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COMMENTARY: Dallas Cop Amber Guyger Gets 10 Years for Murder of Botham Jean

NNPA NEWSWIRE — After deliberating her fate, a jury recommended a sentence of just 10 years in prison for Guyger’s assassination of her neighbor, Botham Jean. The judge upheld the sentencing recommendation. The 26-year old Jean was an accountant at the prestigious firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers at the time of his murder.

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Even after finding the defendant guilty after deliberating her fate for just three hours, the jury recommended a sentence of just 10 years in prison for Guyger’s September 2018 assassination of her neighbor, Botham Jean.

Guyer: ‘People are so ungrateful. No one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them.’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Many believe that former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger is a racist with a quick trigger finger. Her tweets and social media posts demonstrate a thirst for blood, and many observers believe that she represents white privilege at its most disgusting level.

Even after finding the defendant guilty after deliberating her fate for just three hours, the jury recommended a sentence of just 10 years in prison for Guyger’s September 2018 assassination of her neighbor, Botham Jean. The 26-year old Botham was an accountant at the prestigious firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers at the time of his murder. Judge Tammy Kemp upheld the sentencing recommendation.

Prosecutors sought at least 28 years.

“If you truly are sorry… I forgive you,” Brandt Jean, Botham’s 18-year old younger brother, told Guyger after the jury read her sentence.

“I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you,” Brandt Jean said, before asking and receiving permission from the trial court judge to give Guyger a hug.

Unlike Brandt Jean, other family members weren’t so willing to offer Guyger forgiveness. At a press conference following the sentencing, Allison Jean, Botham’s mother, said, “My son’s life was much more valuable than ten years.” Then she shook her head and said, “but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Later, during an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, Allison Jean shared that she did not know that her son Brandt was going to make the statement that he made. “So, I was very shocked when he did that,” she said to Cooper.

During the live broadcast of the hearing, protestors outside the courtroom could be heard yelling, “No Justice, No Peace,” from within the courtroom itself.

Activist Dominique Alexander said the sentence was much too light and called for additional protests.

Jean family lawyers said they’ll need to consult with their clients to determine where to go from here, including whether or not to push for federal charges against Guyger because of the comparatively light sentence.

It was a little more than one year ago that Guyger entered Botham Jean’s apartment and shot him for no apparent reason other than he was sitting in his house while black.

During the sentencing hearing, a series of text messages sent and received by Guyger were displayed in court for the jury and the world to see.

The picture painted by her words in those messages was ugly and Klan-esque, particularly from someone who is supposed to protect and serve all citizens.

They were egregiously disrespectful to African Americans and all people of color.

During a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Dallas in 2018, Guyger’s white supremacist-style attitude reared its ugly head.

“When does this end, lol,” read a text sent to Guyger purportedly from another officer on duty.

“When MLK is dead… oh, wait…” Guyger replied.

Later that year, Guyger received another text about the prospect of adopting a German Shepherd.

“Although she may be racist,” the individual texted to Guyger.

“It’s okay,” Guyger responded. “I’m the same. I hate everything and everyone but y’all.”

Prosecutors also showed jurors a text message exchange between Guyger and her partner and ex-lover Officer Martin Rivera.

The conversation took place six months before she shot Jean to death.

“Damn, I was at this area with five different black officers. Not racist but damn,” Rivera texted.

Guyger couldn’t resist in her reply: “Not racist but just have a different way of working, and it shows.”

If the text messages weren’t enough to show the kind of cop Guyger was, and what kind of person she is, Guyger’s Pinterest posts left little doubt.

She captioned one post of her with a military sniper weapon this way: “Stay low, go fast; kill first, die last; one shot, one kill; no luck, all skill.”

Another Pinterest post of Guyger’s reads: “I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me because I’m already dressed for your funeral.”

In that post, Guyger brandishes a gun, gloves, and a shovel. She wrote: “Yah I got meh a gun, a shovel, and gloves. If I were u back da f— up and get out of meh f—–g way.”

In still another post, Guyger wrote, “People are so ungrateful. No one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them.”

During the trial, Guyger said she was tired after working a long shift when she returned home on September 6, 2018.

