Black Lives Matter-Ugliness of Racism.

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Louisiana $10 million lawsuit alleges police killed fleeing Black man
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Feb 13, 2023 • 1 minute read

SHREVEPORT, La. — Family members of Alonzo Bagley, a Black man who was killed as he tried to flee police responding to a disturbance call, have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the officer who shot him.


The federal lawsuit was filed last week in Shreveport by his wife, mother and stepdaughter of Bagley, 43. He was fatally shot on Feb. 3. The lawsuit said he had run from his apartment after refusing to talk to the officers.


State police are investigating and said last week that no weapon was found on or near Bagley. The lawsuit says Bagley was unarmed and had his hands up when Officer Alexander Tyler shot him.

“The lethal force used against Mr. Bagley was unjustified, unreasonable, excessive, and in violation of Mr. Bagley’s rights under the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana,” the lawsuit said.

An email to police seeking comment from Tyler or the department did not receive an immediate response. The department has referred all questions to state police.


Authorities said Bagley was killed after two officers responded to a call around 10:50 p.m. on Feb. 3. Col. Lamar Davis, the superintendent of Louisiana State Police, said during a news conference last week that it was a “domestic disturbance” call but no details have been released.

Bagley went through a bedroom onto a balcony, jumped to the ground and ran, Davis said. The officers chased him.

“Upon rounding a corner of the building, Officer Tyler observed Mr. Bagley and fired one shot from his service weapon, which struck Mr. Bagley in the chest,” Davis said. He added that both officers rendered immediate first aid but Bagley was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Davis said the state police investigation would include interviews of witnesses and reviews of officers’ body camera and car camera video — none of which has yet been made public. The lawsuit says Bagley’s stepdaughter, a plaintiff in the suit, is among the witnesses to the shooting.
 

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Judge vacates conviction of man imprisoned nearly 3 decades
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jim Salter
Published Feb 14, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

ST. LOUIS — A Missouri judge on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a man who has served nearly 28 years of a life sentence for a killing that he has always said he didn’t commit.


Lamar Johnson, 50, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly as a member of his legal team patted him on the back when Circuit Judge David Mason issued his ruling. In coming to his decision, Mason explained that there had to be “reliable evidence of actual innocence — evidence so reliable that it actually passes the standard of clear and convincing.”


Johnson walked free after he was processed out at the courthouse. Beaming, he walked up to reporters in the courthouse lobby about two hours after the ruling and thanked everyone who worked on his case, as well as the judge.

“This is unbelievable,” said Johnson, who didn’t take any questions.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who filed a motion in August seeking Johnson’s release after an investigation her office conducted with help from the Innocence Project convinced her he was telling the truth, applauded the ruling.


“Mr. Lamar Johnson. Thank you. You’re free,” she said before the gathered press.

Gardner said this is a time for Johnson to spend with his attorneys and family.

“This is Valentine’s Day and this is historical,” she said.

The Republican-led state attorney general’s office fought to keep Johnson locked up. A spokeswoman for the office, Madeline Sieren, said in an email that the office will take no further action in the case. She again defended the office’s push to keep Johnson behind bars.

“As he stated when he was sworn in, Attorney General (Andrew) Bailey is committed to enforcing the laws as written,” Sieren wrote. “Our office defended the rule of law and worked to uphold the original verdict that a jury of Johnson’s peers deemed to be appropriate based on the facts presented at trial.”


Johnson’s attorneys blasted the state attorney general’s office after the hearing, saying it “never stopped claiming Lamar was guilty and was comfortable to have him languish and die in prison.”

“Yet, when this State’s highest law enforcement office could hide from a courtroom no more, it presented nothing to challenge the overwhelming body of evidence that the circuit attorney and Lamar Johnson had amassed,” they said in a statement.

Johnson plans to reconnect with his family and enjoy experiences he was denied for most of his adult life while locked up, his lawyers said.

“While today brings joy, nothing can restore all that the state stole from him. Nothing will give him back the nearly three decades he lost while separated from his daughters and family,” they said. “The evidence that proved his innocence was available at his trial, but it was kept hidden or ignored by those who saw no value in the lives of two young Black men from the South Side.”

