Griggers returns to work after shooting incident

Greg Griggers, District Attorney for the 17th. Judicial District, encompassing Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties, was shot outside his office in downtown Demopolis on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:45 PM. Former Alabama State Trooper Steven Smith, Jr. who was standing across the street shot at Griggers several times with a shotgun. He was injured in the face when struck with automobile window glass that shattered when the shots were fired. Griggers was taken to the Bryan-Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis but released the next day. Smith was shot by two officers who were with Griggers and had just returned from lunch at Stacey Café, down the street from the office. Steven Smith, Jr. was identified as the same person who in 1996 shot into the Livingston home of 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway. Smith was fired from the Alabama Department of Public Safety later that year. Demopolis Police Chief Tommy Reese who is investigating the shooting said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the ambush. At a short press conference held Friday, after his release from the hospital, Griggers said, “ I am alive and well and doing good. I want to thank the two officers who responded to my shooting and for saving my life. I and my family will never be able to thank them enough.” Griggers said he would return to work on Monday of this week and continue his work as District Attorney.

Eutaw City Council approves ordinance on political signs

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at City Hall. The Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting a strict ordinance on the display of political signs in the City of Eutaw. The Council also agreed to suspend rules to allow for final approval and publication of the ordinance without a second reading and meeting. The ordinance says in part, “Section 1: No political sign shall be erected, constructed, posted or painted on any utility pole, tree, bench, fence, or awning; nor attached to any city, county, state or federal roadway, directional sign or informational sign. No signs shall be erected, constructed, or posted on any portion of the Greene County Courthouse Square Historic District.” The ordinance goes on to limit signage to the period between qualification and election. There is a penalty of $25.00 per sign, ascribed to the candidate whose name is on the sign and whose sign is left up more than seven days after an election. Councilman Latasha Johnson proposed a resolution to declare the building adjacent to the National Guard Armory, which currently houses Christmas decorations, as surplus so it could be leased to the REACH organization for storing surplus furniture. This furniture is currently stored in a portion of the former Carver Middle School facility, which the City is converting to a civic and youth activities center. Johnson’s resolution was voted down in a vote of 3 to 3 with Mayor Steele, Bennie Abrams and Joe Lee Powell voting against use of the facilities for the community furniture business promoted by REACH, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Christ Temple Church in Eutaw. Johnson said, “My proposal for use of the storage building near the Armory would have brought in some rental money and helped keep this service for low income people in the community. The Mayor is against this REACH service business and wants the furniture out of the school.

A spokesperson for REACH told the Democrat that based on meetings with the Mayor that they have decided to move the furniture out of the school into some warehouse space the group has in Sumter County. “We will try to keep making furniture available through some empty houses we have in our community around our church in Eutaw. The Mayor has not been supportive of any solutions to this problem and had the furniture locked up in the school where it cannot help anyone,” he said. Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith announced that the TS Police Support League, Inc., the operating charity of the Palace Bingo was sponsoring a Community Christmas Party on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at the National Guard Armory. In the Public Comments Section of the meeting, several persons raised concerns about the problems and inaccuracies of the city water bills. Another asked about when the city would have an audit report available for public review and inspection. Mayor Steele invited the public to come at any time to the City Hall to examine the financial statements of the City, which would be provided by the City Clerk. Mayor Steele also indicated that the City staff was reading the water meters and trying to fix those that were not working properly. A Working Session of the Eutaw City Council scheduled for the third Tuesday of the month, November 20, 2018 has been cancelled and not rescheduled.

Newswire : Kenyan grassroots activist tapped for major humanitarian prize

 

