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‘I see it first and then I make it happen’— Michael Beasley

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — ou may not know his name but it’s a good chance that you know actor Michael Beasley by his face.

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By Lapacazo Sandoval

You may not know his name but it’s a good chance that you know actor Michael Beasley by his face, and it’s a nice face even when he has three teardrops painted under his eye, a mark charting the number of people that he murdered. In real life, Beasley is a 6’3’’ lovable teddy bear.

In Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” directed by Ben Stiller starring Benicio del Toro, Paul Dano and Patricia Arquette, who earned a Golden Globe for her role, Beasley plays the character ‘Murder’ one of the main inmates at the Clinton Facility, a maximum-security prison in the sleepy town of Dannemora in Upstate New York.

The series is based on true events and follows the 2015 prisoners escape of Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano). At the start of the story Murder (Michael Beasley) and his closest friend Kilo, are on seemingly good terms with Matt and Sweat. It’s later revealed that Matt snitches on Murder, which lands him in solitary confinement for a week. A now vengeful Murder gets together with the new tailor-shop patrolman CO Frank, to set up revenge.

Beasley’s other acting credits include Netflix’s series “Bloodline,” a reoccurring role in HBO’s comedy series, “Eastbound and Down,” a two-part episode run in CW’s drama series “Preacher,” Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Superfly” to name a few.

Here is what Michael Beasley had to share about seizing opportunities, making plans and telling the universe exactly what he wants.

Los Angeles Sentinel: Before we jump into talking about “Escape at Dannemora,” where do you call home?

Michael Beasley: Atlanta. Atlanta has changed a lot. When I first got started [in acting] everyone was telling me that I had to live in Los Angeles or New York. In New York, for example, you might have eight thousand actors auditioning for one role. That’s not the case in Atlanta and I wanted to create opportunities for myself here [Atlanta]. I had a plan. It didn’t just happen. It was a numbers game. The more auditions that you have, the more chances you have to book. Once the casting agents knew they could trust me, the work came in. I’m definitely about the work and having a plan.

LAS: I viewed the trailer for Escape at Dannemora, now on Showtime and I am blown away. Unfortunately, they did not provide me access to watch the series.

MB: ‘Escape at Dannemora’ is now streaming so hopefully you can catch it. I play a character named ‘Murder’ and he has three teardrops under his eye which means that he has three bodies, three murders that he committed.

LAS: Three, that’s a lot. What was it like working with the cast? It’s an impressive ensemble.

MB: I love great actors and learning from them. It was a great thrill to work with such a great cast. Patricia [Arquette] won the Golden Globe Award [Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Limited Series]. And you know, Benicio [Del Toro] is a really nice guy. He and I have several scenes together and he would turn to me and ask ‘Michael, what do you think about this scene?’ and I am thinking you’re Benicio Del Toro and you’re asking me? Working on this series really opened up my palette to a lot more things now.

LAS: What does that mean, to open up your palette in the context of acting?

MB: It means that I have a plan to go to the next level. I attended the Golden Globe red carpet, in LA, (“ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA”), and I got a sense of what the next level is. Now, I am working on that plan to get ‘there’ and to stay ‘there.’ First, you have to see it. Then you have to believe it. Then I plan it out and then I start working as if it’s already happened.

LAS: I think that you just gave me the headline for this story!

MB: You have to put it out into the universe.

LAS: Can you edit it down a bit for me?

MB: First, I see it and then I make it happen.

“Escape at Dannemora” directed by Ben Stiller, starring Benicio del Toro, Paul Dano, Patricia Arquette, and Michael Beasley is now playing on Showtime.

Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/RVbOjP1Ziec

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel

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Activism

Sheriff’s Deputies Skate with Marin City Youth

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

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Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)
Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee

The Father’s Day Skating event on Sunday, June 12, at the Golden Gate Village’s Basketball Court in Marin City was a successful event that contributed positively to the relationship between the Marin County Sheriff’s Department and the Marin City community and helped some of the children get to know the officers.

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

During the event, Scotto helped lift Aria, a 7-year-old girl, so she could make a basketball shot into the basket. Later Scotto played limbo with the children and tried his best to go under the rope.

The community generously contributed to the skating event. The Corte Madera Safeway and Costco donated the food. The Costco in Novato gave the skates. The Target in Marin City and the Marin County Probation Department also gave skates and gift cards.

Rev. Stephanie Ryder and the Redwood Presbyterian Church in Larkspur, also donated money to help to buy more skates for the events.

Gregory said that this was a very wholesome event for the community and will continue to host similar events in the future.

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Activism

‘Birding While Black’ Incident in N.Y.’s Central Park Brings Black Bird Wildlife Enthusiasts Out of Shadows

“For far too long, Black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities are not for us,” Corina Newsome, who studies Seaside Sparrows, said in a video posted on Twitter. “Whether it be the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type, or the racism Black people experience when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”

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The organizers of Black Birders Week 2021. Photos from top, column 1: Georgia Silvera Seamans; Kellie Quiñones; Chris Cooper. 2: Ronnie Almonte; Deja Perkins; Ela-Sita Carpenter; Chelsea Connor. 3: Danielle Belleny; Tyler Jones; Yesenia Arroyo. 4: Earyn McGee; Akilah Lewis; Dara Wilson; Brianna Amingwa. 5: Sheridan Alford; Joseph Saunders. 6: Ayanna Browne; Rhamier Shaka Balagoon; Nicole Jackson
The organizers of Black Birders Week 2021. Photos from top, column 1: Georgia Silvera Seamans; Kellie Quiñones; Chris Cooper. 2: Ronnie Almonte; Deja Perkins; Ela-Sita Carpenter; Chelsea Connor. 3: Danielle Belleny; Tyler Jones; Yesenia Arroyo. 4: Earyn McGee; Akilah Lewis; Dara Wilson; Brianna Amingwa. 5: Sheridan Alford; Joseph Saunders. 6: Ayanna Browne; Rhamier Shaka Balagoon; Nicole Jackson

By Tamara Shiloh

Birdwatching is the observation of live birds in their natural habitat.

