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Black Harvard students holding a graduation of their own
COLLIN BINKLEY May-17-2017 254 0


Black students at Harvard University are organizing a graduation ceremony of their own this year to recognize the achievements of black students and faculty members some say have been overlooked.

More than 700 students and guests are registered to attend Harvard's first Black Commencement, which will take place two days before the school's traditional graduation events. It isn't meant to replace the existing ceremony, student organizers say, but rather to add something that was missing.

"We really wanted an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless at Harvard," said Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, a campus group that is planning the ceremony. "So many students identify with the African diaspora but don't necessarily feel welcome as part of the larger community, and they don't feel like their stories are being shared."

Harvard joins a growing number of universities that have added graduation events for students of different ethnicities. Some have offered black commencement ceremonies for years, including Stanford University, Marshall University and the University of Washington. Some have added them more recently, and are also adding events for a variety of cultural groups.

The May 23 event at Harvard will feature four student speakers discussing the hurdles they faced on the way to graduation. Every student will receive a stole made of traditional African kente cloth, meant to symbolize their shared heritage and to be worn with their cap and gown at the university's graduation.

Students have raised $35,000 for the event, mostly from schools within the university. Organizers say some university deans and professors have agreed to attend. A Harvard spokesman declined to comment.

"This event is truly open for everyone," said Huggins, who is graduating with a master's in public policy this month. "We really want this to be an open affair where people can learn about some experiences that often go unnoticed."

Students at Harvard began an annual Latino graduation ceremony in 2015, and black undergraduates have held similar events. Students say the new event is the first that's open to black students across the university.

The University of Delaware held its first ceremony for LGBT students this year, joining dozens of other colleges that have added such "lavender graduation" events in recent years.

Along with its traditional commencement, Virginia Commonwealth University last year added new ceremonies for black students, Latinos and military veterans.

"They're small affairs, but they're meaningful," said Michael Porter, a spokesman for the university. "It's really a social event, and one more time to get together as you wind down the college career."

Cultural graduation events are typically started by students, experts say, and often by those who feel marginalized on their campuses. They can be particularly important for black students, many of whom are the first in their families to graduate from college, said M. Evelyn Fields, president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education.

"When you're a little speck of pepper in a sea of salt, you can get lost," said Fields, who is also a professor of early childhood education at South Carolina State University. "They don't want to just be lost in the sea. They want the recognition that they believe they deserve, for the work that they've done."

Black students at Harvard represent 5 percent of the overall student body, compared with whites, who make up 43 percent, according to federal education data. Campus tensions at the Ivy League school have been heightened over the past two years after a series of racially charged episodes.

Harvard police called it a hate crime when framed portraits of several black law professors were defaced in 2015. No suspect was found. Months later, the law school agreed to abandon its official coat of arms after student activists protested the symbol's ties to an 18th-centry slave owner.

Organizers of the Black Commencement say it's partly meant to highlight racial disparities on campus. But ultimately it's a celebration of achievement, said Jillian Simons, a law student and president-elect of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance.

"We want to acknowledge how far we've come," Simons said. "We want to say that there is a time to be jubilant and to acknowledge something that is positive instead of something that is causing heartache."

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Andrew J. Goudsward Jul-21-2017 65 0
A week after the murder of 11-year-old AbbieGail "Abbie" Smith in New Jersey, the girl's grief-stricken father and sister in Jamaica made an impassioned plea to President Trump to allow them into the United States to attend the girl's funeral Monday.

In an exclusive video to APP.com, father Kenroy Smith tearfully asked Trump to intervene after AbbieGail's older sister Kenish had her visa application denied. The visa for Kenroy, who had previously been deported from the U.S. on a drug charge 16 years ago, remained in limbo.

The Smiths said they were desperate to come to Keansburg to pay their final respects to AbbieGail and to see where she had been fatally stabbed last week. They feared they would miss their only chance to say goodbye.

"My dear little AbbieGail was taken away and I need to pay my last respects to her," Kenroy Smith said breaking down in tears. "That's all I'm asking."

Kenish, the sister, said her temporary visa application was rejected Wednesday. She said she wasn't given a reason, but officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, questioned her about her occupation as a cosmetologist and her ties to her home country before making the decision.
Kenish said she showed officials AbbieGail's death certificate and a letter from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, but she was still turned down for a visa.

A State Department official said visa applications are judged on a case-by-case basis and the department doesn't comment on individual cases.

"AbbieGail Smith needs her sister there at the moment," she said. "Who's going to stand up for us? We have no control. We can't do it on our own."

