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Cincinnati ‘Ready to Explode’ if Judge Goes to Jail

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Former Cincinnati State Sen. Eric Kearney told a group of Black Press of America publishers that he’s concerned that the prosecution and conviction of Judge Tracie Hunter and her impending six-month jail sentence, that’s set to begin on July 22, will rekindle the same intense racial division that led to race riots less than 20 years ago.

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Former Judge Fears “Being another Sandra Bland”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The impending jailing of Judge Tracie Hunter, the first African American Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s long history, has the city of Cincinnati on edge, according to her supporters and a former state senator.

“I think it’s going to be a problem,” said former Cincinnati State Sen. Eric Kearney, who is revered as “The Connector in Chief” throughout the state and neighboring Kentucky.

An attorney by trade, Kearney currently serves as president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Kearney told a group of Black Press of America publishers that he’s concerned that the prosecution and conviction of Judge Tracie Hunter and her impending six-month jail sentence, that’s set to begin on July 22, will rekindle the same intense racial division that led to race riots less than 20 years ago.

“I’m telling you, black people are not going to take [Hunter going to jail] lightly. The city is on edge,” Kearney said. “The city is going to explode.”

Hunter was convicted of just one of the 10 counts against her for securing a public contract.

Kearney, Hunter and her vast number of supporters have said the process used to convict her wreaked of politics, corruption, nepotism and racism.

The jury that rendered the guilty verdict was comprised of political foes and others associated with the prosecutors and a Republican establishment that didn’t take kindly to Hunter breaking the GOP and white-male dominated stronghold to win a seat on the bench in 2010, her supporters have pointed out.

Surprisingly, one of the jurors worked for WCPO Television, a local station that has filed numerous lawsuits against Hunter.

Also, court documents revealed that the jury foreman contributed $500 to state Sen. Bill Seitz, the father of county jury coordinator Brad Seitz, who was responsible for compiling the panel of jurors.

Hunter said three black jurors, none of whom had known ties to prosecutors and all of whom held out for acquittal, ultimately succumbed to pressure from other jurors and a judge who refused to allow defense lawyers to poll the jury after announcing the verdict.

In every American criminal trial, particularly those that end in guilty verdicts, it’s the right of attorneys to request the judge to poll all 12 jurors to ensure each were in agreement with the verdict.

“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Hunter said as she stood in front of a large group of supporters sporting black T-shirts imprinted with the logo, “Justice for Judge Tracie Hunter.”

“If the judge polled the jury, it happened in a blink, but I don’t remember that happening,” Kearney said.

“At the close of the trial, three jurors came forward and said that their true verdict was not guilty and if Judge Norbert Nadel had polled the jury, they would have said so,” Hunter said.

After being convicted on one of 10 counts filed against her, Hunter lost her appeals, one of which was presided over by prosecutor Joe Deters’ mother-in-law, Judge Sylvia Hendon.

Representatives for Deters and Hendon have declined to comment to NNPA Newswire.

Hunter, who earned her undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1992, won election in 2010, stunning the Republican-led city by defeating GOP contender John Williams.

Williams and the GOP contested Hunter’s victory and a heated court battle and numerous appeals by the Hamilton County Board of Elections which refused to count more than 800 votes from majority Democrat and Black precincts, ensued.

Hunter then filed a federal lawsuit to have those voted counted.

While the court finally ordered those votes to be counted, election officials still certified Williams as the victor.

However, once the votes were counted, the election was overturned in Hunter’s favor.

The 18-month period proved pivotal because then-Gov. John Kasich appointed Williams to the bench and the state Supreme Court changed the rules giving Williams administrative authority over the court.

As the senior judge and the only one elected, Hunter would have received the position of administrative judge.

Still, Hunter worked behind the bench to protect the rights of children including refusing to allow their names and faces to appear in news coverage.

After serving just 18 months, her enemies found a way to silence her and end her career.

Hunter was charged with theft for using her judicial credit card to appeal the lawsuits filed against her by Deters, the prosecutor.

“I think this is about power and control,” Kearney said. “Judge Hunter didn’t come through traditional means and she didn’t come through the status quo and that makes her a threat,” he said.

Kearney said the city is on edge, something Hunter acknowledges that she’s fully aware of.

“There is so much racism, so much nepotism and so much cronyism here in Cincinnati but I just hold on to the belief that the truth shall set you free and I will continue to stand on the truth,” Hunter said.

Now, with her law license suspended and having exhausted any savings and appeals, Hunter is facing jail.

Further frustrating is that Hunter is the lone caregiver to her ailing and aging mother and Hunter said she knows that her pending incarceration is both political and racially-motivated.

In a televised interview with a local station in Cincinnati, Hunter said she fears being another Sandra Bland, the African American woman who in 2015 was found dead in her jail cell just three days after being arrested during a traffic stop.

“I want everyone to know that I don’t drink … I don’t do drugs… I have no intention of harming myself,” Hunter said.

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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