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Houstonians Gather in Support of Brittney Griner at a Prayer Vigil and Rally

HOUSTON FORWARD TIMES — On Monday, June 6, 2022, the voices of Houston were raised with clarity to say— Brittney Griner is a hostage in Russia and the whole community of Houston demands that she be released immediately. Our nation is founded on the values of equality and Democracy. On Monday, Houstonians will stand up with pride in their love of Democracy, equality, and justice; and their voices will be heard in Washington, DC, and all the way to where Brittney is held. We hope this rally and prayer vigil will continue to propel the Administration and the President of the United States to continue to work to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whalen. Houstonians’ voices should never be silenced until Brittney Griner is brought home and we hope many voices will join us on June 6, 2022, at 6:00 pm at the Houston Rockets Toyota Center at the corner of Polk and La Branch, in Houston, TX. Please join us to stretch our hands to our athletic friends across the nation; to the WNBA, and NBA; to our schools; and to our many friends around the nation.”
The post Houstonians Gather in Support of Brittney Griner at a Prayer Vigil and Rally first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Grace Boateng | Houston Forward Times

After more than 100 days, WNBA star Brittney Griner remains in detainment in Russia. According to Russian state media, she is to remain in pretrial detention through June 18th.

On Monday, a rally was held for Griner in Houston as she is a native to the city. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee made a statement prior to the event saying: “Brittney Griner was taken into custody in Russia in mid-February 2022 and shortly thereafter the tyranny of Putin raged and invaded a democratic Ukraine. Unfortunately, I knew that Brittney Griner’s destiny was going to be wrapped up in the leadership of the United States of America and the American people who had expressed their outrage and care for her.

Brittney Griner is a hometown girl raised in Houston, a graduate of Nimitz High School, excelled in basketball, and went on to Baylor University where she continued to excel onward to the WNBA and an Olympic championship. She has received many accolades for her basketball prowess, but what has come to define her most definitely is her kindness and proclivity for charity and helping others.

On Monday, June 6, 2022, the voices of Houston will be raised with clarity to say— Brittney Griner is a hostage in Russia and the whole community of Houston demands that she be released immediately. Our nation is founded on the values of equality and Democracy. On Monday, Houstonians will stand up with pride in their love of Democracy, equality, and justice; and their voices will be heard in Washington, DC, and all the way to where Brittney is held. We hope this rally and prayer vigil will continue to propel the Administration and the President of the United States to continue to work to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whalen. Houstonians’ voices should never be silenced until Brittney Griner is brought home and we hope many voices will join us on June 6, 2022, at 6:00 pm at the Houston Rockets Toyota Center at the corner of Polk and La Branch, in Houston, TX. Please join us to stretch our hands to our athletic friends across the nation; to the WNBA, and NBA; to our schools; and to our many friends around the nation.”

Trevor Reed, an American veteran who was recently released in a prisoner exchange program after spending three years in Russian detainment, was among Griner’s supporters. He expressed his concern for Griner’s safety and is calling on the White House and legislators to work even faster towards Griner’s release.

Reed described the experience saying, “Every day that you’re in prison there, it’s like you’re waking up to a nightmare.” He likened the food and holding areas as “medieval.”

Reed expressed that Griner would likely face even more challenges due to her being black and a member of the LGBTQ community as systematic oppression remains a global phenomenon that is alive and well in Russia.

He went on to say “There is no justice in Russia. Brittney and Paul (not another American detainee) will not receive justice in Russia. They’re not going to receive a fair trial; they will not receive a fair investigation. They will be there as hostages until the United States gets them out.”

Reed encouraged Griner’s advocates to demand action from their senators and federal representatives. “Write them, call them, annoy them, don’t leave them alone,” he said. “Tell them you want Brittney home, and you want the rest of the Americans who are being wrongfully detained home, and you want it done now.”

It was confirmed one month ago that the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) was now handling Griner’s case. While in detention in Russia, Griner has receive minimal written correspondence from her family.

Griner’s agent said, “While sporadic written communication from her wife, family, friends, and global sport community has been a source of comfort for BG during her wrongful detainment, going without real time, regular contact with loved ones is inhumane. It has been over 105 days since BG has heard her wife or family’s voice. It remains clear that Brittney Griner is being used as a political pawn and it is imperative that President Biden do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home quickly and safely.”

On the 100th day of Griner’s detainment, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association made a statement saying, “To everyone listening go to WEAreBG.org and sign the petition, call the White House and call everyone you know. If you know anyone in the Biden administration, CALL THEM.”

Houstonians gathered outside of the Toyota Center to rally and pray in support of Griner’s release.

“This is someone who literally…who literally…has given everything to this city, to this state and to this country, somebody who went to the Olympics in 2016 and 2020 and won the gold, somebody who seven times has been (an All-Star),” Mayor Sylvester Turner told the crowd. “The WNBA is here. The NBA is here. People from all parts of our city are here. I just want to join the chorus to say, ‘Bring Brittney home. And bring her home now.’”

In addition to his plea for Brittney’s freedom, Mayor Turner also made a proclamation saying, “I proudly proclaim this day (June 6, 2022) as Brittney Griner day in the city of Houston. Bring Brittney home.”

The post Houstonians Gather in Support of Brittney Griner at a Prayer Vigil and Rally appeared first on Houston Forward Times.

The post Houstonians Gather in Support of Brittney Griner at a Prayer Vigil and Rally first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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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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