Black Lives Matter-Ugliness of Racism.

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Accused cocaine importer walks due to 'racial profiling'

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published May 03, 2024 • 3 minute read

Pulling someone over for driving while Black — indefensible. Suspecting someone of being a shoplifter by virtue of their skin colour — unconscionable.


These and many other disturbing examples of racial profiling in our society are rightly condemned.


But when it is used by accused criminals to wiggle out of charges?

A man charged with importing a whopping 23 kilos of cocaine had his charges stayed recently after an Ontario judge found the RCMP officer at Toronto Pearson Airport racially profiled him and violated his Charter rights — even though he had other “reasonable” grounds to suspect him.

“Questioning a traveller at the border cannot be based on race. There is no dispute that anti-Black racism is prevalent in Canada and continues to be a reality in Canadian society. The courts have an obligation to take claims of racial profiling seriously,” wrote Superior Court Justice Nancy Dennison.


“Where race or racial stereotypes are used to any degree to select the suspect, it is racial profiling. It does not matter if police had another justifiable basis to detain the individual.”

Ian Edwards was arrested on Sept. 17, 2018 after returning home from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on an Air Transat flight. The Jamaican-born Canadian citizen had declared on his customs form that he was over his liquor limit but after being directed to a border agent, he was told his two bottles were fine.

But the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer had other concerns about Edwards: he’d booked his ticket just two days before the trip, it was only for four days and he’d travelled three times in the last couple of months to the Dominican Republic, which is considered a drug source country. He was also sweating, mumbling and not responsive to the officer’s questions, she said, including not knowing where he stayed.


So she sent Edwards to secondary inspection on suspicion for narcotics. Another traveller from his flight was sent there as well.

Edwards argued he was only selected by the border agent due to him being a Black man, but the judge disagreed.

Dennison, though, did have issues with the arresting RCMP officer identified only as “Supt. Ryan.”

He’d been told two men who had been sent to secondary inspection had been seen leaving the washroom. “An inspection of the washroom by CBSA officers revealed a broken ceiling tile on the floor and a hole in the ceiling above. A subsequent search in the ceiling revealed several bags containing, what turned out to be, 23.8 kilograms of cocaine,” the ruling said.

During his questioning, Edwards told Ryan a friend had paid for his plane ticket as a favour and he’d gone to visit a girlfriend he’d met on the dating site Plenty of Fish. Like the CBSA agent, the officer was suspicious of the last-minute nature of the trip and its short duration to a drug-source country.



But he added another reason for being suspicious: “In his experience, someone of Jamaican background travels to Jamaica rather than other Caribbean countries. This was also an indicator for him,” Dennison wrote. “He stated it was just another piece of information that stood out as being unusual.”

That’s all it took for the judge to find the RCMP officer had racially profiled Edwards — and despite Ryan’s evidence that the man admitted he’d been in the washroom where the 23 kilos had been found and that he had observed the ceiling dust seen on his shoulder, his arrest for importing coke was now null and void.


“Supt. Ryan relied on a stereotype based on national origin to expose Jamaican-born Canadians to different treatment and scrutiny. There are no independent studies to support his perception that Jamaican Canadians travel to Jamaica and not other Caribbean countries or that they are more likely to return to their country of origin than any other national,” Dennison wrote.

“The fact that Supt. Ryan had reasonable objective grounds to approach and suspect the applicant of importing cocaine is of no moment. Supt. Ryan relied on his perception of persons of certain national origin and race should travel as an ‘indicator’ in suspecting that the applicant imported cocaine.”

And Edwards walked free.

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

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Accused cocaine importer walks due to 'racial profiling'

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published May 03, 2024 • 3 minute read

Pulling someone over for driving while Black — indefensible. Suspecting someone of being a shoplifter by virtue of their skin colour — unconscionable.


These and many other disturbing examples of racial profiling in our society are rightly condemned.


But when it is used by accused criminals to wiggle out of charges?

A man charged with importing a whopping 23 kilos of cocaine had his charges stayed recently after an Ontario judge found the RCMP officer at Toronto Pearson Airport racially profiled him and violated his Charter rights — even though he had other “reasonable” grounds to suspect him.

“Questioning a traveller at the border cannot be based on race. There is no dispute that anti-Black racism is prevalent in Canada and continues to be a reality in Canadian society. The courts have an obligation to take claims of racial profiling seriously,” wrote Superior Court Justice Nancy Dennison.


“Where race or racial stereotypes are used to any degree to select the suspect, it is racial profiling. It does not matter if police had another justifiable basis to detain the individual.”

Ian Edwards was arrested on Sept. 17, 2018 after returning home from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on an Air Transat flight. The Jamaican-born Canadian citizen had declared on his customs form that he was over his liquor limit but after being directed to a border agent, he was told his two bottles were fine.

But the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer had other concerns about Edwards: he’d booked his ticket just two days before the trip, it was only for four days and he’d travelled three times in the last couple of months to the Dominican Republic, which is considered a drug source country. He was also sweating, mumbling and not responsive to the officer’s questions, she said, including not knowing where he stayed.


So she sent Edwards to secondary inspection on suspicion for narcotics. Another traveller from his flight was sent there as well.

Edwards argued he was only selected by the border agent due to him being a Black man, but the judge disagreed.

Dennison, though, did have issues with the arresting RCMP officer identified only as “Supt. Ryan.”

He’d been told two men who had been sent to secondary inspection had been seen leaving the washroom. “An inspection of the washroom by CBSA officers revealed a broken ceiling tile on the floor and a hole in the ceiling above. A subsequent search in the ceiling revealed several bags containing, what turned out to be, 23.8 kilograms of cocaine,” the ruling said.

During his questioning, Edwards told Ryan a friend had paid for his plane ticket as a favour and he’d gone to visit a girlfriend he’d met on the dating site Plenty of Fish. Like the CBSA agent, the officer was suspicious of the last-minute nature of the trip and its short duration to a drug-source country.



But he added another reason for being suspicious: “In his experience, someone of Jamaican background travels to Jamaica rather than other Caribbean countries. This was also an indicator for him,” Dennison wrote. “He stated it was just another piece of information that stood out as being unusual.”

