Newswire : Attorney Yusef Jackson joins correctional technology company as Senior Advisor

Yusef Jackson

Son of Jesse Jackson to help deal with high costs of prison phone calls

By Hazel Trice Edney

TriceEdneyWire.com) – Attorney and entrepreneur Yusef Jackson is joining the executive team at Aventiv Technologies, according to a company announcement. Jackson is the son of Rainbow/PUSH founder Jesse Jackson and has been a longtime advocate for civil rights alongside his family. Jackson’s role is being described as helping to facilitate external partnerships with the civic, educational, and corporate communities and ensuring a more diverse workforce at the company. Aventiv is the parent company to Securus Technologies, which is best known for providing telecommunication services to prisons and jails around the U.S., including phones and digital tablets. The company, along with others in the industry, has come under fire in recent years for the high prices charged to family members of the incarcerated for use of their services in some jurisdictions. A number of advocacy groups have been calling for policy changes to lower the price of calls and other services for the incarcerated, including by prohibiting government agencies from collecting revenue off of these contracts. Others, including some who are currently incarcerated, argue that the opportunity that comes with these previously unavailable technologies is worth the cost of the service. Last year, Aventiv announced an effort to change some of those business practices and respond to criticism of the industry. To date, the company has provided more than 40 million free phone calls through that effort, according to company data. Jackson’s hiring is being positioned as a continuation of that effort. The company announcement said Jackson would be involved in the development of job and reintegration tools for those who are incarcerated, and partnerships focused on eliminating the post-incarceration stigma. In a release announcing Jackson’s new position, Aventiv CEO Dave Abel said that Jackson would “play a vital role not only in expanding our reform efforts, but also in broadening our view as we look both inward and outward with respect to employee, customer, and community stakeholders.” Jackson acknowledged the history of problems inherent to correctional contractors, saying “the correctional services industry provides critical technology products and services to incarcerated Americans, but the business practices employed by the industry have been rightly criticized and are long overdue for reform.” Jackson also said that his approach to this reform effort would be driven by both data and conversations with families of the incarcerated. “While I know Securus has undertaken a similar effort, it is important that I understand not only the data, but hear first-hand from affected individuals,” Jackson said. African Americans and Hispanics make up 32 percent of the U.S. but 56% of the incarcerated population, according to the NAACP. African Americans in particular are incarcerated at over than 5 times the rate of white Americans. These numbers have remained high even as overall crime has declined. Over the last two decades the rate of violent crime in the U.S. has fallen by about 20 percent, while the number of  

 

 

Newswire: Kim Janey running for Mayor of Boston

Kim M. Janey, Mayor of Boston

Kim M. Janey was named acting Mayor of Boston, on March 24th , the first Black person to hold the position.  Janey has been a member of the Boston City Council since January 2018. She represents Roxbury, South End, Dorchester, and Fenway. When President Biden named Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as the nominee for Secretary of Labor, Janey moved up to replace him in the position of Mayor.  Janey announced this week she will run for mayor later this year, making official what most expected ever since it was clear she’d take over duties when Marty Walsh left for Washington.  “I am leading Boston through a lens of equity, justice, and love — but I know the challenges we face will take longer than a few months to overcome,” Janey said in a tweet. “I am running for a full term as Mayor to ensure a better, stronger city for every Bostonian.” Janey was city council president when Walsh resigned ten days ago after joining President Biden’s administration as labor secretary. She’s been on the job two weeks. The power of the incumbency could prove vital. When Ray Flynn resigned in 1993, Thomas Menino took over as acting mayor. He then ran for the open seat in a crowded field and easily won). Menino was mayor until 2014. “My life’s work, from education advocacy to leading the city council, has been centered around making sure every child has the opportunity to learn and succeed in a more just city than the one I grew up in,” Janey said in her video released Tuesday. “See, I was part of desegregation busing. Eleven years old, having rocks and racial slurs thrown at me. I’ve been at the center of Boston’s history. The bad and the good.” Janey, 56, will continue to serve during the remainder of Walsh’s term, which ends in January 2022. She is Boston’s 55th mayor. It was also announced that Dennis White, an African American, was named that city’s chief of police.

