Newswire : Study: Blacks comprise majority of defendants who are wrongfully convicted

By Frederick H. Lowe

arrested-black man in handcuffs.jpg

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – African-Americans comprise the majority of defendants wrongfully convicted of murder, sexual assault and drug crimes who are later exonerated, according to a study released by the National Registry of Wrongful Convictions.
The report titled “Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States” reported that African-Americans constituted 47 percent of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations as of October 2016, and a great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later cleared in “group” exonerations.
The report examined racial disparities for the major crime categories of murder, sexual assault and drug crimes, three crimes that produce the largest number of exonerations.
African Americans who were convicted of murder are about 50% more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers, the report stated. “A major cause of the high number of black murder exonerations is the high homicide rate in the black community—a tragedy that kills many African-Americans and sends many others to prison,” the report stated.
Blacks imprisoned for murder are more likely to be innocent if they were convicted of killing white victims. Only about 15 percent of murders by African- Americans involve White victims, but 31 percent of innocent African-American murder exonerees were convicted of killing White people.
The convictions that led to murder exonerations with black defendants were 22 percent more likely to include misconduct by police than those with White defendants.
Police assist in convicting black murder defendants through witness tampering, which occurred in 21 percent of murder exonerations with white defendants but occurred in 39 percent of trials with Black defendants.
“Many of the convictions of African-American murder exonerees were affected by a wide range of types of racial discrimination, from unconscious bias and institutional discrimination to explicit racism,” the report stated.
Black exonerees spent three years longer in prison before release than White murder exonerees, and Black exonerees sentenced to death spent four years longer behind bars.
Black prisoners serving time for sexual assault are three and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than a White assault convict. “The major cause of this huge racial disparity appears to be the high danger of mistaken eyewitness identification by white victims in violent crimes with Black assailants,” the report stated.
Drug crimes are also those in which the majority of blacks are exonerated. Although Blacks and Whites use drugs at an equal rate, African-Americans are about five times more likely than Whites to go to prison for drug possession. And judging from exonerations, innocent Black people are about 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes than innocent White people.
That is because police enforce drug laws more vigorously against African-Americans than against the white majority. Police stop Blacks more frequently, search, arrest and convict them in cases where they are innocent.
“Since 1989, more than 1,800 defendants have been cleared in group exonerations that followed 15 large-scale police scandals in which officers systematically framed innocent defendants,” the report stated. “The great majority were African-American defendants who were framed for drug crimes that never occurred.”
In Harris County, Texas, for example, there have been 133 exonerations in ordinary drug possession cases in the last few years. The defendants pled guilty, but routine lab tests showed those arrested were not carrying drugs. Houston is the largest city in Harris County.
The National Registry of Wrongful Convictions is a project of the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan State University Law School and Newkirk Center for Science & Society at the University of California Irvine.

Newswire : In “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” Attorney Paul Butler takes on police brutality

By: Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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 Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler writes about police brutality in “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” (Georgetown University)
Police brutality in the Black community is as old as law enforcement itself.
Former federal prosecutor Paul Butler speaks in depth on the issue in his new book, “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” “Even as a prosecutor I was a still a Black man,” said Butler during an interview on MSNBC with Rev. Al Sharpton. “I was even arrested for a crime I didn’t commit…I was acquitted in less than five minutes.”
In his book, Butler points out that Black people have never been in a situation of good faith in America with police. “When we say that the system is targeting Black men, that’s true,” Butler told Sharpton. Butler worked as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice and is now a professor at Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C. Butler also had a few recommendations for decreasing incidents of police brutality.
“Half of cops should be women,” Butler suggested. “Women cops are much less likely to shoot people.” Butler continued: “Cops should have college degrees. Cops with college degrees are much less likely to shoot unarmed people.”
Butler takes a “no-holds-barred” approach to writing about police brutality. In his book, Butler also points out that White men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States and that a White woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a White male acquaintance than becoming a victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a Black man.
Butler also speaks forcefully on the unwarranted fear Whites have of Blacks, and how that perception ends up impacting American policing.