That’s all it took for the judge to find the RCMP officer had racially profiled Edwards — and despite Ryan’s evidence that the man admitted he’d been in the washroom where the 23 kilos had been found and that he had observed the ceiling dust seen on his shoulder, his arrest for importing coke was now null and void.


“Supt. Ryan relied on a stereotype based on national origin to expose Jamaican-born Canadians to different treatment and scrutiny. There are no independent studies to support his perception that Jamaican Canadians travel to Jamaica and not other Caribbean countries or that they are more likely to return to their country of origin than any other national,” Dennison wrote.

“The fact that Supt. Ryan had reasonable objective grounds to approach and suspect the applicant of importing cocaine is of no moment. Supt. Ryan relied on his perception of persons of certain national origin and race should travel as an ‘indicator’ in suspecting that the applicant imported cocaine.”

And Edwards walked free.

mmandel@postmedia.com
There was a coke shortage on the street so this will help with that. I do hope they returned his coke to him.
 

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N.Y. governor regrets saying Black kids in Bronx don’t know what computer is
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Anthony Izaguirre
Published May 07, 2024 • 1 minute read

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says she regrets making an offhand remark that suggested Black children in the Bronx do not know what the word “computer” means.


Hochul, a Democrat, made the extemporaneous comment Monday while being interviewed at a large business conference in California to discuss expanding economic opportunities in artificial intelligence for low-income communities.


“Right now, we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word computer is. They don’t know, they don’t know these things,” Hochul said while on stage at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

The remark was not addressed during the interview and the governor went on to explain that her goal is to provide avenues for communities of color to access emerging artificial intelligence technologies as a means to address social inequality.

Still, the gaff drew immediate criticism from some political leaders in New York, including state Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo, a Bronx Democrat, who said the remark was “harmful, deeply misinformed, and genuinely appalling.”


In a statement later Monday, Hochul said “I misspoke and I regret it.”

“Of course Black children in the Bronx know what computers are _ the problem is that they too often lack access to the technology needed to get on track to high-paying jobs in emerging industries like AI,” Hochul said. “That’s why I’ve been focused on increasing economic opportunity since Day One of my Administration, and will continue that fight to ensure every New Yorker has a shot at a good-paying job.”

New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat who represents the Bronx in the Legislature, came to Hochul’s defense as her remarks began to gain traction online.

“While the governor’s words were inartful and hurtful, I don’t believe that is where her heart is. I firmly believe she wants to see all of our students excel,” Heastie said.
 

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Jasmine Hartin reveals her Belize nightmare in new podcast

Author of the article:Brad Hunter
Published May 07, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Canadian mom of two Jasmine Hartin claims she looks like hell.

She does not. Oh, far from it.

The Kingston native could be forgiven if a hair was out of place after the ordeal she endured in Belize for the past three years. Now, a new podcast called White Devil takes a deep dive into the investigation.

In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun, Hartin explains that her odyssey through the country’s legal system seems unending. She has a gag order regarding any discussion of her children, who were whisked out of the country by her ex-husband.

“I am not the ‘White Devil,'” Hartin told the Sun.


Hartin, 34, exploded onto the world’s front pages and airwaves in May 2021 when she accidentally shot her friend, San Pedro police chief Henry Jemmott. She was married to Andrew Ashcroft, the son of the country’s richest man, Sir Michael Ashcroft.


Daddy wields a very big stick in Belize, controlling much of the media and other enterprises. He also has considerable power in Westminster and British Tory circles.

Hartin — a real estate agent-turned-resort developer — saw her life tossed into a death spiral. Her ex-husband whisked her children off to the Caribbean, she was charged with assault and possession of cocaine, and one rumour floated was that she plotted to kill a judge.

None of the charges were proven.

“And they want me to serve 300 community hours which is unprecedented in Belize. There is no protocol for this and there is no apparatus for community service,” she said.

In addition to trying to get her children back, Hartin is attempting to reestablish her career in development with projects in the Turks and Caicos.


But Hartin adds that she remains determined to unravel how she lost the resort in Belize that was her and her former partner’s pet project.


“I want to know how it was stolen from me and then sold to Waterloo Investment Holdings, a company controlled by Sir Michael Ashcroft without any compensation to me,” Hartin said, adding that Waterloo is traded on the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

“I certainly didn’t sign any documents.”

She added that her ex-husband has “never given me a cent.”

And then there were the bogus charges Hartin said are “clearly invented.” And the affair dragged on and on and on.


“The podcast is ultimately about abuse of power. Belize is controlled by a handful of very wealthy and powerful families. You cannot step out of line,” Hartin said.

“This is what they did to me: Character assassination, public smearing, false accusations … expert gun user,” she said. “They deny leaking provocative videos of me.”

Hartin’s life remains in limbo despite all her optimism and fighting spirit. Jemmott’s family filed a wrongful death suit, and the matter of her children, other “batshit charges” and “non-stop shenanigans” from her enemies have worn her down.


Her story is also a cautionary tale for Canadians abroad: The government isn’t much help unless you’re dead.

“I haven’t heard a peep from the Canadian government. There were some helpful people at the embassy but even then, there is only so much they’re allowed to do,” Hartin said.

“When there were death threats against me and my mother, Global Affairs didn’t offer to protect us even if you reiterate your fears a thousand times.”

In 2017, a Toronto woman named Francesca Matus and her American boyfriend were brutally murdered the night before she was to return home from Belize. The U.S. sent in the FBI and U.S. Marshals.

Canada did nothing.

The first two episodes of White Devil have dropped.

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun
 

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Toronto Police Supt. Stacy Clarke apologizes for cheating scandal

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published May 08, 2024 • Last updated 3 days ago • 3 minute read

For the first time since the scandal broke, Supt. Stacy Clarke spoke publicly about helping Black officers cheat on their promotional exam.
Toronto Police Supt. Stacy Clarke pleaded guilty on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, to seven counts under the Police Services Act for helping mentees cheat in a promotional interview process.
She’s sorry. But.