Johnson was convicted of murder for the October 1994 killing of Marcus Boyd, who was shot to death on his front porch by two masked men. Police and prosecutors blamed the killing on a dispute over drug money. Johnson maintained his innocence from the outset, saying he was with his girlfriend miles (kilometres) away when the crime occurred.

While Johnson was convicted and sentenced to life, a second suspect, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for a seven-year prison term.

Johnson testified at a December hearing that he was with his girlfriend on the night of the crime, except for a few minutes when he stepped outside of the home of a friend to sell drugs on a corner several blocks from where the victim was killed.

Johnson’s girlfriend at the time, Erika Barrow, testified that she was with Johnson that entire night, except for about a five-minute span when he left to make the drug sale. She said the distance between the friend’s home and Boyd’s home would have made it impossible for Johnson to get there and back in five minutes.

The case for Johnson’s release was centred around a key witness who recanted his testimony and a prison inmate who says it was he — not Johnson — who joined Campbell in the killing.

James Howard, 46, is serving a life sentence for murder and several other crimes that happened three years after Boyd was killed. He testified at the hearing that he and Campbell decided to rob Boyd, who owed one of their friends money from the sale of drugs. He also said Johnson wasn’t there.

Howard testified that he shot Boyd in the back of the head and neck, and that Campbell shot Boyd in the side.

Howard and Campbell years ago signed affidavits admitting to the crime and claiming Johnson was not involved. Campbell has since died.

James Gregory Elking testified in December that he was on the front porch with Boyd, trying to buy crack cocaine, when the two gunmen wearing black ski masks came around the house and began the attack. Elking, who later spent several years in prison for bank robbery, initially told police he couldn’t identify the gunmen.

He agreed to view a lineup anyway. Elking testified that when he was unable to name anyone from the lineup as a shooter, Detective Joseph Nickerson told him, “I know you know who it is,” and urged him to “help get these guys off the street.”

Saying he felt “bullied” and “pressured,” Elking named Johnson as one of the shooters. Gardner’s office said Elking was also paid at least $4,000 after agreeing to testify.

“It’s been haunting me,” he said of his role in sending Johnson to prison.

Nickerson denied coercing Elking. He testified in December that Elking’s identification of Johnson was based on all that he could see of the shooter’s face — his eyes. Johnson has one eye that looks different than the other, Nickerson said. “You can clearly see it.”

Dwight Warren, who prosecuted Johnson in 1995, said that beyond Elking’s testimony, the main evidence against Johnson was an overheard jail cell conversation. A jailhouse informant, William Mock, told investigators at the time that he heard Campbell and Johnson talking when one of them said, “We should have shot that white boy,” apparently referring to Elking.

Warren acknowledged that convicting Johnson would have been “iffy” without Mock’s testimony.

In March 2021, the Missouri Supreme Court denied Johnson’s request for a new trial after then-Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office argued successfully that Gardner lacked the authority to seek one so many years after the case was adjudicated.

The case led to the passage of a state law that makes it easier for prosecutors to get new hearings in cases where there is fresh evidence of a wrongful conviction. That law freed another longtime inmate, Kevin Strickland, last year. He had served more than 40 years for a Kansas City triple killing.
 

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Media drop Dilbert comic after creator's Black 'hate group' remark
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
David A. Lieb
Published Feb 25, 2023 • Last updated 21 hours ago • 2 minute read

The creator of the Dilbert comic strip faced a backlash of cancellations Saturday while defending remarks describing people who are Black as members of “a hate group” from which white people should “get away.”


Various media publishers across the U.S. denounced the comments by Dilbert creator Scott Adams as racist, hateful and discriminatory while saying they would no longer provide a platform for his work.


Andrews McMeel Syndication, which distributes Dilbert, did not immediately respond Saturday to requests for comment. But Adams defended himself on social media against those whom he said “hate me and are canceling me.”

Dilbert is a long-running comic that pokes fun at office-place culture.

The backlash began following an episode this past week of the YouTube show, “Real Coffee with Scott Adams.” Among other topics, Adams referenced a Rasmussen Reports survey that had asked whether people agreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.”


