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Mass. school punishes twins for hair braid extensions. Their parents say it’s racial discrimination.
Katie Mettler May-15-2017 287 0


As white parents of five black children, Deanna and Aaron Cook have taught their family to grow thick skin. They’ve endured odd looks at the grocery store in Malden, Mass., and ignored strange comments from Walmart greeters.

But nothing, Aaron Cook told The Washington Post, quite prepared them for the month-long battle they’ve been fighting with the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School over their daughters’ hair.

On April 14, twins Deanna and Mya Cook, 15, told their parents they wanted to have their hair professionally braided. The girls had always braided it themselves or had it chemically straightened, but as teens they were learning more about black culture and wanted to try something new.
Soon after, they went to school with long, braided hair.

The next day, the girls were called to the office for a “uniform infraction.”

Hair extensions are prohibited in the public charter school’s student handbook, alongside nail polish, makeup and dyed hair because it is “distracting.” An administrator told Deanna and Mya that their new braids — which combine artificial hair with their own hair — violated that rule.

The girls were instructed to remove their braids and they refused. The policy, they argued, was discriminatory against African American students and unevenly enforced.

With each day since, punishments from the school have escalated, Aaron Cook said, so much so that he and his wife eventually sought guidance from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union. Deanna, a runner who qualified for the state finals, has been kicked off the school track team. Mya was removed from the softball team and told she couldn’t attend the prom.

Last week, the fourth in turmoil, ended with the girls on the local news and sharp statements of support from the state association of charter schools, the ADL and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

“Denying young black women their opportunity to express their cultural identity will not make the school safer, more orderly, or less ‘distracting,’” the committee said in a statement. “It will diminish your students, and diminish your ranks. Doing this to high school students at a time when they are learning about self-expression and self-advocacy is particularly troubling.”

In response, Interim School Director Alexander Dan sent a letter to all Mystic Valley parents defending the policy. The charter school, the letter said, “promotes equity” with dress code policies that reduce “visible gaps between those of different means.”

“The specific prohibition on hair extensions, which are expensive and could serve as a differentiating factor between students from dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds, is consistent with our desire to create such an educational environment, one that celebrates all that our students have in common and minimizes material differences and distractions,” Dan wrote. “Any suggestion that it is based on anything else is simply wrong.”

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Scott Fowler Nov-16-2017 30 0
On Nov. 16, 1999, the son of former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth was supposed to die.

Chancellor Lee reaches this landmark as a gentle young man. He has lived his entire life in Charlotte protected and emboldened by a loving grandmother, Saundra Adams, who has raised him from birth.

The party she has planned for her grandson is not a traditional 18th birthday party, but Chancellor Lee Adams is not your typical 18-year-old.

He smiles more, for one thing. He also has cerebral palsy and permanent brain damage owing to the traumatic night of his birth.

That night caused the eventual death of his mother, Cherica Adams - Saundra Adams' only biological child. Chancellor Lee seems untroubled by the dark circumstances that brought him into the world 10 weeks prematurely, however. He has known no other life other than the one that orbits around the beloved grandmother he calls "G-Mom."

For his party, Chancellor Lee plans to go to a pumpkin farm in the Charlotte area, accompanied by a couple of his friends from his therapeutic horse-riding class.

He will take a hayride. He will pet the animals in the petting zoo. He will eat the first piece of birthday cake, which will feature his favorite strawberry mousse filling as well as a picture of a horse.

"Chancellor will be in the starring role," Saundra Adams says, beaming. "And he deserves that. You only get to be 18 once."

We are sitting together in Charlotte's Freedom Park along with Chancellor Lee. It is early November. The leaves are turning from green to gold. Chancellor Lee used his walker - pausing to carefully navigate a 2-inch divot in the asphalt - to make it to the bench where he now sits.

Saundra and Chancellor Lee look happy. It has been a good year. This is in part because the extreme generosity of strangers and friends - shepherded by an NFL assistant coach in San Francisco who once was close to Carruth - that has allowed the Adamses to buy a brand new home in Charlotte.

Saundra Adams says she cannot believe that her grandson is 18. Having covered both Carruth's draft day as the Carolina Panthers' first-round pick in 1997 and his horrifying trial less than four years later, I have a hard time believing it, too. I congratulate Chancellor Lee for his upcoming birthday.