For the first time since the scandal broke more than two years ago, Toronto Police Supt. Stacy Clarke spoke publicly about helping Black officers cheat on their promotional exam, owning that what she did was wrong and apologizing to police and her community for not taking the “right path.”


“I am deeply, deeply sorry that we’re here today,” Clarke told the disciplinary tribunal Wednesday.

But she also wanted to explain the “why.”

“If the ‘why’ was not known, it would just seem as if I was just some type of rogue vigilante officer. And I’m not,” she insisted. “I was overcome with emotion and frustration, and I dare say, desperation.”

In September 2023, the first Black female superintendent in the history of the Toronto Police Service pleaded guilty to seven counts under the Police Services Act. According to the agreed statement of facts, Clarke provided interview questions and answer rubrics to six candidates for sergeant who she was mentoring while she was a member of promotional interview panels in 2021.


She also admitted running through a mock interview with a close family friend over three days at her home that included questions taken from those asked during promotional interviews the previous week. Clarke then sat in on their interview and didn’t disclose their relationship.

How can a high-ranking cop justify what she did? Unlike her supporters who see her as a hero, Clarke admits the ends didn’t justify the means she used to address what is obviously a well-known problem.

The tribunal was told only 1.7% of Black candidates are promoted. But two wrongs don’t make a right — even to serve the almighty god of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Clarke explained her frustration that after years of working internally on committees and finally achieving promises that the promotions process would be more fair and Black officers would finally have a level playing field and a shot at moving up the ranks, the TPS Board-approved plan to provide the interview questions in advance to all was abruptly shelved with no explanation.


“It was very devastating,” Clarke explained.

A psychiatrist who examined her concluded her “lived experiences of systemic racism and her experiences and frustration in addressing the challenges and barriers faced by Black officers within the Toronto Police Service played a significant and contributory role in influencing her misconduct which is at odds with her otherwise proven record and good judgment throughout her tenure with the organization.”

Defence lawyer Joseph Markson is asking that Clarke, who has an otherwise unblemished record, be demoted to the rank of inspector for a year to 18 months and then automatically reinstated to superintendent.

Prosecutor Scott Hutchison wants Clarke demoted two ranks to staff sergeant and then be required to reapply to become superintendent after two years.



Clarke grew emotional when describing how the scandal led to her being ostracized and subjected to a deluge of hateful comments on social media from other officers and even a threatening email. Instead of retiring, as some assumed she would do, she’s determined to carry on.

“This is one misstep,” she insisted.

“I love my job. I love what I do. The idea that I could be impactful inside and outside is of tremendous value to me. And yes, some may say foolishly, but I still believe that we can do what we say we’re going to do.”

Some in the city are calling for her to be fired; others want her declared a saint.

Clarke told hearing officer Robin McElary-Downer that she’s a human being who made a mistake that won’t be repeated. “I have an exemplary record,” she said. “I deserved to be here. I deserved to be superintendent.”

And she defiantly vowed to go as high as she can as a police officer. “Make no mistake about it, this incident won’t stop me. It shapes me — but it will not define me.”

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

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Senior Toronto Police officer Stacy Clarke claims unfair system prompted cheating
The first high-ranking Black woman in the service's history sought to 'level the playing field' for Black cops in the promotion process


Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published May 09, 2024 • Last updated 3 days ago • 3 minute read

For the first time since the scandal broke, Supt. Stacy Clarke spoke publicly about helping Black officers cheat on their promotional exam.
Toronto Police Supt. Stacy Clarke pleaded guilty on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, to seven counts under the Police Services Act for helping mentees cheat in a promotional interview process.
Toronto Police Insp. Stacy Clarke insists she regrets leaking interview questions and answers to six Black officers she’d mentored for promotion.


But under cross-examination at the fourth day of her disciplinary hearing, the first high-ranking Black woman in Toronto Police history sounded increasingly more defiant than she did apologetic.


“Having received the questions and answers, you come to decide you would, in breach of your oath of secrecy and that order, you would send the answers to some of your mentees, correct?” prosecutor Scott Hutchison asked Thursday.

“You’re correct about the act,” Clarke responded, “but with all due respect, Mr. Hutchison, I think it’s important you understand the moments that led up to that action – my experience with systemic racism, my experience with systemic unfairness and also my experience with the challenges and the barriers that Black members have endured, that Black members have felt.”


It’s all about the context, the hearing has heard over and over again.

It was the morning of Nov. 29, 2022, and Clarke and her fellow panelists had been given the questions and answers’ rubric they would be using for that day’s promotions interviews. Before they began, she was in the senior officers’ lounge and decided to lobby for the six Black members she’d been mentoring.

But while others were advocating for their own mentees during that 15-minute conversation, she claims she was made to feel “invisible.”

“I was very upset, I was very frustrated, I was beside myself,” Clarke recalled. “It was my tipping point.”


While alone with the question and answers, she photographed them and leaked them to three of her mentees, including two who had interviews later that day and, Hutchison said, were now armed with the right answers.

To which Clarke replied quite disingenuously, “I sent them to level the playing field but I don’t know if they looked at their phones.”

“It’s certainly not looking like a level playing field to other officers who didn’t have the answers given to them beforehand, correct?” Hutchison asked.

“I don’t know if they had the answers or not,” Clarke replied.

“Well, are you suggesting there were other officers involved in cheating the way you were?” the prosecutor pressed.

“I’m just suggesting that the process is unfair,” Clarke responded, pointing to a Deloitte study released in 2022 that found complaints from TPS officers that the promotion process wasn’t transparent and the white, male-dominated leadership was promoting others who looked like them.


“I’ve taken accountability. It’s not an excuse. I’ve owned it,” she said of her misconduct. “What I am saying to you is you cannot be setting the stage to say that this is the first time. This is not. And I’m not going to allow that to be the statement today.”

Clarke pleaded guilty last fall to seven counts under the Police Services Act. In addition to photographing and texting the questions and answers to her candidates on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30, 2022, she’s also admitted that she continued mentoring a family friend, despite the order that all meetings must end a week before the interviews began, and didn’t disclose a conflict when she was one of the panelists at his interview.