Most agreed, but Adams noted that 26% of Black respondents disagreed and others weren’t sure.

The Anti-Defamation League says the phrase was popularized in 2017 as a trolling campaign by members of the discussion forum 4chan but then began being used by some white supremacists.

Adams, who is white, repeatedly referred to people who are Black as members of a “hate group” or a “racist hate group” and said he would no longer “help Black Americans.”

“Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people,” Adams said on his Wednesday show.

In another episode of his online show Saturday, Adams said he had been making a point that “everyone should be treated as an individual” without discrimination.


“But you should also avoid any group that doesn’t respect you, even if there are people within the group who are fine,” Adams said.

The Los Angeles Times cited Adams’ “racist comments” while announcing Saturday that Dilbert will be discontinued Monday in most editions and that its final run in the Sunday comics — which are printed in advance — will be March 12.

The San Antonio Express-News, which is part of Hearst Newspapers, said Saturday that it will drop the Dilbert comic strip, effective Monday, “because of hateful and discriminatory public comments by its creator.”

The USA Today Network tweeted Friday that it also will stop publishing Dilbert “due to recent discriminatory comments by its creator.”

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and other publications that are part of Advance Local media also announced that they are dropping Dilbert.

“This is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve,” wrote Chris Quinn, editor of The Plain Dealer. ‘“We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support.”

Christopher Kelly, vice president of content for NJ Advance Media, wrote that the news organization believes in “the free and fair exchange of ideas.”

“But when those ideas cross into hate speech, a line must be drawn,” Kelly wrote.
 

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Rapid demise of ‘Dilbert’ is no surprise to those watching
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
David Bauder
Published Feb 27, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — The comic strip “Dilbert” disappeared with lightning speed following racist remarks by creator Scott Adams, but it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has followed them both.


Adams, who is white, was an outspoken presence on social media long before describing Black people as a “hate group” on YouTube and, to some, “Dilbert” had strayed from its roots as a chronicler of office culture.


The editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, which dumped “Dilbert” last year, said the comic strip “went from being hilarious to being hurtful and mean.” The Los Angeles Times, which joined dozens of other newspapers in dropping the comic following last week’s remarks, had quietly replaced four of Adams’ strips last year.

“He kind of ran out of office jokes and started integrating all this other stuff so after a while, it became hard to distinguish between Scott Adams and ‘Dilbert,”’ said Mike Peterson, columnist for the industry blog The Daily Cartoonist.

As individual newspapers told readers they were dropping “Dilbert,” the company that distributed the strip, Andrews McMeel Universal, said it was severing ties with Adams. By Monday, “Dilbert” was gone from the GoComics site, which also features many top comics such as “Peanuts” and “Calvin and Hobbes.”



Adams said Monday that the strip, which first appeared in 1989, will only be available on his subscription service on the Locals platform.

“Dilbert” is effectively dead, Peterson said.

“It’s not cancel culture,” editor Richard Green of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in California said. “It’s doing the right thing.”

The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Massachusetts, left a blank space Monday where “Dilbert” would normally run and said it would keep it that way through March “as a reminder of the racism that pervades our society.”

The San Francisco Chronicle stopped publishing “Dilbert” last October — a move that drew only a handful of complaints. Editor-in-Chief Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said in the newspaper that he had objected to a strip that said in an effort to diversify workplaces, straight men should pretend to be gay.



In a Sept. 2 “Dilbert” strip, a boss said that traditional performance reviews would be replaced by a “wokeness” score. When an employee complained that could be subjective, the boss said, “That’ll cost you two points off your wokeness score, bigot.”

In an August strip, the boss said the company was getting into the “pandemic prevention market” and creating demand by unleashing a deadly virus.

A Black employee featured in an Oct. 20 strip noted that his boss ignored his actual accomplishments to recommend him for a job for which he was not qualified. The employee backed down when told it would be a big jump in pay.

Peterson said there are other examples of how Adams’ attitudes had replaced the biting humor that Peterson and a legion of middle managers loved. Adams seemed to run out of jokes.

“The strip jumped the shark,” he said.