Newswire : 77% of Americans support Bessemer Alabama Amazon union drive in new poll

(Washington, D.C., April 5, 2021)—Today, the AFL-CIO and GBAO released a nationwide poll of registered voters that found more than three-quarters of Americans support workers’ efforts to organize a union at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The findings come days after voting closed in the organizing drive and demonstrate a significant rise in public support. In February, Data for Progress found that 69% of likely voters supported the unionization effort.  “In every corner of the country, working people are crying out for change,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We aren’t just bearing the brunt of this pandemic. For decades, we’ve been bled dry by a rigged, corporate-first economy. Amazon workers in Bessemer are tearing down that system, and America is standing with them.” “This is what solidarity looks like,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “America is standing shoulder to shoulder with Amazon workers in Bessemer. People across the country and of all backgrounds recognize the systematic injustice that Amazon is inflicting on its own workers. This fight is universal—it’s a struggle for the fundamental rights and dignities that all working people deserve.” The nationwide poll surveyed 600 registered voters from March 28–30. The survey carries a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. Q: As you may know, some workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are proposing to form a union to negotiate with the company on working conditions. Do you support or oppose these Amazon workers forming a union to negotiate on working conditions? AFL-CIO CONTACT: John Weber, 202-637-5018 or jweber@aflcio.org RWDSU CONTACT: Chelsea Connor, 347-866-6259 or cconnor@rwdsu.org 

Newswire: Nation of Islam clarifies U. S. Capitol attacker not a member and condemns violence

Nation of Islam Flag

By Stacy M. Brown, 

NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

 The Nation of Islam has clarified and contradicted mainstream media reports that erroneously identified the individual who recently attacked the U.S. Capitol as one of its members. In a statement to the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association of the 230-member Black Press of America, officials at the Nation of Islam said Noah Green, who killed a police officer in the attack and died from injuries sustained during his action, was not a member of the Nation of Islam. The organization also denounced the violent attack, noting that its members and leaders are appalled by violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol last week. Here is the full statement from the Nation of Islam on April 6, 2021. Brothers and Sisters of the Black Community, members of the press, and the American People: We have prepared this statement to answer some of the many inquiries that we have had over the last few days about Mr. Noah Green. Naturally, we, like most of you, were disturbed watching the news of an assault on the U.S. Capitol where one police officer was killed, one was injured, and Mr. Green was killed. We speak on behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the members of his family, all of the registered Muslim members of the Nation of Islam, and all people of good will everywhere, in that, we are in sympathy with the victims of this tragedy. And we are in sympathy with the families of these victims. And we, like you, can only offer them condolences and our deepest sympathy for their loss.  Our prayers are for the full recovery of the officer who was injured. The Nation of Islam has no history of violence against the government. Federal, state, and local law enforcement are all well aware of our history. We have held four national marches, including the Historic 1995 Million Man March, which we know to be one of the largest gatherings in the history of the United States of America and the most peaceful on the U.S. Capitol grounds. We had a good working relationship with the U.S. Capitol police during each of these historic events. It is being reported that Noah Green was a “follower” of the Nation of Islam. This young man, Noah Green, we believe may have attended our Saviours’ Day convention in Detroit, MI in February 2020. In March of 2020, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we closed our Mosques, and began conducting meetings and classes remotely. A search of our records indicates Noah Green was not a registered member of the Nation of Islam.  It appears that in late summer (August-September) of 2020, he started the process to begin his study to become a member, but he did not complete the process. He did make a donation to the Saviours’ Day Gift. Every year, the followers and supporters make a charitable donation to the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day Gift charity. Every donor who makes a donation of $1000 or more is issued a Certificate of Completion. This certificate does not establish that the donor is a member in good standing in the Nation of Islam. Mr. Noah Green’s alleged use of an automobile as a weapon and the alleged possession of a knife as reported, violates our teachings.  We absolutely disavow this act that resulted in the senseless loss of life. It is shocking for us to learn that someone who was attempting to be a part of our ranks may have been involved in something as tragic as this. But, we respectfully say to the members of the media and to the American people, Timothy McVeigh confessed that he was a Christian, but nobody blames the church for his misconduct. No one would blame Jesus or their pastor for unlawful and immoral behavior that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.  You have criminals, people that do horrific things, but we never know their religion. It’s not important because religion does not teach criminal behavior. Criminal behavior is an aberration. Criminal behavior is a violation. Criminal behavior is absolute rebellion toward what God teaches through the mouth of His prophets. When thousands of American citizens engaged in an attempted insurrection, attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, resulting in the deaths of five persons and injuring many, the news media did not question what their religion was. Nowhere in the teachings of Islam, nowhere in the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, could we countenance any man taking the life of an innocent human being. For us, human life is sacred. And the violation of human life is a violation of God, Himself, because He’s the giver of life and He’s the ultimate cause of death. But He doesn’t give us the right to kill innocent people. That is against our law. We are taught “to never be the aggressor in word or in deed”, for Allah (God) hates aggression and is not with the aggressor. This is our teaching. In fact, all of us who are members of the Nation of Islam have been instructed not to carry any weapons—not so much as a penknife—not on our persons and not in our homes. We do not rely on weapons of war to defend us. We rely on our belief and our faith in Allah (God). We condemn the wicked mischaracterization of some media reports trying to tie this tragic incident to the teachings of the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and all people of good will should do the same as well. So, most of us, like you, are questioning why would this young man allegedly do such an act? If he did, what happened to him? What caused this? The family released a statement published in the Washington Post saying of Noah Green, he “was not a terrorist by any means.” He had been studying for his master’s degree in business administration but had also suffered from “depression and potential mental illness.” It has also been reported in an article from CNN, that he shared on social media, “I have suffered multiple home break-ins, food poisoning, assaults, unauthorized operations in the hospital, mind control.” This young man had struggled in his early life but overcame much as a student to graduate with a degree in finance. He had a wonderful, noble idea to help the black and brown people through his knowledge of finance. “I am sure,” Minister Farrakhan states, “had he been blessed to come through the crisis that he was going through, he would have been a star in the mission of the resurrection of our people. We need to know what happened to our brother.” So, our research is continuing into what happened to this young man and we cannot rest until we find out what caused him to take a turn like this. We are saddened by the loss of this brother with such great potential. With heavy hearts we offer sympathy and condolences to his mother, father, family and friends.

