Crime (10)

Unless lawsuits against it are successful, the Trump Administration is planning to carry out immigration raids of homes and workplaces across the country starting on Sunday (July 14), reports The New York Times. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target at least 2,000 people who have been ordered deported but remain in the country. The raids may also capture people in their proximity such as children. 

Democracy Now reports that ICE raids will take place in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Raids were set to take place in New Orleans but the city announced that ICE will postpone the roundups due to Tropical Storm Barry. There are lots of resources online for how to cope with raids. Here are a few of the best:

Emergency Planning

Colorlines sums up what you should do in advance of raids. » We Have Rights campaign offers a preparedness tip sheet that you can download and fill out along with helpful tips for how to store it. The sheet prompts you to list out essential information including your emergency contacts, your consulate and your child’s medication. » Immigrant Legal Resource Center has tips in English and Spanish to help prepare children for possible family separation. » National Immigration Project has a comprehensive illustrated guide to handling a number of situations. 

Know Your Rights

​​​​We Have Rights has animated videos voiced by Jesse Williams that run you through what to do if ICE comes to your home, stops you in the street or comes to your job. Languages include Spanish, Arabic and Haitian Kreyol. » The ACLU presents a range of scenarios, including being stopped in the street.  » Toward the bottom of the page, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has a list of rapid response hotlines in select cities and states. »The Immigrant Defense Project, a clearinghouse of information generated by organizations around the country, has six infrographics that show you how to deal with ICE at your door, in English and Spanish. They include a list of lies that ICEagents routinely tell people. Top ruse: ICE agents pretend to be local police. » Also from the Immigrant Defense Project are know-your-rights posters and booklets in 16 languages. ​​​​​​

Finding Legal Help

Informed Immigrant has a database of service organizations searchable by zip code and coded according to what they do, from providing legal help to connecting you to mental healthcare. » The National Immigration Law Project has a searchable network of attorneys in many states. » The ACLU compiled a list of large national organizations that provide legal help to immigrants. 



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Over the weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials embarked on a relatively small operation to arrest immigrants of undocumented status, Reuters reports. President Donald Trump first announced the raid in June via Twitter, where he promised widespread, mass deportations of “millions” of immigrants across the United States.

Immigrants and advocates were bracing for the worst, with many expecting thousands of arrests to take place on Sunday (July 14). However, according to Reuters, “there were only reports of low-profile operations in a few cities.”

Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mary Bauer told the news agency that large southern cities like Atlanta actually saw no ICE arrests over the weekend. “Immigrants and immigrant communities all over the country are in hiding and people are living in these terrified, terrorized ways, because that is the point of this whole action, whether enforcement actions take place or not,” said Bauer.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said there were no ICEarrests in his city. “This is a political act by this president, he’s politicized a United States government agency to help him win re-election,” he told Reuters. 

And though no immigrants of undocumented status were arrested in Miami, a representative of the Florida Immigrant Coalition posted on Facebook that some fearful immigrants were sheltering at home. “They’ve been stocking up on groceries and making plans to stay in their homes with the lights off and the blinds down,” the group posted. “Some are staying home from work.”

The news outlet pointed out that ICE arrests thousands of immigrants in a typical week, per government records. Most of those raids, however, are not posted on Twitter by the president of the United States. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for ICE declined to give Reuters a comment on the agency’s operations, citing the safety of the agency’s personnel.



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Indicted by New York and northern Illinois federal courts, the singer was taken into custody while walking his dog in Chicago.


The legal hits keep coming for R. Kelly. The singer, who has been under a legal microscope since last year’s “Surviving R. Kelly” miniseries debuted, was arrested by Homeland Security officers on federal sex crime charges yesterday (July 11) while walking his dog in Chicago.  

The 52-year-old faces two separate indictments from federal courts in New York and Illinois. Unsealed this morning, the five-count indictment out of the Eastern District of New York accuses him of racketeering, coercion, transportation of minors and even kidnapping. The 13 northern Illinois federal charges include child sex crimes such as producing child pornography and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

The Grammy Award-winner apparently was waiting for the arrest, as his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, told the Associated Press that charges “appears to largely be the same” as those filed in Illinois state court earlier this year. In February, Kelly was arrested in Chicago on 10 counts of sex crimes. Cook County prosecutors added 11 more charges in May, including aggravated criminal sexual assault and abuse against a victim who was at least age 13 and under 17 at the time.

Greenberg confirmed Kelly’s bail hearing will take place next week and that he would stay under arrest until then, the New York Timesreported today.



