Greene County bingo distributes $169,425.05 for March 2020

Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison promoting social distancing presents distribution check to Forkland Clerk Kinya Isaac and Greene County Health System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $169,425.05 (1/2 payment) for the month of March, 2020 from three licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. The recipients of the March distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System). Sub charities include Children Policy Council, Fire Department, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library.
Sheriff Benison’s bingo rules provide that the Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, headed by Hodges Smith, receives between $,3400 and $3,500 each month from bingo operators, however, Mr. Smith refuses to cash the checks and states that he has been advised not to accept the money from the Sheriff’s rules.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $33,386.25 to the following: Greene County Commission, $8,875.20; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,798.45; City of Eutaw, $2,685.45; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $1,125; Greene County Board of Education, $3,048.45; Greene County Health System, $3,629.10. Sub Charities, $329.10.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $55,082.64 to the following: Greene County Commission, $14,643.03; Greene County Sheriff’s 16,166.25; City of Eutaw, $4,430.75; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $1,856.13; Greene County Board of Education, $5,029.50, and the Greene County Health System, $5,987.50. Sub Charities, $542.87.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $80,956.16 to the following: Greene County Commission, $21,521; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $23,760; City of Eutaw, $6,512; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $2,718; Greene County Board of Education, $7,392 and the Greene County Health System, $8,800; Sub Charities, 797.86.
Sheriff Benison set guides for re-opening bingo facilities
Due to the COVID-19 virus, March and April 2020 fees under Electronic Bingo amendment 743 were delayed or not received in the electronic bingo office that is regulated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison. The fees are required in the rules and regulations set out in amendment 743 which is regulated by the Sheriff of Greene County.
Although the electronic bingo halls were closed because of the virus, the electronic bingo licensees and operators saw some of the citizens’ needs in the county. Some of the licensees and operators decided to meet some of these needs by paying some of the required amendment 743 fees to the charities.
The electronic bingo licensees and operators who met this challenge were Frontier-Dream, Palace (T.S. Police Support League and Rivers Edge – Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Non- Profit Organization.
In the meantime Sheriff Jonathan Benison has sent a letter to each licensee and operator asking them to submit in writing a safety sanitation plan for employees and patrons that will be returning to the electronic bingo halls to play and work.
The safety of all future patrons is at stake. Face masks, gloves, plastic face shield may be necessary as a future expense that each operator may have to incur, due to the close proximity of each patron.With face masks, ‘No smoking’ would be a problem to some patrons. Hand wipes/sanitizing each machine after each player quits playing to insure the next player is at a ‘clean’ machine.
This virus pandemic may require additional employees to make sure that the halls are kept sanitized.
Submitted by Sheriff Jonathan Benison

Newswire : Nigerian environmentalists question whether massive coastal fish die-off is related to oil spills

Massive fish die-off on Nigerian coast

May 18, 2020 (GIN) – An immense blanket of dead fish stretching across three states has sparked anger and frustration among communities along the Atlantic Ocean coastline in Nigeria. The area is known for oil spills that have polluted the waters and left fish and other wildlife inedible.
The massive die-off was first reported in February when community people in Delta State complained of the schools of dead fish floating and littering their shores. The silvery fish graveyard stretched from Delta State through Bayelsa State to Rivers State.
Samples of the fish were taken by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
Idris Musa, head of NOSDRA, declared the die-off had nothing to do with the continual oil leakages from offshore platforms as claimed over the years by Amnesty International, the U.N. Environmental Program, the Fishnet Alliance, and dozens of other groups in and outside of Nigeria. Musa confessed that the values of cadmium and iron were higher than the regulatory limit.
But environmentalists including Ako Amadi and Nnimmo Bassey of the Health of the Mother Earth Foundation, disagreed with the NOSDRA report, finding it too superficial to be taken seriously. They accused NOSDRA of questioning the fact of the massive fish kill that was evident in many locations.
“The Ministry of Environment and relevant agencies have a duty to tell Nigerians what killed the fish so that we know how to respond to this and future incidents,” said activist Nnimmo Bassey. “We are not satisfied with NOSDRA’s report as this does not bring a closure to the saga.
Udengs Eradiri, the state’s commissioner for the environment, after a spill last December, recalled that “[Bayelsa] used to be green, you could farm or fish… “We used to have very impressive harvests. You would spend just an hour in the water and you have a lot of fish.”
“Today, you can spend the whole day without catching anything.”
About 40 million liters of oil are spilled every year across the Niger Delta, according to the activist group Rise for Bayelsa.
Bayelsa accounts for 40% of Nigeria’s oil wealth, and hosts several large multinational oil companies. None of the companies operating in the area have admitted to having an oil or gas leak.
Meanwhile, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) this month said that the dead fishes floating and littering the Niger Delta coastline had nothing to do with its operations.

