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    Formerly incarcerated Louisianans to met Monday, cast first vote together

    After becoming eligible to register on March 1, local activist Checo Yancy along with others will vote for the first time Monday.

    On March 1, approximately 40,000 Louisiana citizens on probation and parole regained their right to vote under Act 636. The law was made possible by members of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), who advocated for the passage of House Bill 265 at the State Capitol during the 2018 legislative session. The majority of these activists were people who are directly impacted by felony disenfranchisement. Thus, come March 1, when Act 636 goes into effect, they will be able to register to vote.

    Yancy, who directs Voters Organized to Educate (VOTE), registered the first day he could. “Now, I’ll be able to elect people who actually have my best interests in mind,” he says. He’ll also be taking advantage of the early voting period for Louisiana’s upcoming Oct. 12 primary election.

    “We have come from out of prison to do all this, and we are doing it,” said Yancy.

    For him and thousands of others, it has not been an easy race to the finish line of the ballot box. People who have a conviction have to go through extra steps in the registration process. This includes getting paperwork from their local probation and parole office, even if they have finished their probation or parole time five, 10, or 20 years ago. For those living in rural Louisiana, the nearest office is a half-day’s drive away. Due in large part to the employment barriers that formerly incarcerated people, many cannot afford to buy a car or hire transportation to obtain that paperwork.

    Find more info here.

     

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    State responds to cyber attack on school system

    Stephenson Technologies Corporation at LSU offers tips on how individuals can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks

    This week, several Louisiana school systems were victims of the most pervasive ransomware attacks in the state’s history. Digital thieves successfully injected malware in several parish networks, making north Louisiana one of several areas in the country that have also fallen victim to cyber-attacks.

    Ransomware is malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. It’s typically spread through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Once infested, the thieves hold the user’s data hostage until a ransom is paid, usually in digital currency like BitCoin.

    “Ransomware is not new,” said Jeff Moulton, Stephenson National Center for Security Research executive director. “It’s growing in use at the state and local levels because the attackers know government agencies, especially at the lower levels, are likely to pay.”

    Moulton also said that hackers know that local government agencies including school districts often do not have the systems in place to protect against cyber-attacks. Hackers also may target these agencies because shutting down or interrupting services is unacceptable.

    Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and activated Louisiana’s Emergency Support Function 17, which is a cyber-incident response plan. LSU’s Moulton oversees the ESF-17 subcommittee.

    LSU’s applied research affiliate, the Stephenson Technologies Corporation, or STC, is working with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, or GOHSEP, the Office of Technology Services and the Louisiana National Guard Cyber Team on this criminal event. Three LSU STC information systems security engineers are on site in the affected parishes assisting with the recovery efforts.

    “Thanks to Gov. Edwards’ foresight into cybersecurity vulnerabilities, he created the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to respond quickly and effectively to attacks like these,” Moulton said.

    He offers the following tips on how individuals and institutions can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks:

    • School districts throughout Louisiana must educate their workforce to stop, think and click before opening any email. If it doesn’t look right, don’t open it.
    • Implement a two-factor authentication system.
    • Have a manual back-up system.
    • Parents and guardians should give out as little personal information on their children as possible.
    • Parents and guardians should write a letter to the three credit agencies to lock and freeze their children’s credit so predators cannot access their children’s social security numbers.
    • Encrypt your data at rest.
    • Stop. Think. Click.

    ONLINE: https://www.sncsrt.lsu.edu

    Read more »
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    Community honors historian, activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    For more than three decades, Sadie Roberts-Joseph was an exceptional force of civic and cultural life in Baton Rouge. Often called an activist, matriarch, and a ‘tireless advocate of peace,’ the 75-year-old  founder of the city’s African-American history museum was found dead in the trunk of a car on Friday, July 12, about 3 miles from her home. Police did not explain what led them to the car where they found her body.

    Investigators believe she was suffocated before her body was found. Within days, Baton Rouge Police arrested and charged a male tenant from one of Roberts-Joseph’s rent houses with her murder. He was allegedly $1,200 behind in his rent.

    “You stole light,” said her son Jason Roberts. “You stole a warm loving giving and caring woman and it wasn’t just for her family. She cared for the city. She cared for you. Her life should not have ended that way. She did not deserve that, but she would want forgiveness for you.” In 2001, Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now & Then African American Museum, which features exhibits of African art and tells the stories of minority inventors. It also includes displays of historical artifacts from the civil rights era, including a 1963 bus used during the Baton Rouge boycotts.

    Leading up to this year’s Juneteenth Celebration, she’d begun rebranding the museum as the Baton Rouge African American History Museum, which some recognized as an astute move to market it as the city’s museum and to connect it to other Black museums in Southeast Louisiana.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo: Daniel Atkinson.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph is the founder of the museum. Photo: Daniel Atkinson.

    “She was one of the standout matriarchs of Baton Rouge,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who knew and worked with Roberts-Joseph for 30 years. “We will make her legacy a priority because of what she gave so many here.” Roberts-Joseph was also the founder of the nonprofit organization Community Against Drugs and Violence, and she organized the state’s recognition of Juneteenth in Baton Rouge.

    Roberts-Joseph grew up in Woodville, Mississippi. Her family later moved to Baton Rouge, where she studied education and speech pathology. She consistently called for unity and togetherness, often explaining how the city and nation needed to heal from the legacy of slavery. “What my mother wanted in life came to fruition–ironically–in death,” said Angela R. Machen, Ph.D., “and that was inclusiveness, togetherness, and diversity.”

    Machen challenged the community to keep her mother’s legacy by living “a better life. Give a little more effort to make the whole better.” She said her mother was committed to community service and excellence, “Whatever you believe in, work hard in it. Give your dead-level best.”

    The family has created The Sadie Roberts-Joseph Memorial Fund at Hancock Whitney Bank and is hoping to raise funds that will go toward museum operations. The Southern University System Board of Supervisors presented a resolution to the family. The resolution outlined the commitment of Roberts Joseph to both her family and the city of Baton Rouge. These commitments included founding the museum. She was an alumna of Southern University.

    Baton Rouge's 2065 Plank Road is the site planned for a mural of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Baton Rouge’s 2065 Plank Road is the site planned for a mural of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    “Our love for Sadie Roberts-Joseph will continue. We will demonstrate it in very tangible ways,” said Broome. For starts, the Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience participants, led by The Walls Project and Build Baton Rouge, will paint a mural of the revered activist at 2065 Plank Road–the corner of Plank Road and Pawnee Street in North Baton Rouge. On Friday, July 20, LAMAR Corporation began erecting billboards around the city in memory of Roberts-Joseph.