She said she approached what she believed was her apartment and found the door partially ajar. Guyger said she saw a man inside the apartment and thought he was an intruder. She was still in uniform and shot Jean to death.

Because her unit is one floor below Jean’s, Guyger tried to explain that as the reason for the mix-up. For jurors, she couldn’t explain why she’d execute a man who was sitting on his couch, eating ice cream, and watching television.

Although she claimed to have yelled, “Let me see your hands,” neighbors testified that they never heard her utter such a command. The only sound they heard was the gunfire: Guyger shooting an unarmed man.

Guyger’s conviction and imprisonment appears part of a new trend where law enforcement officers are facing the music for crimes against unarmed individuals of color.

Earlier this year, Jason Van Dyke, a white former Chicago Police Officer, was convicted of second-degree murder in the October 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, an unarmed black teenager.

Van Dyke, who shot Laquan 16 times, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison.

Robert Bates, a white Tulsa County, Oklahoma volunteer sheriff’s deputy, was sentenced in 2016 to four years in prison for second-degree manslaughter in the 2015 death of Eric Harris, 44, who was unarmed and restrained.

Peter Liang, a rookie police officer in New York City, was convicted of manslaughter in 2016 in the 2014 death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley.

Gurley, who is black, was walking down the steps of his apartment building when a startled Liang panicked and open fire.

A judge reduced the conviction to negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service.

Former Balch Springs, Texas, Police Officer Roy Oliver was convicted of murder in August in the 2017 death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Oliver, who is white, fired his weapon into a car packed with black teenagers, killing Edwards.

North Charleston, S.C., Officer Michael Slager pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges after killing Walter Scott, a black man, in 2015.

Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison in December 2017.

This week, jurors in Georgia began deliberating the case against former DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen.

Olsen, who is white, is accused of killing Anthony Hill, a 26-year-old black man and military veteran who was unarmed and naked at the time of the shooting.

It took jurors less than a day before convicting Guyger who was taken into custody immediately following the verdict.

“For black people in America, this verdict is a huge victory,” said Lee Merritt, one of the attorney’s representing the Jean family.

“Few police officers ever face trial for shooting deaths, and even fewer are convicted,” Merritt stated.

He added that the verdict shows that justice is finally coming for the family of victims.

“Police officers are going to be held accountable for their actions, and we believe that will begin to change policing culture all over the world,” Merritt told reporters.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who also represents Jean’s family, said it was important to remember that there’s a list of unarmed African Americans who have been killed by police officers.

He said the verdict against Guyger was a welcome shift in the nation.

“For so many unarmed black and brown human beings all across America, this verdict is for them,” Crump stated.

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PRESS ROOM: New AARP Pennsylvania Poll: Black Voters 50+ Say Social Security, Inflation, and Medicare Will Influence 2024 Vote

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “With inflation and the rising costs of living squeezing all Pennsylvania households, Black voters 50+ are clearly looking for leaders with a plan,” said Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania State Director.  “Candidates would be wise to listen to their opinions and concerns if they want to win in November.”
The post PRESS ROOM: New AARP Pennsylvania Poll: Black Voters 50+ Say Social Security, Inflation, and Medicare Will Influence 2024 Vote first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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AARP Pennsylvania’s first 2024 election survey shows that candidates should pay close attention to Pennsylvanian voters ages 50 and older and highlights the priorities and concerns of Black voters ages 50 and older that will likely influence the outcome of the 2024 elections. Seventy-nine percent of Black voters in Pennsylvania are extremely motivated to vote this year. When asked about the issues that are important as they decide whom to vote for this November, older Black voters cited Social Security (92% say extremely or very important), Medicare (89%), policies to help seniors live independently at home as they age (87%), the cost of prescription drugs (86%) as key issues. Social Security and Medicare emerged as their top priority issue in their vote for Senate this year, with nearly twice as many Black voters 50+ choosing Social Security and Medicare as any of the other dozen issues tested.

“With inflation and the rising costs of living squeezing all Pennsylvania households, Black voters 50+ are looking for leaders with a plan,” said Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania State Director.  “Candidates would be wise to listen to their opinions and concerns if they want to win in November.” Among Black voters 50+, President Joe Biden (D) leads former President Donald Trump (R) by a large margin: 84% to 8%. In the race for U.S. Senate, Senator Bob Casey (D) leads Dave McCormick 87% to 7%.