Newswire : #MalcolmXDay: 20 quotes relevant to the movement today

Malcolm X’s birthday is May 19.
He would have been 95 years old his year.
Written By D.L. Chandler, Newsone

Malcolm X

Malcolm X remains one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement, and his transformation into a vocal human rights activist added to his already impressive legacy.
The man later known as el-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz came to relax some of his fiery politics that defined the earlier part of his time in the spotlight, and yet that same passion remained even as he began to embrace a comprehensive approach to racial harmony.
With the current situations across the nation regarding disparity in how police treat people of color and similar injustices, Malcolm X’s words still hold resonance in modern times. From Ferguson to Baltimore, African-Americans are reminded that incidents in those respective cities are part of a systematic condition that renders Black people targets of various forms of mistreatment.
On what would be his 95th birthday, NewsOne takes a look at 20 Malcolm X quotes that maintain relevance to this day.
Happy Day Of Birth, Malcolm X. May you rest peacefully forever.
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
“We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.”
“Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”
“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
“I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.”
“You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”
“Without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.”
“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.”
“A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.”
“Stumbling is not falling.”
“I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”
“You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.”
“America preaches integration and practices segregation.”
“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.”
“When a person places the proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won’t do to get it, or what he doesn’t believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn’t believe in freedom.”
“If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that’s brotherhood. But if you – if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that’s not brotherhood, that’s hypocrisy.”
“Power never takes a back step only in the face of more power.”

Newswire: Implicit bias a driver of COVID-19 among African-Americans

By Khalil Abdullah
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Ethnic Media Services

School of Community Health Sciences faculty and staff portraits on February 4, 2010. 1. Mark Buttner 2. Melva Thompson-Robinson / UNLV Photo Services / R. Marsh Starks Client: Sherry Marks /

Dr. Melva Thompson-Robinson
( – Dr. Melva Thompson-Robinson knows the data on the disparate impact of the corona virus and COVID-19 on African Americans and other minorities. Her key concern is how racism and unconscious bias continue to act as an accelerant of the pandemic.
“Stories are starting to come out where African Americans are presenting themselves to emergency rooms and having COVID symptoms and are not being seen,” Thompson-Robinson asserts. “In some cases, it’s taking multiple trips, but by the time they do get tested they are so sick they can’t recover.”
Thompson-Robinson could have had Ms. Deborah Gatewood in mind. Gatewood repeatedly sought to be tested in mid-March for COVID-19 symptoms at the hospital in Michigan where she had been employed as a healthcare worker for over 30 years, according to Fox News 2 in Detroit. She was turned away—four times—and advised to go home and take a mild palliative, like cough syrup. Gatewood finally became so ill she had to be transported by ambulance. She died in late March at age 63 in a different hospital. She tested positive there for COVID-19, but too late for a lifesaving intervention.
The Gatewood story is a horrific but not atypical reminder of the fatal outcomes that Dr. Thompson-Robinson attributes to a long history of sub-optimal health care experienced by African Americans and the inherent bias that bleeds into all aspects of American life, from education to housing to employment opportunities. “This is something that has been centuries in the making – in the inequality, in the racism that African Americans in particular have experienced, but also other black and brown populations as well,” Thompson-Robinson contends.
Thompson-Robinson is the Director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She spoke on a May 1 video conference for ethnic media journalists hosted by Ethnic Media Services. By way of example, in Louisiana, African Americans comprise about 30 percent of the population and over 70 percent of the COVID-19 patients, Thompson-Robinson noted, while in Georgia, they constitute 32 percent of the population but 52 percent of the cases. She said in many communities, low wage occupations – now categorized as essential – are filled by minority workers who often have no health insurance even as data on their underlying health conditions goes uncollected.
“We don’t get cancer at a higher rate, but we die at a higher rate. We don’t go to the physician. We aren’t getting things checked out until it’s too late.” Even when presenting to a physician or medical staff in a timely manner, as Ms. Gatewood attempted to do in Michigan, unconscious bias or stereotypes can weigh in on what may ultimately be an ill-formed medical diagnosis or supposition.
Thompson-Robinson spoke of her own experience of having to forcefully advocate for a family member. She recommends that a prospective patient bring someone along to the emergency room to serve as an advocate when he or she isn’t feeling well. Individuals from minority groups aren’t taken seriously when they say they’re in pain or when they are unable to articulate their symptoms to the satisfaction of medical personnel.
As for bias, it can manifest in simple ways. “’Oh, I’m not racist,” Thompson-Robinson says mimicking a casual interaction, “but yet their actions treat people a little bit differently based on the biases they have. In the field of medicine, delays in being seen or treated typically yield poorer health outcomes.”
David Hayes-Bautista, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA, concurred that minorities staff the front lines of essential service professions. “Feeding the nation and subject to deportation,” is how he described many of the undocumented or legally tenuous workers putting their lives at risk as farmworkers, meat packers, truck drivers, shelf stockers, check-out clerks, auto mechanics, bus drivers, nursing home attendants and other occupations heavily staffed by Latinos and people of color. They are also twice as likely not to have health insurance, Hayes-Bautista said.
In the public discourse about the effects of COVID-19, Mayra Alvarez, president of the Children’s Partnership, expressed dismay at the scant attention paid to children. Federal relief efforts have excluded immigrants and, by default, their children.
At least 55 million students have been cast adrift by school closings in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Food insecurity is a paramount concern, as is the dearth of access to distance learning. Nor is there much discussion about the long-term consequences of the trauma to which children are being exposed. Children are residing in food-insecure homes where their parents sacrifice their own meals to feed them, Alvarez said, citing a survey of 500 families in California by Children’s Partnership and Ed Trust. Some 72 percent of respondents said they “are worried about their family’s mental health.”
Offering one reason for hope, Alvarez said, “I truly believe that COVID-19 is shifting the conversation when it comes to greater understanding of historical inequities in health, in economic opportunity, in overall well-being – historical inequities that many of us have known have existed forever.” It is a sentiment shared by Thompson-Robinson. “I hope that once we come out of this pandemic, these conversations will continue – and that people will realize the health of our communities, our workforce, our country is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Newswire: Obama jabs U.S. response to coronavirus in commencement address