Newswire : NNPA honors Martin Luther King III with lifetime legacy award

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

legacyawards_7247_fallen_web120.jpg(From left-right) Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of the NNPA, Denise Rolark Barnes, outgoing chairman of the NNPA and Dorothy Leavell (far right) honor Martin Luther King III with the NNPA’s Lifetime Legacy Award at the Legacy Awards Gala at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md., on June 23, 2017. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) honored Martin Luther King III with the 2017 Lifetime Legacy Award, as the group wrapped up its annual summer conference, at the Gaylord Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland.
King, the oldest son of the iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., said that the tribute tops all others he’s received, because the Black Press has meant a lot to his family, especially his father, as he fought for freedom, justice and equality.
“The NNPA is one of the most impactful institutions our community has and every week the newspapers of the Black Press reach at least 22 million people in our communities,” said King. “And every week the Black Press tackles issues that we deal with, that we cannot find in the mainstream newspapers.”
King continued: “The Black Press provides the information that’s needed for African-Americans and if not for the Black Press, I would say that, during the Civil Rights era, my father would not have been successful. The African-American [journalists] had their ears to the ground to what was important in our community.”
King, who attended the awards ceremony with family members, graduated from his father’s alma mater, Morehouse College, with a degree in political science. While at Morehouse, King was selected by former President Jimmy Carter to serve in the United States delegation to the Republic of Congo for participation in their centennial celebration ceremonies.
Like his father, King participated in many protests for civil rights and one of the more notable acts of civil disobedience came in 1985 when he was arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. protesting against Apartheid and for the release of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
“This is a special time,” King said, as he spoke to NNPA members, friends and industry leaders in attendance at the award ceremony.
Showing a lighter side, King quipped, “I like the word ‘legacy,’ but it means you’re getting older.”
King also talked about the impact of social media and how it can be difficult to understand the shorthand that some young people use to communicate via text and social platforms like Twitter.
“I have to ask the kids to tell me what these things mean, because I don’t do Twitter or Facebook,” he said.
Striking a more serious tone, King, the former president of the legendary Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that the Black community “must do better.”
King continued: “We have to educate our community. We, as a community, have the ability to do much more.”
In an effort to help African-Americans realize and capitalize on the vast spending power in the community, King founded Realizing the Dream, a foundation that is focused on helping community-based organizers to ignite investment in local neighborhoods and to foster peaceful coexistence within America and abroad.
“If we decide to divest, or even talk about [boycotting] some of the companies where we are spending billions of our dollars…we won’t see insensitivity,” King said.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, said that the organization was especially proud and delighted to present the prestigious award to King.
“For decades, more than anyone else, Martin Luther King III has continued to personify and represent the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for freedom, justice and equality,” Chavis said. “He has carried on his father’s legacy quite honorably, quite admirable, and quite successfully.”
In 2008, as former president and CEO of the King Center, King spoke on behalf of then-Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, where he highlighted the need for improved health care, quality education, housing, technology and equal justice.
King also served on the Board of Directors for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and co-founded Bounce TV, the first independently-owned, digital multicast network featuring around-the-clock programming geared towards African-Americans.
“I remember going to my mother’s alma matter in Ohio and seeing the statue of Horace Mann which was inscribed with the words ‘be ashamed to die until you have won some kind of victory for humanity,’” King said.
“As a child, those are words that are very powerful. As an adult, I say we can win victory at schools, we can win victory in our places of worship, we can win victory in our cities, our counties, our states, our country and some may win in our world.”
King continued: “I say, be ashamed to die until you have done something to make your community better.”