Other key takeaways include:

  • 96% of Black voters 50+ say they are more likely to vote for a candidate for the U.S. Senate who advocated making sure workers get the Social Security they paid for through a lifetime of hard work.
  • Four of the five issues measured as cost concerns are important to many Black voters 50+: health care/prescription drugs, utilities, food, and housing; and
  • 58% of Black voters 50+ are worried about their financial situation including 63% of women. Health care/prescription drugs and housing are the biggest cost concerns.
  • 66% of Black voters 50+ and 73% of Black voters 65+ say Social Security is or will be a major source of their income.

AARP commissioned the bipartisan polling team of Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research to conduct a survey. The firms interviewed 1,398 likely Pennsylvania voters, which includes a statewide representative sample of 600 likely voters, with an oversample of 470 likely voters aged 50 and older and an additional oversample of 328 Black likely voters aged 50 and older, between April 24-30, 2024. The interviews were conducted via landline, cellphone, and SMS-to-web. The margin of sampling error for the 600 statewide samples is ±4.0%; for the 800 total sample of voters 50+ is ±3.5%; for the 400 total sample of Black voters 50+ is ±4.9%.

View the full survey results at aarp.org/PApolling.

For more information on how, when, and where to vote in Pennsylvania, visit aarp.org/PAVotes.

The post PRESS ROOM: New AARP Pennsylvania Poll: Black Voters 50+ Say Social Security, Inflation, and Medicare Will Influence 2024 Vote first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Calif. Anti-Sex Trafficking Advocates Discuss Competing Bills, Strategies

OAKLAND POST — “It is time to send a thorough message that if you seek to buy a child for sex, you will pay the highest criminal penalties in this state,” said the Rev. Shane Harris, a San Diego-based activist, former foster youth and founder of the Peoples Association of Justice Advocates, (PAJA), a national civil rights organization and policy think tank. Harris, who was speaking at a rally at the State Capitol earlier this month, was speaking in support of Senate Bill 1414, authored by Sen. Shannon Grove (D-Bakersfield), which calls for people who buy sex from minors to be punished with a felony. The punishment includes a two-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.
The post Calif. Anti-Sex Trafficking Advocates Discuss Competing Bills, Strategies first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Bo Tefu, California Black Media | The Oakland Post

Advocates from across California are challenging state officials and community leaders to support legislation that provides resources and services for survivors and victims of human trafficking, as well as assistance as they transition back into civil society.

Some of those advocates are also calling for more effective state policy to curtail trafficking, a crime that has an outsized impact on Black children, particularly girls.

According to the FBI, a report covering a two-year period found Black children accounted for 57% of all juvenile arrests for prostitution. In addition, 40% of sex trafficking victims were Black and 60% of those victims had been enrolled in the foster care system.

“It is time to hold the perpetrators who take advantage of our children accountable,” said the Rev. Shane Harris, a San Diego-based activist, former foster youth and founder of the Peoples Association of Justice Advocates, (PAJA), a national civil rights organization and policy think tank.

“It is time to send a thorough message that if you seek to buy a child for sex, you will pay the highest criminal penalties in this state,” added Harris who was speaking at a rally at the State Capitol earlier this month. Harris was speaking in support of Senate Bill 1414, authored by Sen. Shannon Grove (D-Bakersfield), which calls for people who buy sex from minors to be punished with a felony. The punishment includes a two-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.

Harris said the PAJA is the only civil rights organization in the state that supports SB 1414.

Harris urged other Black-led groups who favor anti-trafficking legislation more focused on criminal justice reforms (as opposed to stiffer penalties), to “join the movement.”

Many of those civil rights groups fear that SB 1414 could lead to the incarceration of more Black youth.

Those sentiments were echoed in a panel discussion organized by Black women advocates on April 26 to examine the cause and effects of human trafficking in California’s Black communities. The virtual event was hosted by the Forgotten Children, Inc, a faith-based nonprofit that advocates for survivors and victims of human trafficking through anti-trafficking campaigns and initiatives.

Panelists shared the psychological impact of sexual exploitation on youth and children in the long term.

Author and educator Dr. Stephany Powell shared statistics and information revealing that African American women and girls are the most trafficked nationwide.