     

     

     

     Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph


    Lamar-Corporation-erects-this-bilboard-around-Baton-Rouge-in-memory-of-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph

    The community shares their memories and tributes:

    Gov. John bel Edwards: I am heartbroken and sickened by the disturbing death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. @FirstLadyOfLA and I are praying for her family and the members of the Baton Rouge community who, like us, are struggling to understand this senseless act of violence. Many knew Sadie as the founder of Baton Rouge’s African-American History Museum and for her annual Juneteenth celebrations, but she was equally known for her kindness, vibrant spirit, and passion for promoting peace. Sadie was a storyteller, and I believe we have the responsibility of keeping those stories alive and working to, as she once said, “build a better state and a better nation.”

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome: In the midst of managing a major weather event in our parish, I was hit with some devastating news – the murder of a dear friend and a mother of the community- Sadie Roberts Joseph. I’ve deliberately waited to comment because of the level of love and respect I had for Sadie; and because it was such shocking news. She loved this city and its people. Her commitment to the cultural and educational fabric of our community is beyond description. The development of The Odell S. Williams African American Museum is a testament of her visionary and pioneering leadership. In the days to come, I look forward to offering a more comprehensive tribute.

    h8-Sadie-Roberts-Joseph-dead-trunk-baton-rouge-african-american-museum

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at the Odell S. Williams African American Museum

    State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle: My heart is empty… as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! This woman was amazing and loved her history. She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death.

    Judge John Michael Guidry:  My friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph often had me as her Speaker for her Juneteenth Celebrations in South Baton Rouge or her Veterans Observance at Port Hudson. We bonded over 25 years ago when as a State Senator, I worked with the community group CADAV which she led in the Banks community. Her life was one of sacrificial service to others. She gave herself away so that God could use her. She reminded us of our history and has earned her place in the history of our community. Her death was tragic, but her life was a treasure. I choose to focus my thoughts not on how she died, but on how she lived. My condolences and prayers are with her family.

    State Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith: As I sit remembering my dear dear friend Sadie I know the tears I’ve shed do no more than help relieve my emotions. A lot of people knew or knew of Sadie but really didn’t know her. For those of us who did, who grew up in her time we knew a bit more.  Sadie’s death isn’t an opportunity for news sound bites without knowing her family or involving her family. I am disappointed. This is indeed a time for ALL who knew her and really want her legacy to be enshrined AND the perpetrators brought to justice to come together in unity. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND and we should be embracing her family and referring news outlets to them.  Some may not like this post but I respect her family and for as much time as she and I spent together dealing with the museum issues I could never politicize her death and there are others who feel as I do. I LOVED SADIE FOR WHO SHE WAS AND ADMIRED ALL SHE WAS TRYING TO DO FOR OUR COMMUNITY.  UNIFY FOR THE LOVE OF Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph!

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Donna Collins Lewis: My heart is aching. I have known Ms. Sadie for over 30 years. A wonderful, sweet and quiet soul. Soft-spoken with a passion for the community and African American History and Art. I pray for a quick resolution in bringing the person responsible to justice. I pray Gods strength and peace for her family and the many lives who are saddened by her death. May her legacy and work continue to live through the African American Museum and the many efforts she championed in the community. She leaves her footprint on the entire parish and far beyond.

    NAACP Baton Rouge Branch. We lost a Cultural Legend Yesterday!#RIP Sadie Roberts Joseph. From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and icon in this City.

    The King Center: ‪We mourn. Sadie Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African-American Museum, which she started in 2001. She was a tireless advocate of peace.

    Baton Rouge Police Department: The Baton Rouge Police Department joins the community in mourning the loss of Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community. We had opportunities to work with her on so many levels. From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV. (Community Against Drugs and Violence) Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community, she will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served.

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    California artist Nicholas Smith of Nikkolas Design shared this rendering of Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Broderick Bagert: Shocked & saddened by the death of Ms. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph. She founded the Now & Then Museum of African American History in Baton Rouge on a shoestring as part of her life-long project to teach Black history & civil rights. She was part of Together Baton Rouge from its earliest days. Ms. Sadie was a calm presence. And a fierce presence, in every fiber of her being. May she rest in peace. And may the rest of us live up to her legacy, STARTING by supporting her vision for the Then & Now Museum.

    Paula Johnson-Hutchinson: On this day, Ms. Sadie told me that writing books of our lives and culture ensures the sustainability of us and that we wouldn’t be forgotten. She also said that sharing knowledge and being true teachers of our children will provide a pathway that will long outlive us.

    LSU Office of Diversity: Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph founded the Baton Rouge African-American Museum which tells the stories of African-Americans in Louisiana throughout history from the cotton grown in the museum’s garden to artifacts like a 1953 bus from the year of the city’s public bus boycott protesting racial segregation. Ms. Roberts-Joseph gave away bicycles at the museum and started a community organization to fight drugs and violence. She was known as a quiet leader and tireless advocate of peace in the community. Our LSU family mourns her tragic loss.

    Res-Brother StanleyWe have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph and Judge Trudy White at the annual Kwanzaa celebration. Photo by David Modeste

    David Modeste: Much respect to Sister Sadie for her tireless efforts to uplift the community in every way she knew how. We especially appreciate her active contribution and participation in the Baton Rouge Kwanzaa Celebrations sponsored by Afrocentric Focus Group of Baton Rouge.

    Walter Geno McLaughlin: We’ve all posted about it and reacted to the news locally. And now we see the lens of national news outlets focused on the death of Miss Sadie. Fitting, yet unexpected. It’s strange how in death we seek to honor those who have done so much to uplift our community on a daily basis. But this video shows how she lived; with a smile on her face, a quiet force of nature, motivated by the need to narrate & curate our own stories. One of the last times I saw Miss Sadie, she was hopeful that with all the renewed energy towards investment in underserved neighborhoods, her little museum would not be forgotten and would receive the resources to make it sustainable. This woman did so much with so little. And like many others who do this work, probably never knew the full weight of her impact. It is why it’s important to clap for people while they are here, and give them the fuel to keep moving forward. I’m left to wonder who would do such a thing to someone we all loved, and at this tender age. There is speculation beyond the normal motives, and we must ask tough questions. But as we all prepared for the coming storm, I believe she was likely still helping people, not fully aware of the dangers, whatever they were. What I do know is that her funeral will be full of dashiki wearing brothers and sisters emulating the look she was synonymous for. Rest in Power Queen. We will take it from here.

