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D.C. Activist Leads Search for Solutions to Shootings

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Most of the nation’s attention continues to rest on the cities of El Paso and Dayton where families, friends and local officials struggle to make sense of last weekend’s two mass shootings that left a collective and rising death toll of 31 with dozens injured and still hospitalized.

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A little girl holds a candle during a vigil in southeast D.C. for Karon Brown, 11, who was killed by an adult after a dispute with other children. (Courtesy of Ward 8C07 Commissioner Salim Adofo)

By D. Kevin McNeir

Most of the nation’s attention continues to rest on the cities of El Paso and Dayton where families, friends and local officials struggle to make sense of last weekend’s two mass shootings that left a collective and rising death toll of 31 with dozens injured and still hospitalized.

But closer to home, community activists like D.C.’s Roach Brown, known for his zeal and commitment on behalf of returning citizens, has taken on another mission: finding solutions to the District’s rising gun violence.

On August 6 during Brown’s monthly “Crossroads Radio Show” (WPFW, 89.3 FM), which airs live every first Tuesday from Ben’s Chili Bowl in Northwest, he facilitated two panel discussions in a room filled with interested local residents for a lively two-hour conversation about the impact that escalating shootings have had throughout the District.

But his most ardent concern, he says, remains the rise of injuries and deaths among children.

“We have reached a point where our children are being shot and killed in our streets before our very eyes,” he said. “We can no longer sit by idly as the death toll rises. If you can ignore what’s happening in the Black community to our babies, then there’s something terribly wrong with you. We can stop this – we must stop this.”

“And it doesn’t matter what color these babies are. Nor do I care if they’re the children of Black folks or children whose parents are members of the Ku Klux Klan. Children deserve being protected and having the chance to grow up and go after their dreams. It’s our job to keep them safe,” Brown exclaimed.

Before turning the conversation over to his first panel, Brown pointed to poverty which disproportionately lays claim over Blacks in America as a significant reason for the frustration and disillusionment that have led to numerous examples of misdirected violence erupting in recent months in his hometown of D.C. as well as other mostly-Black urban cities including Baltimore and Philadelphia.

“Since the 40s when the U.S. government began to develop the projects where they ushered Black families in and forced us to live on top of one another, we’ve had to live like crabs in the bucket,” he said. “Each time the fire has been turned on, we’ve crawled over one another desperately trying to get out.”

Panelists for the first session, whose reflections mirrored the passionate pleas of the talk show host, included: co-host, Kymone Freeman, We ACT Radio; Tyrone Parker, director, The Alliance of Concerned Men; Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, Nation of Islam; and the Rev. Tony Lee, founder and senior pastor, Community of Hope AME Church.

“We have far too many guns on our streets and many of those weapons have been illegally acquired,” Parker said. “And while there are organizations like ours that are out in the community doing everything we can, we still haven’t received the full support of District government, particularly in terms of the kinds of resources that the City could but has yet to provide.”

“In addition, we are in short supply of men who are willing to join us. The numbers are simply inadequate given the challenges before us. Thirty percent of District youth are currently living in poverty. That’s something that city officials must address.”

“When an 11-year-old child was recently shot and killed in D.C. by another youth, the police found that the fight and shooting that subsequently occurred happened because the children were fighting for the right to control a street corner where they could make a few dollars selling legal goods to people in the community. They were trying to make a few dollars so they could make ends meet,” Parker said, adding that his organized has compiled a conflict resolution manual that many believe could positively change the mindset of youth if placed in the hands of the District’s public school leaders and utilized in classrooms.

Muhammad, a man who admits having once lived a life dominated by negative forces, agreed with Parker’s notion that changing the way youth think and often react when they feel threatened, remains the first step in reducing violence.

“Before our communities can be changed for the better, individuals have to regain control over their own minds,” he said. “Too many within the Black community have chosen to embrace a Satanic-led existence and have turned away from the Creator. It’s easy to understand why our children are in so much turmoil – in their homes they can easily pick up drugs, alcohol and guns all of which are just laying around on their parents’ kitchen tables.”

“Further, it’s imperative that we begin to agree to disagree in love. Even this panel illustrates the diversity within the Black community. But bickering among ourselves won’t get us anywhere. Even if those who are already out on the streets trying to bring peace in the hood don’t always see eye-to-eye, we can still work together,” Muhammad added.

Lee noted that viable solutions already exist but without financial support and a concerted effort to more effectively direct those resources, gun violence will inevitably continue to plague the city and its residents.

“Many activists are already on the scene, even before the police arrive, attempting to provide solace and some form of understanding when gunfire erupts – we often get there while the smoke from guns is still in the air,” he said.

“We don’t need to create strategies or look for answers – we already have them. But in the District, the vast majority of financial resources is going to building buildings rather than building people. Our City’s leaders don’t want to disrupt their program. Gentrification benefits those leaders who have found that it’s easy to paint our residents as barbarians so they can dismantle communities and move people so they can make way for business opportunities.”

“We must hold our leaders accountable and force them to transform people before transforming physical properties – a current policy that rarely benefits Blacks and more often bodes well for people who don’t have our welfare in mind and who don’t like anything like us,” Lee said.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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