Powell, who serves as the senior advisor on law enforcement and policy at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said that national data indicates that sex trade survivors are disproportionately women of color. She stated that male survivors often go unnoticed because boys rarely report trafficked crimes.

Powell said that decriminalizing prostitution in California could increase human trafficking. She argued that Senate Bill 357, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), which was signed into law in 2022 and legalized loitering for prostitution, caused a surge in street-level prostitution.

Panelist and psychologist Dr. Gloria Morrow shared opposing views on decriminalizing prostitution. She said that decriminalizing prostitution could help survivors gain access to state resources and support.

Despite opposing views, Powell and Morrow agree that the Black community needs resources and educational programs to address human trafficking.

The post Calif. Anti-Sex Trafficking Advocates Discuss Competing Bills, Strategies first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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The TINA TURNER Musical Reveals Trials and Triumphs

THE OKLAHOMA EAGLE — The 1993 movie “What’s Love Got to Do with It” portrayed the relationship between Ike and Tina Turner as abusive before their breakup. Ike was also said to victimize Tina, as she shared in a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey. But Deon Releford-Lee, the actor who plays Ike in the Broadway musical, says there is more to Ike’s story than is told on screen. In preparing for the part, the Broadway actor searched for the triggers that made Ike who he was known to be.  
The post The TINA TURNER Musical Reveals Trials and Triumphs first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Kimberly Marsh | The Oklahoma Eagle

According to Tulsans who knew him and the actor who plays him in the musical Tina, The Tina Turner Musical, Ike Turner may have had multiple sides to his personality. However, the Ike Turner the public has seen is a violent man.

The arc of Tina Turner’s career is well-known. Although Ike’s story is lesser known, he had a powerful influence on Tina’s life and career. They had a family together, and he witnessed Tina rise to superstardom.

Naomi Rodgers performing ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?” as Tina Turner in the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade.

Naomi Rodgers performing ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?” as Tina Turner in the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade.

The 1993 movie, “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” portrayed the relationship between Ike and Tina Turner as abusive before their breakup. Ike was also said to victimize Tina, as she shared in a 2018 interview with Oprah Winfrey. But Deon Releford-Lee, the actor who plays Ike in the Broadway musical, says there is more to Ike’s story than is told on screen. In preparing for the part, the Broadway actor searched for the triggers that made Ike who he was known to be.

Ike is part of the musical until the breakup and the start of Tina’s solo career in the second act. Because of the problematic themes of domestic violence, the musical is recommended for ages 14 and older.

Naomi Rodgers performed “Proud Mary” as Tina Turner and the cast of the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Naomi Rodgers performed “Proud Mary” as Tina Turner and the cast of the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Ike Turner 

In an interview with The Oklahoma Eagle, Releford-Lee said playing Ike Turner was a healing experience for him. While “villains” have challenging roles, Releford-Lee said it is liberating in some respects, and he embraces the challenge.

“I have a wealth of knowledge of difficult things to play. My focus is to do as much…research as possible to figure out who this human was, what happened in his path, and what maybe led him to the places to do some of the horrible things he did. Not to excuse their behavior because it’s deplorable, right? We don’t just walk around hating people, throwing them around, forcing them, and manipulating them to do things,” Releford-Lee said. He described Ike’s aggressive behavior, especially with his wife.

Channeling that aggressive hyper-masculine energy takes a toll but also frees Releford-Lee to be softer, more feminine, more free, and more in touch with his emotions off-stage. Having played many villains in the past, he said he learned to become “Okay with my ugliness because that ugliness is in all of us.”

“Ike was a Black man who wrote music and was one of the fathers of Rock ‘n’ Roll but never received the credit,” Releford-Lee said. As Tina took center stage and became the superstar she was, Ike was overlooked.

Zurin Villanueva performed as Tina Turner and Garrett Turner as Ike Turner in the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Zurin Villanueva performed as Tina Turner and Garrett Turner as Ike Turner in the North American touring production of “TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.” Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

“Those are the things that I focus on to help ground me in the (character) because being rejected for being Black, being talented, being othered, is something that I can connect to.”