It’s a popular pastime and scientific sport developed almost entirely in the 20th century and made possible largely by the development of optical aids, particularly binoculars, which enabled people to see and study wild birds, without harming them, according to Britannica.

Many typically think of birding as a homogenous hobby, thus hearing the word “birdwatcher” rarely evokes images of Blacks enjoying the outdoors.

“For far too long, Black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities are not for us,” Corina Newsome, who studies Seaside Sparrows, said in a video posted on Twitter. “Whether it be the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type, or the racism Black people experience when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”

In 2020, Newsome, along with a group of Black birders comprised of scientists, nature lovers, and friends came together to organize the first annual Black Birders Week, a social media celebration hosted by the Black AF In STEM Collective.

The birders group served as a springboard to shape a more diverse future for birding, conservation, and the natural sciences.

The third annual Black Birders Week ran from May 29-June 4 this year, according to https://www.blackafinstem.com, with the theme ‘Soaring to Greater Heights.”

Goals set for the Black Birders Week and the Twitter group are to:

  • Counter the narrative that outdoors is not the place for Black people;
  • Educate the birding and broader outdoor-loving community about the challenges Black birders specifically face; and
  • Encourage increased diversity in birding and conservation.

According to Newsome, Black birders encounter “overt hatred and racism in the field and are too often the only Black person, or person of color, in a group of bird or nature enthusiasts.”

Its formation came on the heels of the May 25, 2020, incident in New York City’s Central Park when Amy Cooper, later dubbed “Central Park Karen,” claimed she exhausted “all options” before she called 911 on Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black birdwatcher.

Christian Cooper has been an avid birdwatcher since age 10 and will soon host his own show, “Extraordinary Birder,” on National Geographic, according to NPR. He will take viewers into the “wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds.”

Cooper told the New York Times that he loves “spreading the gospel of birding. [I’m looking forward to encouraging people] to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us.”

Black Birders Week co-organizer Earyn McGee conducts research near the US-Mexico border. Her concern is encountering U.S. Border Patrol officers while searching for lizards.

“We all have this shared experience where we have to worry about going into the field,” McGee said. “Prejudice might drive police or private property owners to be suspicious of or antagonistic toward Black scientists doing field work in normal clothes, putting them in danger.”

To learn more about the study of birding, read John C. Robinson’s “Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers.”

Image: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/landtrust/black-birders-week/

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Bay Area

Council Scheduled to Decide July 5 if Voters Can Weigh in on Howard Terminal Stadium 

In an interview with the Oakland Post before the meeting, Councilmember Noel Gallo said, “I still believe that the Council’s input is necessary, (but) based on letters, emails, texts, and conversations in the neighborhood, people are demanding that this item should go before the voters,” Councilmember Gallo said.

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Rendering of proposed A's stadium at Howard Terminal. Image courtesy of UC Berkeley.
Gallo recently authored a resolution, which the City Council approved, calling for the city to produce a study on the full costs of the Howard Terminal proposal to Oakland, including maintenance and infrastructure.

Councilmember Gallo authors resolution to put funding of real estate project on November ballot

By Ken Epstein

The majority of the City Council’s Rules Committee voted this week to place an item on Tuesday, July 5 Council meeting agenda to decide whether voters will be able to decide whether they want to spend more than a billion dollars in public funds on billionaire John Fisher’s private Port development.

The resolution at the Thursday Rules Committee, submitted by Councilmember Noel Gallo, was supported by Councilmembers Carroll Fife, Sheng Thao, and Nikki Fortunato Bas. Councilmember Dan Kalb abstained.

In an interview with the Oakland Post before the meeting, Councilmember Gallo said, “I still believe that the Council’s input is necessary, (but) based on letters, emails, texts, and conversations in the neighborhood, people are demanding that this item should go before the voters,” Councilmember Gallo said.

“I support that effort.  I am here to represent the public, not the Fisher family or the Oakland Athletics. We’re still paying for the Raiders not being here and for the Warriors not being here. I don’t want to see that continue,” he said.

Gallo continued: The billion dollars “is being requested by a private business, the Oakland Athletics. We should develop the Coliseum for professional sports teams and housing, and the Howard Terminal should be used for development opportunities and for businesses at the Army Base and the Port of Oakland.”

If the deal goes through, “the Fisher family would become the biggest developer and investor in Oakland. I want to make sure we get a return on our investment,” he said.

Gallo recently authored a resolution, which the City Council approved, calling for the city to produce a study on the full costs of the Howard Terminal proposal to Oakland, including maintenance and infrastructure.

He said he had been having regular meetings with City staff on the progress of that study, but in the last few weeks, the meetings have been canceled.

“As of right now, I don’t have a current update,” he said.

Council members said they have received hundreds of letters, texts, and emails from members of the public saying they want a vote of the public on whether to spend public money on infrastructure for the private Howard Terminal development.

Two dozen speakers addressed this week’s Rules Committee supporting the placement of the measure on the November ballot. Three speakers opposed putting the measure on the ballot.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance has recently run a social media campaign and delivered petitions signed by thousands of Oakland residents to City Council members supporting a public vote on the Howard Terminal Project.

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