Nov. 19, 2018 (GIN) – Kennedy Odede started SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) as a teenager in 2004 with 20 cents and a soccer ball. Growing up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, he experienced extreme povdedeerty, violence, lack of opportunity, and deep gender inequality. Odede also dreamed of transforming urban slums, from the inside-out. SHOFCO, based in Nairobi, Kenya, provides critical services that disrupt survival mode—giving people the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive. SHOFCO’s programs, which include health care, economic empowerment, and sustainable delivery of clean water through a cutting-edge aerial piping system, are always demand-driven and community led. Through its education programs for girls, SHOFCO empowers the future female leaders who will ultimately transform the structures that keep urban poverty in place. What began as a grassroots movement in Kibera by Kennedy in 2004 has ignited transformation and hope in six Kenyan informal settlements, reaching more than 220,000 people. “The jury’s selection of SHOFCO to receive the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize really speaks to the power of local actors,” said Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn. “SHOFCO is a remarkable example of citizen-led change, created by people living in very challenging conditions. As Africa and the world urbanize and more informal settlements are created, SHOFCO provides an inspiring example of local creativity and solutions.” In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Odede wrote: “Flint (Michgan) and Kibera are reminders that the power of politics is the people. The process of organizing will bring forth the leaders who can truly represent their communities and push for change, whether or not those leaders hold political office. “We should look first to our neighborhoods, towns, schools, churches, mosques and temples to identify the leaders who represent our needs and values. Empower them, and the politicians will follow suit.” SHOFCO will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 22 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize over the last two decades including most recently, The Task Force for Global Health and Landesa. For more information, visit www.shofco.org

Newswire: Is the FBI underreporting the surge in hate crimes?

 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Graphic on hate crimes

The FBI has released it’s 2017 hate crimes statistics which revealed a 17 percent increase in incidents since 2016. In 2017 there were 8,493 victims and 6,307 known offenders. By comparison there were 7,509 victims and 5,727 known offenders in 2016, according to the data. “This report is a call to action – and we will heed that call,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes.” The report contrasts with the prior year when there were 6,036 single-bias incidents, or occurrences where the perpetrator has one bias against a community or group. By comparison, in 2017, there were 7,106 single-bias incidents reported. According to the FBI, “58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 22.0 percent were prompted by religious bias, 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias and 1.7 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias.” “This [report] is shocking and requires Congress’s full attention,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Shouldn’t this urgent crisis be the subject of the first post-recess Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, instead of ramming through more Trump judges? Our lives are at stake,” Johnson said. Also, some organizations are skeptical of the FBI statistics and say underreporting remains a significant problem in its annual survey. In a statement, the Arab American Institute (AAI) expressed concern and disappointment with the release of the 2017 hate crime statistics. The organization claims that the data contained some glaring omissions, including three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year. And while career officials at the Department of Justice continue to demonstrate a commitment to serving communities and preventing hate crime, officials at the AAI said they remain dissatisfied with the response from this administration. Of 34 reportable bias motivation categories, all but five reported an increase in 2017. With 2,013 incidents reported, “Anti-Black or African American” bias accounted for nearly half of all crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, which rose 18 percent according to the FBI data, while “Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Anti-Multiple Races, Group,” and “Anti-Hispanic or Latino” hate crimes all increased over 20 percent (251, 180, and 427 incidents, respectively). “Anti-Arab” hate crime, which was reintroduced into the data collections in 201 after the category became “invalid” in 1996 and was eliminated in 2001, increased 100 percent last year, with 102 incidents reported. As for crimes motivated by religion, which increased 23 percent in 2017, “Anti-Jewish” hate crime surged 37 percent, representing a majority with 938 incidents reported. After increasing 67 percent in 2015 and 19 percent in 2016, “Anti-Islamic (Muslim)” hate crime decreased in 2017 but remained well above historical averages with 273 incidents reported. Based on state-level hate crime statistics reported through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, which the FBI also uses to publish its annual report, the AAI was expecting an increase of crimes motivated by sexual orientation in 2017 statistics. While an increase was reported in the federal data, it was less significant than expected, the organization noted in a statement. Analysis from AAI shows that in multiple states, official state-level data reported a greater number of incidents than what is reported in the FBI’s statistics. Crimes motivated by disability, gender, and gender identity, which are more recent additions to the data collections and generally produce smaller annual totals, were significantly affected by these discrepancies. For example, the Kentucky State Police reported 41 gender-motivated hate crime incidents in official state-level statistics, whereas only 46 incidents were reported nationwide according to the FBI data. Aside from these discrepancies, additional aspects of the 2017 federal data suggest significant underreporting, the most striking of which being the omission of three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year, AAI officials said. According to FBI statistics, the city of Olathe, Kansas, reported no hate crimes, and statewide, zero hate crime murder were reported in 2017. But on February 22, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot to death in an Olathe bar because of his perceived national origin, according to the AAI. The shooter, Adam Purinton, who also wounded Kuchibhotla’s friend Alok Madasani and another man named Ian Grillot, was convicted on federal hate crime charges. Similarly, neither the May 26 fatal stabbing of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche aboard a train in Portland, Oregon, nor the August 12 killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, is reflected in the federal data. Further, over 300 jurisdictions representing populations of at least 50,000 people reported zero hate crimes in 2017. Of these jurisdictions, 78 represent populations of at least 100,000, and research from AAI found evidence of no fewer than 10 additional major jurisdictions that did not even participate in the data collections. The largest jurisdiction to report zero hate crimes in 2017 was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which represents a population of over 1.6 million and is one of the nation’s largest police departments in terms of population served. The entire state of Nevada had only three agencies submit incident reports last year, with just five incidents reported statewide. Not including Hawaii, which does not participate in the national hate crime statistics program, 11 additional states had fewer than 10 agencies submit incident reports in 2017. “The reported increase in the FBI’s hate crime statistics warrants concern, as do the discrepancies between state and federal hate crime data, the omission of several high-profile hate crime incidents, and the limited rate of hate crime reporting in some major jurisdictions,” AAI officials said. “The scourge of hate crime continues to harm communities in cities and states across the country. The FBI data confirms the reality we all know: hate is increasing in America,” said Maya Berry, the executive director of the AAI. “The FBI data, in what is missing from it, also demonstrates the hate crime reporting system we have in place is falling to respond adequately to hate crime, and thus inform fully the policy remedies we must make to improve our response to hate,” Berry said. Berry continued: “While we remain grateful to the career professionals at the DOJ, it is clear the Trump Administration has largely abdicated from the stated federal interest of eradicating bias-motivated violence, and the president’s rhetoric has at times appeared to exacerbate its spread. With respect to the recent data release, AAI is disappointed that despite our request, the administration made no attempt to coordinate an event with stakeholders and officials to discuss the annual FBI statistics, as was customary during previous administrations.”