Tulsa Connections 

In an article published in June 2023 following Tina’s death, The Oklahoma Eagle Editor Gary Lee reflected on the days when the Ike and Tina Revue came to Tulsa and performed at the Big Ten Ballroom. The Ike and Tina Revue was a Big Ten headliner several times in the 1960s, and they performed together until their 1976 divorce.

Tulsa musician and radio personality Bobby Eaton Jr. knew them both and witnessed much of what was happening around them on the road. Eaton recently held a launch party for his new band, Eaton Out.  During the performance, he recounted working with Ike and Tina Turner as the youngest guy in the band. Eaton said he appreciated Ike as a band leader, a musician/composer, and a businessman who showed him the ropes in the industry. But Eaton acknowledged that the relationship was not easy.

“Tina was there, and a lot of fights and a lot of crazy stuff went on back in those days, but at the same, I couldn’t wait to get away because they had too much drama going on.”

Singer Michelle Love, a/k/a Sweet Randi Love, became an Ikette in 1993 and knew him during the last decade of his life when he revived his career as a frontman. She joined the band despite being familiar with the tumultuous relationship Tina described.

“We were more like a family unit. When it came to work, though, he was a real hard ass. I don’t want to say it like that. But you know what I mean? He was serious when it came to work. As far as that goes, he didn’t play any games because he was like, this is me on stage, and it represents me.

“After the Tina stuff, Ike was self-conscious…about every little thing that he did because he had already gotten kind of a bad rap behind the movie. So, he was a real stickler as far as that goes,” Love said, “But when it was time for everybody to go home and we were calming down, Ike was just a big old teddy bear. Honestly, he was really. I think a lot of what he went through, you know, in the past team as well, had a lot to do with his insecurities. During the Jim Crow days, he went through quite a bit. So, there’s a lot that people don’t know about him. As far as his background story goes, I’m not trying to take away from Tina’s background story because she has a story to tell, but it might explain why he was the way he was.”

Ike was released from prison in 1991 after serving 18 months for drug offenses. Cocaine was his drug of choice, and it flowed freely, in large quantities, around him. Ike’s drug addiction relapse in 2004 led to his drug overdose in 2007.

Love has returned to Tulsa and continues to sing and perform with Sweet Randi Love and The Love Thang band.

About Deon Releford-Lee 

Releford-Lee attended Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, an HBCU. At the university, he studied dance and theater. He began working professionally when he was still not old enough to play certain roles, portraying more mature characters. Although getting attention was difficult, he worked his way from ensemble to lead roles. A move to New York City followed, leading to his current role as Ike.

Deon Releford-Lee plays Ike Turner in the TPAC production TINA: The Tina Turner Musical.

Releford-Lee plays Ike full-time every night but has two understudy actors for this incredibly physical and emotional role.  A self-described Bohemian, Releford-Lee’s personality is very different from Ike’s, and he is shocked when audience members have no idea who he is when the cast goes out to greet them.

Following a night onstage, he does breathwork to unwind and get out of character, which can take about 15 minutes to exit.

“I realized that when I’m feeling anxious, it’s mostly because physically I’m not breathing at all. I’m holding my breath, so I’m just reminding myself to breathe. I’m someone who doesn’t leave the theater right away. I just kind of sit there for a bit, take off my costume, take off my wig, put my jewelry on, put my own clothes back on, and just kind of sit and listen to music, and then move on.”

Releford-Lee said people will learn a little more through Ike’s backstory, how the industry treated him, and why he was the way he was.

“And in the same breath, you’re also seeing him being manipulative and hurtful. And the audience is kind of on his side in one second, and then the very next second, betrayed by him.

“I love the moment where Tina and Ike first meet because you see them laughing, you see them enjoying each other. It’s one of the only times of fun between them. And I think that’s beautiful. I love watching Tina discover herself in the second act.”

Celebrity Attractions describes “Tina-The Tina Turner Musical” as the inspiring journey of a woman who broke barriers and became the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “Set to the pulse-pounding soundtrack of her most beloved hits, this electrifying sensation will send you soaring to the rafters.” Tina Turner won 12 Grammy Awards and her live shows were seen by millions, with more concert tickets sold than any other solo performer in music history. Featuring her songs, “Tina–The Tina Turner Musical” is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd.  

The post The TINA TURNER Musical Reveals Trials and Triumphs first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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