    Niles B. Haymer: This morning I visited the African American Museum that was so loved by her and I could feel her spirit and presence throughout along with her love of displaying African American History in Baton Rouge. I got a chance to speak with Ms. Sadie this past February at a Black History Program sponsored by Councilwoman Erika Green where I promised Ms. Sadie that my kids would soon visit her museum for a photo op with her. My oldest son even wondered loudly why I’ve never taken him to the museum in front of Ms. Sadie. Of course I was embarrassed and gave him that look of “I’ll deal with you later.” Unbeknownst to my son, he was right, many families of all races should have supported this historic museum and still have time to do so. Sadly, that day never came for my kids, Ms. Sadie and that well-anticipated photo op. Violent crime in Baton Rouge is an unspeakable epidemic that’s stealing the soul of this City. I know that the candlelight vigil this evening will be well attended and I wanted to just take in her life’s work without disruption. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle has assisted the family in setting up the Sadie Roberts Joseph Memorial Fund at Hancock Whitney Bank. This is our chance to give to a worthy cause by keeping this museum open and well funded.#JusticeforSadie

    Councilwoman Erika Green: Today, I speak Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s name! Though her life was taken by a heartless person in this city yesterday, I am comforted in remembering the community and the African-American history she carried in her soul. She loved and told the story of our people.

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist  AntoineGHOST.  Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Sketch of Sadie Roberts Joseph by Antoine GHOST Mitchell. 225.933.7090. @the_art_alchemist AntoineGHOST.
    Facebook: PoeArtry Creative Movement, LLC

    Shenena Armstrong Merchant: Aunty Sadie was a light to the Armstrong family, she taught me through her actions how to smile through it. So in spite of my tears, I’m smiling because her legacy lives on; bigger, stronger, and more loving.

    Jeremy L. Blunt: My heart mourns today at the loss of such a pillar of our community. I met Mrs. Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph as a teenager and can still remember our conversations where she encouraged me to keep striving for others. She told me that one day, I too would be one of those on her wall. We have to not just seek justice for her but seek betterment in our community by how we treat one another. Love is a universal language that does not discriminate. Remember what she lived for and carry that message on.

    Lloyd Benson II: Thank you, Queen, for always inspiring and encouraging us to learn, respect, and appreciate our heritage.

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Roberts

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Robert

    Tiffany Littlejohn: My Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph always wanted to be famous. Her story is breaking twitter, being shared by CNN, CBS, ABC, ESSENCE magazine, BET, Instagram, US News, New York Times, Perez Hilton, New York Daily News, and the list goes on and on… TAKE YOUR PLACE QUEEN, TAKE YOUR PLACE.

    LaNeir Roberts: Aunt Sadie L. Roberts-Joseph was beautiful, smart, truly a phenomenal woman, and loved the Lord. I will never forget our Christmas light adventure. Never saw the Christmas lights but we managed to find the railroad tracks (lol). When we asked to listen to the radio Aunt Sadie turns it to the politics station; and we expressed to her that we wanted to listen to rap music… she started banging on the steering wheel lol. Aunt Sadie was definitely a character but she was also an educator and loved by so many. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Please please please continue to pray for my family as we support each other through this difficult time. Rest in paradise Auntie, until we meet again.

    Quentin Anthony Anderson Sr.: So, it was great to see everyone at Ms. Sadie’s vigil last night. But many of y’all admitted that it was the first time you had ever stepped foot on the campus of that museum. That’s fine, a lot of people hadn’t and it speaks volumes to how big of an impact Ms. Sadie left on Baton Rouge that so many people were touched by her and hadn’t even see her in her purest element as a historian and curator. But that museum is our history, Black Baton Rouge. And it’s her legacy. If you were willing to come out in the heat and endure an entire church service and 4 closing prayers for Ms. Sadie yesterday, the least you can do is support the museum-going forward. Visit the museum. Take your kids. Volunteer (Ms. Sadie really wanted to maintain those column murals and the maps on the ground, hint hint). Donate monthly to keep the museum open. Sharon Weston Broome, designate the museum as a local historical landmark and protect it from greedy developers. We all have a part we can play as a community. As my friend Myra Richardson says, make this a movement, not a moment. Make this important to you beyond just today, beyond it trending on your favorite timeline. If you truly care about Ms. Sadie and her legacy, let’s protect and preserve it by supporting her crown jewel.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph speaks during the 2019 Juneteenth event.Photo by Yulani Semien

    Myra Richardson:Last summer, Byron Washington and Ms. Sadie asked me work with the museum because she said she needed some “youthful energy”. I’m eternally grateful for both of those relationships. However, one of the things that struck me was when she told me the Museum was an extension of her. Every piece collected in that museum passed through her delicate fingers, every tour was different as she would recount how she got a different artifact. I thought I was an intense person but spend a few days a week on a hot bus with that women and she’ll learn you a thing or two. She made me read endlessly but she talked to me more about how important oral history is and passing down stories. She was a walking book and just wanted to share the museum with the world. She dreamed of renovating the building and connecting it to the building behind it, even thought of renaming it once. The last piece of literature she had me read was about Oscar Dunn. In 1868, Dunn became the first elected Black lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. His sentiments were written during reconstruction hailing from the great State of Louisiana but Ms. Sadie wanted me to draw parallels that he was essentially asking for the same thing 151 years ago that we’re asking for today. She viewed knowledge of history as an equalizer, she wanted me and youth across Louisiana to have access to that museum purely because knowledge is more than power … it’s a labor of love. That museum is Ms.Sadie, that museum is more than a legacy … it’s a living breathing organism birthed from her dreams, travels, relationships and love for all of us. That museum is my chief priority and should be yours as well.

    Byron Washington: Many people will rightly so build memorials and vigils. I think the best way to Honor Sadie is to honor her legacy. Honor what she put her heart and soul in. Donate, find funding sources, and promote the museum. Make it so the doors will never close and we will never lose its memory. Learn your local history and embrace your local culture. It is unique and should be celebrated from the mountain tops.  So instead of buying a bunch of flowers, although you certainly are within you right and in many cases should let’s put that money into the facility. Let’s put our energy into the grants. Let’s put our focus into promotion.

    Stephanie Anthony She was a fellow worker in the vineyard, a kind, sweet lady I can’t wrap my mind around what our city has become capable of these days. What a great loss. Prayers for her family.