Newswire:  Both Abrams and Gillum fall just short of Governors’ Mansions

By Barrington M. Salmon

 

Stacey Abrams and Andrew and C.J. Gillum

TriceEdneyWire.com) – In the end, Stacey Abrams said voter suppression and systematic voter manipulation by former Secretary of State and Governor-Elect Brian Kemp tilted the Georgia governor’s race in his favor. After 10 days of legal, electoral and other maneuvering, Abrams bowed out of the race, ending a combative and bitter contest in her bid to become the first Black woman governor in the country. An attorney, author and former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams called Kemp “the architect of voter suppression” and accused him of purging voters rolls, delaying and denying new registrations and generally disenfranchising African-American and other non-white voters. “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” said Abrams at a Nov. 16 press conference. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.” Abrams castigated Kemp – who served since 2012 as secretary of state until he stepped down last week – making it clear that she refuses to act as if the election was normal, while pointing out that she wasn’t making a concession speech. She castigated Kemp for the “deliberate and intentional” voter suppression he employed and promised to continue to fight for fair and comprehensive elections. “Pundits and hyper-partisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order. You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate,” she said. “They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy. You see, as a leader I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke but stoicism is a luxury and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.” Investigative Journalist Greg Palast filed an affidavit on November 15 in federal district court in Atlanta in support of the Common Cause Georgia’s case filed against Kemp. Palast said on his website that an expert report from one of his consultants shows that 340,134 voters were wrongly purged from Georgia’s voter rolls – without notice – by Kemp in 2016 and 2017 while Kemp was Secretary of State and preparing his run for Governor. There are documented efforts of Kemp’s machinations to suppress the vote in investigations by the Associated Press, Mother Jones and other news outlets. Kemp has removed significant swathes of African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos from voter rolls by purging more than 1.5 million voters – almost 11 percent of those registered – from the rolls between 2016 and 2018. He also closed 214 polling stations, the majority of them in poor and non-White neighborhoods. And using a program called ‘exact match,’ he blocked almost 35,000 Georgia residents from registering from 2013 to 2016. Exact match only grants residents the right to vote if their registrations exactly match information found in state data bases. Registrations aren’t accepted if there is a name difference, a misspelled word or an accent. Kemp’s office also put more than 50,000 voter registrations on hold by using the unreliable “exact match” system. Fully 70 percent of those are Black. Abrams’ election run electrified African-Americans around the state. And the Black-woman-powered ground game brought Abrams to within two percentage points of beating Kemp. “We’ve been working in Georgia all year,” said Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “Sisters laid the groundwork. We’ve been doing voter registration. While the focus has been on leaders, this was a coalition effort of women like Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, who was all over the state. We were phone banking since the primaries calling Black women. People like Deborah Scott and Felicia Davis and groups like the Southern Black Women’s Initiative and Shirley Sherrod were canvassing neighborhoods, developing voter profiles and putting women together.” Campbell said the emergence of Donald Trump, the rise in hate crimes and the ratcheting up of racism are of most concern to Black women. This has animated their resistance to Trump and the Republican agenda. “The whole notion is that our lives are at stake. It’s in our DNA,” she said. “There is a drumbeat, a drumbeat knowing that this country is in peril. We’re seeing, feeling and hearing it. It took a minute for folks to tune in.” Campbell said campaigns like Abrams represents a power shift and will have important implications for African-Americans in 2020 and beyond. In Florida, after a flurry of lawsuits, uncertainty about the fate of uncounted ballots, and two South Florida counties failing to meet the deadline, a machine recount determined that Tallahassee Mayor was unable to catch Republican Ron DeSantis in that gubernatorial contest. Gillum trailed DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of one vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week. Of eight million votes cast, the margin was a mere 0.41 percent. Despite the apparent insurmountable lead, Gillum would not concede and called for counting to continue. His lawyer hinted at a lawsuit. “A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said in published reports. “As today’s unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process.” There grew a cacophony of calls for Gillum to concede. So far, he has refused. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board has called him “ungracious,” saying that his refusal to concede is “a display of ill-grace that won’t help his political future in Florida.” Ultimate, he conceded saying he will not stop working for fair elections in Florida.“We wanted to make sure that every vote, including those that were undervotes and overvotes –as long as it was a legally cast vote – we wanted those votes to be counted,” Gillum said. He concluded, “We also want you to know that even though this election may be beyond us, that this – although nobody wanted to be governor more than me – this was not just about an election cycle…This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, our state, and our communities.” This story includes information from The Tallahassee Democrat, gregpalast.com and NPR