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Last weekend, I was invited to a brunch hosted by Ebele Okobi, who is Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, and was my de facto tour guide and event planner during my week abroad. There were nine of us there—an African diasporic reunion of black people scattered throughout the globe but settled in London. Among the many conversations we had was a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the variances within the “brands” of racism, which then segued into the ways each country with an African slave-owning history currently reckons with its past. (Brazil pretends it didn’t exist at all, America acknowledges its existence but denies the existence of any sort of foundational residue from it, etc.)


And, well, I’m embarrassed to admit that it was here that I learned, for the first time, of the Congolese genocide, where up to 10 million people were killed during Leopold II’s 23-year-long rule of the Congo Free State, and countless others were systematically raped, tortured, dismembered and displaced.


Perhaps I was taught this in some history class decades ago and just forgot. Either way, that was the most American I felt in my time there.

This sort of cruelty that people with power exhibited towards vulnerable people—a process equal parts systematic, structural, intentional and gleeful—existed wherever colonization did, and still does today. It is not a uniquelyAmerican trait. But it is an American trait, more essential to our construction and our collective zeitgeist than Babe Ruth. There have been stretches in American history, of course, when the central driving force behind legislation and policy and law have been more empathetic and less antagonistic. But in the span of our history, these moments are outliers. Perhaps even anomalies. If America was honest about who and what it is, we’d sell the snapshots and postcards of the men and women smiling during lynchings at the Cheesecake Factory.

I am reminded of this history this week, as the state of Alabama passed a set of abortion-related measures and restrictions that would seem to be pointless (“Why would they do this?” an otherwise sane person might ask) if you hadn’t yet realized that the punishment is the point. This isn’t about preserving “life.” They—the governor who signed this bill, the legislators who created it, the people who voted for them, and the governors, legislators and constituents in each state where similar laws are being drafted up—just want to enact pain. They want to punish women. For possessing sexual agency. For wanting bodily autonomy. For enjoying sex. For not having babies. For having babies. For not possessing what they believe to be the birthright privileges of whiteness and maleness. It’s petty. It’s punitive. It’s vindictive. They want women—particularly women who are black or brown and/or poor—to suffer.

The silver lining here is that this realization can and should be freeing—as any compulsion to compromise, to “reach across the aisle,” to build a bridge, to extend an olive branch, or to find common ground should be set ablaze and stuffed into a cashew-shaped canoe.

You can’t sway a sadist when your pain is their greatest pleasure. You just build more canoes.



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A new court order could potentially affect thousands of migrant families separated at the southern border before the government’s “zero tolerance“ policy was announced in 2018. A federal judge responded Friday (March 8) to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLUmotion to order the government to accurately account for allmigrant family separations, including those that took place beginning as far back as July 2017, NPR reports.

Back in June 2018, Judge Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ordered the Trump administration to terminate its family separation policy and demanded that 2,300 children be immediately returned to their families. On Friday, Sabraw granted the ACLU’s request to expand the class action lawsuit to include the thousands of additional separated families that were revealed earlier this year. As Colorlines previously reported:

The United States Department of Health and Human Serivces’ (HHSOffice of Inspector General (OIG) released a watchdog report on Thursday (January 17) indicating that thousands more children were separated from their parents at the border than what was previously understood…authorities are reportedly not sure what happened to many of the children.

The OIG report prompted the ACLU to “include the parents of those children in the same group as those affected by zero tolerance, whose reunification [Judge Sabraw] ordered last summer,” according to NBC News

Sabraw agreed with the ACLU in his most recent ruling and officially “defined the additional class members as all migrant families separated between July 1, 2017, and June 25, 2018,” NPR reports. “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders,” the judge wrote in his 14-page order. “That [the Trump administration] may have to change course and undertake additional effort to address these issues does not render modification of the class definition unfair; it only serves to underscore the unquestionable importance of the effort and why it is necessary (and worthwhile).”

NPR obtained a statement from ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt regarding Sabraw’s ruling: “The court made clear that potentially thousands of children’s lives are at stake, and that the Trump administration cannot simply ignore the devastation it has caused,” he said. 

As Colorlines previously reported:

Scott Stewart, a lawyer from the Department of Justice, argued it would be a huge challenge for the government to track the families separated as far back as July 2017,” insisting it would, “dramatically change the complexity of this case from the government’s perspective.”

But as Sabraw insisted in his court order: “Although the process for identifying newly proposed class members may be burdensome,” he said, “it clearly can be done.”