Kenroy Smith said he would find out Friday whether he would be granted entry to the United States.
"She's my daughter. She's my everything," he said. "Please let me see my daughter for the last day before she goes under."

AbbieGale's body was found July 13 wrapped in a blanket on the roof of her apartment building hours after she was reported missing, authorities said. She was killed by a stab wound to the neck.
Smith's upstairs neighbor Andreas Erazo has been charged with her murder. He is in the Monmouth County Jail awaiting a bail hearing.

AbbieGail will be buried Monday following a Mass at St. Ann's Church in Keansburg.

Kenroy Smith said he was unsure whether he would be allowed into the country. He was deported from the United States to Jamaica in 2001 following a marijuana arrest.
"I'm not worried. I'm just praising God," he said.

Latisha Smith, one of AbbieGail's sisters who lives in Maryland, said she has been up early every day this week writing emails to elected officials and going to local immigration offices in a frantic last-ditch effort to help her father and sister get visas.

"Every minute it's like I'm hitting a roadblock, but I'm just not going to stop," she said. "I'm not stopping until they're here."

Latisha Smith said AbbieGail frequently visited her father in Jamaica and that Kenroy had developed a special bond with his youngest daughter.

"We're a family. We all need to be together for AbbieGail," she said. "The government — I just hope they hear my cry."
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Thomas Novelly Jul-21-2017 75 0
A former Miss Kentucky USA from Louisville is accused of smuggling drugs into an Ohio prison for an inmate.

Kia Hampton, 28, was arrested on May 26 in Allen County, Ohio, after police say she was caught smuggling marijuana into the Allen Correctional Institution for Jeremy Kelly, an inmate at the facility, according to an affidavit detailing the arrest.

Hampton was crowned Miss Kentucky USA in November 2010 when she was 21 years old. She was the first African American chosen to represent Kentucky in the Miss USA pageant.

While listening to recorded phone calls, officers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol said they obtained enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a cavity search.

As officers were interrogating her, Hampton reached into her pant leg and pushed a white balloon on to the floor, the affidavit said.

Officers later determined that she was carrying 2.82 grams of marijuana into the jail, Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Kenneth Sturgill said.

She was indicted on July 13 by an Allen County grand jury and faces one count of "illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified governmental facility," a third-degree felony that carries a three-year prison sentence.

Hampton is scheduled to be arraigned July 26 in Allen County.
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Naheed Rajwani Jul-19-2017 44 0
Dallas will have its first female police chief by the end of the summer.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax has chosen Detroit Deputy Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall from a pool of seven finalists, three of them internal candidates.

"It was a difficult choice," Broadnax said at City Hall Wednesday, "but I believe Renee Hall will be a dynamic chief."

Dallas' chief position has been vacant since October, when Chief David Brown retired from the department. Assistant Chief of Police David Pughes ran the department as interim chief while officials searched for a permanent replacement.

Pughes didn’t apply for the job, but three insiders did: Deputy Chiefs Malik Aziz and Rick Watson and Assistant Chief Gary Tittle.

Dallas city managers have chosen to hire outsiders for the top cop job multiple times in the last few decades. Three consecutive chiefs — Mack Vines, Bill Rathburn and Ben Click — all came to the city after careers in departments outside the state.

Aziz, who has been a finalist in several other cities, was a favorite among officers to become the next chief. He had no comment Wednesday about the chief selection.

The city manager’s office initially selected eight people as finalists for the job, but Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye withdrew his application.

The city manager touted Hall's passion for public service and said she has the right tools to solve the department's key challenges.

"Chief Hall is a proven leader with a stellar background," Broadnax said. "These are qualities I believe are critical as we tackle crime to make our city safer while addressing organizational and policy issues within the department."

City officials say Hall will formally take over Sept. 5.

Three women — Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson — now have some of the most powerful law enforcement jobs in the Dallas area.

Hall, who has been on the force in Detroit since 1999, has dealt with several issues paralleling crises in Dallas. These include the increasing homeless population and the loose-dogs issue that has affected low-income neighborhoods.

She now oversees officers on the east side of the city.
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Jul-19-2017 69 0
The boyfriend of a woman who was shot and left for dead outside of a Midlands hospital has now been charged with her murder, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Albertus Lewis is now charged with murder and obstruction of justice.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department said the victim, identified as Mayra Sanchez, 20, was dropped off about 4:30 a.m. July 5 at Palmetto Health Richland.

Sanchez later died at the hospital.