Newswire : MLB moving All-Star Game, Draft out of Georgia, amid outcry over voting law

Baseball Stadium Major League Baseball (MLB)

By: Thompson/Reuters

Commissioner Robert Manfred said the league was relocating its 2021 All-Star Game and MLB Draft from Atlanta, following outcry over Georgia’s new voting restrictions. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft,” Manfred said in a written statement. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” Georgia last week strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a crime to offer food and water to voters waiting in line. The law, which was endorsed by the state’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, faces legal challenges as civil rights groups say it aims to suppress voting among Black people and other racial minorities. Kemp in a statement insists that the new law “expands voting opportunities in Georgia”. Democratic President Joe Biden has been sharply critical of the law and on Wednesday said he would support moving the July All-Star Game out of the state as a form of protest, telling ESPN “This is Jim Crow on steroids what they’re doing in Georgia.” Commissioner Manfred said MLB made the decision after consulting with individual clubs as well as current and former players, adding the league was finalizing plans for a new host city. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support,” said Manfred, a day after the league kicked off its 2021 regular season. The Atlanta Braves issued a statement on Twitter saying the hometown organization was “deeply disappointed by the decision.” It stressed the move was neither its decision nor its recommendation, and it expressed sadness that “fans will not be able to see this event in our city.” The team added, though, that it would “continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities, and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.” “Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision,” the Braves org said. The lucrative All-Star Game is a coveted hosting opportunity for ballparks across North America. At press time, MLB announced that the All Star Game would be held at Denver’s Mile High Stadium in Colorado.