Newswire: Mississippi campaign heats up after ‘Lynching’ Remark’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

 Mike Espy

It’s a campaign that flew quietly under the radar – though the outcome could not only make history but change the dynamics in the United States Senate. Down in the Delta – where the public lynching of African Americans was the rule and not the exception and the Ku Klux Klan was usually law enforcement, judge, jury and executioner – Mike Espy, a Black man, has forced a runoff against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. As stunning as Espy’s rise in one of the classic “Good Ole Boys” states, Hyde-Smith, perhaps in a fit of desperation or a time lapse, helped to shine the spotlight on the race that had taken a back seat to the historic runs for governor in two other southern states, Florida and Georgia. “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said as she was surrounded by cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson and other supporters at a gathering in Tupelo. Hyde-Smith later tried to walk back the inflammatory comment, saying “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” If the comment was an exaggerated expression of regard, many in the one-time civil rights hotbed — and many more from across the nation — didn’t see it that way. It not only ignited interest in the under-the-radar Senate race, it galvanized Espy’s supporters. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how [President Donald] Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. According to the NAACP, Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state. The state’s population has the highest percentage of African-Americans of any state, 37 percent according to the last census. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character,” Johnson said. Senator Hyde-Smith’s remark that she would “be on the front row” of a “public hanging” is repulsive and her flippant disregard for our state’s deep history of inhumanity tied to lynching is incensing,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “What is worse is her tone-deaf justification for the comment,” said Lumumba, who’s African-American. The ACLU of Mississippi released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “Despicable and abhorrent.” “We expect and demand that Mississippi leaders represent and remain committed to inclusion and diversity. Sitting senators should not be referencing public hangings unless they are condemning them,” The ACLU’s statement said. Espy himself weighed in. “Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible. They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country,” Espy said. “We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” The race for the Senate out of Mississippi has grown in its importance since election day. With the Democrats taking control of the House, the party has continued to narrow the majority in the Senate. After a stunning victory in Arizona by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, and Rick Scott’s win in Florida after a recount, Republicans hold a narrow majority of 52 to 47, with the Mississippi election to determine the final result. Espy once served as agriculture secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton and, in 1986, he became the first African-American from Mississippi elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Espy received a B.A. from Howard University in 1975 and then attended law school at the University of Santa Clara where he received his J.D. degree in 1978. Espy returned to Mississippi after law school and worked as an attorney for Central Mississippi Legal Services from 1978 to 1980, according to blackpast.org. Between 1980 and 1984 Espy served as assistant secretary of the Public Lands Division for the State of Mississippi and then took the post of assistant State Attorney General for Consumer Protection, a position he held until 1985. The following year Mike Espy won the 2nd Congressional District seat which included much of the Mississippi Delta, becoming the only black Congressman to represent a predominately rural district. Now, Espy is trying to unseat Hyde-Smith, whose comments have those outside of Mississippi rallying for him as the runoff approaches on Nov. 27. “North Mississippi and Memphis are connected at the hip,” said Corey Strong, the Shelby County Democratic Party Chair in Memphis.“We are looking at potentially having a day of action for members of Shelby County and a concerted effort to go down and support Mike Espy in that race,” Strong said.