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Johnny Anderson: The recent murder of my dear and sweet 75-year-old friend Sadie Roberts-Joseph has greatly disturbed me, personally, and Baton Rouge, collectively!! I have so many questions but, I know my friend, Baton Rouge Chief of Police Murphy Paul will do his all to find and appropriately charge the person or persons who committed such a horrific crime!! What is on the mind(s) of anybody to kill a 75-year-old Christian, mother, grandmother, humanitarian, community Activist, human and civil rights activist, African-American historian and protector of the culture, lover of arts, fighter for the people’s cause…! Not only kill her but, stuff her in the trunk of a car!!?  So many times, when I was in government, at the state or federal level, Sadie had no problem making her way there to my office and express her opinion on issues or to advocate for help for the least! I never knew her children, grandchildren or relatives because she never came asking for help for them, it was always about helping others! One of my more recent memories of her was she coming to my office to express concerns with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) where she had taken upstate property for her Museum expansion, painting African-American heroes on State post and was NOT moving it!  Then on another occasion to have me as her guest speaker at the Museum! I was so hot that day, looks like it was 90+ degrees but, she thought that my removing my jacket, on the OUTSIDE, where I was speaking, would lower the dignity of her activity/event…and I was crazy enough to listen to her and kept my coat though they got a shorter version of my speech!! She was always soft-spoken but, very forcefully about her position, that was not easily change! Sadie had a small voice but, strong convictions about her causes! She hardly shouted at anyone but, she never stop coming to the “gate” to help others! She often reminded me of the woman in the Bible that came night and day to “bother” the one in authority until she ultimately got what she wanted!! Sounds familiar LA DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson and Attorney Joshua G. Hollins?!  Sadie Roberts-Joseph was persistent! She knew how to ask you for financial support for the Annual Juneteenth Celebration without ever asking you for a penny,  which by the way, should now be appropriately entitled the “Sadie Roberts-Joseph Juneteenth Celebration!” I want her murderer(s) to be brought to justice!! Did they even know what this women embodied…who she was…what she meant…who she fought for…her commitment…her love…did they know?!!! Rest well my friend…you wrought well while here!!

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    READ MORE:

    • Sadie Roberts-Joseph on Wikipedia:20190717_091734_resized https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadie_Roberts-Joseph
    • BRPROUD. Sadie Roberts-Joseph impacted the lives of several in her community https://www.brproud.com/news/local-news/sadie-roberts-joseph-impacted-the-lives-of-several-in-her-community/
    • CNN: Sadie Roberts-Joseph exuded a ‘quiet power’ as she enriched her community. https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/us/sadie-roberts-joseph-profile/index.html
    • Smithsonian Magazine: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Slain Activist, Showed How Museums Can Raise Up Their Communities
    • ABC News: African American museum founder discovered dead in car trunk 
    • CNN: Baton Rouge police chief is ‘very confident’ they will make arrest
    • Washington Post: Activist who spotlighted African American history found dead in trunk of car, police say
    • ESSENCE: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder Of Baton Rouge’s African American History Museum, Found Dead
    • NPR: Founder Of African American History Museum Discovered Dead In Car Trunk
    • VIBE: Suspect Arrested For Death Of Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph
    • Big Easy Magazine: African American Museum Founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Dead in Car Trunk
    • The Insider: A beloved Baton Rouge activist and founder of African American Museum discovered dead in the trunk of her car
    • Democracy Now: Historian and Civil Rights Activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph Found Killed https://www.democracynow.org/2019/7/16/headlines/historian_and_civil_rights_activist_sadie_roberts_joseph_found_killed
    • Teen Vogue: Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Activist and Museum Founder, Is Remembered by Friends and Family After She Was Found Killed. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sadie-roberts-joseph-activist-museum-founder-remembered-by-friends-family-murdered
    • WTOC. Family of Sadie Roberts-Joseph mourns activist’s death. https://www.wtoc.com/2019/07/17/family-sadie-roberts-joseph-mourns-activists-death/
    • USA TODAY. Baton Rouge mourns after beloved activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph found dead in trunk of a car. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/15/baton-rouge-mourns-death-sadie-roberts-joseph-autopsy/1733992001/
    • THE ADVOCATE. Our Views: Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s grace should live on. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/our_views/article_5a05cc9a-a805-11e9-8fb0-ff04c0cecf02.html?fbclid=IwAR05C0L86YY5Jc26WOyfWriCCnF3ivVQWKbLXyc5ozv5RFmsRiWjfyD53HU

    Share your memories and photos of Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Email news at thedrumnewspaper dot info, comment below.

    Read more »
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    Dyslexia screening provision included in new criminal justice reform bill

    Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate health and education committee, announced that his provision providing for the screening of inmates for dyslexia is included in the new version of the First Step Act (S. 3649), legislation endorsed by President Trump to reform America’s criminal justice system. Cassidy announced his support for the legislation two weeks ago.

    “Having treated patients in prisons, I learned that illiteracy often leads someone to turn to a life of crime. Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’m pleased Chairman Grassley, Jared Kushner and the White House agreed to incorporate my proposal for screening inmates for dyslexia into this bill. It makes sense that if a someone learns to read, they’re less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be a productive member of society. And if someone ends up in prison, they’re more likely to get a job and keep it once they are released. In the end, I think this will save some people from the prison system, make our streets safer, and save taxpayers money.”

    A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

    The First Step Act will formally define dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell.” The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate an evidence-based, low-cost, readily available dyslexia screening program into the new risk and needs assessment system, including by screening for dyslexia during the prisoner intake process and each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner. It also requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate dyslexia treatment programs into recidivism reduction programs.

    In October, Cassidy and his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, coauthored a column about their family’s personal struggle to overcome dyslexia.

    In June, Cassidy met with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner about prison reform, and Cassidy stressed the need to identify and address dyslexia in early education in order to prevent students from being consigned to a path of illiteracy, crime, and incarceration.

    Ameer Baraka

    Ameer Baraka

    In May 2016, Cassidy chaired a HELP Committee hearing on understanding dyslexia. The hearing featured actor Ameer Baraka, a New Orleans native who struggled with dyslexia as a student and turned to selling drugs. Barak discussed how he taught himself to read in prison on Fox News in April 2017.

    In February 2016, Cassidy’s READ Act was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote at least $2.5 million to dyslexia research every year.

    In 2015, Cassidy hosted world experts on dyslexia for a discussion at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and chaired HELP Committee field hearings on dyslexia and education in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    Each year, Cassidy introduces a resolution in the Senate designating October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

    Read more »
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    Documentary explores controversial death of Victor White III while in New Iberia police custody

    Discovery Communication’s Investigation Discovery is exploring the controversial death of a New Iberia man who police say shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car.

    The show, “Sugar Town” will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Victor White III, who was 22, on March 2, 2014,

    Called the “Houdini Handcuff Case” by some in the state, White’s killing has brought simmering racial tensions to a boil in the small town known for its sugar cane production.

    New Iberia residents are separated by railroad tracks—residents to the north of the tracks are predominantly white, while largely Black neighborhoods lie to the south.

    Kimberly Nordyke reported in The Hollywood Reporter, “The tracks created a strong history of racial divide predating the American Civil War in New Iberia, and many residents would argue that a Jim Crow south is still very much alive.”

    “Sugar Town” will focus on the central mystery of what might have happened to White and chronicles the family’s search for justice for their son’s suspicious death while in police custody.

    The investigation also reveals “a larger story of power, corruption and racial injustice nestled within a divided southern town, with Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal — a man shrouded in controversy — at the center,” according to the network.

    “Victor White III was a father, a son, a brother — and sadly, I fear, a victim of injustices rooted in New Iberia,” said Henry Schleiff, group president for Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Tragedies like these unfortunately catapult people into becoming activists, and we are humbled to share the White family’s crusade for answers in Sugar Town. We are reminded that corruption and racism exist in our society, today, and we hope that ID’s airing of this documentary will help spark informed dialogue about larger social injustices to ensure that White’s death was not in vain.”