Alabama to receive $940 million incentive payments, over two years, if the state expands Medicaid under the American Rescue Plan

The State of Alabama is eligible to receive $940 million in incentive payments, over two years, if it expands Medicaid to serve people making up to 138% of poverty wages, under provisions of the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11. The American Rescue Plan contains funding for $1,400 stimulus checks, $300 weekly supplementary unemployment benefits, child tax credits, and many other provisions to help people deal with the health and financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Plan also contains a financial incentive for the 12 states, mostly in the South, that have not agreed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The incentive comes in the form of a five (5%) increase in the Federal matching assistance percentage (FMAP) paid by HHS for all current Medicaid recipients for two years. Alabama currently receives a FMAP of 78% which would rise to 83%, if the state expands Medicaid for 300,000 or more working poor people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to purchase insurance on the ACA exchanges. The 5% increase in FMAP would yield the State of Alabama, $940 million in increased government healthcare support for all current Medicaid recipients, e.g., children, seniors in nursing homes, pregnant women, the disabled and others over the next two years. This $940 million could be used by the State of Alabama to cover the initial cost of initiating healthcare coverage for the working poor, people who make below 138% of the poverty level. The State of Alabama would receive 90% reimbursement for all people covered by Medicaid expansion. The State would be able to shift some expenses it is currently paying for the disabled, prisoners and others to the Medicaid Expansion Program, saving more in the state budget toward the cost of healthcare for the people of the state. Medicaid expansion also creates an estimated 30,000 new jobs, mostly in healthcare fields and generates additional sales and income tax revenues to help the state maintain the program after the two years of incentives are reduced. In most states that have adopted Medicaid Expansion, the program has paid for and sustained itself. Jane Adams, Executive Director of Cover Alabama, a coalition of organizations supporting Medicaid Expansion says, “This is the very best time for Alabama to expand Medicaid because the Federal government is offering incentives to expand the program and because the state has been limited by the coronavirus pandemic from removing people from the Medicaid rolls. The State is carrying over a million people on its Medicaid rolls and will be receiving the 5% incentive payment for anyone treated that is covered by Medicaid.” “In Alabama, the decision to expand Medicaid falls to Governor Kay Ivey. She can expand Medicaid as soon as she decides it is beneficial to the state to do so. She does not need action by the State Legislature and she can develop an amended state budget based on the promised revenues and incentives,” said Adams. Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, the Co-chair of the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy Health Committee said, “Now is the time to get Medicaid Expansion. I do not care if we call it ‘Iveycare’ or whatever but the Governor must agree and help the working poor to get health insurance coverage, as we work our way out of this pandemic. The program creates jobs, helps keep hospitals open and it will pay for itself plus President Biden is giving incentives for the state to adopt the program.” “Governor Ivey’s objection to expanding Medicaid was that funds were not available to start the program but the funds are there now. There should be no more excuses. Call, write or email Governor Ivey and let her know you support Medicaid Expansion,” said John Zippert, SOS Health Committee Co-chair.

One quarter of Greene County’s adults have received one vaccination

Vaccination at Greenetrack parking lot conducted by the National Guard

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), 25% or more of Greene county’s adults, over the age of 16 have received one or more doses of coronavirus vaccine. The ADPH Coronavirus Dashboard, on the state’s website, shows that as of March 30, 2021 there were 2,927 does of vaccine administered to Greene County adults. This includes 2,081 who received one shot and 874 who are fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In a press release yesterday, the ADPH says 25% of adult residents of 35 Alabama counties including: Greene, Marengo, Hale, Wilcox, Perry, Lowndes, Dallas, Sumter, Choctaw, Monroe, Washington, Macon and Bullock in the Black Belt, have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. Last Wednesday, March 24, a total of 396 people were vaccinated at the Health Department in downtown Eutaw and a special vaccination site administered by the National Guard at the Greenetrack parking lot. In all, the National Guard has administered 3,738 shots in 24 Alabama rural counties as part of a targeted effort that began last week. The ADPH says in its press release that, “Successful public health efforts to achieve vaccine equity have resulted in higher vaccine uptake among African American residents of Black Belt counties.” This comes after an initial period where immunization of African-Americans, who are more vulnerable to the disease, lagged behind in vaccinations. 64% of the most vulnerable populations above the age of 75 have received one dose or more in Alabama as of yesterday. ADPH says. “People in this age group are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. As we age, our immune cells become more difficult to activate. ADPH maximized our limited vaccine resources to help protect these Alabama residents. Regrettably, 78.8 percent of Alabamians who have died due to COVID-19 are age 65 and older. Vulnerable older residents have been prioritized in our Vaccine Allocation Plan for that reason.” ADPH says that supply remains an issue, as there is not yet enough vaccine available for everyone who would like to be vaccinated. The state continues to receive more vaccine distribution from the Federal government and hopes to make shots available to all who want the by the end of April 2021. ADPH encourages the use of facial coverings after the state mandate ends on April 9, 2021. Masks or other facial coverings will no longer be a mandate after April 9, but ADPH reminds everyone that masks remain one of the most successful tools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses and healthcare facilities will continue to require facial coverings in their facilities. Hospitals and nursing homes are under federal guidance that supports the use of facial coverings, and we anticipate the requirement for facial coverings to remain in place at those facilities.