Newswire :  Huge heist by Ghanaian bank officers worse than feared

 Ghanaian Times headlines about theft

Nov. 12, 2018 (GIN) – Depositors may want to steer clear of banking in Ghana while over a dozen bank officers and shareholders face claims they lent themselves millions of dollars but failed to repay. Business Ghana, a local news outlet, reported that 13 shareholders and directors of the defunct Capital Bank Ghana Limited and UT Bank engaged in acts that led to the collapse of the two banks. By their alleged actions, the defendants “have breached their fiduciary duties under the Companies Code and have caused serious financial loss to the banks,” say receivers for the defunct banks. The officers allegedly lent themselves about $837 million Ghanaian cedis – equal to $174 million U.S. dollars. Auditors with the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm confirmed that actions by the bank officers destabilized Capital Bank which was declared bankrupt earlier last year. That led to the collapse of five other indigenous banks that were merged into one in August 2018. Capitol Bank founder William Ato Essien allegedly flouted “all banking and risk management rules by treating depositors’ funds and public funds as his personal cash,” the auditors said. Briefly detained by the Economic and Organized Crimes Office, he was granted bail and invited to assist with ongoing investigations. All this has occurred despite a campaign pledge by President Nana Akufo-Addo to be the anti-corruption candidate. An investigation by Business Insider, published this month, found that a half dozen appointees of the president were accused of serious corruption, from bribery to extortion, selling contaminated fuel , visa fraud, and posing as journalists to attend the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. After an inquiry, all the accused were fully exonerated by ad-hoc committees of Parliament. Meanwhile, a Special Prosecutor to investigate corruption complains that a year after his office was established, it is confined to a small house “woefully inadequate” to accommodate employees. And in Italy, some 200 Ghanaian students say they are stranded without food, are homeless and possibly facing deportation because necessary documents for their scholarships have not been validated by the Embassy. Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Giovanni Favilli, however, charged the students with abusing Italy’s hospitality and threatened them with prosecution. The claims were dismissed by the President of Ghanaian Students in Italy who disputed the accuracy of the charges.

Newswire :  Jefferson County, Alabama elects its first Black sheriff

 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

 