It also wasn’t a momentary lapse in judgment.


“This course of misconduct stretches over two weeks, correct?” the prosecutor suggested.

“Yes, and systemic racism and unfairness has been taking place over two decades of my career,” Clarke retorted.

Defence lawyer Joseph Markson is asking that Clarke, who has an otherwise unblemished record, be demoted to the rank of inspector for 12 to 18 months and then automatically reinstated to superintendent.

The prosecutor wants her demoted two ranks to staff-sergeant and then be required to reapply to superintendent after two years.

Whatever the decision, the saddest part, perhaps, is that Clarke’s good intentions have so spectacularly backfired – the cheating scandal has tarnished her sterling reputation and has been seized upon by racists to question all non-white hires.

If she doesn’t receive a serious demotion for her misconduct, the police rank-and-file will claim senior management gets away with a slap on the wrist. If the penalty is harsh, her community will see it as yet another example of anti-Black racism in the police service.

Hutchison will make his final submissions on Friday.

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

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No firing for 'superstar' senior officer who cheated

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Published May 10, 2024 • 3 minute read

For the first time since the scandal broke, Supt. Stacy Clarke spoke publicly about helping Black officers cheat on their promotional exam.
Toronto Police Supt. Stacy Clarke pleaded guilty on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, to seven counts under the Police Services Act for helping mentees cheat in a promotional interview process.
The irony is that if Supt. Stacy Clarke were anyone else employed by Toronto Police, her bosses would want her fired for a promotions cheating scandal she spearheaded to help Black officers vying for promotion.


But firing isn’t even on the table because the first female Black superintendent in Toronto Police history is a “superstar.”


“In the normal course, a senior officer who over the course of 10 days engages in a cheating scheme and draws in six constables is unfit for further service in the organization,” prosecutor Scott Hutchison said on the last day of her week-long disciplinary hearing.

Her admitted misconduct wasn’t a momentary slip, either, he said.

Clarke admits she was so fed up with anti-Black racism and the failure of good candidates to get ahead that she embarked on a secret campaign that spanned almost two weeks — photographing questions and answers and feeding them to the six officers she was mentoring, running mock interviews over three days despite an order that all panelists should stop meeting with officers applying for sergeant a week ahead of the process starting and then actually being part of the panel that interviewed one of the six without disclosing he was a family friend.


That “deceitful” conduct undermined the integrity of the process and the service and would “normally call for dismissal,” the TPS lawyer said.

“That is not where we end up when we talk about this officer.”

Last fall, Clarke pleaded guilty to seven counts under the Police Service Act after she was caught in the cheating scheme in late 2021. She’s told hearing officer Robin McElary-Downer that she’s sorry she didn’t choose the “right path” to deal with her frustration and desperation after watching years of promises not amount to any change.

But Hutchison reminded the hearing that this wasn’t a public inquiry into anti-Black racism within the force and began his closing submission by reiterating that TPS acknowledges they have a problem and Clarke has been instrumental in its journey toward addressing inequalities.


At issue, he said, is how to penalize a senior police officer who faced with unfairness, violated the ethical and professional standards of her position that require her to do the right thing – even when no one is looking.

“What’s so troubling about all of this is that Supt. Clarke is a superstar,” he said. “She was somebody admired by members of the service and the community. She was somebody who was looked up to. She was an example, particularly for Black officers who sought to move up in the organization and work for the community in the way that she has.

“What is so troubling is that example became one of a cheater.”

Clarke’s lawyer, Joseph Markson, urged the hearing officer to consider the “context” of the racism she’s faced and demote her to inspector for a year to 18 months and then automatically reinstate her to superintendent.


Counsel for the TPS proposed Clarke should be demoted two ranks: to staff sergeant for a year and then to inspector for another year. But Hutchison said she should be required to reapply for the superintendent position she held.

Markson called that penalty “crushing” and it would mean a heavy financial hit for the single mom of two teens who has served TPS for 26 years with distinction. He also warned it would send the wrong message.



The Black community has already signaled that it is watching carefully.

“The community will be extremely disappointed and offended if Superintendent Stacy Clarke receives a disproportionate discipline for her actions,” wrote one observer watching the hearing virtually.

“It will definitely be seen as a direct result of systemic racism which is deeply entrenched in policing. And it will unequivocally impact the relationship between the police and the Canadian Black community.

McElary-Downer said she expects to have a decision on penalty by mid-summer.

“I apologize in advance Supt. Clarke,” she said. “I know this weighs heavy on you.”

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

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Attorney, family of Black airman fatally shot by Florida deputies say he was patriot
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Stephen Smith And Mike Schneider
Published May 09, 2024 • 4 minute read

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — The family of a Black U.S. Air Force airman who was fatally shot by deputies who burst into his apartment in the Florida Panhandle said Thursday that they wanted to clear his name and that authorities had put forth a false narrative that deputies acted in self-defense.


Senior Airmen Roger Fortson did not know it was sheriff’s deputies who were breaking into his apartment — “his castle” — and that he grabbed his “legally registered firearm” to protect himself, civil rights attorney Ben Crump told reporters. Fortson’s family planned to view body camera video later in the day.


Fortson’s mother, Chantemekki Fortson, walked into the news conference with Crump holding a framed portrait of her son in his dress uniform. She burst into tears as Crump spoke about her son’s death inside his Fort Walton Beach apartment.

“My baby was shot up,” she said.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office planned to hold a news conference later Thursday afternoon. It has declined to identify the responding deputies or their races. Officials have said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the local State Attorney’s Office will investigate the shooting.


Crump said deputies responding to a disturbance call burst into the wrong unit and fatally shot Fortson when they saw he had a gun. He said Fortson had grabbed his gun because he heard someone outside his apartment, got no response when he asked who was there and discovered the peephole on his door was blocked.

“For whatever reason, they thought he was a bad guy, but he was a good guy. He was a great guy. He was an exceptional guy,” Crump said. “They took a patriot from us.”

Crump, a noted civil rights attorney, called the shooting “an unjustifiable killing” and said the sheriff’s office needed to own up to it instead of maintaining that deputies were acting in self-defense.