— Associated Press writer David A. Lieb in Jefferson City, Missouri, and news research Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
 

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Penguin Random House drops Scott Adams' book after racist rant: report
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Published Feb 27, 2023 • 1 minute read

Portfolio, the business imprint of the world’s largest book publisher Penguin Random House, will not publish Scott Adams’ book “Reframe Your Brain,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, days after a racist rant by the “Dilbert” cartoon creator.


The publisher did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, while Adams could not be reached.


On his YouTube channel last week, Adams called Black Americans a “hate group” and suggested white Americans “get the hell away from Black people” in response to a conservative organization’s poll purporting to show that many African Americans do not think it’s OK to be white.

Many U.S. newspapers dropped the ‘Dilbert’ cartoon in response and the rant ignited a furor on social media.

Portfolio has published books by Adams before, including “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”

Meanwhile, billionaire Elon Musk, responding to newspapers dropping the cartoon, said the U.S. media was racist.

“For a *very* long time, US media was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites & Asians. Same thing happened with elite colleges & high schools in America,” Musk tweeted on Sunday.

“Maybe they can try not being racist.”
 

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L.A. man wrongly imprisoned for decades declared innocent
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Mar 01, 2023 • 2 minute read

LOS ANGELES — A man who spent more than 38 years behind bars for a 1983 murder he did not commit was declared innocent by a judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday.


Maurice Hastings was released from prison last year after long-untested DNA evidence pointed to a different suspect. The judge in October vacated Hastings’ conviction at the request of prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and his lawyers from the Los Angeles Innocence Project.


Prosecutors and Hastings’ lawyers returned to court to ask Judge William C. Ryan to take the additional step and declare him innocent of the killing 40 years ago.

The judge’s Wednesday declaration of Hastings as “factually innocent” means the evidence proves conclusively that Hastings did not commit the crime.

“It means a lot. I’m grateful for the judge’s ruling, and the apologies — everything has been wonderful today,” Hastings said after the hearing, according to the Los Angeles Innocence Project. “I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m a happy man today.”


District Attorney George Gascon said Hastings “survived a nightmare.”

“He spent nearly four decades in prison exhausting every avenue to prove his innocence while being repeatedly denied,” Gascon said in a statement. “But Mr. Hastings has remained steadfast and faithful that one day he would hear a judge proclaim his innocence.”

Gascon said the ruling will clear Hastings’ name and pave the way for him to seek possible relief in connection with his wrongful conviction.

The victim in the case, Roberta Wydermyer, was sexually assaulted and killed by a single gunshot to the head, authorities said. Her body was found in the trunk of her vehicle in the city of Inglewood near Los Angeles.

Hastings was charged with special-circumstance murder, and the district attorney’s office sought the death penalty, but the jury deadlocked. A second jury convicted him, and he was sentenced in 1988 to life in prison without possibility of parole.


Hastings maintained he was innocent since his arrest.

At the time of the victim’s autopsy, the coroner conducted a sexual assault examination, and semen was detected in an oral swab, the district attorney’s office said in October.

Hastings sought DNA testing in 2000, but at that time, the DA’s office denied the request. Hastings submitted a claim of innocence to the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit in 2021, and DNA testing last June found that the semen was not his.

The DNA profile was put into a state database and matched to a person who was convicted of an armed kidnapping and forced copulation of a female victim who was placed in a vehicle’s trunk. The suspect, Kenneth Packnett, died in prison in 2020, prosecutors said.

Hastings, who was 69 years old when he walked out of prison last October, told reporters at the time that he had prayed the day of his freedom would come.

“I am not standing up here a bitter man, but I just want to enjoy my life now while I have it,” Hastings said.
 

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Next court date set for Toronto cop charged in teen's death over Apple Watch buy
The off-duty cops confronted Chadd Facey after realizing it was a fake

Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Mar 02, 2023 • 1 minute read

The case of a Toronto Police officer charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of a 19-year-old has been put over to next month.


Const. Calvin Au’s legal counsel appeared on his behalf Thursday at a court in Brampton, where the next date in the case was set for April 13.


Ontario’s police watchdog has said Au was off duty with another Toronto Police officer when they interacted with Chadd Facey in Brampton in April 2021, hours before the teen was pronounced dead in hospital.

