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Black DA to Decide Charges Against White Wisconsin Officer

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FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Dane County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne speaks in a  Madison, Wis., court. Ozanne is weighing whether to file charges against Madison Officer Matt Kenny in Tony Robinson’s death. Kenny, who is white, shot Robinson, who was biracial, on March 6. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal,M.P. King, File)

In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Dane County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne speaks in a Madison, Wis., court. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal,M.P. King, File)

Todd Richmond, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The story has played out the same way in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Milwaukee. A white police officer kills an unarmed black man, sparking waves of protests before a white prosecutor ultimately decides not to file charges or hands the case off to a grand jury.

That narrative looks different in Wisconsin’s capital city, where a liberal biracial prosecutor will decide whether to charge a white officer in an unarmed biracial man’s death.

Black protesters have likened last month’s fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson by police officer Matt Kenny to the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York City and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee. Grand juries in Ferguson and New York, convened by white prosecutors, chose not to charge the officers in those cases. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who is white, declined to file charges in the Hamilton shooting.

The decision to press charges in the Madison case will be made by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a biracial Democrat who identifies as black.

Ozanne, whose mother was an activist in the South during the Freedom Summer of 1964, got his start as an assistant Dane County district attorney in 1998. Ten years later, then-Gov. Jim Doyle chose Ozanne to help lead the state Department of Corrections, where he helped implement Doyle’s early release program.

Doyle appointed Ozanne as Dane County district attorney two years later, and Ozanne was elected to the position in 2012, running on promises to reduce racial disparities. Last year, he ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general, vowing to expand programs that allow young adult offenders to clear their records by completing their sentences and connect violent offenders to mentors.

Doyle said he thinks more African-Americans should serve as prosecutors and judges, a view that factored into his decision to appoint Ozanne to his position.

“Not to say they should make decisions (based) on race, but it brings a greater sense of fairness to the system,” said Doyle, a Democrat who served as Wisconsin attorney general before he was elected governor in 2002.

He said he’s confident that Ozanne will weigh the facts in the Robinson case impartially.

“His decision isn’t to see whether all of justice is done in the world or all the wrongs have been righted or whether police behavior is appropriate or inappropriate,” Doyle said. “His decision will determine whether he thinks there’s probable cause (to support charges). You just really have to go back to the basics.”

Ozanne has cleared police in a number of officer-involved shootings since 2012, but none of those cases generated as much scrutiny as the Robinson case.

Police said Kenny shot Robinson in an apartment house near the state Capitol building on March 6. They said Robinson attacked Kenny, who was responding to calls that Robinson had attacked two other people and was running in traffic. Investigators have released no other details.

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition staged daily peaceful protests in the week after the shooting. Demonstrators demanded that Kenny be fired and charged with homicide.

Kenny has not responded publicly.

The state Justice Department investigated the shooting and handed its findings over to Ozanne at the end of March. Ozanne has said he has no timeline for a charging decision. He didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Brandi Grayson, a spokeswoman for Young, Gifted and Black, told the city council that the city will “erupt” when the full facts emerge. Decisions not to file charges in the deaths of Brown, Garner and Hamilton all led to protests, including violent demonstrations in Ferguson.

The group said in a statement that it doesn’t expect Ozanne to charge Kenny. Grayson said in an interview that Ozanne’s racial identity doesn’t matter because he’s part of a criminal justice system that works against blacks.

“We expect him to proceed and investigate as if he was white or Asian,” Grayson said. “It doesn’t matter. He’s a representative of the system and the system is fixed. The laws are written in a way to ensure Matt Kenny won’t be indicted.”

Michael Scott, a former Madison police officer and law professor who heads the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing Inc., which advises police agencies on crime fighting techniques, said officer-involved shootings rarely result in charges against the officer.

“In highly emotional and controversial events, it’s not uncommon that the facts get lost in the emotion,” Scott said. “I don’t know what happened in that apartment. (But) as a general matter of course, it’s just a very rare case where the facts support the allegation that a police officer intentionally murdered somebody with no legal justification whatsoever.”

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Community

Building Bridges Beyond Bias in Marin

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to marinlibrary.org/blogs/post/building-bridges-beyond-bias/

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From left: Tahirah Dean, Jason Lau, Ph.D., Laura Eberly, Alejandro Lara

The Marin County Free Library (MCFL) and Age Forward Marin is presenting a four-part, on-line series “Building Bridges Beyond Bias” which is designed for Marin County residents from all backgrounds to gain understanding and foster awareness about each other through conversation and connection, and to confront and explore beyond our biases.

Tahirah Dean will be speaking on Wednesday, October 20, and Jason Lau, Ph.D. will be speaking on Wednesday, November 3, for the two remaining programs. The programs will be online via Zoom from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dean is an Afro-Latina Muslim woman and a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Marin, pursuing her passion for housing justice, and has worked as an immigration attorney assisting asylum seekers and those seeking work visas. She holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of North Texas, and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Lau traveled to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1997 to further his education. Today, he is the interim associate dean and senior business officer for the School of Extended and International Education for Sonoma State University and chairs the Marin County Child Care Commission and the Marin YMCA Volunteer Board of Managers.