“He was just in his apartment, minding his businesses,” Crump said. “They could have made sure they were at the right apartment. They had a duty to make sure they were at the right apartment before they busted in the door.”


The sheriff’s office has not responded to an email or voicemail from The Associated Press seeking comment about Crump’s account. In a statement last week, the office said a deputy responding to a call of a disturbance in progress at the apartment complex reacted in self-defense after encountering an armed man. The office did not offer details on what kind of disturbance deputies were responding to or who called them.

Crump said Fortson, originally from Atlanta, was shot six times and died at a hospital. The deputy who shot him was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Fortson had constitutional rights to have the firearm and against unreasonable searches by the police, Crump said. He led family members and other attorneys in a chant of, “Clear Roger’s name.”


“Any law-abiding citizens who feel they have a right to the Fourth Amendment and the Second Amendment, they should be troubled by this,” Crump said.

Crump said Fortson had always wanted to join the U.S. Air Force and enlisted after graduating high school. He was based at the Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field. As a special missions aviator, one of his roles was to load the gunship’s cannons during missions.

“He was living his dream. By doing so, he was going to make it better for his mother and siblings so they could have a better chance at the American dream,” Crump said.

Fortson was talking to his girlfriend, who hasn’t yet been identified, on FaceTime when deputies burst into his apartment on May 3, Crump added.


Without her, his family wouldn’t have known what happened, he said. The girlfriend notified his mother, who drove to Fort Walton Beach to find out that her son was dead.

At the hospital, deputies approached Chantemekki Fortson, and she told them, “‘You guys have killed my baby. Just take me to my baby please. I just want to see my child,”‘ she recounted at the news conference.

“They had taken my gift,” she said. “My heart is bleeding, and they wanted to talk to me. They told me the investigation was ongoing,” she said.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it is unlikely the agency will have any further comment until the investigation is complete.

Crump, based in Tallahassee, Florida, has been involved in multiple high-profile law enforcement shooting cases involving Black people, including those of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tyre Nichols, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was also killed in her home during a no-knock police raid that targeted her ex-boyfriend in 2020.


Fortson’s death draws striking similarities to other Black people killed in recent years by police in their homes, in circumstances that involved officers responding to the wrong address or responding to service calls with wanton uses of deadly force.

In 2018, a white former Dallas police officer fatally shot Botham Jean, who was unarmed, after mistaking his apartment for her own. Amber Guyger, the former officer, was convicted of murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 2019, a white former Fort Worth, Texas, officer fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson through a rear window of her home after responding to a nonemergency call reporting that Jefferson’s front door was open. Aaron Dean, the former officer, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison.

Crump represented families in both cases as part of his effort to force accountability for the killings of Black people at the hands of police.

In November 2023, an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy mistook the sound of an acorn hitting his patrol vehicle for a gunshot and fired multiple times at the SUV where a handcuffed Black man was sitting in the backseat. Sheriff’s officials said the man, who was being questioned about stealing his girlfriend’s car, was not injured. He was taken into custody, but released without being charged. The officer who initiated the shooting resigned.
 

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BLM foundation suing group funding anti-Israel college protests
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published May 10, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 2 minute read

Black Lives Matter has filed a lawsuit against a progressive nonprofit that has been funding anti-Israel protest groups.


BLM’s Global Network Foundation accused the Tides Foundation of fraud and withholding more than $33 million in donations.


Tides, which was founded in 1976 and manages hundreds of millions in donations for progressive groups, allegedly “refused to honor its promises and continues to commandeer BLMGNF’s donations,” according to the suit obtained by the New York Post.

The nonprofit, which acts as a “fiscal sponsor” that collects donations on behalf of groups that may not have “501(c)(3) tax-exempt status,” the Post reported, manages the money collected for pro-Palestinian groups that have supported anti-Israel protests across the country on top of BLM and its groups.


“Tides has engaged in deceptive business practices and has operated in a quasi-banking capacity without appropriate regulatory oversight of licenses,” BLMGNF’s lawsuit alleges.

“Tides operates with a level of autonomy and minimal regulatory scrutiny that is starkly at odds with the regulatory framework imposed on traditional financial institutions.”



The nonprofit has more than $1.4 billion in assets and essentially acts as a bank — only without banking regulations, the lawsuit claims, according to the Post.

BLMGNF, the national organization founded in 2017, received tens of millions in donations after the death of George Floyd in 2020.

The group did not have tax-exempt status from the IRS at the time, and reached out to Tides for help managing the deluge of donations.

Tides takes a percentage from the donations to manage groups’ funds, but assured BLMGNF that it would return the collected cash once it received tax-exempt status, according to the lawsuit.

BLMGNF’s donations were held in a “collective action fund,” but the group would be able to access the funds as needed.


BLMGNF and Tides cut ties in 2022, but Tides has allegedly refused to hand over the foundation’s $33 million, according to the complaint.

Tides, instead, has allegedly sent a portion of the funds to other BLM groups without BLMGNF’s permission.

A Tides official said it had transferred $7.4 million to BLMGNF but according to the lawsuit, only part of the funds, $4.75 million, was sent — to an unaffiliated BLM chapter in Oklahoma City.

“It is unclear why such a large amount would have been granted to a single city’s BLM chapter,” the complaint reads.


However, Tides issued a statement claiming the money in the collective action fund was “never intended to be granted to large, well-funded national organizations like Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, and was always intended to be granted to local Black Lives Matter chapters.”

It continued: “BLMGNF’s lawsuit seeks to circumvent the intent of the Fund’s donors and deprive grassroots Black Lives Matter chapters critical resources, for its own benefit.”

That includes BLM Grassroots, a radical group headed by activist Melina Abdullah

MLMGNF insisted to the Post that Tides was not authorized to give out donations earmarked for BLMGNF to other BLM groups and chapters, adding it “never expected to become victims of … unscrupulous business practices.”
 

spaminator

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Two students expelled from Cali school for 'blackface' awarded $1M after proving it was acne mask
Author of the article:postmedia News
Published May 10, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 2 minute read

A pair of teens kicked out of their California Catholic school won $1 million in a lawsuit.
A pair of teens kicked out of their California Catholic school won $1 million in a lawsuit. PHOTO BY HANDOUT /SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
A pair of teens who were booted from their elite California Catholic school after being falsely accused of wearing blackface have been awarded a cool $1 million US for their troubles.