Newswire : New wave of coronavirus in Africa linked to relaxed public health measures

Dr. John Kkengasong, Head of Africa’s CDC

Mar. 29, 2021 (GIN) – Africa is experiencing a second coronavirus wave more severe than the first, according to a worrying new study published on March 24 by the medical journal The Lancet. The Lancet said one reason for the rise was that some countries were implementing fewer public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, probably from adherence fatigue and economic necessity.   The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic progressed more slowly in Africa than the rest of the world, but by December 2020, the second wave appeared to be much more aggressive with many more cases, the medical journal found.   To date, the pandemic situation in all 55 African Union (AU) Member States has not been comprehensively reviewed, the panels of doctors said. “With further waves of COVID-19 infections expected in Africa, the authors wrote, “we are calling for continued monitoring of COVID-19 data, improvements to testing capacity, and renewed efforts to adhere to public health measures.”   The report is the first-ever continent-wide analysis.   “These insights also reveal a need to improve testing capacity and reinvigorate public health campaigns, to re-emphasize the importance of abiding by measures that aim to strike a fine balance between controlling the spread of COVID-19 and sustaining economies and people’s livelihoods,” said Dr John Nkengasong, from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).   Out of the 55 African Union countries the most coronavirus-related deaths occurred in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.   Meanwhile, more African countries have received the long-awaited first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines, with Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Lesotho benefiting from a global initiative called COVAX that aims to ensure doses for the world’s low-and middle-income nations.   African and other health officials have been frustrated by the sight of a handful of rich countries rolling out vaccines after snapping up large amounts for themselves.   “We will be known as the continent of COVID” if Africa doesn’t quickly reach its target of vaccinating 60% of its population of 1.3 billion people, Dr. Nkengasong said.   So far Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Angola, Gambia and Congo also have received their first vaccine doses via COVAX, with several other countries including Mali, Senegal, Malawi and Uganda set to receive them this week.   The numbers are still disappointing the World Health Organization which this week called the African continent “lagging” in the race to vaccinate its people against the deadly coronavirus. Africa needs far greater access to COVID-19 vaccines to reach its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the population by June 2022, the world health body said.      

Newswire: Civil Rights groups sue Georgia over new sweeping voter suppression law 

ATLANTA — Civil rights groups have filed a new federal lawsuit against Georgia’s sweeping law that makes it much harder for all Georgians to vote, particularly voters of color, new citizens, and religious communities. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and law firms WilmerHale and Davis Wright Tremaine brought the case on behalf of the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Women Watch Afrika, Latino Community Fund Georgia, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  The law being challenged is S.B. 202, which was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in under seven hours last Thursday. These elected officials’ actions follow the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 runoff elections for two seats to the U.S. Senate that saw record turnout of voters, particularly Black voters, in Georgia. The elections were celebrated not just for their turnout, but also for their integrity, with Georgia officials praising them as safe and secure. But rather than act to expand participation in the political process, Georgia leaders responded by doing what they have done many times in the state’s history: they placed burdensome, unjustified, and unnecessary restrictions on voters, particularly voters of color and other historically disenfranchised communities. The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in S.B. 202, including the: • ban on mobile voting

• new narrow identification requirements for requesting and casting an absentee ballot • delayed and compressed time period for requesting absentee ballots