    White’s family members, including his father, the Reverend Victor White; mother, Vanessa; and two of his eight siblings, sister Lakeisha and brother L.C. are featured in the documentary along with local radio journalist Tony Brown, The Daily Iberian journalist Dwayne Fatheree, and activist Donald Broussard. Anthony Daye, who said he experienced  brutality at the hands of New Iberia’s law enforcement, civil rights attorney Clayton Burgess, and the White family’s attorney, Carol Powell Lexing are interviewed in the documentary.

    The two-hour program premieres at 7pm CST on Monday, Aug. 6.

    ONLINE: Investigationdiscovery.com

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    No charges filed against officers in Alton Sterling shooting; Family files civil lawsuit

    Baton Rouge Police Chief plans to release footage, complete officers’ hearing by Friday

    Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday following a 10-month investigation that his office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in the Alton Sterling shooting.

    Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was shot six times by a white Baton Rouge Police officer on July 5, 2016, in front of a Triple S convenience store. The officers, Howie Lake II and Blaine Salamoni were responding to a call about a man with a gun who was assaulting someone. Sterling had been selling CDs in front of the store with permission from the owner.

    Officials said Salamoni shot Sterling while his partner Howard Lake looked on.

    “After careful thought and review of the evidence, the Louisiana Department of Justice will not proceed with prosecution of Officers Lake or Salamoni,” Landry said. “This decision was not taken lightly.”

    Landry said his office thoroughly investigated the case, even re-interviewing witnesses in the case.  He said the evidence just didn’t warrant pursuing criminal charges.

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    “We must analyze the evidence and draw a conclusion, but we’re always mindful of the family,” Landry said. “I know the Sterling family is hurting.”

    The Attorney General’s office received the case in May 2017. This after the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana determined during its own investigation that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges or civil rights violations.

    Family members, community leaders, and the Sterling family’s attorneys say they weren’t surprised by the latest findings.

    “We didn’t get any justice,’ said Quinyetta McMilon, the mother of Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron.  “The system failed us. We’re all out of tears. We all knew what it was going to be. We may not get justice down on this earth, but when God comes…As a family, we just got to stay strong.”

    “It was total B.S.,” said community activist Gary Chambers.

    “To put Blane Salamoni back on the street, you’re putting a murderer back on the street,” said Sterling’s Aunt Sandra Sterling who has had two strokes since the incident.  “Shame on you Blane Salamoni. You took an oath to protect and serve not protect and kill.”

    Sterling’s attorneys are filing a civil suit and have called for the firing of both officers who have remained on paid leave since the incident. Together, the officers have been paid more than $130,000 in salary while on leave.

    Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, who has suffered two strokes speaks to reporters. Photo by Michele McCalope

    “We’re putting the City of Baton Rouge, the Mayor and the Metro Council on notice,” said attorney Michael Adams.  “We’re disappointed, but this fight is not over. We have filed a civil suit and justice will be served. The officers will have to talk to us and explain their actions. Baton Rouge will have to hear the truth about what happened. We plan to put it all out there in the light of day.”

    Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said a disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for the officers this week so police can determine if any policies or procedures were violated.

    The officers will have a chance to tell their side of the story to the chief and his three deputies. The hearing will not be open to the public.

    “We’re asking the community for a little more patience and to keep our community in your prayers so we can begin the healing process,” Paul said.

    Once the hearing is completed, Paul said the department will announce what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the officers. Paul also said all videos, audio, and 911 calls regarding the incident will be released at that time.

    Broome, who has already said publicly that she wants the officers fired, said she still feels that way.

    “Our focus for our community, city and parish is to have justice and equity not just for some, but for everyone,” Broome said.

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

    Gov. Edwards, ACLU, 100 Black Men, community leaders release statements on Alton Sterling decision

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

    ‘Voices from the Bayou’ pulls powerful, emotional writing from BRCC students

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU law student asks, ‘Can Alexa Testify Against You?’

    We live in an age when increasing numbers of people rely on devices to turn off their lights, make a phone call, or set the morning alarm. This may explain why since its launch in 2015, Alexa—or what Amazon calls a “virtual assistant” —has become a virtual extension of the lives of its estimated eight-million-plus owners.

    This codependency however comes with its own set of risks, according to a research paper published in the Southern University Law Review. (Read the paper here.)

    The paper “Alexa, Pick An Amendment”: A Comparison of Fourth and First Amendment Protections of Echo Device Data,” asks whether Alexa owners are protected under the First and Fourth Amendments when their privacy rights are infringed upon. The paper was written by by Tara Melancon, a third-year law student at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

    Tara Melancon

    Tara Melancon

    Melancon writes that American society has been preoccupied with privacy rights since at least the late 19th century, when The Right to Privacy, a law review article from 1890, broached the perennially relevant subject of the need for “privacy laws to keep up with technological progress.”

    The issue has become increasingly relevant.

    The reason, as Melancon explains, is not only because Alexa might be used to collect evidence against owners entangled in the criminal justice system; but because recent technological advances, notably our smart phones—which track our every move and purchase—have made us vulnerable and possible targets for investigation.

    Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Historymaker: Landrum-Johnson named Chief Judge at Orleans Criminal Court

    In a historic appointment, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson ascends to a higher role in the court. She will serve a two-year tenure as chief judge of criminal court, becoming the first Black woman to serve in that office. For the past 10 years, Landrum-Johnson has presided as judge of Section E of criminal court. She was first elected to that office in 2008, and is currently serving a second term. As chief judge, Landrum-Johnson will continue to preside over criminal trials and proceedings allotted to her section while also overseeing the administrative functions of the court and serving as an ex officio member on court committees. In 2007, she became the first African-American woman in Louisiana to serve as District. She also spent 10 years as an assistant district attorney in Orleans Parish. She worked in private practice, public defense, and as a criminal law professor at Southern University at New Orleans.

    ONLINE: Louisiana Weekly

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    Edwards launches criminal justice reform video series ahead of Nov. 1 implementation

    As part of his campaign to educate the public on the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Initiative legislation going into effect on Nov. 1 of this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards has released three videos featuring community leaders who were active in passing the historic legislation. They elaborate on the necessity of criminal justice reform in Louisiana,  the reduced cost to taxpayers and the increased safety that will result from this reform for communities across the state.

    “We know from experience a broken justice system leads to more crime, more families torn apart and higher costs for hardworking taxpayers each year,” Gov. Edwards said. “Stakeholders from both sides of the aisle put their differences aside and found common ground to build comprehensive, bipartisan criminal justice reform. We made a decision to build a system that works better for everyone in Louisiana by looking at data-driven evidence, not anecdotes and misleading fear tactics.”