The unnamed 14-year-olds were students at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View when they snapped a photo during a 2017 sleepover while wearing what they later proved was a green acne face mask.


According to their lawsuit, the duo took the photo in solidarity with a friend who was suffering from severe acne, the New York Post reported.

The treatment, purchased by one of the boy’s moms, was light green when applied and turned dark green once dry.

Their selfie went viral three years later and was widely shared during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

A Santa Clara County jury agreed this week that the school breached an oral contract and didn’t give them due process before expelling the students in 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported.


The students, identified as A.H. and H.H. in the lawsuit, were each awarded $500,000 in cash and will have their $70,000 tuition reimbursed.

“This case is significant not only for our clients but for its groundbreaking effect on all private high schools in California, which are now legally required to provide fair procedure to students before punishing or expelling them,” said Krista Baughman, one of the attorneys for the students.



“The jury rightly confirmed that Saint Francis High School’s procedures were unfair to our clients and that the school is not above the law.”

A.H.’s family said in a statement: “We want to sincerely thank the jury and the court system for helping our boys and our families find justice, which now paves the way for their names to be cleared for things they never did.”

The lawsuit had initially sought $20 million. The jury rejected some of the boys’ claims, including defamation and violation of free speech.

Representatives for the school said they “respectfully disagree” with the jury’s decision and are “exploring legal options,” including an appeal.
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spaminator

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Texas governor pardons ex-Army sergeant convicted of killing Black Lives Matter protester
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jim Vertuno
Published May 16, 2024 • 3 minute read

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a full pardon Thursday for a former U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder for fatally shooting an armed demonstrator in 2020 during nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice.


Abbott announced the pardon shortly after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced a unanimous recommendation that Daniel Perry be pardoned and have his firearms rights restored.


Perry had been in state prison on a 25-year sentence since his 2023 conviction in the killing of Garrett Foster, and was released shortly after the pardon, a prison spokeswoman said.

Perry, who is white, was working as a ride-share driver when his car approached a demonstration in Austin. Prosecutors said he could have driven away from the confrontation with Foster, a white Air Force veteran who witnesses said never raised his gun.

A jury convicted Perry of murder, but Abbott called it a case of self-defense.

“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney,” Abbott said.


A Republican in his third term, Abbott has typically issued pardons only for minor offenses, and he notably avoided a posthumous pardon recommendation for George Floyd for a 2004 drug arrest in Houston. It was Floyd’s killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020 that set off national demonstrations.

Abbott ordered the board to review Perry’s case shortly after the trial, and said he would sign a pardon if recommended. Under Texas law, the governor cannot issue a pardon without a recommendation from the board, which the governor appoints.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza blasted the pardon as a “mockery of our legal system.”

“The board and the governor have put their politics over justice,” Garza said. “They should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not.”


Abbott’s demand for a review of Perry’s case followed pressure from former Fox News star Tucker Carlson, who on national television had urged the governor to intervene after the sergeant was convicted at trial in April 2023. Perry was sentenced after prosecutors used his social media history and text messages to portray him as a racist who may commit violence again.

The sergeant’s defense attorneys argued that Foster did raise the rifle and that Perry had no choice but to shoot. Perry did not take the witness stand and jurors deliberated for two days before finding him guilty.

Perry acted in self-defense when confronted by an angry crowd and a person with an assault rifle, Perry attorney Clint Broden said after the pardon.


“The events of this case have always been tragic and, unfortunately, Garrett Foster lost his life,” Broden said. “Mr. Perry and his family thank the Board of Pardons and Parole for its careful review of the case and are grateful that the State of Texas has strong laws to allow its citizens to protect themselves.”

Foster’s girlfriend, Whitney Mitchell, was with Foster when he was killed. She called the pardon an act of “lawlessness.”

“With this pardon the governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan and U.S. Air Force veteran and impugned that jury’s just verdict. He has declared that Texans who hold political views that are different from his and different from those in power can be killed in this state with impunity,” Mitchell said.


The shooting set off fierce debate in 2020 amid the demonstrations sparked by Floyd’s death, and Perry’s conviction three years later prompted outrage from prominent conservatives.

Before sentencing in the case, Carlson aired a broadcast calling the shooting an act of self-defense and criticizing Abbott for not coming on his show. The next day, Abbott said he believed Perry should not be punished and told Texas’ parole board to expedite a review of the conviction.

After the verdict but before Perry was sentenced, the court unsealed dozens of pages of text messages and social media posts that showed he had hostile views toward Black Lives Matter protests. In a comment on Facebook a month before the shooting, Perry wrote, “It is official I am a racist because I do not agree with people acting like animals at the zoo.”

Perry served in the Army for more than a decade. At trial, a forensic psychologist testified that he believed Perry has post-traumatic stress disorder from his deployment to Afghanistan and from being bullied as a child. At the time of the shooting, Perry was stationed at Fort Cavazos, then Fort Hood, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Austin.
 

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New signage expected by year's end for renamed Yonge-Dundas Square
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published May 21, 2024 • 1 minute read

The City of Toronto says signage for Yonge-Dundas Square was decommissioned earlier this month and signage reflecting the site’s new name is expected to be installed by the end of the year.


An update on the renaming and rebranding of the downtown landmark is laid out in a document set to be presented to city council at its meeting on Wednesday.


The document, signed by city manager Paul Johnson, says the Yonge-Dundas Square Board approved a name change to Sankofa Square at a February meeting and new signage will be part of the rebranding.



It says a vendor will be selected to make the new signage, with the design, fabrication and installation expected to cost between $105,000 and $200,000.

Other costs associated with the renaming — including branding, programming and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives — are estimated to be between $300,000 and $600,000.