Toronto Police disciplinary documents allege Au and the other officer met with Facey to buy an Apple Watch the teen had advertised on Kijiji but realized it was fake after the transaction.

Those documents allege the officers caught up with Facey and demanded their money back before Au allegedly took the teen to the ground and tried to maintain physical control of him.

Police have said Au, who has been with the force for eight and a half years, has been suspended as a result of the charges.
 

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Man pleads guilty to fatal London, Ont. stabbing
Preston Hill, 24, an elite local minor hockey player in his youth, pleaded guilty to manslaughter

Author of the article:Jane Sims
Published Mar 03, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

Preston Hill said he went on a stabbing spree and killed a helpful pastor who had befriended him because he wanted to go to “war against the goofs.”


“All goofs,” he told Det. Micah Boudreau when he was interviewed at London police headquarters on May 15, 2021. “Like rapehounds. All those (expletive) people … child molesters.”


It was a rambling explanation after a morning of terror in a north London neighbourhood. Hill was arrested at a TD Bank branch on Richmond Street where he had tried to carjack a man. Moments earlier, he had stabbed another man out for a walk.

As Hill was being taken to London police headquarters, a London parking enforcement officer on regular patrol found Safurani (Samuel) Bakare, a father of four in his 50s originally from Nigeria and a minister of the Interdenominational Church, slumped over against a garage at a Patricia Street address, with a fatal stab wound to the neck.


Hill, 24, an elite local minor hockey player in his youth, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Bakare’s death Thursday, his third guilty plea on top of two other pleas he already has entered for assault causing bodily harm and attempted robbery.

With the manslaughter plea, the Crown and defence lawyer James Zegers consented to a 60-day psychiatric assessment necessary to determine whether Hill will be subject to a dangerous offender or long-term offender application.

Before the assessment order was made by Ontario Court Justice George Orsini, assistant Crown attorney Konrad de Koning reviewed the facts surrounding the crime spree.



Bakare, de Koning said, was under some financial stress and had no fixed address at the time of his death. He was operating “Christ the Redeemer Ministries” and also had a cleaning business. He drove a white Dodge Caravan minivan and had two cellphones, one for personal use and one for his business.


Bakare had been living at a rooming house on Patricia Street for months, but had left there at the end of February 2021. Some of his belongings were still at the address.

He met Hill at the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope on Wellington Street on May 14, 2021, where both men were staying on the third floor. A statement from a worker and video showed the two men were “interacting peaceably together.”

They left together in the van the next morning just after 7 a.m., de Koning said, after Bakare had offered to help Hill find work and a place to live.

They went to a Tim Hortons and Hill’s DNA was later discovered on a straw in a Tim Hortons cup found in the door pocket on the passenger side of the van. At about 8 a.m., Bakare messaged his former landlord on Patricia Street to say he was on his way to get the property. The landlord received the message, then went back to sleep and didn’t respond to any calls or texts before or after Bakare got there with Hill.


At about 8:40 a.m., Bakare called 911 to get the police to help him retrieve his possessions and gave the dispatcher two phone numbers. He was waiting for the landlord in the driveway and had “an interaction” with Hill, de Koning said.

“During this interaction, the accused, unprovoked, stabbed Mr. Bakare one time in the neck,” de Koning said. “He then stole one of Mr. Bakare’s cellphones and fled.”

The facts surrounding the other two attacks were described at a previous court hearing. At 9 a.m., Hill jogged toward a 26-year-old man who was with his girlfriend, walking their dog on the east side of Richmond Street near University Drive. He slowed down, said “Hey man” and passed the couple, then turned around to follow them. When the man turned toward Hill, Hill grabbed his shoulder and stabbed him in the abdomen. The couple fled.




The man’s girlfriend flagged down a driver who called 911. Police and other emergency services responded and the man was taken to hospital and treated.

At the same time, a man was stopped at the traffic light on University Drive at Richmond Street. Hill came up to the partially open driver’s window and put the knife through. “Give me your . . . car,” Hill told the driver, who rolled up the windows.