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In response to the White House instituting what has been called a “gag rule,” Maryland hopes to be the first state to opt out of the federal Title Xprogram to protect its abortion providers from restrictive measures and funding cuts.

In February, the Trump administration announced that health care organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion referrals will no longer receive federal family planning money under Title X. On Saturday (March 16), the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that aims to end the state’s inclusion in the program. It now faces a vote with the state Senate. If passed, reports ThinkProgress, the law will require Maryland’s governor to use state money to fund the family planning program.

Established in 1970, Title X provides $286 million in funding for programs that provide services like birth control and mammograms, and screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer. Under the new federal regulation, providers will be able to discuss abortion with patients, but they cannot specify where one can be obtained. Clinics will no longer be obligated to counsel women on all available options if they are pregnant—meaning they can omit abortion from conversations. Previously, a clinic could not receive federal funding unless all options were discussed. In addition, providers who offer abortions must perform the procedure in a separate facility from other services.

Earlier this month, 22 states, including Maryland, filed lawsuits to block the rule from being implemented. Maryland is, however, the first state to use legislative action to push back against the new rule. 

Reports Think Progress:

The Maryland Department of Health receives between $3 million and $4 million dollars annually from the federal government under the Title X program, [Planned Parenthood of Maryland lobbyist Robyn] Elliott said. The state doles out these federal dollars to various providers, including eight Planned Parenthood clinics. Should the administration’s rule barring abortion providers from participating in Title X take effect, the state would no longer be able to dispense federal dollars to these clinics.

Maryland’s population is nearly one half people of color, with Black residents making up 30.8 percent of the state and Latinx accounting for 10.1 percent. And based on national numbers, women of color are disproportionally more likely to receive care that is funded via Title X.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Shane Pendergrass (D), told ThinkProgress, “We want to make sure Marylanders who get family planning services under Title X have access to the very same methods as people with private insurance. It’s that plain and simple…. Because of the federal rules, they will no longer have that access under Title X. So it’s time to walk away from the federal Title X dollars.”



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Last-Known Slave Ship Discovered

Nearly 160 years after the Clotilda brought the last kidnapped Africans to the shores of the United States, researchers have located the ship’s remains.



In the years since the Clotilda arrived on Alabama’s shores in 1860, with 109 stolen West Africans below deck, researchers have long believed the ship was the last one of its kind to make the voyage. But where was it? Yesterday (May 22), the Smithsonian Magazinereported that the ship has been located along the Mobile River, near Twelvemile Island.

The search for the ship started in 2017, following talks between the descendants of Africatown’s founders and Smithsonian curator and National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) co-director Paul Gardullo. Founded in 1860 during Jim Crow and Reconstruction, Africatown was built by a group of West Africans who were brought illegally to Mobile via the Clotilda; the import of people for the purpose of enslavement was outlawed in 1807.

Rumors that the ship was still in Alabama ramped up in 2018, when a reporter with Alabama’s Advance Local thought he’d found the remains; but that wreck was deemed too large. The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC), National Geographic Society and SWP conducted a week-long survey to determine the Clotilda’s whereabouts with little luck. That same year, Gardullo jumped in to include members from Africatown in the process.

“This was a search not only for a ship. This was a search to find our history and this was a search for identity and this was a search for justice,” Gardullo told the Smithsonian. “This is a way of restoring truth to a story that is too often papered over. Africatown is a community that is economically blighted and there are reasons for that. Justice can involve recognition. Justice can involve things like hard, truthful talk about repair and reconciliation.”

And the timing couldn’t be better. This past February 2019, more than 200 descendants of Africatown’s founders gathered in Alabama for the first time, National Geographic reported. Last year, Zora Neale Hurston posthumously published “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’,” which tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, one of the enslaved people on that final voyage.

The Clotilda was authenticated by a group of researchers, led by the AHC and the maritime archeology group SEARCH Inc., which specializes in diving for historic shipwrecks.

For residents of the small Mobile community, this is great news. “So many people along the way didn’t think that happened because we didn’t have proof. By this ship being found we have the proof that we need to say this is the ship that they were on and their spirits are in this ship,” Lorna Gail Woods, the descendant of an Africatown founder told Smithsonian Magazine. “No matter what you take away from us now, this is proof for the people who lived and died and didn’t know it would ever be found.”



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Sadaria Davis

On April 25, Sadaria Davis, 15, was last seen leaving her West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. On May 11, Davis’ body was found several blocks away, according to the Chicago Sun Times. She is one of four girls and women who have gone missing in Chicago since mid-March, but she is the only one whose body has been found.