 Mark Pettway

There’s a new sheriff in Jefferson County, Alabama. Democrat Mark Pettway defeated longtime Republican incumbent Mike Hale, making Pettway the first African-American sheriff in the county whose largest city is Birmingham. “We have a plan to fight crime and to make sure the cities are safe,” Pettway said after receiving a concession call from Hale. Pettway won more than 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies on Tuesday. In addition to his many supporters, Pettway credited for his historic victory to the help of the Purpose P.R. Firm in Alabama and its head, Andrew Wyatt, who helped spread Pettway’s message of freedom, justice, equality and inclusion and the importance of Jefferson County in the Civil Rights Era. Pettway also said he was grateful to the National Newspaper Publishers Association, whose member papers didn’t shy away from carrying his message. “Thank you,” Wyatt said to the Black Press on behalf of Pettway. The history of Jefferson County, particularly Birmingham, is unmistakable as the flashpoint of the Civil Rights Movement where the city saw much bloodshed and strife as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought for freedom, justice and equality. The Birmingham historical society notes that the city today offers a “sobering and reflective experience for anyone interested in this important era of American history.” Until last year, the sheriff’s department was under a federal consent decree because of its unfair hiring and promotion practices and Pettway, a longtime sergeant, said he’d seen a lot of discrimination and other problems during his 18-year tenure in the department. The consent decree was issued as part of a 1970s-era consolidated lawsuit that alleged the County, City of Birmingham, Sheriff’s Department, and the Personnel Board of Jefferson County discriminated against Blacks and women in their hiring and promotions. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board, which provides employment services for the county and cities, were ultimately released from their decrees. Last year a U.S. District Judge finally released the Sheriff’s Department from the decree. “Still,” Pettway said, “not much has changed,” which counted as the primary reason he ran for sheriff. “It didn’t get any better. We’re still not where we should be and after watching other activists in action, I decided it was time for me to rise up and do something,” Pettway said. “That Birmingham, Alabama still resembles in some ways its racist history should be alarming to residents and voters,” Pettway said. Hale who transferred to the Sheriff’s Department in 1976, is expected to help make Pettway’s transition smooth. “I asked him to help with the transition,” Pettway said after receiving the congratulatory phone call from his opponent. “This is a very important and historical election and it’s an opportunity for change. It’s a chance for us to have a seat at the table where we can make those changes and where the hiring practices can be better for people of color and for women and where a [minority] can say, ‘hey, I can be Sheriff one day, too,’” Pettway said. A lifelong Jefferson County resident, Pettway grew up in a working-class neighborhood not far from Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium. The son of the late Retired Army Sgt. First Class Officer Ed Pettway, and Jefferson County School Teacher Camilla Satisfield, Pettway said he began to realize his potential as his parents provided him with something far greater than material wealth. Specifically, they instilled in him strong moral principles, a robust work ethic and a burning desire to excel. Given his ability to implement this rare yet useful combination of gifts, many said it’s no surprise he learned the value of hard work and determination at an early age. Pettway began his professional career in 1991 at the Birmingham Police Department, where he served as a Correctional Specialist. In 1993, he joined the Fairfield Police Department as a police officer, where he helped to strengthen the law enforcement system by responding to calls, making arrests, issuing citations, and testifying in court cases. In 1999, he joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. In 2008, he was promoted to detective and has earned a number of commendations from Hale. He said community policing and criminal justice reform top his agenda. “We have to bridge the gap right now between law enforcement and the community. Right now, there’s no trust and we need body cameras and dashboard cameras and, under my watch, we will be transparent,” Pettway said. “I will implement accountability and the community will know their officers. The officers will get out of their cars and the community will know them by their names,” he said.

Newswire : The battle for Florida and Georgia ends in vote recounts

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

 Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum

 