"Thank you," he says, smiling hugely.

"The time has flown by," Adams says. "It really feels like it was just a couple of years ago that we were bringing him home from the hospital."

"Yeah!" Chancellor Lee agrees.

"Yeah" is his favorite word to say in a conversation, closely followed by "thank you." Chancellor Lee generally talks in one- or two-word sentences. In most of those sentences, he either affirms what you just asked him or shows extreme politeness.

Is he looking forward to his birthday party?

"Yeah!"

And what day is his birthday?

"No-vem-ber 16th," Chancellor Lee says, pronouncing each syllable slowly.

His father will not be there for this party, just like he has not been there for any of Chancellor Lee's first 17 birthday parties.

Carruth remains in a North Carolina prison for his role in masterminding the conspiracy to murder Cherica Adams, his on-and-off girlfriend, in 1999. She was pregnant with Chancellor Lee at the time, and Carruth did not want to pay child support.

But it is technically possible that Carruth could attend his son's 19th birthday party next year.

The former Panther is scheduled to be released from prison on Oct. 22, 2018.

Would Chancellor Lee like to meet his father on the day he is released?

"Yeah!" he says.

"He knows about it," Saundra Adams adds. "We've talked about it a lot."

And, with a little more than 11 months to go before Carruth's expected release, that remains the Adams' plan. They want to meet Carruth at the prison gates when he finally becomes a free man.

___

It is early October 2017, and Saundra and Chancellor Lee Adams are inside a jail themselves. This is not the one where Rae Carruth is incarcerated, however. Carruth is imprisoned in Clinton, N.C., 170 miles east of Charlotte.

Carruth once made roughly $40,000 per game with the Panthers. For much of his prison sentence, he has worked as a barber, cutting the hair of other inmates for a dollar a day.

Saundra and Chancellor Lee have instead come to the Mecklenburg County Jail in uptown Charlotte on this day, at the invitation of the jail's correctional staff. They are the guest speakers in an "Anger Management" class.

The Adamses do have some history with this place. Carruth was held at the jail before his sentencing. He also had a brief, heavily supervised visit with his son inside this very jail when Chancellor Lee was a year old.

Saundra Adams was there that day, too. This was in 2000, before Carruth was convicted and sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison. Adams says that once Carruth realized the visit could not be photographed or filmed by the media that he wasn't much interested anymore in seeing his son, and ended the visit after about 10 minutes.

That was the last time the father and the son ever laid eyes on each other.

Now, Saundra and Chancellor Lee have been invited to speak to these inmates - some of whom were in elementary school when Charlotte's most infamous trial was being nationally televised every day. She has spoken at different prisons in both Carolinas about a half-dozen times now.

There are 25 men in front of Saundra and Chancellor Lee, all of them sitting in brown plastic chairs. Most are scheduled to be released in the next 3-6 months. They all wear orange jumpsuits much like the one Carruth wore when he was housed there.

Saundra Adams starts her talk by telling the men that she believes in hope and forgiveness. She says that she also believes a man should not be defined only by the worst act he has ever committed. She plans to get into the reasons she long ago forgave Carruth and her conspirators later.

She launches into her story, going back to the days in 1999 that changed her family forever.

"We normally go through life thinking, 'That would never happen to me, because I'm a good person,'" Adams begins. "And then all of a sudden, something horrific happens. With the case of my daughter, she was dating NFL player Rae Carruth. We thought it was a good match. But after being in the relationship for awhile, it got really tumultuous.


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Nov-07-2017 85 0
A mother of six was fatally shot during a robbery while working at an east Oak Cliff Dollar General Monday night, police say.

Officers responded to reports of a shooting in the 4800 block of Sunnyvale Street at about 7 p.m.

Investigators said security cameras captured an armed man demanding property from the store clerk.

The clerk handed the money to the man. He then shot her in the chest before leaving the store and running down a side street.

A woman working at an east Oak Cliff Dollar General was fatally wounded in a robbery and shooting Monday night, police say. Police said the store clerk, identified as 27-year-old Gabrielle Simmons, was rushed to Baylor Medical Center where she died shortly after.(Published 5 hours ago)

Police said the store clerk, identified as 27-year-old Gabrielle Simmons, was rushed to Baylor Medical Center where she died shortly after.