    The first video features Speaker Pro Temp Walt Leger (D-New Orleans), a former prosecutor and author of HB 489, one of the ten bills included in the criminal justice reinvestment package of legislation. Click here to watch Rep. Leger’s video.

    The second video released highlights the Rev. Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum and member of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Taskforce. Click here to watch Rev. Mills’ video.

    The third video includes Natalie LaBorde from the Department of Corrections, the state agency charged with overseeing implementation of the reforms. Click here to watch LaBorde’s video.

    A new video highlighting the importance of the criminal justice reform legislation will be released each day leading up to the Nov. 1 implementation date.

    Click here to learn more about criminal justice reform.

    Read more »
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    Visitation changes at Tangipahoa Parish Jail

    angipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards is announcing a change in visitation days for inmates in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail. Effective Saturday August 19, visitation for jail inmates will be Saturdays and Sundays, 9am – 4pm, with 30-minutes visitation per offender.

    All persons coming to the Tangipahoa Parish Jail to visit a an inmate must have and present a valid government issued photo driver license or photo identification card. Visitation for inmates is a privilege of the inmate, and it may be suspended or revoked for disciplinary or security reasons without any prior advance notification given. All visitors are considered guests and will be expected to abide by all policies and operational procedures when visiting jail inmates. Contact the Tangipahoa Parish Jail at 985-748-3387.

    Read more »
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    Bail bonds changes begin in Rapides parish

    A major change has gone into effect for bail bonds at the Rapides Parish jail, ordered by criminal judges Tom Yeager and Mary Doggett. The present formula used for setting bonds at the courthouse has been terminated. This was done as a way to update the way bonds are set and to avoid people easily bonding out due to low pre-set bonds.

    Effective Sept.1, all bonds on felony charges will be set by an assigned judge. There are two exceptions. First, any bond for a felony possession of CDS II, CDS III, CDS IV, and CDS V may be released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond. Second, any bond for a felony possession of CDS I will be set by an assigned judge. For misdemeanor charges, charges are set at $500 and may be released on a personal recognizance bond with two exceptions. First, any domestic violence charge will be set by an assigned judge. Second, for DWI 1st offense and DWI 2nd offense, bond is set at $500.

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  • Teen arrested for responding, sharing nude photo

    BOSSIER CITY–A 17-year-old student athlete at Parkway High School in south Bossier City, is facing child pornography charges after his 16-year-old classmate sent him naked footage of herself.

    Reportedly, the 16-year-old white, female sent the Black, male student a nude video first and he responded by sending her one of him. When her parents found out, they reported it to the police.

    Louisiana law states  anyone under the age of 17 found to be sexting any person of any age can be charged with a misdemeanor. Even if acting consensually, teens can be charged with with child pornography.

    The boy has since been arrested and is facing child porn charges, but the girl has not been arrested or charged. Although his name has been released to the media, her name has not.  (The Drum policy is to not print juvenile names in these cases)

    He has been released on a $15,000 bond, but still has to face the charges in a court. His family said they expect to pay at least $4,000 in legal fees for his case. A youcaring.com page has been established to help the family.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana has one of the highest rates of child gun deaths

    In March, 10-year-old Justin Simms and six-year-old Jumyrin Smith were discovered dead alongside their mother Monique Smith in New Orleans after a quadruple shooting rocked their Gentilly neighborhood. A third child, 12-year-old daughter A’Miya, was left in critical condition.

    In August 2016, five-year-old Melvin Brady was accidentally shot and killed in Marrero, marking the third time a child had died in metro New Orleans in such an incident that year, according to reports.

    And in 2015, Lake Charles resident Casey Mercer made headlines when he was arrested after his three-year-old daughter Alexis found a loaded gun he had left on the couch. She died after she shot the firearm straight through her eyelid, reports said.

    Unfortunately, such tragedies are hardly rare in Louisiana. A study published in June by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the Pelican State had the second-highest rate of child firearm mortality in the country.

    During a five-year period from 2010 to 2014, there were an average of 4.2 children up to the age of 17 killed by gun deaths in the state for every 100,000 kids, the study found.

    The study didn’t examine data specifically in the metro New Orleans area. But data collected by NOLA.com in a murder timeline for 2017 shows that so far this year, seven children up to the age of 17 had been killed in the city, out of a total of 92 murders so far.

    That means about one in every five murdered this year has been a child, and that doesn’t even count other accidental shootings involving children.

    Throughout the nation, an average of 1,297 children die annually from injuries caused by firearms, making guns the second-leading cause of death for children in America, the study found. They were the second leading cause of injury-related death for people under the age of 17, surpassed only by motor vehicle injury deaths.

    Another 5,790 children on average seek emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries each year in the United States, the report found. About 21 percent of those injuries are unintentional.

    The authors of the report urged better preventative measures through policy, local law enforcement and institutions such as schools.

    “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children,” the authors wrote. “Understanding their nature and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

    Before the study came out, firearm-related deaths had already been determined to be the third-leading cause of death overall among American children aged one to 17 years and the second-leading cause of injury-related death.

    The new comprehensive analysis of firearm-related deaths and injuries among American children delved further into that statistic, examining trends over time and state-level patterns.

    The report also found trends regarding the ages of the victims.

    Firearm homicides of younger children often occurred in instances where there were multiple victims, the study found, and involved an intimate partner or family conflict, whereas older kids were found to be dying because of crime and violence.

    Firearm suicides were often precipitated by situational and relationship problems, according to the research.

    Unintentional shooting deaths usually happened because the child was playing with a gun, and that was true for older and younger children, the report found.

    Boys accounted for a whopping 82 percent of all child firearm deaths, the report found. The annual rate of firearm death for boys from 2012 to 2014 was 4.5 times higher than the annual rate for girls.

    African-American children were found to have the highest rates of firearm mortality overall, with more than four per 100,000 becoming a victim.

    The disparity came from differences between racial and ethnic groups in firearm homicide, the report found. From 2012 to 2014, the annual firearm homicide rate for African-American children was nearly twice as high as the rate for American-Indian children, four times higher than the rate for Hispanic children and about 10 times higher than the rate for white children and Asian-American children.

    Unintentional firearm deaths usually happened because children were playing with guns, the report found. That was the case with 60 percent of firearm-related deaths among younger children and 49 percent among older kids.

    Older children more often died because they were showing a gun to others and/or mistakenly thought the gun was unloaded or the safety was engaged, the authors found.

    A gun was mistaken for a toy in 16 percent of younger children’s deaths. The majority of both younger and older children were fatally injured in a home.

    Authors said if there was a common takeaway from all these incidents it was this: violence, especially seen against and by children, is interconnected from incident to incident.

    “Firearm violence does not stand in isolation when developing preventive interventions,” the authors wrote.