Now, Davis’ family has spoken out for the first time. They held a vigil where her daughter was found and asked the public for help,ABC 7 reported.

“The last time I saw my daughter she was sitting on the foot of my bed talking to me,” her mother, Nicole Sargeant, said. “I cant’ sleep. I can’t eat. Every time I close my eyes, all I see is my baby because I know she didn’t deserve what you did to her.”

Davis’ cousin Luwana Johnson appealed to the public for help.

“Anybody who has any type of information please come forward and share that information,” Johnson said. “We want to put Sadaria to rest. We want to know what happened.”

On social media, there were reports that Davis’ fingers were cut off and some of her organs were removed. However, the Chicago Police Department told NewsOne it “cannot confirm those details and the cause of death is unknown.”

As of Sunday, “the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office has still not been able to determine how she died.”


There are fears of a serial kidnapper in this area of Chicago. On March 16, Anna Stanislawczyk, 18, went missing and has not been seen since. On May 25, Shantieya Smith, 26, went missing and has not been seen since. On June 5, 15-year-old Victoria Garrett also vanished.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by these tragedies. Anyone with information about Davis’ death has been asked to call Chicago detectives at 312-744-8266.




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Journalism pioneer Alice Allison Dunnigan will be honored posthumously by the Newseum in Washington, D.C. According to the New York Times, the institution plans on installing a statue to honor Dunnigan, who was the first Black woman to receive press credentials to cover the White House.

Dunnigan—a journalist, civil rights activist, and author—took the helm of the Associated Negro Press Washington Bureau 71 years ago. She spent over a decade penning pieces for various publications and many of her pieces were featured in African-American newspapers that were distributed nationally. During WWII Dunnigan served as a typist for the government. She broke many barriers for Black women in journalism, becoming the first African-American woman to not only provide coverage on the White House but the State Department and the Supreme Court as well.

After her days as a journalist, she worked with presidential committees to create programs for youth and people of color. In 1974—nine years before her death—she released an autobiography about her life and experiences as a woman of color in the media industry titled A Black Woman’s Experience: From Schoolhouse to White House. Dunnigan—a National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame inductee—has received 50 awards for her contributions to journalism throughout her career.

The Newseum believes that it’s time for her unsung story to be brought to the forefront. “Alice was such a barrier breaker for women and people of color, we were happy to have the opportunity to embrace her here at the museum,” Carrie Christoffersen, curator and vice president of exhibits at the Newseum, told the news outlet.

The 6-foot bronze statue—which is being created by Lexington, Kentucky-based artist Amanda Matthews—will be on display at the museum from September 21 through December 16 and then it will be moved to the West Kentucky African-American Heritage Center in the town where Dunnigan was born and raised.



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New York has become the first state to create a commission that could stop racially biased prosecutions, but the timing of it also raised questions about whether it was just politics as usual.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill Monday to create the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, a board of officials which would investigate alleged misconduct by the Empire State’s 62 county district attorney’s offices, the Albany Times Union reported.

“Our criminal justice system must fairly convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. When any prosecutor consciously disregards that fundamental duty, communities suffer and lose faith in the system, and they must have a forum to be heard and seek justice,” Cuomo stated.

New York has a long history of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct, with 267 exonerations since 1987 alone, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. African-American inmates accounted for 52 percent of those who were exonerated, and more than 60 percent of the cases involved “official misconduct.”

What motivated the Democratic governor to champion the bill, ignoring criticism from state prosecutors and threats of legal action? Could it have been the “Cynthia Effect?” That could explain why Cuomo, who was first elected in 2011, finally addressed this issue.


Cynthia Nixon is by all measures a long shot to unseat Cuomo, but the actress-turned-politician has inspired progressives who the governor needs to ensure that he’s reelected in November. To shore up his base ahead of the primary next month, Cuomo has made several policy shifts to the left. They include his support of legalizing recreational marijuana, which he once dubbed a “gateway drug,” according to the Atlantic.

Cuomo’s vow to investigate prosecutors and law enforcement agencies is a policy that’s needed nationwide, as scores of innocent Black people across the nation languish behind bars.

Nationally, African Americans are only 13 percent of the population but constitute 47 percent of innocent defendants who are wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated, according to a 2017 National Registry of Exonerations study.

In New York, “Brooklyn is ground central,” the organization said. Prosecutors have exonerated 24 people in the borough since 2014 based on the work of a Conviction Review Unit started by former District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.



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