organize rallies in 15 cities on the first night of Chanukah in December. 

*This post has been updated to reflect that Bend the Arc worked with other groups to organize the Chanukah protests. 

The Spanish Language Version of the SOTU is Unbelievably Bad

The Spanish Language Version of the SOTU is Unbelievably Bad

The Spanish language version of the GOP’s response to Obama’s State of the Union raised some eyebrows: Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) made some tweaks to remarks made by Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). But at least Curbelo presented it in actual Spanish—which is more than can be said for the White House’s own Spanish language subtitles of the president’s speech.

As Latino Rebels points out, it was pretty bad:

Not only was the translation of the speech clunky at times (expected), but the subtitles, oh the subtitles. Any Spanish speaker who really was looking forward to watching this speech would have been greatly disappointed and confused. Want proof? Here is an actual clip from tonight with the actual subtitles flying past the video. If you were a Spanish speed reader, you might have understood it, when the translation actually made sense. We guess. Just watch. And laugh. Then shake your head and realize that when it comes to communicating in Spanish, neither Democrats nor Republicans have gotten it.

Over at HuffPo, Roque Planas breaks down some especially terrible moments that were utterly lost in translation, which were usually made in ALL CAPS that were distracting in and of themselves.

I’d add one more:

01-21-14-sotu-1.jpgThe screen read, “FAMILIAS. POD EEMSZ HACERLO.” I’m guessing it was meant to read, “Familias. Podemos hacerlo,” which would translate to “Families. We can do it.” I’m still over here trying to figure out where EEMSZ even came from—which is a word in neither English nor Spanish. 

Should Birmingham Police Be Allowed to Pepper Spray Students?

Should Birmingham Police Be Allowed to Pepper Spray Students?

In a trial that began yesterday, eight Birmingham students are suing their local police department after being pepper sprayed by police working at their four high schools. One tenth grade girl, “K.B.” according to a 2012 court order, was sprayed when she allegedly could not stop crying, or “calm down,” after “a fellow student harassed her with lewd comments because she was pregnant.” Other students had committed minor infractions like fighting or were being or had been detained by local police acting as “school resource officers.” No criminal charges have been lodged against any of the students, according to plaintiff attorneys with the SPLC which reports:

From 2006 to 2011, police in Birmingham public schools - whose students are predominantly African American - used chemical weapons on about 300 students and in the vicinity of 1,250. By contrast, in the neighboring, largely suburban Jefferson County schools, chemical spray was used just once during that same period.

An attorney for the police argues for the schools’ violent atmosphere to be taken into account, as well as the fact that police are trained on how and when to use pepper spray. The SPLC wants a stop to the use of pepper spraying in schools or mandatory training and appropriate school supervision of police officers.

Learn more about this school discipline case on AL.com.

Dream Defender Phillip Agnew on Occupy, the Police and His 5-Year Dream

Dream Defender Phillip Agnew on Occupy, the Police and His 5-Year Dream

Check out In These Times’ new Q&A with 29-year-old Phillip Agnew, one of the young leaders behind the Garner-Brown protests that many are calling a “new civil rights movement.” Agnew co-founded Florida-based Dream Defenders in 2012 in reaction to the killing of Trayvon Martin and has been organizing for racial justice ever since. Here, Agnew shares his views on Occupy, #BlackLivesMatter, ending policing in schools and what success looks like in 5 years:

I want to see us move from protest to resistance to full revolution. Constructing and building our own economy and systems and schools. I want to see community control of our food and [access] to food that enhances our bodies and our minds. And to see true self-determination for every person in this country, and that does include white people. But it means balance. Right now, black people, brown people, poor people don’t have any rights to their lives and their destinies. I’d like to see the government not engage in wars where we perpetuate an economic system that ruins democracy around the world. That’s not a five-year goal; that’s probably a lifetime goal. And I’d like to see the prison-industrial complex end. In five years, I’d like to see a good majority of states around this country closing jails, and police departments looking completely different—being governed by the people.

And ICYMI, Revolt has a handy stats sheet on 38 of today’s other leaders, too. The youngest is 19 years old.