    By Della Hasselle
    Louisiana Weekly reporter
    New America Media

    Read more »
  • ,

    Broome sends letter to Sterling’s attorneys

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has responded to a letter emailed May 24, 2017, by attorneys for family members of Alton Sterling:

    Dear Attorneys Stewart, Bamberg, Decuir and Adams:

    First and foremost, I want the Sterling family to know I have never stopped praying for them. However, I know — like Scripture tells us so frequently — faith must be combined with action.

    Be assured, I have been consistently seeking an expedited resolution to the investigations into Mr. Sterling’s death, and calling for disciplinary actions against Baton Rouge Police Department officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. I have advised Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. of my concerns regarding the employment status of these officers. I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni’s case, this warrants termination. I will be following up with a hand-delivered letter to the chief stating such. The images on the video seen around the world and additional information detailing Officer Salamoni’s actions are both disturbing and reprehensible. I understand the outrage of the Sterling family and our community.

    While I do not have the direct authority to terminate these officers, Chief Dabadie does. According to revised statutes for municipality fire and police departments in Louisiana, the chief has appointing and disciplinary authority. I understand and respect the need for fairness and due process, but the process has gotten us here.

    The chief’s next steps are important to not only the Sterling family and this community, but also to this police department that I fully respect and appreciate. As you stated in your letter, “… not all officers in the BRPD conduct themselves in the same manner as Officer Salamoni.”

    Again, I have been working and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure fairness and justice for all citizens of Baton Rouge.

    Sincerely,
    Sharon Weston Broome
    Mayor-President

    Read more »
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    We can not give in ‘to feelings of impotent rage,’ 100 Black Men say

    Through its president Michael Victorian, The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge released the following statement Thursday morning following the U.S. Justice Department decision on the Alton Sterling case on May 3

    Baton Rouge (LA) Alton Sterling’s death is a tragedy. It is compounded further by the Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against the officers involved in his death. We respect Alton’s life and mourn the loss to his family and friends. We also state, categorically, that Mr. Sterling’s life mattered. The lives of the young African-American men and women who we mentor, matter and 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge will continue to do everything within its power to help young people reach their full potential. The systematic conditions that led to Mr. Sterling’s tragic death must be met head on with love, compassion, and an unwavering determination to help make all of our communities safe and economically vibrant.

    We recognize that the findings released on yesterday are frustrating. However, we urge all people of goodwill to use this moment as a call for greater and more meaningful engagement. It is meaningful and constructive to vent, protest, and fully engage in the democratic process. However, we cannot give in, though, to feelings of impotent rage through acts of violence.  Such action will only endanger our community.

    We call on those who wish to improve the lives of people here at the corner of Fairfield and N. Foster Drive (Baton Rouge, LA) to get directly involved in dismantling injustice. Furthermore, we applaud the leadership of our East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome who early in her administration took steps to execute much needed reforms to the Baton Rouge Police Department, including these five policy changes:

    1.      Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.

    2.      Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.

    3.      Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.

    4.      Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.

    5.      Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer

    In order for these policies to have their intended effect, the Baton Rouge Police Department and its leadership must take active measures to ensure that those officers that do not comply with these policies will face serious significant discipline

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is committed to continuing to engage our youth and families to strengthen our community. We hope that area citizens will answer this call to a crisis and set an example to the nation and the world as they watch.

    One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, LTD. is a non-profit organization through which African-American males step forward and assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance.  Michael Victorian currently serves as the president and chairman of the board.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Urban League supports investigation by Louisiana Attorney General, state police in Alton Sterling case

    The Urban League of Louisiana released this official statement regarding the Alton Sterling decision, May 3:

    The world is watching. Our community is on high alert. Tensions are high. Hearts are broken.  And “justice” continues to evade us. 

    For ten months, the family of Alton Sterling has patiently waited to learn about the fate of Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers involved in their loved one’s murder. Yesterday, the family and the rest of the world learned through an article published by the Washington Post that the officers would face no federal civil rights charges. The Sterling family deserved to be notified directly by the Department of Justice long before this decision became front-page news in a national media outlet.

    Many have become desensitized to police shootings, and do not feign shock when officers are not held accountable.  Instead, it’s chalked up to flaws in the system. However, we must confront the real criminal justice reform that’s needed in this country so that our laws do more to actually provide justice rather than shield those with the greatest responsibility to the public from the law. It is incumbent upon us to give our voices and our votes to the continuing battle for equity and justice.  As the Sterling family said today, the battle is not over; it has only just begun.

    While bitterly disappointing, the DOJ’s announcement comes as no surprise. According to Kelley et. al, (2016) charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police. [1] This precedent equates to government sanctioned murder, a status quo the community and the Urban League at large is simply unwilling to accept. So, now all eyes are on Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has released a statement announcing that the Louisiana State Police will launch its own investigation into the conduct of the officers and the appointment of a special prosecutor who will determine if officers Salamoni and Lake will face criminal charges by the state. While the Urban League fully supports this step, we will be vigilant in our commitment to ensure that a fair and neutral process is conducted in the pursuit of justice for Alton Sterling, his family, and the city of Baton Rouge. We also encourage the BRPD to examine the conduct of these officers to determine if it meets the expectations of the departments’ standard of professionalism. Based on new details released in today’s press conference by the Sterling family and their attorneys, it appears that there may be grounds for the officers’ termination.

    ULLA is actively involved in advocating for criminal justice reform and is encouraged by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s work to establish new policies within the BRPD regarding use of force guidelines. The League is continuing to pursue its own reform-centered, criminal justice policy agenda, which includes a push for expanded trainings on de-escalation, bias police recognition, crisis intervention, and other pertinent issues.[2] The cost to implement these trainings is far less than the cost of losing a life, settling civil suits, and losing public trust. By providing the law enforcement community with this training, those who are entrusted with securing our public safety will have the tools to execute their role more effectively and safely.  We are also reigniting our call for the establishment of an independent, civilian review board or an independent agency to monitor excessive force complaints, officer-involved shootings and fatal force incidents in East Baton Rouge.

    For the past five months, ULLA staff has convened hundreds of community members including law enforcement officials, youth, young professionals, community leaders and a cadre of African American residents in East Baton Rouge to facilitate dialogues generating community-based solutions to address public safety and community-police relations. The League surveyed approximately 200 East Baton Rouge residents about their perceptions and experiences with police. Over 60% of respondents indicated that police do not treat all citizens equally according to the law, 67% agreed that the police do not make enough contact with residents and about 80% indicated that they want police to partner with community members and groups to solve problems in their communities. The Urban League of Louisiana is committed to working with the community to develop partnerships with law enforcement to bring about the necessary change.