• restrictions on secure drop boxes

• out-of-precinct provisional ballot disqualification

• drastic reduction in early voting in runoff elections

• perhaps most cruelly, ban on “line warming,” where volunteers provide water and snacks to Georgians, disproportionately those of color, who wait in needlessly long lines to cast their vote These provisions, the lawsuit charges, violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and infringe on Georgians’ rights under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. “This law is driven by blatant racism, represents politics at its very worst, and is clearly illegal,” said Sophia Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “We urge the court to act swiftly to strike it down.” “Legislators and Governor Kemp ignored the very obvious lessons from the election in 2020 and runoffs in 2021: expand safe and secure access to the ballot, codify innovations to voting, and provide additional resources to cash-strapped counties,” said Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Instead, to appease conspiracy theorists and amplify deadly lies about past elections, Georgia’s leaders have chosen to pass into law S.B. 202, which makes it more difficult for every Georgian — but particularly Georgians who are members of historically disenfranchised communities — to vote in a safe, secure, and convenient manner and have that vote counted. In so doing, the defendants have violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and we turn to the federal courts and U.S. Congress to address the incredible harm S.B. 202 will have on our clients.”  “S.B. 202 is perhaps the most bold and shameful voter suppression legislation enacted in the modern era. Its purpose and target are clear: to create barriers to voting for Black voters who turned out in record numbers for the November 2020 presidential election and the January 2021 special election. The provisions of the new law and the manner in which it was enacted reflect a thorough disregard for the sanctity of protecting the right to vote and a headlong and determined zeal to diminish Black political power in Georgia,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s president and director-counsel. “This is a powerful moment for democracy in this country. S.B. 202’s attempt to disenfranchise Black voters in Georgia harkens back to the most shameful days of voter suppression in the decades before the civil rights movement. That this law was passed in Georgia, less than a year after the death of one of the state’s greatest heroes, Representative John Lewis, is shameful. In his name, we will fight to strike down this illegal attempt to undo his legacy. Anything less represents a grave threat to the future of our democracy and inherently undermines the notion of equality for all.”  “Democracy depends upon people expressing their voices freely through their votes,” said WilmerHale partner Debo P. Adegbile. “The Georgia omnibus voting obstruction law is a prime example of modern voter suppression and erodes democracy. A great deal has changed in Georgia but the commitment to brazenly disenfranchise voters clearly has not.” “S.B. 202 attacks the most sacred foundations of our democracy. But in this country, the law secures every American citizen the equal right to make their voice heard at the ballot box, no matter who they are. And we intend to vindicate that right in court,” said Adam Sieff, attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine. The lawsuit, Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church v. Kemp, was filed late last night in federal court in Atlanta. Complaint: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/sixth-district-african-methodist-episcopal-church-v-kemp