(h/t In These Times)

These Memes Basically Sum Up Last Night’s State of the Union

There are a few ways to relive last night’s State of the Union Address. You can read the transcript, you can watch it on YouTube, or you can re-live some of its best (and worst) moments on social media. Behold:

Did Barack say…About 8 years ago… Y’all have no CHILL. #ColdWorld #ThatVETOPower #rp @bella_miel

A video posted by suezette (@suezette) on

(h/t The Grio)

State of the Union, ‘Guantanamo Diary,’ Sitting Kills You

State of the Union, 'Guantanamo Diary,' Sitting Kills You

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

  • Mohamedou Ould Slahi publishes a book about the “humiliation, sexual harassment, fear and starvation” he’s been enduring at Guantanamo for 12 years; the excerpts are harrowing
TAGS: Morning Rush

ICYMI: Alex Rivera Talks People of Color and Sci-Fi Futures

ICYMI: Alex Rivera Talks People of Color and Sci-Fi Futures

Alex Rivera—who directed “Sleep Dealer” as well as several immigration-themed music videos—spoke at the Platform Summit in Atlanta in the fall. In this clip he talks about his fascination with science fiction and why imagining the future should always be a reflection of the way our communities look today.  

How Century-Old Segregation Hurts Austin, Texas Today

How Century-Old Segregation Hurts Austin, Texas Today

In 1880, African-Americans were dispersed throughout the city of Austin, Tex. By 1940, however, African-Americans had been shunted to one section of the city. Many folks know federal housing policy and creative practices such as redlining are to blame. But less known is: How does residential segregation implemented and baked in a century ago affect white, black and Latino residents today? Get the answers in a three-part multimedia series (including fantastic maps and videos) from the Austin-American Statesman called, “Inheriting Inequality.” Check out the two-minute video above and the full project here

Mayor Wants ‘Outright’ Ban on Police Using Mug Shots for Target Practice

Mayor Wants 'Outright' Ban on Police Using Mug Shots for Target Practice

North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo criticized his city police department for using mug shots of black men in its sniper team target practice exercises Monday, the Miami Herald reported. Vallejo also took to Twitter over the weekend to say that he plans to call for city legislation to ban the practice “outright.”

After Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant found a sheet of shot-up mug shots which included the face of her brother in December, she found out that the police department used photos of men who’d been arrested over a decade ago in its sniper training program. The training program has since been suspended, and the city’s police chief J. Scott Dennis has ordered an investigation into the practice, the Miami Herald reported.

The practice says nothing about how police interact with the community off the shooting range, North Miami Beach Maj. Kathy Katerman told the Miami Herald. “We have other targets, too,” Katerman told the Miami Herald. “We don’t just shoot at black males.”

The target practice sheets were discovered amidst widespread outrage and national protests over the 2014 police killings of black men, including Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

New York’s Governor Wants to Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50

New York's Governor Wants to Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced this Sunday that he will propose legislation seeking to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.50-an-hour, the highest among U.S. states. The state minimum is currently $8.75. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan falls in line with other states and municipalities—at the behest of voters—moving ahead with increases in the face of inaction at the federal level. The debate continues however over whether anything less than $15, the new minimums first in Seattle and more recently San Francisco, is enough.

“Governor Cuomo’s proposal is also a missed opportunity to raise the wage to what New Yorkers really need,” Karen Scharff, director of Citizen Action of New York told Bloomberg News. “New York should be a national leader by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Notably, Cuomo’s plan won’t give municipalities like New York City the power to determine their own increases—but it does propose to increase the city’s minimum to $11.50-an-hour.

(h/t Bloomberg)

Protestors Rally Nationwide to Reclaim MLK’s Legacy

Protestors Rally Nationwide to Reclaim MLK's Legacy

In cities across the nation, protestors took the streets with a call to reclaim Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy this holiday weekend. The actions were part of a coordinated effort, dubbed #ReclaimMLK on social media, that sought to build off of them momentum of last year’s rallies against police brutality.