Newswire : Congressional Black Caucus declines follow-up meeting with Trump

By: Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News

Black Cong. Caucus.jpgMeeting of President Donald Trump with members of the Black Congressional Caucus
WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has rejected the invitation to meet with President Trump for a follow up meeting at the White House, according to a letter released by the chair of the committee, Cedric Richmond, on Wednesday.
Citing actions by the Trump administration “that will affirmatively hurt black communities,” Richmond wrote that concerns discussed during a preliminary meeting with Mr. Trump on March 22 “fell on deaf ears.”
· Trump asks black reporter to “set up the meeting” with Congressional Black Caucus
“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your administration, we decline your invitation for all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you,” Richmond said.
“I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for,” Richmond added.
Mr. Trump’s extended an invitation to the 49 members of the CBC to return to the White House for a follow up meeting on June 9th, first reported by CBS News last week.
Manigault, whose official title is Assistant to the President and Director of Communications of the Office of Public Liaison, was ridiculed on Twitter for signing the letter as “The Honorable Omarosa Manigault.”
In response to one Twitter user who asked if she had received a promotion, Manigault tweeted out a screenshot of a guide for “departmental correspondence” that recommends addressing an assistant to the president as “Honorable” in a letter.
However, an article by The Washington Post points to the Emily Post Institute of Etiquette which states that “the honorific is reserved for “the President, the Vice President, United States senators and congressmen, Cabinet members, all federal judges, ministers plenipotentiary, ambassadors, and governors,” who get to use the title for life.”
The CBC has been skeptical of Manigault’s role as an advocate for the black community in the Trump White House and her self-publicized degree of influence. A CBC source told CBS News that the group was not interested in what they predicted would be another “photo-op.”
Richmond specifically lists several efforts by the administration that would “devastate” the African American community, including
Mr. Trump’s 2018 fiscal budget, Attorney General Jeff Sessions plan to “accelerate the failed war on drugs,” cuts to funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the “effort to dismantle our nation’s health care system.”
Sources say that the CBC is not completely united in the decision to reject Mr. Trump’s invitation for a meeting.
In March, the Vice Chair of the CBC Gwen Moore told CBS News that refusing to engage with the President was a “luxury” that she did not have.
“We don’t have the luxury of saying we won’t meet with the president of the U.S.,” she said at the time. “We have 1,399 more days left in his presidency and I don’t think that our communities would be served well by our not engaging.”

Five bingo facilities contribute $332,400 to county entities designated by the sheriff

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Shown L to R: Cynthia McKinnon representing the Greene County Sheriff Department; Union Councilwoman Rosie Davis; Shirley Edwards, representing the Greene Co. Health Systems; Forkland Mayor Charlie McAlpine; Bingo Clerk, Emma Jackson; Brenda Burke representing Greene County Commission and Bingo Clerk, Minnie Byrd

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $332,400 in monthly bingo allocations from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital. Assessments are for the month of May 2017.
Only the Palace, the newest bingo facility in the county, contributed to the Greene County Hospital.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500.
River’s Edge (TennTom Community Outreach) gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500.
Palace (Tom Summerville Police Support) gave a total of $92.400 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Hospital $4,620.

Eutaw City Council learns that $110,000 remains on Prairie Avenue contract that may be available for other street repairs

At the regular Eutaw City Council meeting on June 13, 2017, Torris Babb, City Engineer for the Prairie Avenue resurfacing project, reported that $110,000 was left of the original $500,000 grant for the project. Babb also indicated that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) was willing to allow this money to be utilized for other road projects in Eutaw that directly connect to a state highway.
While the roads in Branch Heights, which are in the greatest need of repair, cannot be included in this project, other roads at West End, M and M Subdivision and others that directly connect to a state highway can be considered. Babbs said even pothole repairs on tributary streets could be included. The Mayor and City Council took this report under consideration and will come up with a list of potential projects to negotiate with ALDOT. Babb emphasized that there was some urgency to begin discussions, make plans and contract the work before time expires on the grant.
The Council also considered the payment of bills for the month of May 2017. There was much discussion of the bills and the specific accounts from which they should be paid. Council members requested a meeting of the Finance Committee and a Council Working Session on June 20 to review the City’s bank accounts and the sources and uses of funds coming into the City for operations, capital improvements and other services. The City is not operating with a budget, which defines income sources and uses of funds. Councilwoman Sheila Smith voted against paying the bills. She said, “this is a protest to the way the city is operating.”
Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter said, “ I tried under the last administration and this one to get a budget, so we would know and could project expenses, and which accounts to use to pay our expenses, but no one wants to make a budget. I have given up raising this as an issue – but the problem remains.”
In other actions, the Council approved travel for the Chief of Police and Assistant Chief to attend statewide conferences on law enforcement. Travel reimbursement for Councilman Carpenter to the League of Municipalities meeting was also approved.
Mayor Raymond Steele reported on needed sewer repairs, including replacement of pumps. The Council approved these expenses to be taken from the Water-Sewer Fund not the Capital Improvement Fund. The Mayor also reported progress on the USDA Loan and Grant water project. Work will resume on the Water Tower after the July 4th Holiday and may take until the end of the year to complete.
The Mayor said he was meeting with the Chair of the County Commission on placement of a power pole, in front of the William M. Branch Courthouse, on a temporary basis during construction of the water tower. The pole has subsequently been placed in the street on the side of the Courthouse, according to the Mayor, at the recommendation of project engineers and Alabama Power Company.
The County Commission and many citizens are not pleased with the placement of the pole in the street and wish that the City and County governments could come together on a better location.

