Newswire: Congolese immigrant family stricken by fatal shooting in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Protest in Michigan for Patrick Lyoya

Apr. 18, 2022 (GIN) – When Patrick Lyoya, a Congolese immigrant, died at the hands of a police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his life was cut down by violence much like the home-grown executions Congolese have been facing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for years.
Close to a thousand summary executions take place in the DRC each year.  
Women and children make up a large part of the victims, with a third of the killings carried out by uniformed security forces, the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) said in an annual report on human rights violations in the DRC.
In addition to the victimization by security forces, Congolese civilians have been targets of killings by a coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers looking to root out the remaining perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
Over a five year period, 50,000 Congolese were resettled in the United States with Grand Rapids – “the No. 1 place” for such immigrants.
Lynn Lawry from Harvard Medical School has studied mental health issues there. A 2010 study she conducted in the Congo found that half of all adults exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many of them came to the U.S. without any English language skills and with trauma, depression and other scars of war. They were in need of mental health services — services that local providers feared would not be there.
In 2014, the Lyoya family arrived in the U.S.  They had escaped the regime of Joseph Kabila, son of Laurent-Desire Kabila, a brutal autocrat who became fabulously wealthy after 13 years in power. He managed to accumulate 2 billion dollars during his reign but was assassinated in 2001 by an 18 year old boy, possibly a child soldier.
Joseph Kabila was the number two man in a weak and poorly-trained army when he came to power. The DRC – sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country five times the size of France – was trying to put down a rebellion that involved 25 armed groups and armies from at least eight African countries.
The bloody conflict was billed as “Africa’s World War” started in 1998 and formally ended in 2003. It left more than two million dead and millions of others displaced.
Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick’s mother, on learning of her son’s death at the hands of a yet-unnamed officer in Grand Rapids, said during a press conference this week that she was “surprised and astonished” her son was killed in the U.S.
Patrick, 26, was her “beloved” first-born son, she said amid tears, and the family believed they had come to a safe place in America.
Meanwhile, in a press conference, Dorcas Lyoya appeared with her family and national civil rights attorney Ben Crump to call for charges to be filed against the officer responsible for the fatal shooting. w/pix of protest for Patrick Lyoya


Newswire: National civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard uncovering widespread racism in banking

Atty: Ben Crump addresses Press Conference

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law and Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales announced today that they are reviewing a host of cases of racial profiling and discrimination in banking, suggesting a widespread pattern by multiple financial institutions.

“We’re uncovering unjustifiable, blatant discrimination against Black Americans by a number of major financial institutions,” said attorney Ben Crump. “If this year has revealed anything, it’s that Black Americans are too often treated like second class citizens in America. We won’t stand for that any longer. We will hold these institutions accountable for their racist actions and get justice for employees or customers who have been wrongly terminated, discriminated against, or profiled.”

Crump and Hilliard are reviewing bank discrimination cases in venues across the country. Together, they also represent hundreds of plaintiffs who were victimized by pharmaceutical giant Gilead’s actions to withhold a safer HIV drug so it could maximize profits from a drug with potential to damage patients’ bones and kidneys.

“In reviewing these cases against several financial institutions, we have uncovered a terrible pattern of racism against people of color,” said Hilliard. “I’m honored to work alongside Ben Crump to correct these injustices and hold these institutions accountable.”
Among the behaviors uncovered were these:

• Client and a few colleagues went to a well-known bank branch in California to cash checks they had received from their employer that day. The checks were drawn from an account at that bank. The bank employees refused to cash the checks, insisting that they were fraudulent. Client asked the teller to verify the check, and she was simply told “no.”

Without verifying the checks, the bank employees called the police who soon arrived at the bank and detained the client, her daughter, and her other colleagues. After a long period of time, the checks were verified and cashed. The client was in fear for her safety as she watched the police handcuff her daughter and other colleagues all because she was attempting to make a simple bank transaction.

• In June of 2020, a client went to a well-known bank branch in Georgia to deposit a check. Client was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. The Caucasian teller at the bank told our client “All lives matter” and refused to deposit his check. The client didn’t create a scene, he just calmly left the bank after being discriminated against and denied services.

• A client who owns 18 popular fast-food franchises with great financial scores and sales was denied a $12 million business loan by a well-known bank even though he knows white franchise owners who have stores with worse financials who have been granted loans of this type.
Representatives from the fast-food corporation reached out to the bank to give their approval and recommendation that he be approved for the loan. The bank denied the loan for pretextual reasons, adding to the difficulty of being a black business owner.

• A client who received a notice from the bank saying they owe the balance of their mortgage in 90 days, or the bank will foreclose on their house — without any just cause and with several more years remaining on the loan.

Newswire: No charges for Kenosha, Wisconsin cop who shot Jacob Blake in the back or other police officers involved Ben Crump called Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s decision a travesty of justice.

Demonstrators for justice for Jacob Blake

By: Bruce C.T. Wright, Newsone
A Wisconsin district attorney on Tuesday declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in the police shooting of a Black man in his back at close range, including the cop who fired his gun.
Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by the Kenosha police in August. Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey is the one who fired off the shots that left the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed from the waist down.
The incident was captured in a graphic video causing major protests.
According to one local reporter, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley based his decision against bringing any charges on what he said was a lack of proof that Sheskey was not truly defending himself, an incredulous proposition considering Blake had his back turned to the officer at the time of the shooting.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Blake and his family, described Graveley’s decision as a travesty of justice in a statement emailed to NewsOne.
“We are immensely disappointed in Kenosha District Attorney Michael Gravely’s decision not to charge the officers involved in this horrific shooting. We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice,” Crump said in part.
“Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system. This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children,” he added.
Crump urged people to keep protesting peacefully for justice and vowed to “press forward with a civil lawsuit and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels.”
Gravely reportedly shared his decision with Blake “minutes before” his press conference Tuesday.
Reactions to the decision were absent of any real surprise despite ongoing nationwide protests against police violence and racism, which has proven to be a disproportionately deadly combination when it comes to Black suspects, in particular.
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, said he was not “shocked,” called Gravely “negligent” and suggested the DA was not in touch with reality when he made his decision.
Gravely tried to justify his decision by insisting that Blake said he was armed with a knife at the time of the shooting. Of course, Blake never wielded the knife or tried to use it against the police, but that apparently is beside the point to Gravely.
Allegedly, the police e feared Blake was going to drive away with his children in the car. Gravely reminded reporters during the press conference that Blake has a history of domestic violence complaints.
The decision came amid a string of deadly police shootings across the country, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aub2. rey and a young Black man in Columbus, Ohio, shot in the back because cops mistook the sandwiches he was holding for a weapon.