St. Louis:

Bay Area:

Cleveland:

Seattle:

New York City:

Washington, D.C.:

Milwaukee:

ISIS Hostages, Obama Prepares for State of the Union, RIP A$AP Yams

ISIS Hostages, Obama Prepares for State of the Union, RIP A$AP Yams

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Video: Black Lives Matter Delegation Visits Palestine

Video: Black Lives Matter Delegation Visits Palestine

A delegation of Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson leaders has returned from a 10-day trip to Palestine, where they sought to forge connections with Palestinian activists.

“The goals were primarily to allow for the group members to experience and see firsthand the occupation, ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians, but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation,” Dream Defenders’ legal and policy director Ahmad Abuznaid told Ebony. “In the spirit of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the connections between the African American leadership of the movement in the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished and fortified.”

While on their trip, delegates met with black Palestinians, refugees, Palestinian activists, and those who’d been removed from their homes in East Jerusalem. The Institute for Middle East Understanding assisted in developing the delegation’s itinerary. During a stop in Nazareth, the delegation staged a solidarity demonstration.

Professor Marc Lamont Hill

We came here to Palestine to stand in love and revolutionary struggle with our brothers and sisters. We come to a land that has been stolen by greed and destroyed by hate. We come here and we learn laws that have been cosigned by ink but written in the blood of the innocent. And we stand next to people who continue to courageously struggle and resist the occupation. People who continue to dream and fight for freedom. From Ferguson to Palestine, the struggle for freedom continues.

For more photos, check out IMEU’s Flickr page.

Racial Mismatch: Will White Seniors Support Today’s Youth of Color?

Racial Mismatch: Will White Seniors Support Today's Youth of Color?

A new article by Stateline’s Teresa Wiltz begins with a provocative wealth and political disparity: “Nearly 80 percent of seniors in the U.S. are white—while nearly half of people younger than 18 are black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern or multiracial.” Older and younger citizens obviously have different political interests—one prefers jobs training, the other, better roads. But add a racial mismatch and those generational differences widen, with critical implications for present state spending and the nation’s future. Take school funding, a priority for youth of color (and their parents). Wiltz writes:

“Since the late 1990s, researchers have found that when faced with a young population that looks markedly different from their own, Americans are more likely to vote “no” on local tax referendums to finance public school education and are more likely to support spending cuts. This is particularly true when the older population is predominantly white and the school-age population is not, according to a 2012 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research

And according to sociology professor Manuel Pastor “states with the largest gaps also spend less on mass transit and are more likely to pass restrictive immigration laws.” (The racial generation gap is widest in the Sunbelt states: Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada.)

If relatively wealthier white generations fail to prepare and invest in today’s growing proportion of youth of color, experts predict devastating longterm consequences for the nation. Read more in Stateline.

Livestream: Protestors Hang Huge ‘Black Power Matters’ Banner in Oakland

Bay Area protestors have hung a giant banner with the words “Black Power Matters” on the Oakland federal building this morning. The action is part of a weekend of protests scheduled throughout the Bay Area this holiday weekend that aim “Reclaim King’s Legacy.” Protestors have also stopped some BART service in downtown San Francisco as part of the actions. This weekend’s events culminate in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, Jan. 19, beginning at 11 a.m. PST at Oscar Grant Plaza (Fruitvale BART), according to a press release. Here’s the scene from The Town:

Here’s a livestream of the events in downtown Oakland this morning:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Oklahoma Executes Warner, Target Leaving Canada, Astronauts Head to Space for a Year

Oklahoma Executes Warner, Target Leaving Canada, Astronauts Head to Space for a Year

Here are some of the stories I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Authorities in Belgium foil a plot to kill cops en masse. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Watch Live: Isabel Wilkerson, Patricia Williams Talk Race in America

Watch Live: Isabel Wilkerson, Patricia Williams Talk Race in America

To celebrate The Nation’s 150th anniversary, the liberal publication is bringing together a bunch of brilliant minds to talk about race in America at the Schomberg Center for Black Culture in New York City. The center’s director Khalil Muhammad will moderate a discussion featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson, “Nation” columnist and Columbia law professor Patricia J. Williams, “Nation” editorial board member and DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University Eric Foner, “Nation” contributing writer and blogger Mychal Denzel Smith and award-winning author and essayist Darryl Pinckney.

The discussion begins at 6pm eastern, and you can tune in below. 

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