Simmons' six children are now staying with family members, according to relatives.

Simmons and her children moved to Dallas last year from Mississippi.

The suspected shooter is described as a male, wearing ripped blue jeans, a dark-colored hoodie, a turquoise baseball cap and black tennis shoes with while soles. He was carrying a blue gym bag.

If you have any information that could lead to an arrest, contact Dallas police at 214-671-3647.

CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the gunman. Contact them at 214-373-TIPS (8477).
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Kevin Rector Nov-07-2017 96 0
Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was found not guilty on all administrative charges in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The verdict was handed down around 1 p.m. Tuesday, after the city announced the panel presiding over the case would reconvene at the University of Baltimore.

Three law enforcement officials began deliberating over Goodson’s professional future Monday following the conclusion of his administrative trial on 21 charges of violating department policies during the 2015 arrest of Gray.

Prince George’s County Police Maj. Rosa Guixens, the chair of the panel deliberating the case, read out “not guilty” 21 times — one for each of the corresponding charges.

Goodson, 48, looked stoic until the 21st “not guilty” reading. A single conviction could have ended his career. Upon the 21st “not guilty,” Goodson broke into a smile.

The hearing ended abruptly after the verdict.

Goodson hugged his attorneys. Sean Malone, one of those representing Goodson, said his client was “wrongfully charged,” and is happy he’ll be able to continue his career with BPD.

Goodson was acquitted last year of second-degree depraved-heart murder and other criminal charges related to Gray’s death. The panel’s decision to clear Goodson of the charges is final.

Many of the charges related to Goodson’s failure to ensure Gray’s safety in the back of his police van or seek medical attention for Gray after he’d asked for it. Gray, 25, who had been handcuffed and placed in leg shackles but not restrained in a seat belt, was found unconscious and suffering from severe spinal cord injuries in the back of the van, and died a week later.

Goodson also faced charges that he made false statements to detectives from Montgomery and Howard counties who conducted an outside investigation into Gray’s death on behalf of the city and the Police Department, and that he failed to properly document his actions on the day of Gray’s arrest.

Goodson is the first officer to face a trial board in the case.

Six officers were charged criminally in the Gray case; none was convicted. Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Edward Nero were all acquitted at bench trials, and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby then dropped all remaining charges against the other three officers.

Five of those officers were subsequently charged administratively in the case. Two — Nero and Officer Garrett Miller — have accepted “minor” discipline in the case, and are back at work with the department, according to a police union attorney. Under Maryland law, punishments officers receive are kept private.

Two others — Rice and Sgt. Alicia White — are fighting the charges against them.

Rice’s administrative trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 13. White’s is scheduled to begin Dec. 5.
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Angela Helm Nov-04-2017 84 0
Although a Tulsa, Okla., ex-cop will go down in infamy for killing an unarmed black man on video while he had his hands in the air, a judge has recently ruled that the shooting death can be removed from her employment record.

Sometimes, being black is like living inside a terrible movie where the world is so racist that…

In May, Betty Shelby was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter in the fatal September 2016 shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher; on Wednesday, a judge ruled that the death will be expunged from her record after Shelby petitioned the court in August.

NBC 4 Washington reports that District Judge William LaFortune ordered all documents involving Shelby’s case sealed. The case will be accessible only through a court order and can be destroyed after 10 years, according to state law.

This means that agencies will be unable to find the case during a background search, Shelby’s defense attorney, Shannon McMurray, told NBC.

“Like any other citizen who is acquitted, Betty Jo Shelby was entitled to have her record sealed and expunged,” McMurray said.

The lawyer added that it was important for Shelby “to have that smear on her name removed from public view.”

Shelby testified at her murder trial that she was scared for her life because Crutcher appeared to be on drugs, but video from a patrol-car dashboard and a police helicopter showed that Crutcher had his hands in the air when he was shot and killed.

Shelby got her job back after the acquittal but resigned in July and now works as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in nearby Rogers County.

Expunged or no, we all know who Betty Shelby is and what she did—as my colleague Kirsten West Savali noted, she wears the face of a killer.
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AP Nov-03-2017 99 0
A Pennsylvania woman who beat and tried to strangle her daughter for incorrectly reciting Bible verses has been sentenced to prison.