Hill hit the window with the knife four or five times causing scratches. The driver watched Hill leave and another witness, who was helping the stabbed man, followed Hill. Two police officers spotted him at the TD Bank parking lot.

The officers told Hill to get to the ground. When Hill refused, one officer pointed her service pistol at him, but he kept walking toward them saying, “Just . . . shoot me,” de Koning said. The officers used pepper spray to get him to comply.


Hill had a folding knife and one of Bakare’s cellphones. There was blood on his right hand and more smeared on his left hand.

When Hill was being arrested, the cellphone was playing Rockstar, a song by rap artist Da Baby. Hill kept asking the police officers to replay the song because it was his favourite, de Koning said.

As Hill was being placed under arrest, Bakare was found by the parking enforcement officer working in the area of King’s University College. He was heading east on University Crescent toward Patricia Street when he saw Bakare by the garage. The officer yelled out to Bakare, but there was no response.

At 9:18 a.m., the officer called 911, then approached Bakare and saw that he was bleeding and not breathing, de Koning said. He started CPR until police got there and took over. The officers could see a stab wound to Bakare’s neck near his collar bone.


He was taken to hospital, but shortly before 10 a.m., Bakare was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed he died of a stab wound to the carotid artery in his neck. Bakare also had an injury to his forehead, likely caused from hitting the ground when he collapsed, de Koning said.

Hill was arrested for murder and robbery at police headquarters. After speaking to a lawyer, Hill admitted he stabbed Bakare and tried to steal a car. He said he knew Bakare was trying to help him “and he felt bad,” de Koning said.

He was asked by Det. Boudreau why he stabbed the pastor. “I dunno. It’s enough, yes, it’s enough, I guess,” Hill said.

“You said you became impatient,“ the officer said.

“Yeah, cause I wanted to go, go to war actually, ya know?” Hill said, then said he wanted to go after “goofs” or child molesters.


He also told the officer drugs had “sidetracked” him but he hadn’t used recently. But when he was being booked into custody, he admitted he had done crystal meth the night before, de Koning said.

Hill, de Koning said, has an “extensive” criminal record “with numerous entries of violence.” Between 2015 and 2021, Hill racked up convictions for two assaults causing bodily harm, seven assaults, and multiple robberies, threats and weapons offences.

The judge noted a Gladue Report – a pre-sentence report for Indigenous offenders – already had been filed with the court.

Orsini agreed to the assessment order and set Hill’s next court appearance for June 15.

jsims@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JaneatLFPress
 

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New York City man freed after wrong photo led to murder conviction
Sheldon Thomas, now 35, spent more than 18 years behind bars

Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Mar 09, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — A photo of another person with the same name led to the wrongful arrest of a New York City man who was exonerated and freed Thursday after spending more than 18 years behind bars for murder.


The prosecution of Sheldon Thomas, now 35, “was compromised from the very start by grave errors and lack of probable cause” to arrest him for the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Anderson Bercy on Dec. 24, 2004, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said as his office moved to vacate Thomas’ conviction.


Thomas was one of three people charged with killing Bercy and wounding another teenager in a drive-by shooting.

“When I was in my cell, I would think of this moment and replay the conversations I would have with myself, what I would say,” Thomas said in court, where he also offered condolences to the victim’s family. “Right now, I’m speechless.”

After arriving for the hearing in handcuffs, he left with an arm around his grandmother and plans for a dinner of oxtail.


A review of the case by the district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit found that the lead detective in the Bercy shooting asked to unseal a prior arrest of Thomas for allegedly pointing an inoperable gun at police officers so that detectives could use his picture in a photo lineup.

Detectives also obtained a photo of a different Sheldon Thomas and showed it to a witness they were questioning in Bercy’s shooting. The witness identified the second Sheldon Thomas as being in the car the shots were fired from, the investigation found.

Based on that identification, detectives went to the home of the first Sheldon Thomas and arrested him, investigators said.

The faulty photo identification came to light during a June 2006 pretrial hearing when Detective Robert Reedy admitted on cross-examination that the defendant’s photo had not been in the lineup.


The judge nonetheless found that there was probable cause to arrest Thomas based on “verified information from unknown callers” and the fact that he supposedly resembled the other Thomas, investigators said.

Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Investigators from the Conviction Review Unit reinterviewed witnesses and found that the detectives, particularly Reedy, had harassed Thomas after his earlier gun arrest and that they coached a witness to identify Thomas as one of the shooters in the Bercy killing because they “were intent on arresting defendant.”

Reedy, then retired, was later disciplined following an investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau. A phone call seeking comment on the reinvestigation into the 2004 shooting was left Thursday with a number listed for a Robert Reedy.

Gonzalez called Thomas’ conviction “fundamentally unfair” and added, “I am determined to continue doing this critical work whenever we discover a questionable conviction in Brooklyn.”

An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Thomas.
 

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Mississippi man gets 42 months in prison for cross burning
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael Goldberg
Published Mar 09, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read
This image provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, Miss. Cox, who burned a cross on his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours in December 2020, was sentenced Thursday, March 9, 2023, to 42 months in prison.
This image provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, Miss. Cox, who burned a cross on his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours in December 2020, was sentenced Thursday, March 9, 2023, to 42 months in prison. PHOTO BY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS / HANDOUT / FILES /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man who burned a cross in his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours was sentenced Thursday to 42 months in prison.


U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Judge Sul Ozerden handed down the sentence after Axel Cox, 24, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime in December.


Cox, of Gulfport, was charged with violating the Fair Housing Act over a December 2020 incident in which he put together a wooden cross in his front yard and propped it up so his Black neighbours could see it. He then doused it with motor oil and lit it on fire. He also addressed the family with racially derogatory language, records say.

“This cross burning was an abhorrent act that used a traditional symbol of hatred and violence to stoke fear and drive a Black family out of their home,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.


Clarke added, “While one might think cross-burnings and white supremacist threats and violence are things of the past, the unfortunate reality is that these incidents continue today.”

The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups historically practiced cross burnings to intimidate Black and Jewish people.

A grand jury indicted Cox in September 2022. His attorney, Jim Davis, filed a notice of intent for him to plead guilty to the cross burning in November. Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Davis told the Biloxi Sun Herald that Cox was reacting to his neighbours allegedly shooting and killing his dog. He added that his client acted “totally inappropriately.”
 

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Mississippi man gets 42 months in prison for cross burning
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael Goldberg
Published Mar 09, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read
This image provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, Miss. Cox, who burned a cross on his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours in December 2020, was sentenced Thursday, March 9, 2023, to 42 months in prison.
This image provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, Miss. Cox, who burned a cross on his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours in December 2020, was sentenced Thursday, March 9, 2023, to 42 months in prison. PHOTO BY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS / HANDOUT / FILES /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man who burned a cross in his front yard to intimidate his Black neighbours was sentenced Thursday to 42 months in prison.


U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Judge Sul Ozerden handed down the sentence after Axel Cox, 24, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime in December.


Cox, of Gulfport, was charged with violating the Fair Housing Act over a December 2020 incident in which he put together a wooden cross in his front yard and propped it up so his Black neighbours could see it. He then doused it with motor oil and lit it on fire. He also addressed the family with racially derogatory language, records say.

“This cross burning was an abhorrent act that used a traditional symbol of hatred and violence to stoke fear and drive a Black family out of their home,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.


Clarke added, “While one might think cross-burnings and white supremacist threats and violence are things of the past, the unfortunate reality is that these incidents continue today.”

The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups historically practiced cross burnings to intimidate Black and Jewish people.

A grand jury indicted Cox in September 2022. His attorney, Jim Davis, filed a notice of intent for him to plead guilty to the cross burning in November. Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Davis told the Biloxi Sun Herald that Cox was reacting to his neighbours allegedly shooting and killing his dog. He added that his client acted “totally inappropriately.”
In Canada, crosses burn in the minds of liberal politicians.
 
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San Francisco board open to reparations with $5M payouts
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Janie Har
Published Mar 14, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

SAN FRANCISCO — Payments of $5 million to every eligible Black adult, the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family.