Newswire: Day 2 of Chauvin trial was rife with emotional witness testimony

Former Officer Chauvin has knee on George Floyd’s neck

 By:  Paige Elliott, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The second day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was full of emotional and heart-wrenching witness testimony. Witness after witness spoke of the despair, helplessness, and the struggle to come to grips with what they witnessed when George Floyd lost his life under the knee of Chauvin on March 25, 2020. In agonizing detail, the witnesses, many of whom are underage and therefore not shown on video by court order, described how heartbroken and haunted they remain over Floyd’s killing almost a year ago. Donald Williams continued his testimony from the opening day of the trial. The prosecution walked Williams through what he witnessed on Memorial Day when he stumbled upon the scene of Floyd’s fatal arrest while headed to Cup Foods. It was revealed on Tuesday that Williams, like 911 operator Jenna Scurry who testified the day before, “called the police on the police.” After Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, an emotional Williams called 911 to report the incident. “I believe I had just witnessed a murder,” Williams recalled. Williams added that he placed the call because he “didn’t know what else to do,” as he couldn’t establish a human connection—what he termed as a “human being relationship”—with the police on the scene, so he reached out for help. Tears streamed down his face when his call was played in the courtroom. Defense attorney Eric Nelson spent a lot of time trying to undercut Williams’ experience and knowledge as a mixed martial arts fighter and former wrestler. However, Williams was not on the stand as an expert. As legal analyst Laura Coates said on CNN, “They’re attacking the very idea that he [Williams] was never there to present.”  Williams also rejected the idea presented by the defense that the bystanders grew into an angry mob as time wore on. “I grew professional. I stayed in my body. You can’t paint me out to be angry,” he said. Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney, and legal analyst told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the defense’s cross-examinations of the witnesses so far was “mediocre” because it has taken Nelson “a very long time to make minor points. The best cross-examinations are short and simple,” he said. “And so far, from what I’ve seen from the defense, the cross-examinations have not been short and have not been simple.” Darnella Frazier, 18, was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday. As a minor at the time of Floyd’s death, her face was not shown on camera, though the court has allowed her last name to be printed. Though unseen, Frazier’s voice effectively conveyed her pain. At times she spoke in hushed tones, with her voice breaking.  We learned that Frazier was on her way to Cup Foods with her young cousin, but like Williams, she never made it into the store. Instead, she escorted in her cousin so she wouldn’t witness what was happening between Floyd and the police officers outside. Frazier stayed outside and eventually took out her camera and began recording—her video of the incident is what was initially posted on social media and sparked the national and international outcry against Floyd’s killing. Frazier, though emotional, was consistent on the witness stand. She recalled Floyd stating, “I can’t breathe; please get off of me,’” while he lay handcuffed in the prone position under Chauvin’s knee. “He cried for his mom. He was in pain,” said Frazier. “He seemed like he felt it was over for him. He was suffering. It was a cry for help.” She recalled the bystanders saying to Chauvin: “You’re hurting him,” “Are you enjoying this?” “His nose is bleeding,” and “You’re a bum. She said she didn’t recall Chauvin offering any “care” for Floyd at any time she was there. “If anything,” she said, “he was actually kneeling harder. He was shoving his knee in his neck. I felt like he was feeding off of our energy.” Like Williams, Frazier countered the defense’s claim that the crowd was hostile. “Any time someone tried to get close, they [the cops] were defensive, so we couldn’t even get close,” Frazier said. She pointedly noted that the only violence she saw that day was from the police officers, and that Chauvin “had a cold look, heartless. It seemed like he didn’t care.“ When the paramedics arrived, Frazier said Chauvin still didn’t release his knee from Floyd’s neck. “No, the ambulance person had to get him to lift up. He checked his pulse first while Mr. Chauvin’s knee still remained on George Floyd’s neck. The paramedic made a motion to get up,” she recalled. The defense’s line of questioning centered on Frazier having limited knowledge of what else had occurred prior to her arriving and what else may have been going on in the surrounding area at the time. Inexplicably, the defense asked if the video she recorded changed Frazier’s life. She replied that it had. This left the door open for the prosecution to redirect and ask Frazier to explain how the video changed her life. She replied, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, my cousins, and uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father; I have a Black brother … I look at how that could have been them.” She continued, “I stay up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and for not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done,” she said through tears. It was the most emotional moment of the trial thus far and widely seen as a misstep by the defense. “The lesson here,” said Rosenberg about the defense’s line of questioning, “unless you really have something to add by opening your mouth and talking in court, sit down and be quiet.” Frazier’s nine-year-old cousin took the stand next; she capped an emotional first half of the afternoon before recess. She was seen in surveillance video with the word “love” on her shirt, but what she witnessed at her tender age was anything but.  She gave a brief testimony describing what she saw that day and how it made her “sad and kinda mad” because she felt the cops were stopping Floyd’s breathing and hurting him. She also recalled how a paramedic had to ask Chauvin to release his knee from Floyd’s neck.  The defense did not cross-examine her. Two other underage witnesses took the stand, including Kaylynn Ashley Gilbert, 19, who was on her way to Cup Foods to buy a phone charger. She ended up joining the bystanders and taking phone footage of Floyd’s death. She teared up on the witness stand and said she felt like she “failed” Floyd because the police preventing her from helping him. The day closed with moving and at times pointed testimony from Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter and certified EMT worker who was out walking when the commotion on the corner of 38th St. & Chicago Avenue caught her attention. She said she heard someone say, “They’re killing him” and walked over to see what was going on.  She was immediately alarmed by what she saw. “I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out,” she recalled. Hansen wanted to render medical aid to Floyd. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities,” Hansen said, “and this human was denied that right.” She, like two other witnesses, also called 911 to report what she saw.  Hansen and Nelson had a few heated exchanges when Nelson tried to paint the bystanders as an angry mob. Hansen said she was more desperate than angry. “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting,” she said. Judge Peter Cahill struck her comment from the record.