By Evan Semones, Politico

Former President Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday criticized the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic during a commencement address to college graduates, saying some leaders “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
“This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said during a two-hour virtual commencement for graduates of historically black colleges and universities that streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
The former president, who did not mention President Donald Trump by name, has generally shied away from weighing in on politics or criticizing his successor since leaving office, but has more recently spoken out against the current administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Last week during a call with some 3,000 former staffers and administration officials, Obama called the administration’s response to the pandemic “an absolute chaotic disaster.”
Trump has since pushed an unfounded “Obamagate” conspiracy theory on Twitter alleging Obama administration officials entrapped former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in a bid to undermine Trump’s presidency.
Obama also addressed the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man killed while jogging in Georgia, while acknowledging the hardships that graduates and members of the African American community also now face during the pandemic.
“Let’s be honest, a disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country,” Obama said. “We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning.”
Obama told the HBCU graduates to find allies to help create change they feel is needed to fix the health and societal problems in the country.
“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you,” he said. “And if you’re inactive, that will also speak volumes.”
Obama followed up his remarks with a nationally televised second commencement address on Saturday evening. The 44th president stayed clear of the politics of the pandemic response in a largely upbeat speech, but called out “so-called grown-ups” for “doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy.”
“All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out they don’t have all the answers,” Obama told graduates during the one-hour special sponsored by the Lebron James Family Foundation. “A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who spoke during a separate one-hour CNN special on Saturday evening that also honored the class of 2020, encouraged graduates to build unity in “a world of growing inequalities and divisive tribalism.”
“With a tough but open mind and a caring heart you can help keep us together,” Clinton said. “Help find ways to serve others, not run away from them. Help to unite, not to divide. Help to build, not tear down. Help to support, not demean.”
A reporter asked Trump about Obama’s comments. “Look, he was an incompetent president. That’s all I can say. Grossly incompetent.”
Trump has a history of blaming Obama for his administration’s problems.