These were some of the more than 100 recommendations made by a city-appointed reparations committee tasked with the thorny question of how to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism. And the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing the report for the first time Tuesday voiced enthusiastic support for the ideas listed, with some saying money should not stop the city from doing the right thing.


Several supervisors said they were surprised to hear pushback from politically liberal San Franciscans apparently unaware that the legacy of slavery and racist policies continues to keep Black Americans on the bottom rungs of health, education and economic prosperity, and overrepresented in prisons and homeless populations.


“Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people. It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the heavily LGBTQ Castro neighborhood.

The draft reparations plan, released in December, is unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth. The committee hasn’t done an analysis of the cost of the proposals, but critics have slammed the plan as financially and politically impossible. An estimate from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which leans conservative, has said it would cost each non-Black family in the city at least $600,000.


Tuesday’s unanimous expressions of support for reparations by the board do not mean all the recommendations will ultimately be adopted, as the body can vote to approve, reject or change any or all of them. A final committee report is due in June.

Some supervisors have said previously that the city can’t afford any major reparations payments right now given its deep deficit amid a tech industry downturn.

Tinisch Hollins, vice-chair of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee, alluded to those comments, and several people who lined up to speak reminded the board they would be watching closely what the supervisors do next.

“I don’t need to impress upon you the fact that we are setting a national precedent here in San Francisco,” Hollins said. “What we are asking for and what we’re demanding for is a real commitment to what we need to move things forward.”


The idea of paying compensation for slavery has gained traction across cities and universities. In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force and is still struggling to put a price tag on what is owed.

The idea has not been taken up at the federal level.

In San Francisco, Black residents once made up more than 13% of the city’s population, but more than 50 years later, they account for less than 6% of the city’s residents — and 38% of its homeless population. The Fillmore District once thrived with Black-owned night clubs and shops until government redevelopment in the 1960s forced out residents.

Fewer than 50,000 Black people still live in the city, and it’s not clear how many would be eligible. Possible criteria include having lived in the city during certain time periods and descending from someone “incarcerated for the failed War on Drugs.”


Critics say the payouts make no sense in a state and city that never enslaved Black people. Opponents generally say taxpayers who were never slave owners should not have to pay money to people who were not enslaved.

Advocates say that view ignores a wealth of data and historical evidence showing that long after U.S. slavery officially ended in 1865, government policies and practices worked to imprison Black people at higher rates, deny access to home and business loans and restrict where they could work and live.

Justin Hansford, a professor at Howard University School of Law, says no municipal reparations plan will have enough money to right the wrongs of slavery, but he appreciates any attempts to “genuinely, legitimately, authentically” make things right. And that includes cash, he said.


“If you’re going to try to say you’re sorry, you have to speak in the language that people understand, and money is that language,” he said.

John Dennis, chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, does not support reparations although he says he’d support a serious conversation on the topic. He doesn’t consider the board’s discussion of $5 million payments to be one.

“This conversation we’re having in San Francisco is completely unserious. They just threw a number up, there’s no analysis,” Dennis said. “It seems ridiculous, and it also seems that this is the one city where it could possibly pass.”

The board created the 15-member reparations committee in late 2020, months after California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a statewide task force amid national turmoil after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a Black man.


The committee continues to deliberate recommendations, including monetary compensation, and its report is due to the Legislature on July 1. At that point it will be up to lawmakers to draft and pass legislation.

The state panel made the controversial decision in March to limit reparations to descendants of Black people who were in the country in the 19th century. Some reparations advocates said that approach does take into account the harms that Black immigrants suffer.

Under San Francisco’s draft recommendation, a person would have to be at least 18 years old and have identified as “Black/African American” in public documents for at least 10 years. Eligible people must also meet two of eight other criteria, though the list may change.


Those criteria include being born in or migrating to San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and living in the city for least 13 years; being displaced from the city by urban renewal between 1954 and 1973, or the descendant of someone who was; attending the city’s public schools before they were fully desegregated; or being a descendant of an enslaved person.

The Chicago suburb of Evanston became the first U.S. city to fund reparations. The city gave money to qualifying people for home repairs, down payments and interest or late penalties due on property. In December, the Boston City Council approved of a reparations study task force.
 
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