The document says any costs beyond the $335,000 included in the 2024 budget will be covered by the square through third-party financial partners and in-kind support.

The change is part of an ongoing effort by the city to rename public assets bearing the name of Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician who delayed the abolition of slavery in Britain by 15 years.
 

spaminator

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Somebody's profiting from Yonge-Dundas Square name change but not taxpayers

Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Published May 22, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Somebody is about to hit a huge financial windfall on this Yonge-Dundas Square name change to Sankofa Square, writes columnist Joe Warmington.
Somebody is about to hit a huge financial windfall on this Yonge-Dundas Square name change to Sankofa Square, writes columnist Joe Warmington.
Somebody is about to hit a huge financial windfall on this Yonge-Dundas Square name change to Sankofa Square.


But it will not be Toronto taxpayers.


According to The Canadian Press, the City of Toronto has decided “a vendor will be selected to make the new signage, with the design, fabrication and installation expected to cost between $105,000 and $200,000” and “branding, programming and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are estimated to be between $300,000 and $600,000.”

Don’t forget there are subway stops and a library set to get new signs too in a name change many believe will end up costing more than $14 million.

It’s only money. Our money. If it’s like anything else the city does, it likely won’t come in under budget.

“We really can’t afford it,” said Councillor Brad Bradford, who said he will raise these concerns at the council meeting starting Wednesday.


Somebody has to stop this runaway train of woke madness — especially when it’s been proven Henry Dundas was against slavery anyway. As Sun columnist Brian Lilley has noted, there is nuance to this story. And relative Jennifer Dundas said the reasons being used are “historically illiterate.”

None of this makes any sense.

Bradford senses the public is getting tired of this kind of politically correct, cancel-culture lunacy.

“We are losing the plot,” he said. “We have a $26-billion capital backlog over next 10 years so renaming a square nobody is asking for is not good fiscal management and people rightfully get frustrated and upset about it.”

Dana McKiel of the Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization (DCCO) reminds a survey conducted by Liaison Strategies “illustrates that 72% of respondents disapprove of the move” and quoted principal David Valentin saying “no part of the city supports this, no gender, no age demographic supports this. Support is strikingly bad, yet et, members of Toronto city council are trying to sell it to confused residents.”


Many are not at all confused, saying the city can spend all the taxpayers money it wants, and erect all the revisionist signs too, but they will never refer to the corner of Yonge and Dundas as Sankofa Square.



Will you?

“Nope, a waste of time and money,” posts Gail Turner to X.

Mark Mills agrees, writing, “No! Today the mayor is going to tell us and beg for more money because the infrastructure is crumbling! Hmmmmm, let’s spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rename Young-Dundas Square…ya makes sense to me…what a joke!”

James Ryan said “it will be like the Rogers Centre. Many of us still call it Skydome.”

But Bill Zoum nailed the popular view: “I refuse to call it that.”

Darrel Jorstad teased that perhaps “Toronto’s Needle Square” fits better.

The board of Yonge-Dundas Square has not signed any sponsorship deals, perhaps worth half a million dollars per year, since its last one ended in 2019.
The board of Yonge-Dundas Square has not signed any sponsorship deals, perhaps worth half a million dollars per year, since its last one ended in 2019. (Toronto Sun Graphics)
It might be the most appropriate name since Mayor Olivia Chow and city council supporting this window dressing don’t seem to be in any hurry to move the “safe injection” and ingestion site on the northeast corner of the square that is the catalyst the violence there.


The whole thing may seem so stupid but when you see that they are changing the name of Ryerson University and tearing down the statue of Egerton Ryerson, boarding up the statue at Queen’s Park of Canada’s first prime minister, and the prime minister and governor general don’t observe Canada’s oldest holiday Victoria Day, there’s an organized movement working at tearing down the “colonial past” and replacing it.


But in renaming these things it’s clear it won’t be done necessarily with Indigenous themes, as Sankofa Square shows being something from Africa that has no connection with Canada at all. Councillor Chris Moise’s motion last year said the “concept of Sankofa, originating in Ghana, refers to the act of reflecting on and reclaiming teachings from the past, which enables us to move forward together.”


New Jersey’s Stockton University said the word Sankofa comes from the “Akan Tribe of Ghana that loosely translates to ‘Go back and get it.'”



The cultural revolutionists’ ambitions to tear down Canada’s history are only part of the story. The other part is how far are people prepared to let them go?

When will people tell the re-writers to get lost?

“I sense a change happening,” said Bradford. “A lot of people are telling me they have had enough.”

They better hurry up though. Between Dundas, Macdonald, Pioneer Village and Ryerson, the history of Toronto is quickly vanishing.

jwarmington@postmedia.com
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spaminator

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Sankofa Square sign to cost between $105,000 to $200,000
The old Yonge-Dundas Square sign was decommissioned on May 13, 2024

Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Published May 22, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read

City hall has estimated shutting down all sponsorship deals at Yonge-Dundas Square means losing out on $500,000 a year.

The cost of renaming Yonge-Dundas Square will include $105,000 to $200,000 for a sign bearing the city site’s new name, Sankofa Square.


The change is part of the city’s effort to eliminate the name Dundas from public assets.


Critics argue that Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician, delayed the abolition of slavery by 15 years. However, one descendent of Dundas, Bobby Dundas, has argued he was just trying to be strategic with his “gradual abolition” motion, according to the CBC.

Proponents of using the name, Sankofa, say it originated in Ghana and refers to the act of reflecting on and reclaiming teachings from the past.

The cost of the sign change was detailed in a letter from City Manager Paul Johnson to Councillor Stephen Holyday.

City council on Wednesday referred the information for discussion at Mayor Olivia Chow’s influential executive committee.

The city manager said the cost to dispose of the current signs at the square was $7,910.

Johnson said the city’s budget includes $230,000 for marketing, communication and a rebranding campaign for the square.

The new Sankofa Square signage is expected to be installed by the end of the year.
 

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Supreme Court finds no bias against Black voters in South Carolina congressional district
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Mark Sherman
Published May 23, 2024 • 4 minute read

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ‘s conservative majority on Thursday preserved a Republican-held South Carolina congressional district, rejecting a lower-court ruling that said the district discriminated against Black voters.