Newswire :Shooting death in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, is defined as a “Modern Day Lynching”

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Ahmaud Arbery

Months after the U.S. House passed a new lynching law, which has been held up by the Republican led U.S. Senate, and a day after investigative journalist Ida B. Wells was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize — a lynching story dated February 23, 2020 is in the news.
The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, went viral on social media on May 6, months after his murder. The video shows Arbery jogging down a street in Brunswick, Georgia. It appears to demonstrate the involvement of three men — two on a pickup truck and another filming the scene from behind.
Arbery’s death took place on February 23rd about three miles from where he lived. Arbery was an avid jogger and played football.
The two men on the pickup truck have been identified through numerous media reports as Greg McMichael, a retired investigator in the Brunswick District Attorney’s office, and his son Travis McMichael. They appear to follow Arbery from behind as he is jogging down a suburban street. Travis McMichael, the alleged shooter, is seen confronting Arbery and part of a struggle ensues in and outside of the camera’s range. The sound of shotgun fire is heard. Arbery is then seen on video collapsing after the sound of the gunshot in front of the truck.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself because one of the men seen in the video of the fatal shooting pointing a gun at Arbery worked in the district attorney’s office.
During an exclusive interview on Roland Martin Unfiltered on May 7th with Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones confirmed there was no support of her from anyone in the small Georgia community after her son died. That is changing. Since the viral video has been widely seen everyone from LeBron James to former Vice President Biden and President Trump has commented on Arbery’s death.
“Initially I was told there was a burglary and a struggle over a firearm,” Cooper-Jones said on Roland Martin Unfiltered. She confirmed she has not watched the video of her son’s death but the description of it from others did not line up with what authorities told her after her son died.
“I need to get these men indicted. They need to go to jail. Two months has been too long,” said Jones on Martin’s show answering a question from Dr. Gregg Carr, the Chairman of the African American Studies Department at Howard University.
Late on May 7, Greg and Travis McMichael were finally arrested. Many observers of the breaking news warned that the exotic charges and where any future court case is likely to take place matters.
The Congressional Black Caucus had demanded arrests the day before and released a statement that in part read, “the killing of Ahmaud Arbery shows us that the spirit of lynching is still alive and well in our nation and something that we cannot tolerate.”
“The scary thing for me is the they thought the video would help his client. The culture is so backwards down there they actually thought that,” said Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt on Roland Martin Unfiltered. The case has widely been compared to the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman.
“What happened to #AhmaudArbery is a MODERN DAY LYNCHING. This February, the House overwhelmingly passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would make lynching a federal crime,” wrote Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott wrote, “ Every.single.time. The excuses pour in – ‘he looked suspicious’… ‘we thought he was committing a crime”…The fact remains, #AhmaudArbery was hunted down from a pickup truck and murdered in cold blood. My heart breaks for his family, and justice must be served.”
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, Arbery was “shot down in cold blood,” and his killing reflected a “rising pandemic of hate.”
“AhmaudArbery should still be alive right now. This is tragic and unacceptable. It should ignite us all in demands for justice. I’m calling on the Department of Justice to investigate. We need justice for Ahmaud and his family,” wrote Sen. Cory Booker on twitter.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke

Salute to First Responders and Healthcare Workers to be held May 14-28 in Greene County

As of May 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM:
Alabama had 10,494 confirmed cases of coronavirus
with 442 deaths.
Greene County had 74
confirmed cases and 4 deaths

The Greene County Responders Committee has come together to plan a series of events over the next two weeks to honor First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers for their dedicated and selfless service during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Committee seeks to recognize the services, commitment and dedication of all police, sheriff deputies, firefighters, EMT’s. E-911 staff, and staff at the Hospital, Nursing Home and health clinics.
The salute to First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers will begin with a program at Noon on Thursday, May 14, 2020 on the Old Courthouse Square. Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth will present a Proclamation to honor First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers. Other County and Municipal governing bodies and agencies will also present resolutions of support. Persons attending the program will be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing requirements.
After this short program, a group of fire trucks, with sirens blazing, followed by a caravan of local vehicles will drive through town to honor our first responders. They will stop at various places along the route to honor first responders and healthcare workers.
On Friday, May 15, 2020, the E-911 will sound their sirens at Noon to honor first responders and healthcare workers. Saturday, May 16, 2020 will be Mask Day and everyone outside their homes will be asked to wear a face covering, in the interest of safety. For Sunday, May 17, 2020, the Greene County Responders Committee is asking all church pastors to include a reference to honoring and thanking first responders and healthier workers in their sermons and church announcements.
The Greene County Responders Committee also plans a Special Love Program for Thursday, May 28, 2020, where all first responders and healthcare workers will receive a lunch and other expressions of love and support.
“The Greene County Responders Committee was set up in haste to respond to the pandemic emergency and the need to honor first responders and healthcare heroes,” said Anita Lewis, Committee Chair and Director of the Greene County Housing Authority. Spiver Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum, is Committee Organizer.
“We welcome other Greene County residents to join our Committee and bring ideas, support and funding to help us strengthen our salute to First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers. We want to develop other activities during the two week period to honor First Responders and Healthcare Workers,” said Ms. Lewis.
Other members of the Greene County Responders Committee include Mollie Rowe, Veronica Jones, Sandy Walker, J. E. Morrow, Latasha Johnson, Lorenzo French, Hodges Smith, Geraldine Walton, Shelia Smith, Rev. James Carter, Lester Brown, Joe Lee Powell, Elzora Fluker and John Zippert
Ms. Anita Lewis may be contacted through the Greene County Housing Authority office in Branch Heights at 205/372-3342.

SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan holds prayer at Governor’s Mansion

Prayers of protest leaders to Expand Medicaid, Increase Testing and Save Lives
Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a caravan on May 7, 2020 with numerous cars circling the Alabama Governor’s Mansion downtown to urge Governor Ivey and others to expand Medicaid, save rural hospitals and focus COVID-19 resources to those most in need. After circling the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Montgomery, instead of the usual press conference, leaders held a prayer conference. Leaders were asked to take one minute or less to address their issues in uplifted prayer.
Attorney Hank Sanders said: “I pray that God will open the minds and hearts of Governor Ivey and other Alabama leaders so that they will immediately implement the expansion of Medicaid and will focus the pandemic resources to those most in need. I pray that God will strengthen the hand of the Governor so with a stroke of the pen she will expand Medicaid. I pray that those who are protesting to open up Alabama economically will also pray that the Governor will open Medicaid expansion in our state.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “I pray that our national leaders will do whatever it takes to limit the deaths and number of people who are getting the coronavirus. I pray that they will open back up the window for Medicaid coverage so people who now qualify can become covered.”
Civil Rights Advocate Attorney Faya Toure said: “I pray that people whose workplaces are too dangerous will not be forced to work and they will be able to get unemployment benefits if they choose not to work as a result of unsafe work environments. They should not have to choose between work with the possibility of death and survival – both physically and economically.”
Chair of the Greene County Health System, John Zippert, said: “I prevail upon state leaders to save rural hospitals, not only during this pandemic but also from now on. Rural hospitals must be strengthened economically, staff wise and in every way so they can keep serving the people of rural Alabama and other areas.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “I pray the state will truly embrace testing and tracing, so that everyone who wants to get tested can do so without cost and so that people will know when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. I pray this because for Alabama to safely open, we must have available testing and tracing for all.
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “I prevail upon the leaders of Alabama not to forget those in jails and prisons. I ask that their hearts will be touched in a way that they will let those who are not dangerous to the public out of prisons and jails and those who are in jails but have not been convicted out while they are pending trial. I ask that prison and jail sentences will not be death sentences because of COVID-19 as both prisons and jails have become hotspots for the virus. I urge our leaders act to save lives.”
During the SOS National Day of Prayer Caravan and Prayer Conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery, black and white balloons were again tied to the cars in the caravan and released at the end of the prayer conference in recognition of the lives lost and the lives in jeopardy in Alabama right now.
For more information, contact the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy website and Facebook page.

Greene County Commission holds regular meeting; votes to require Sheriff Benison to meet financial commitments to retain staff

The Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting on May 11, 2020, at 3:00 PM in the Greene County courtroom. The Commissioners and audience maintained six feet social distancing requirements and most wore masks. Four commissioners: Allen Turner, Chairperson, Lester Brown, Roshonda Summerville, and Corey Cockrell, were present, with Tennyson Smith absent.
Most of the meeting, including a lengthy closed Executive Session, was devoted to the issue of getting Greene County Sheriff, Joe Benison, to meet his financial commitment to the county budget, to pay additional staff above the basic staff included in the budget for deputies, jailers and other staff.
The Sheriff and the County Commission negotiated an agreement at the beginning of the year, for the Sheriff to reimburse the County for additional staffing above the basic staff included in the regular budget. The Sheriff agreed to pay these additional staff, who are on the County payroll, out of funding he receives monthly in fees from electronic bingo operators.
For the past two months since the beginning of March, the electronic bingo establishments in Greene County have been closed due to the coronavirus and no bingo machine fees have been paid by bingo operators to governmental, educational, healthcare and other charitable recipients, including the Sheriff’s Department, which oversees bingo under local Constitutional Amendment 743.
After the Commission’s Executive Session, the members voted to contact Sheriff Benison to require payment of the funds due under the budgetary agreement or terminate the additional staff, who are listed in an attachment to the agreement.
The Commission further agreed that the Sheriff could substitute and amend the list of names of staff to be reduced, but not the number, based on current conditions.
Another topic discussed at the meeting was to consider a 4 mil increase in property taxes that could be approved locally without the action of the Legislature. This discussion arose because the prior proposed 5 mil increase in property taxes, which included 3 mils for the hospital and 2 mils for the County and other agencies, was not submitted by the Legislative delegation for approval.
State representatives A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard, as well as State Senator Bobby Singleton, said that since only three of Greene County’s five commissioners signed the 5 mil request, they would not submit the proposal to the Legislature’s local legislation committee. They say their policy is to only move forward with local legislation that is unanimously supported by all County Commissioners. Commissioners Tennyson Smith and Lester Brown did not sign the petition for the 5 mil increase.
If the 5 mil proposal had passed the Legislature it was still subject to a referendum by all voters in Greene County, probably at the November General Election.
Commission Chair Allen Turner said he learned that the County Commission may be able to support up to a four mil increase in property taxes, under special circumstances, without Legislative approval. The County Commission tabled this item, to seek more information to determine if this is a feasible route to generate more revenues and support for the hospital and other county agencies.
In other actions, the County Commission approved a financial report, payment of current bills and claims and a travel request for the Assistant Engineer to attend a June 10-11 training in Prattville, Alabama

Newswire : Two white men arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Black jogger in Brunswick, GA

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

Ahmaud Arbery

The Georgia Bureau of investigation on Thursday arrested a father and son, charging them with the murder of a black jogger more than three months after the deadly shooting, but only two days after a cellphone video surfaced that sparked national outrage and demands for justice.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were charged with murder and aggravated assault for the February 23 deadly shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, as he jogged through the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia, according to the GBI. The McMichaels were booked into the Glynn County Jail.
Arbery, who would have celebrated his 26th birthday Friday, was out for a run when Gregory McMichael,64, a retired Glynn County cop, and now an investigator for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, and another man only identified as “Roddy” chased down Arbery in their pickup truck and another vehicle before confronting and killing him.
The elder McMichael claims Arbery had been burglarizing houses in the neighborhood and that’s why they chased him down. Gregory McMichael was armed with a .357 Magnum revolver and Travis was armed with a shotgun. It is not known what type of weapon, if any, Roddy carried.
When the men caught up with Arbery, the video, which appears to have been shot from inside a vehicle, shows he jogged around the truck. Travis, however, got out of the vehicle, struggled with Arbery over the rifle before Travis shot him twice, killing him.
Police refused to charge the McMichael’s for Arberry’s murder, arguing that Travis Michael shot Arberry in self-defense. The police did not say anything about Arberry having the right to defend himself from two men with guns accosting him.
Police arrested the McMichaels following the release of a video on Tuesday.
Alan Tucker, an attorney and friend of the two men, said he released the video to clear up any misconceptions about what had happened.
The video, however, alarmed elected officials, including Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Others said Arbery had been lynched.
The politicians demanded that police arrest the McMichael
A Black woman district attorney was named as the lead prosecutor handling the Ahmaud Arbery murder case in which two white men have been accused in the killing of an unarmed Black man while he was jogging in Georgia. This is after three white prosecuting attorneys in the Glynn mitigate the County area withdrew from the case citing prior relationships with the accused killers.
Joyette Holmes, the district attorney in Cobb County and a former judge, was appointed on Monday to take over prosecuting the case surrounding the killing in the town of Brunswick. She is also a Republican who was selected for her current position by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
According to her official bio, Holmes “was sworn in as District Attorney of the Cobb Judicial Circuit on July 1, 2019. She has been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney in Cobb. Most recently, she served for four years as Chief Magistrate of Cobb County.” She is the county’s first African American district attorney and its first woman district attorney. Holmes’ predecessor left to take over the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), prompting Kemp to appoint her to fill the role. Prior to becoming the Cobb County district attorney, Holmes was the chief magistrate judge of the Cobb County Magistrate Court from 2015-2019.