- Created on 25 November 2013
Exterior view of San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, June 30, 2011. The school is one of the state schools that were affected by the new state budget. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Civil rights activists are calling on prosecutors to file felony hate-crime charges against four white students accused of harassing a black student at San Jose State University.
NAACP leaders are urging Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen to bring felony charges against the white students, who currently face misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges.
"This is not simple hazing or bullying. This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African American roommate," Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP said in a statement Saturday.
"The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin." According to a police report, the white students taunted their freshman dorm-mate with racial slurs, outfitted their dormitory suite with a Confederate flag, barricaded the victim in his room and placed a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck.
In a statement Saturday, Rosen says he believes his office has filed the "appropriate charges in this case, based upon the evidence," according to the San Jose Mercury News.
"We have deep respect for the NAACP," Rosen added. "We share its abhorrence for hate crimes and share its desire for justice." University officials have suspended the four white students, condemned their actions and promised a full investigation of the case, which prompted a campus protest last week.
The students charged are Logan Beaschler and Collin Warren, both 18; Joseph Bomgardner, 19; and an unidentified juvenile. Since the accusations emerged Wednesday, efforts by the Mercury News and Associated Press to contact the students have been unsuccessful, and it's unclear if they have lawyers. They haven't released any public statements. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office and county jail administration office were closed Sunday.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement that he and California State University Chancellor Timothy White will closely monitor the situation "so that every student knows that these unconscionable acts will not be tolerated anywhere, anytime."
NAACP officials are planning a campus news conference Monday to condemn the racially charged actions and call on the university to conduct a thorough investigation into how the university housing department handled the situation.
Go here at NewsOne to see a video.
- Created on 22 November 2013
Earl Sampson, 28, an employee of 207 Quickstop in Miami Gardens, has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police officers 258 times, searched more than 100 times, and arrested 62 times (56 times including jail), for one thing: Working While Black.
The police officers who have constantly profiled and harassed Sampson claimed his crime was trespassing — at his own job, reports The Miami Herald.
Alex Saleh, 36, Quickstop's owner, was tired of police officers harassing his patrons and employees, so he installed 15 video cameras around the store to catch them in the act.
Over the course of a year and a half, police officers were captured employing racist tactics — either for the purpose of padding crime statistics or simply because they're drunk with power — to harass Sampson and other citizens in predominately Black Miami Gardens.
Read more from The Miami Herald's exclusive report:
One video, recorded on June 26, 2012, shows Sampson, clearly stocking coolers, being interrupted by MGPD Sgt. William Dunaske, who orders him to put his hands behind his back, and then handcuffs him, leads him out of the store and takes him to jail for trespassing.
More than once, Saleh has told police that Sampson is an employee and is not trespassing.
On that June arrest report, obtained by The Herald, police explained the trespass arrest, saying that Sampson was arrested for loitering outside the store when in fact the video, which has a date and time stamp, clearly shows him being handcuffed and arrested inside the store.
FDLE records show that Sampson was stopped at least once a week for the past four years, and sometimes several times a week and even as many as three times in one day. The stops are often conducted by the same police officers, who have arrested him time and time again.
"I never felt they had any probable cause,'' Sampson said. "They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name.''
Police Chief Matthew Boyd issued a statement defending his department's conduct and commitment to "protect and serve," but Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Florida, challenged him on the empty rhetoric:
"Where is the police chief in all this? In a police department in a city this size, this kind of behavior could not escape his attention. Doesn't the City Commission know that they are exposing the city to either massive liability for civil rights violations? Either that, or they are going to wake up one day and find the U.S. Department of Justice has taken over its police department.''
Saleh is in the process of filing a federal civil rights lawsuit, contending that the police department and Miami Garden's top leaders are complicit in routine racial profiling, illegal stops and searches and other activities to cover up illegal misconduct, the Herald reports.
Miami Gardens, which was incorporated in 2003, is 76 percent Black, with approximately 20 percent of its residents living below the poverty line.
The positioning of Blackness as a criminal offense is certainly not new, but the recent spotlight on issues such as New York's discriminatory Stop-and-Frisk policy have captured the nation's attention.
As I previously reported for NewsOne, only 1.5 percent of Stop-and-Frisk arrests have resulted in a jail or prison sentence, according to an in-depth analysis released by the New York Attorney General's Office. Even more telling, only 0.1 percent of all arrests under the policy led to a conviction for a violent crime.
The Shop-and-Frisk phenomenon —Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips both have lawsuits pending against Barneys after being accosted by police who accused them of stealing items from the store after making purchases — has also shed light on the fact that city streets and stores become landmines for Black Americans. Only in this war-zone, it doesn't take one false move to encounter danger, it only takes one racist with authority and a badge to wield it.
Read more about Sampson's story and see the incriminating videos at The Miami Herald.
- Created on 21 November 2013
FILE – In this May 1, 1935 file photo, attorney Samuel Leibowitz from New York, second left, meets with seven of the Scottsboro defendants at the jail in Scottsboro, Ala. just after he asked the governor to pardon the nine youths held in the case. From left are Deputy Sheriff Charles McComb, Leibowitz, and defendants, Roy Wright, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Robertson, Eugene Williams, Charlie Weems, and Andy Wright. The black youths were charged with an attack on two white women on March 25, 1931. (AP Photo)
Alabama's parole board wrote a new ending for the infamous "Scottsboro Boys" rape case Thursday morning by approving posthumous pardons more than 80 years after the arrests.
The board made the unanimous decision during a hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice in the Deep South in the 1930s.
Nine black males were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931. The men were convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.
The state senator who got a law enacted to permit posthumous pardons said the Scottsboro Boys' lives were ruined by public officials and juries who ignored evidence, and that it was time to right a wrong.
"It is a promising reminder of how far we have come from those regretful days in our past," Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur said.
The founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum in Scottsboro, Shelia Washington, said the pardons "give the history books a new ending — not guilty."
The Scottsboro Boys case became a symbol of the tragedies wrought by racial injustice. Their appeals resulted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries.
The case inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year a museum dedicated to the case opened in Scottsboro.
Five of the men's convictions were overturned in 1937 after one of the alleged victims recanted her story. One defendant, Clarence Norris, received a pardon before his death in 1976. At the time, he was the only Scottsboro Boy known to be alive. Nothing was done for the others because state law did not permit posthumous pardons.
In April, the Alabama Legislature passed Orr's bill to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for old cases where the convictions involved racial discrimination.
The three Scottsboro Boys considered by the parole board on Thursday were Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson.
The board said the other five — Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams and Roy Wright — were not eligible under the new law because their convictions were overturned on appeal and the charges dropped.
Washington said some of the Scottsboro Boys changed their names and started new lives. The museum, working with students and faculty members at the University of Alabama, has found the graves of four of the nine. Washington said the next goal is to find all the graves and erect historical markers.
"They didn't know how much they meant in history while they were alive," she said.
- Created on 18 November 2013
Following recent allegations of racial discrimination within the Greek system at the University of Alabama, one of the majority white sororities elected an African American president for the first time in history.
Sigma Delta Tau, a historically Jewish sorority, elected 22-year-old engineering student, Hannah Patterson, who joined the organization one year ago according to WBRC-TV.
"We're welcoming of any girl that wants to join our chapter and best fits our chapter," Regina Broda, who was president before Patter