Deputies said Lewis placed Sanchez inside the wheelchair and left.
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Bernie Woodall Jul-19-2017 68 0
A 25-year-old South Carolina woman was in jail on Tuesday on a murder charge for the death of her 13-month-old daughter, who police said she left in a car last month while she went to a hair salon in suburban Atlanta.

The mother, DiJanelle Fowler, kept the car running with the air conditioning on, but the car's battery died while she was inside the beauty shop in Tucker, Georgia, on June 15, said DeKalb County Police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell.

Police believe Skylar Fowler was dead by the time her mother returned to the car a few hours later, Campbell said.

"Instead of calling 911, she called roadside assistance to get her battery jumped," Campbell said in a phone interview.

Fowler concealed the baby from the person who helped restart her car, then went to a hospital and called 911, Campbell said.

The mother told police she herself had passed out from some sort of medical condition, Campbell said. But the child's condition indicated she had died sooner than the time Fowler suggested, the police spokeswoman said.

The high temperature in DeKalb County that day was 92 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Twenty-three U.S. children have died so far this year after being left in hot cars, up from 20 through mid-July in 2016, according to the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org, which tracks such deaths.

In all, 39 children died in hot cars in 2016. The highest annual number was recorded in 2010, when 49 children died, said Janette Fennell, founder and president of the KidsAndCars.org.

Children ages 3 and younger account for 87 percent of the hot-car deaths the group has tracked, she said.

Fowler left the Atlanta area after her daughter's death. She was arrested late on Monday after turning herself in to DeKalb County Police, who had been searching for her, Campbell said.

In addition to the second-degree murder charge, she also is charged with second-degree cruelty to children and concealing a death, jail records show. Court records did not show whether Fowler had hired a lawyer.
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The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed a woman who called 911 has been identified.
According to police sources, the officer has been identified as Mohamed Noor.

Noor joined the Minneapolis Police Department in March of 2015. He was celebrated as the first Somali officer for the 5th Precinct. He graduated from Augsburg College in 2011 with a degree in business administration.

In May of 2016, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges recognized Noor, calling his assignment a "wonderful sign of building trust and community policing at work."

Noor is currently on paid administrative leave, along with the other officer that was on scene.
According to police sources, Noor shot across his partner and out the window of the squad car, striking Damond. When Noor opened fire, his partner was "stunned," according to the source.

Noor has two open complaints against him from 2017 and one from 2016.
The BCA released a statement on Monday saying no weapons were found at the scene of the shooting. They say interviews with the officers have been requested but have not yet been completed.

The woman killed was identified by family, friends and clients as Justine Damond, a spiritual healer from Australia, who was also a bride-to-be. The BCA says the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has conducted its autopsy and will formally release her identity and cause of death, once all family notifications have been completed.

Family of Damond say she initially called 911 after hearing a noise in a back alley.
The son of Damond's fiance said in a Facebook live video Sunday that, "My mom is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know, and I demand answers."

In a news release, authorities said the officers were responding to a call of a possible assault, just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South, just before 11:30 p.m.

They say an officer fired his weapon and killed the woman but many questions remain.
No video of the incident has surfaced.

According to the news release, "The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists."

The BCA reiterated that it does not determine whether a law enforcement agency policy was violated -- that decision will be reviewed through the department's internal affairs process.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau released a statement Monday afternoon saying, "This is clearly a tragic death."

She said there are a lot of unanswered questions -- many of which she's pushing to get the answers to as quickly as possible.
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Fox 4 Jul-17-2017 131 0
Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted for murder for the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

A Dallas County grand jury returned the indictment for Oliver Monday on one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant, according to Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
  
"It is important to let our community know that justice is proceeding effectively and thoroughly at the Dallas County DA's Office," Johnson said. "This is the very first time we have issued an arrest warrant for a police officer before the case was presented to a grand jury. As we move forward, my office continues to be committed to seeking justice for Jordan and his family. You have my personal guarantee that we will prosecute this case vigorously."

Oliver, 31, was one of the responding officers on a call about a loud party on the night of April 29. Edwards was in a vehicle with three other teenagers leaving the party. Police said the car was driving away from the officers when Oliver fired a rifle into the vehicle and killed Edwards.
Oliver has already been indicted for two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant for a separate incident before the deadly shooting.
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Jul-17-2017 58 0
The Dallas Country Grand Jury is expected to determine whether former Balch Springs Police Officer will be indicted for the murder of 15 year old Jordan Edwards. A press conference is scheduled for 3pm today.

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