The speakers for two previous programs in the series were Laura Eberly, who spoke on September 22 and Alejandro Lara, who spoke on October 6.

Eberly is the founding director of Mountaintop Coaching & Consulting, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion services. She holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago and is ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church. She is a proud alum of Catalyst Project’s Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program.

Lara is a first-generation Latino college graduate from UC Davis, and currently works as the communications coordinator for the Canal Alliance in San Rafael.

MCFL has supported equity measures in the county, offered enlightening educational programming, and has enthusiastically endorsed the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ prioritization of social equity and the creation of the County’s Office of Equity. County departments are working to dismantle inequities and transform systems inherited through centuries of racial, social, and political injustices.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spearheaded the Age Forward Marin. It is a collective effort between County departments and local government, community leaders, and residents including in Marin’s unincorporated areas.

Gloria Dunn-Violin, a resident of Novato, approached HHS Director Benita McLarin with a concept that evolved into the special speaker series. Dunn-Violin teamed with the Corte Madera Library and the Age Forward initiative to design the Beyond Bias program’s purpose and format, to assist in finding speakers, and to share the event with community partners focused on diversity and inclusion.

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to marinlibrary.org/blogs/post/building-bridges-beyond-bias/

The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California

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Black History

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis Pioneered Diversity in Foreign Service

UC Berkeley Grad Continues to Bring International Economic Empowerment for Women

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Ambassador Ruth A. Davis (left) is meeting with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Ruth A. Davis was recently named as a distinguished alumna by the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. 

She also has been honored by the U.S. State Department when a conference room at the Foreign Service Institute in Virginia was named in honor of her service as director of the Institute. She was the first African American to serve in that position.

Davis, a graduate of Spelman College received a master’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1968.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, also a graduate of the School of Social Welfare, now chairs the House Appropriations Committee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She praised Ambassador Davis as “a trailblazing leader and one of the great American diplomats of our time. Over her 40-year career, she had so many ‘firsts’ on her resume: the first Black director of the Foreign Service Institute, the first Black woman Director General of the Foreign Service, and the first Black woman to be named a Career Ambassador, to name just a few.

“She served all over the world, from Kinshasa to Tokyo to Barcelona, where she was consul general, and to Benin, where she served as ambassador,” Lee continued. “ I am so proud of her many accomplishments. She has represented the best of America around the world, and our world is a better place because of her service.”

During Davis’ 40-year career in the Foreign Service, she also served as chief of staff in the Africa Bureau, and as distinguished advisor for international affairs at Howard University. She retired in 2009 as a Career Ambassador, the highest-level rank in Foreign Service.

Since her retirement, Ambassador Davis has served as the chair (and a founding member) of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), an organization devoted to promoting women’s economic empowerment by creating an international network of businesswomen.

She also chairs the selection committee for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, where she helps to oversee the annual selection process. Finally, as vice president of the Association of Black American Ambassadors, she participates in activities involving the recruitment, preparation, hiring, retention, mentoring and promotion of minority Foreign Service employees.

Gay Plair Cobb, former Regional Administrator of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor in the Atlanta, and San Francisco offices, was Ambassador Davis’ roommate at UC Berkeley. Cobb said, “Ruth always exhibited outstanding leadership and a determined commitment to fairness, equal opportunity and activism, which we engaged in on a regular basis.”

Davis has received the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award, Arnold L. Raphel Memorial Award and Equal Employment Opportunity Award; the Secretary of State’s Achievement Award (including from Gen. Colin Powell); the Director General’s Foreign Service Cup; two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards; and Honorary Doctor of Laws from Middlebury and Spelman Colleges.

A native of Atlanta, Davis was recently named to the Economist’s 2015 Global Diversity List as one of the Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life and is the recipient of the American Foreign Service Association’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Business

City Must Pay Contractors, Businesses, Non-Profits Promptly

By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

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Sheng Thao

I have introduced legislation to restore the City of Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance and it will be heard at 1:30 p.m. by the City Council on October 19 because local contractors and local businesses need to be compensated in a timely manner for work they do on behalf of the City.

It’s unacceptable that the city is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay payment to these local non-profit organizations.  By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-Interim City Administrator, Steven Falk issued an Emergency Order suspending parts of the City’s codes to give the City the flexibility to navigate the uncertain times.  Few would have guessed then that the world would still be navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic nearly 18 months later. One of the ordinances suspended by the Emergency Order was the Prompt Payment Ordinance.

Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance requires the City to compensate local businesses and contractors executing City grants or contracts within 20 days of receiving an invoice.  This allows local organizations providing services on behalf of the City of Oakland to be compensated in a timely manner and builds trust between these organizations and the city.  Local contractors and businesses provide a diverse set of services to the City, covering areas ranging from trash removal and paving to public safety.

Almost 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance is still suspended.  Even as City staff have adjusted to working remotely and the City has adjusted to operating during the pandemic, there is no requirement that the City compensate its contractors or local businesses in a timely manner.

Oaklanders can comment at the meeting by joining the Zoom meeting via this link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88527652491 or calling 1-669-900-6833 and using the Meeting ID 885 2765 2491 and raising their hand during the public comment period at the beginning of the Council meeting.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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