The heartache expressed on Tuesday night by the many supporters of Stacey Abrams has suddenly turned to hope after absentee and other ballots counted brought the Georgia Democratic governor hopeful closer to a runoff with Republican Brian Kemp. And, after conceding to Republican Ron DeSantis in Florida on Election night, Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum found new life when votes were finally tabulated from the more blue areas of the state like Broward and Miami Dade. Gillum said he conceded based on “the limited information we had.” That’s now changed. As of Friday morning, Gillum was just 0.44 percentage points behind DeSantis, a margin of about 36,000 votes. A margin within 0.5 percentage points triggers an automatic recount, something the Florida Secretary of State would still have to approve. “On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count,” Gillum spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a statement. “Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported.” The campaign reportedly has hired attorney Barry Richard, who represented the Bush campaign during the contentious 2000 presidential election in Florida, who was “monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount,” Cervone said. “Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.” Meanwhile, after initial and unofficial tallies in Georgia gave Kemp a seemingly insurmountable lead, absentee and other provisional ballots drew Abrams ever closer and also in the range of recount and possibly a runoff. “All of the votes in this race have not been counted,” Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said at a press conference on Thursday. Under Georgia law, if no candidate achieves a majority, then a runoff election will be held. Kemp currently leads with 50.3 percent of the vote. Abrams is also close to the possible threshold to earn a recount in the race, which, following his resignation, Kemp would now not oversee. “Brian Kemp is 25,622 votes above the threshold for a runoff election. Twenty-five thousand votes of nearly four million cast are at issue in this race,” Groh-Wargo said. “By [Kemp’s] own admission, there are at least 25,000 outstanding votes, and hundreds if not thousands of more that we are learning about and discovering every day.” The state chapter of the NAACP filed a pair of lawsuits claiming that students at Spelman College and Morehouse College were improperly forced to vote with a provisional ballot – or dissuaded from voting at all – because their names didn’t show up on voter registration lists. And the second, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, seeks to preserve the right for voters in the Pittman Park Recreation Center area to cast ballots. That was the precinct where massive lines formed because of too few polling machines. Even after five additional voting devices were delivered, some people waited four hours at the Atlanta site. In a televised interview early Tuesday, former talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry said Gillum and Stacey would change the way Democrats campaign in the south for decades to come. In saying so, Harris-Perry was clear that would be the case regardless of the outcome. “Gillum and Abrams, no matter what, they have changed the idea that Democrats should not be fighting for these seats in the south, and that’s going to have 25 years of impact,” Harris-Perry said. Much had been written about Abrams’ opponent interfering with voting rights and early reports from Georgia indicated that many polling locations were not up and running in a timely fashion. Voters in the Peach state dealt with long lines, malfunctioning election equipment and registration discrepancies as they swamped precincts Tuesday with an unprecedented turnout for a midterm election. Wait times of more than an hour were the most common hurdle facing voters across the state, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. But technical problems, like failing to plug in voting machines, worsened matters for some voters trying to get their ballots in. Three precincts in Gwinnett County had some of the most severe difficulties, causing them to stay open past the normal 7 p.m. closing time, the newspaper reported. The Annistown Elementary precinct remained open until 9:25 p.m. because of extensive issues with the electronic ExpressPoll system, which is used to check in voters before they’re issued voting access cards. Anderson-Livsey Elementary and Harbins Elementary precincts also stayed open late. Three more precincts in Fulton County also stayed open as late as 10 p.m. because of extreme lines, missing registration information and a shortage of provisional ballots. Those precincts were located at Pittman Park Recreation Center, Booker T. Washington High and the Archer Auditorium at Morehouse College. The Rev. Jesse Jackson got involved at the Pittman Park Recreation Center precinct in Fulton County, encouraging voters to remain in line after they had waited for hours. Only three voting machines were initially available before five more were sent out later. “It’s a classic example of voter suppression, denying people easy access to exercise their right to vote,” Jackson said, according to the newspaper.

Newswire: NAACP: Mississippi candidate’s ‘public hanging’ remark is sick, shameful

 By Hazel Trice Edney

 Mike Espy, Democratic candidate for Mississippi U. S. Senate seat

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The NAACP has issued a stinging rebuke to Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who recently invoked a reference to a “public hanging” amidst her campaign against African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy. Referring to a glowing endorsement from Mississippi cattle rancher Colin Hutchinson, Hyde-Smith said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The remarks drew laughter and applause, but she apparently did not know the comments were being videotaped by journalist Lamar White Jr. After public release of the video, Hyde-Smith issued a statement saying, “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” She has refused to make any further comment or apologize for the remark, which clearly invokes painful images of thousands of Black people who were lynched or killed by White supremacists in the Deep South with Mississippi being a leading offender. The highest number of lynchings in the U. S. took place in Mississippi from 1882-1968 with 581, according to the NAACP. “Georgia was second with 531, and Texas was third with 493,” says a report by the civil rights organization, adding that 79 percent of lynching happened in the South. Among the best known killings of Black people by White supremacists, Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, occurred in Money and Jackson, Mississippi respectively. Further exacerbating the impact of Hyde-Smith’s remark is the fact that she has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, who has made no public comment on the issue. “Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric. We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it,” said NAACP President Johnson in a statement. Ron DeSantis, Republican nominee for Flordia governor, also drew a fire storm of criticism when he said in a television interview that Florida voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Andrew Gillum, his opponent, who would be the state’s first black governor. That campaign is amidst a recount. “Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick. To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful,” Johnson said. “Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.” Espy himself has released a statement calling Hyde-Smith’s comments “reprehensible” and saying, “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state.” Joining the rebuke of Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson described her comments as “beyond disrespectful and offensive.” He pointed out that Mississippi has “one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country.” Hyde-Smith has refused to speak further on the issue, saying, “I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.” It is not clear how or whether this new controversy will affect her Nov. 27th run-off against Espy. They both received about 41 percent of the vote in a four-way race Nov. 6. Espy, a former member of the U. S. Congress who served from 1987 to 1993, would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since Reconstruction. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were Black. The Blacks lynched accounted for 72.7 percent of the people lynched. These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 White people were lynched. That is only 27.3 percent. Many of the Whites lynched were lynched for helping the Black or being anti-lynching and even for domestic crim