In dissent, liberal justices warned that the court was insulating states from claims of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.


In a 6-3 decision, the court held that South Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature did nothing wrong during redistricting when it strengthened Rep. Nancy Mace’s hold on the coastal district by moving 30,000 Democratic-leaning Black residents of Charleston out of the district.

“I’m very disturbed about the outcome. It’s as if we don’t matter. But we do matter and our voices deserve to be heard,” said Taiwan Scott, a Black voter who sued over the redistricting.

But Mace, reacting to the decision, said, “It reaffirms everything everyone in South Carolina already knows, which is that the line wasn’t based on race.”


The case presented the court with the tricky issue of how to distinguish race from politics. The state argued that partisan politics, not race, and a population boom in coastal areas explain the congressional map. Moving voters based on their politics is OK, the Supreme Court has held.

A lower court had ordered South Carolina to redraw the district after it found that the state used race as a proxy for partisan affiliation in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Thursday’s decision won’t have a direct effect on the 2024 election. The lower court had previously ordered the state to use the challenged map in the November vote, which could help Republicans as they try to hold on to their narrow majority in the House of Representatives.


Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court, criticized lower-court judges for their “misguided approach” that refused to presume that lawmakers acted in good faith and gave too much credit to the challengers.

Alito wrote that one weakness of the Black voters’ case was that they did not produce an alternative map, which he called an “implicit concession” that they couldn’t have drawn one. “The District Court’s conclusions are clearly erroneous because it did not follow this basic logic,” he wrote.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the three liberals, said her conservative colleagues ignored the work of the lower court that found the district had been gerrymandered by race.

“Perhaps most dispiriting,” Kagan wrote, the court adopted “special rules to specially disadvantage suits to remedy race-based redistricting.”


Richard Hasen, an election expert at the University of California at Los Angeles law school, agreed with Kagan, writing in a blog post that the decision “makes it easier for Republican states to engage in redistricting to help white Republicans maximize their political power.”

Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement, “The highest court in our land greenlit racial discrimination in South Carolina’s redistricting process, denied Black voters the right to be free from the race-based sorting and sent a message that facts, process, and precedent will not protect the Black vote.”

However, Sen. Thomas Alexander, the president of the South Carolina Senate, praised the ruling. “As I have said throughout this process, our plan was meticulously crafted to comply with statutory and constitutional requirements, and I was completely confident we would prevail,” Alexander said.


The Supreme Court in 2019 ruled that partisan gerrymandering cases could be not be brought in federal courts. Justice Clarence Thomas, who was part of the conservative majority five years ago, wrote separately Thursday to say federal courts should similarly get out of the business of refereeing racial gerrymandering disputes.

“It is well past time for the Court to return these political issues where they belong_the political branches,” Thomas wrote. No other justice signed on.

When Mace first won election in 2020, she edged Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham by 1%, under 5,400 votes. In 2022, following redistricting driven by the 2020 census results, Mace won reelection by 14%. She is among eight Republicans who voted in October to oust Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker.


The case differed from one in Alabama in which the court ruled last year that Republican lawmakers diluted Black voters’ political power under the landmark Voting Rights Act by drawing just one district with a majority Black population. The court’s decision led to new maps in Alabama and Louisiana with a second district where Democratic-leaning Black voters comprise a substantial portion of the electorate.

In South Carolina, Black voters wouldn’t have been as numerous in a redrawn district. But combined with a substantial set of Democratic-leaning white voters, Democrats might have been competitive in the reconfigured district.

The high court left open one part of the case about whether the map intentionally sought to dilute the votes of Black residents.
 

Tecumsehsbones

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This article is completely wrong. The Extreme Court noted that there was a racial effect, but finally ruled that it fell on the right side of the forbidden racial discrimination/permitted political discrimination line.
 

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Heat-related howler monkeys deaths in Mexico has risen to 157, with few recovering
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published May 27, 2024 • 2 minute read

A veterinarian feeds a young howler monkey
A veterinarian feeds a young howler monkey rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. PHOTO BY LUIS SANCHEZ /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MEXICO CITY — The number of heat-related howler monkeys deaths in Mexico has risen to 157, the government said, with a tragically small number of the primates treated or recovering.


A heat dome — an area of strong high pressure centered over the southern Gulf of Mexico and northern Central America — has blocked clouds from forming and caused extensive sunshine and hot temperatures all across Mexico.

Last week, environmentalists had reported that 138 of the midsize primates, known for their roaring vocal calls, had been found dead in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco since May 16. Almost two-thirds of the country are expected to see highs of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday.

Late Sunday the Environment Department reported that number had risen to 157, and that research was continuing into the causes of the deaths. But a wildlife biologist on the scene said it appeared to be heat stroke.


The department said deaths were occurring in both Tabasco and the neighboring state of Chiapas, and that 13 monkeys were under treatment and seven had been treated and released back into their habitat.

The department said some of the monkeys were being treated for dehydration, and that three were in serious but stable condition.

Moreover, with heat, fires, and deforestation hitting the trees where the howler monkeys live, it was unclear whether even releasing them could ensure their survival.


Wildlife biologist Gilberto Pozo attributed the deaths to a “synergy” of factors, including high heat, drought, forest fires and logging that deprives the monkeys of water, shade and the fruit they eat, while noting that a pathogen, disease or other factor can’t yet be ruled out.


Normally quite intimidating, howler monkeys are muscular and some can be as tall as 90 centimeters (3 feet), with tails just as long. Some males weigh more than 13.5 kilograms (30 pounds) and can live up to 20 years. They are equipped with big jaws and a fearsome set of teeth and fangs. But mostly they’re know for their lion-like roars, which bely their size.

There have also been reports from Mexico’s southeastern states of birds being affected by the heat.

With below-average rainfall throughout almost all the country so far this year, lakes and dams are drying up, and water supplies are running out. Authorities have had to truck in water for everything from hospitals to fire-fighting teams. Low levels at hydroelectric dams have contributed to power blackouts in some parts of the country.
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