Forty-one-year-old Rhonda Shoffner was sentenced Wednesday to 2½ to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges including aggravated assault of her daughter, who was younger than 13.

Police say the girl was forced to kneel on the bathroom floor at Shoffner's Middletown home and repeat Bible verses. They say Shoffner slammed her head into the wall each time she made a mistake. They say Shoffner also told the child she was going to kill her and attempted to strangle her.

Police say the girl fought off Shoffner, who told her to leave and never return. The girl called her father, who drove her to a police station.
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Greg Price Nov-02-2017 91 0
Hillary Clinton’s campaign took over the Democratic National Committee's funding and day-to-day operations early in the primary season and may have used that power to undermine her rival Senator Bernie Sanders, according to the party's one-time interim chairwoman.

The DNC official, Donna Brazile, now a political analyst, wrote in Politico Magazine on Thursday that she discovered an August 2015 agreement between the national committee and Clinton’s campaign and fundraising arm that gave Clinton “control (of) the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised” in exchange for taking care of the massive debt leftover from President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign.

It wasn't illegal, Brazile said, "but it sure looked unethical."

"If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead," Brazile wrote. "This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity."

Brazile wrote that she had “promised” Sanders to find out if the DNC had intentionally “rigged” the primary system in order to prop up Clinton and assure she became the nominee. That assertion first popped up after the DNC’s emails, hacked by Russians, had been published online and showed former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others may have tipped the scales for the Democrat Clinton versus Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic Party nod.

“I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff,” Brazile wrote. "I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.”

Brazile, a former CNN contributor who was later dismissed after it was discovered she had forked over debate questions to Clinton’s campaign, claimed when she took over as party chairwoman, the DNC was $24 million in debt. Clinton’s campaign, according to Brazile, assumed that debt with its own fundraising.

“Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance,” according to Brazile.

Normally, candidates take over their respective party’s operations after securing the nomination, but Brazile wrote Clinton had done so almost 15 months before last year’s election.

The timeline of when all this allegedly occurred was not fully explained by Brazile, but she wrote that the discovery was made “weeks” before the election. She said she told Sanders what she found out and that he took the supposed information “stoically.”

Brazile took over as interim DNC chair, a spot now officially held by Tom Perez, back in July 2016 after Wasserman Schultz resigned.

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AP Oct-30-2017 102 0
Bobby Hines stepped forward, smiling as he embraced the sister of the man he was convicted of killing.

Locked up for 28 years, he'd long wanted to meet Valencia Warren-Gibbs, to talk with her about that night in 1989 when her older brother, James, was shot after Hines and two others confronted him in a feud over drugs.

At 15, Hines had been condemned to life in prison without parole. Now he was out, a 43-year-old man navigating life in a city he left behind as an eighth-grader. Slowly, he was checking off things he needed to do: He'd already found work, enjoyed a meal in an actual restaurant and learned how to take photos with his new cellphone.

And on this Sunday, 20 days into his freedom, he'd come to sit down with his victim's sister and take responsibility for his role in Warren's death.

"You know why?" he told her, tapping a forefinger on a table for emphasis. "I'm never going to forget what I did."
He would not forget but he could make amends, move on and do his best to make the most of his extraordinary second chance. After nearly three decades behind bars, he was learning what it meant to be Bobby Hines again - older, hopefully wiser, and a stranger to the world of 2017.

"We made it," Hines declared, almost inaudibly, as if he'd just crossed an imaginary finish line.
He walked out of prison at 9 a.m. promptly one September morning, arm-in-arm with his sister, Myra, who beamed, laughed and rested her head on her brother's shoulder as they approached an SUV waiting to whisk him away.

More than 10,000 days had passed behind bars, but to hear him tell it, Hines had refused to believe he'd die on the inside.
"God ain't going to let that happen," he'd say, ever confident that one day he would find his way to freedom.

His release came after the U.S. Supreme Court last year extended a ban on mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders to those already in prison, ushering in a wave of new sentences and the release of dozens of inmates in states from Michigan to Pennsylvania, Arkansas and beyond.

Other former teen offenders still are waiting for a chance at resentencing in states and counties that have been slow to address the court ruling, an earlier Associated Press investigation found. In Michigan, prosecutors are seeking new no-parole sentences for nearly two-thirds of 363 juvenile lifers. Those cases are on hold until the Michigan Supreme Court, which heard arguments this month, determines whether judges or juries should decide the fate of those inmates.