The Mayor also reported that city workers were following behind the water construction contractor fixing streets and curbs, installing new digital self-reporting water meters, clearing drains and doing other finishing and follow-up work. Council members said that the contractor should reimburse the city for this work.
The Mayor said the City’s knuckleboom truck to cut limbs of trees blocking the streets was being repaired and would be put to work as soon as possible to keep up with fast growing grass, weeds and other vegetation. “We have so many problems and requests for street and drainage services but very little money to do the work,” said the Mayor with some degree of frustration. Residents of various areas of the city raised more issues of needed maintenance work during the public comment sessions.
Ms. Deloris Powell of Lock 7 says she was grateful to get the water but that the contractor had left the construction areas and drainage pipes in a mess.
Councilman Joe Lee Powell thanked the “Tommy Summerville Police Support League, Inc.” for donation of a police car for the Eutaw Police Department. Councilwoman Sheila Smith is a leader of the Tommy Summerville Police Support League, which is the charity that holds the license for the Palace Bingo Hall.

Newswire : Commemorating the Lovings and their courage

By Saraya Wintersmith

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From left, Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance and ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga help  unveil the new state marker outside the Patrick Henry Building at 11th and Broad streets. PHOTO: Richmond Free Press
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A state historical marker in Downtown Richmond, Va. now commemorates the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, which resulted in laws banning interracial marriage being overturned in Virginia and 16 other states.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, were joined by Mayor Levar M. Stoney, Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan and others to unveil the marker on Monday, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.The new marker is located at 11th and Broad streets, outside the state-owned Patrick Henry Building, which once housed the Virginia Supreme Court.Virginia’s highest court upheld the law that triggered the arrest and conviction of Richard and Mildred Loving of Caroline County in July 1958. Richard, a White man, and Mildred, an African-American woman, married in the District of Columbia, and returned to their home in Caroline County’s Central Point.
They were arrested and convicted of violating Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act, which banned interracial marriage. A judge suspended their yearlong jail sentence on the condition that the couple leave the state for 25 years. The Lovings appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court with the held of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1967, the nation’s highest court overturned Virginia’s law and lifted all such interracial marriage bans across the nation.
“It’s almost hard to believe, but that’s actually what happened,” Gov. McAuliffe told the gathering of more than 100 people at the marker dedication ceremony.“
All they wanted to do was get married. They loved each other, and all they wanted was their state to recognize them.
”While the Lovings are now deceased, neither of their two surviving children or other relatives attended the ceremony. Julie Langan, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, said they prefer to remain out of the public eye. Langan described the Loving v. Virginia marker as one that will fill a “glaring gap” in the nation’s oldest highway marker system.
“Our motivation stems from the belief that in order to mature and to evolve as a society, we must analyze and often re-examine the facts in order to accurately piece together the truth of our history,” she said.Gov. McAuliffe pointed out that the Loving case is part of a “chain” linked to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry. Same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia in October 2014.
Gov. McAuliffe said to applause, “We would never have had marriage equality two years ago had it not been for Mildred and Richard Loving.”