Hines, one of at least 99 Michigan lifers already resentenced, wasn't the gunman. But prosecutors branded him the ringleader in the shooting of James Warren, arguing he'd provoked two other teens, saying something like, "Pop him" or "Let him have it," when the trio confronted him.

When Hines left prison on Sept. 12, he faced the same hurdles as other released lifers: He had no money, no job history and no experience as an adult in society - a world he was told he'd never inhabit again. For some, walking out after 30, 40, even 50 years feels a bit like time travel.

On Day 1, Hines insisted that wasn't true for him.
"I'm not overwhelmed," he said repeatedly to his sister, lawyer and anyone else within earshot. "It's not as hard as I thought it would be. ... I did 28 years, but I don't even feel like I've been in an institution."

He was a small kid, just 5-foot-3, when he suddenly found himself trading a middle school ID for an inmate number. Prison was such a brutal environment, he said, he called it the Serengeti, after the African plains teeming with wildlife where survival of the fittest is the rule. In his first decade, he got in several fights. Then older inmates became surrogate fathers, teaching him how to behave and keep his cell clean.

"After awhile," he said, "you start to adapt ... to depend on incarceration more and more."
Eventually, he earned his high school equivalency diploma, took a preparatory business college course and completed a slew of self-help and training programs.

In June, after he became parole-eligible, Hines was transferred to the Macomb Correctional Facility north of Detroit to join other juvenile lifers who have new sentences and will eventually be released. Prison officials assembled these inmates in one place as they expand existing programs to help them learn about finances, technology and other aspects of daily life. Those with parole dates have access to educational and job training programs that were previously unavailable to them.

"We're trying to do a little more because this is such a unique situation," said Chris Gautz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. These inmates had expected to die in prison, he said. "We want to set them up in a way they're not likely to come back."

Most of the juvenile lifers released so far across the U.S. have been out of prison a year or less. Corrections officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana, which together had nearly 1,200 of these inmates, said that, to date, none has violated parole or committed another crime.

Last winter, Hines began meeting with a volunteer from Project Reentry, a program within the state appellate defender's office in which graduate social work students help juvenile lifers gear up for release. One student met with Hines, visited his sister to plan his living arrangements and took photos of Myra's home as part of a comprehensive post-release plan presented to the resentencing judge.

Hines also had candid conversations with his lawyer, Valerie Newman, a state appellate defender who has secured the release of about a half-dozen juvenile lifers in Michigan in the last year. Her advice to Hines, as it has been with others: Take it slowly.

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will allen Oct-25-2017 824 0
Two men were shot dead Wednesday morning at Grambling State University in northern Louisiana, authorities said.

The victims were identified as Earl Andrews, 23, a Grambling State University senior from Farmerville, Louisiana, and Monquiarius Caldwell, also a 23-year-old from Farmerville, Grambling State University spokesman Will Sutton said.

Caldwell was not a student at the university, Sutton said.

They were discovered in a courtyard between two dormitory buildings, said Stephen Williams, a spokesman for the Lincoln Parish Sheriff's Office.

Based on preliminary information gathered at the scene, the shooting followed an altercation that started inside one of the adjacent dormitories, Williams said.

Sutton said authorities were alerted to the shooting by a female student who called the Grambling State University police chief on his cell phone.

Grambling's homecoming activities started Sunday, and events are scheduled through Saturday, Sutton said.
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Sean Montiel Oct-20-2017 155 0
Allegations recently came out regarding Leak's inappropriate relationship with a student. Leak worked at Edgewater High School in Florida, serving as a football coach and art recovery teacher.

The reports are that back in 2015, a 15-year-old student gave him a massage. Following the massage, he asked the female student to touch his genitals. After the news broke, he did not contest the allegations nor try to plead his innocence.

He resigned once a police report was filed and gave up his teaching certificate voluntarily.

Leak was once a rising star in football, as he achieved great success at Florida.

He started in games all four years, including the 2006 BCS title team. He went undrafted after his senior year, and was quickly signed by the Bears. After an unsuccessful preseason with the team, he was cut and never saw NFL action again.

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