    The world is watching. Our hearts are broken, but our resolve is strong. And we will not stop our fight until the status quo is transformed into justice for all.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Police ‘use of force’ changes, new policies recommended to take effect immediately

    To fulfill her commitment to close the gap between law enforcement and the community, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has been meeting with law enforcement officials and community leaders over the past several weeks.

    As a result of this collaborative effort, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection is recommending policy changes occur within the Baton Rouge Police Department that align with national best practices surrounding use of force.

    “We believe that the implementation of these policy changes will enhance existing BRPD policies and compliment academy and in-service training,” Broome said.

    The following are the agreed upon policy changes. These changes in policy will take place immediately.

    · Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent circumstances.
    · Officers are required to de-escalate situations, when possible, before using force.  De-escalation strategies include disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
    · Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
    · Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
    · Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.

    The Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection include:  Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole,  Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine,  Cleve Dunn Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel,  E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Joyce Plummer, Arthur Reed,  Dereck Rovaris PhD, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Katara Williams Ph.D.

                                                                                                        

    Read more »
  • ,,

    N.O. Mother pens book hoping to help others whose sons were killed by police

    When Delzorah Barnett first learned that her son had been shot and was in the hospital clinging to his life, she nearly had a panic attack. When she later learned that he was shot multiple times by officers with the Atlanta Police Department and that he more than likely wouldn’t make it, it took everything in her to not die in the hospital with her first-born child.

    “When I arrived (to the hospital) and began to get the details from my nephew, who was shot by the guys who caused the confusion that lead to officers showing up and killing my son, I was broken internally. I continued to pray,” said Barnett, a New Orleans native. “I did not know how to feel, so I began to get information from each witness individually and then I realized that the officers just ran up and opened fire and did not stop until my son was on the ground, and then one of them shot him again.”

    Her family gathered at the hospital every day to pray for her son, 30-year-old E. Zaus Barnett, and he started to get a little better. He eventually was able to tell her what happened. Most importantly, he said he never raised a gun to the officers.

    image

    E. Zaus Barnett,


    Unfortunately, her son never got well enough to leave the hospital and eventually died several weeks after the shooting. The two officers who shot him were never charged.

    “That was so, so painful to the point that I really did not think I would live, but I did. I put all my hope and faith in my Father God, and he guided my path to be strong for my other children, family and friends, to stand for justice in a peaceful manner and to encourage and empower others,” Barnett said.

    That tragic incident propelled Barnett, who goes by Mz. WORTHit, to turn her pain and anger into action. She now inspires women to know that they are WORTH (Women of Righteousness, Truth and Honor) it and started a nonprofit organization, Justice from A 2 Zaus. The organization stands against gun violence, excessive force and police brutality while promoting male mentorship and hosting positive response summits for young males in New Orleans, Atlanta and Fayetteville, N.C. She also wrote a book, The Darkness of the Aftermath Transformed to Light, that help restore her after the death of her son and that she is hoping will help heal the nation.

    “My book was written to heal the hearts of those who have lost loved ones and (to help them) understand that revenge or retaliation is not the answer, but forgiveness, trusting God—who is the final judge—and helping others to bring about change is the answer for any of us,” Barnett said.  “My book shows that life does bring pain, but we must become more connected to God, and then we can know how to fight, have peace and continue to love.”

    Barnett recognizes the destruction of the relationships between law enforcement and communities across the country with the international spotlight being on the deaths of people of color at the hands of police, but says it’s not too late to change the narrative.

    “I believe that we must get to the root of the problem, and that is that the justice system must be reassessed. We must make sure that justice is served across the board, regardless of status, race, title or position of a person,” she said. “We must become a society that desires life over death and holds every person accountable who does not consider saving lives. All law enforcement officers are not shooting to kill, therefore we must face the truth that there is a group of officers who apparently have a serious issue with males of color, and they use the ‘I felt my life was in danger’ (justification) when that is really not the case.”

    Barnett said she believes that healing begins with forgiveness and then taking the necessary steps to bring about change. She said

    even though she is pushing for peace, she is also pushing for communities to fight for what is right.

    “We cannot stop marching peacefully; we cannot stop being involved with organizations that are dealing with the real problems and bringing it to the right people. We must vote, show up at city council meetings, keep teaching our children to do right, get an education and become politicians, law enforcement officers and hold positions where we can be the change.”

    Her son’s untimely death thrust her into philanthropy. Justice from A 2 Zaus and her women’s group have helped countless people across the country. Her podcast “Positive Male Response and Inspirational Conversation with Mz. WORTHit” has inspired numerous young people. However, Barnett is just getting started.

    She is gearing up to do even more to help the nation heal. She urges parents who have lost children due to gun violence or police brutality to never give up.

    “You must call on God and heal and then fight from a place of victory that will impact and encourage others that love and peace will always overpower evil. I know they will, because I walk from a place of victory with peace, love and faith, and God has changed the lives of many through me,” she said. “He has lifted the hearts and minds of many through me, and He is changing situations through me, so if he can do it for me, he will do it for you!”

    Barnett has given copies of her book to parents who have lost their children in similar ways. 

    ONLINE: mzworthit.com
    ONLINE: a2zaus.com 

    Read more »
  • ,

    Richard promoted to peace officer

    Slidell police officer Christopher Richard has been promoted to administrative corrections peace officer in the Slidell Police Department’s Corrections Division. He is a 10-year veteran and has been a field training officer, training new jailors at the Slidell police department. He was the Corrections Officer of the Year in 2011, was awarded a Letter of Commendation in 2012, and was awarded a unit Citation in 2015.  He had 11 years of experience with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office as a corporal prior to joining the Slidell department. 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Legislators say they will closely monitor Joe McKnight killing

    Louisiana Senators Troy Carter and JP Morrell, along with State Rep. Rodney Lyons, who all represent Jefferson Parish, released this statement on killing of Joe McKnight during a road rage incident earlier thi

    s week.

    In this divisive, racially-charged environment, which is in no way unique to our community, we fully appreciate and share in the public’s concern over the killing of Joe McKnight.

    We are monitoring the investigation closely to see that it is thorough and transparent, and ultimately, that justice is done in accordance with the law. We are working closely with local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and oversight agencies.

    We will continue to advocate for all of the people of Jefferson Parish who we represent. Our prayers are with the family of Joe McKnight, because violence is never the answer. The laws of the land shall prevail and the Jefferson Parish Delegation of the Louisiana Legislature will be monitoring this matter closely.

    State Senator JP Morrell, District 3
    State Senator Troy Carter, District 7
    State Representative Rodney Lyons, District 87

    Read more »
  • Shooting at SU did not involve students

    Campus secure, University expecting large crowd for gameday and high school event

    The Southern University Police Department and the Baton Rouge Police Department continue to investigate a shooting incident that occurred on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus Thursday evening Nov. 17. The campus is secure and the University is committed to providing a safe living and learning environment for its faculty, staff, students, and visitors. SUPD is asking the SU community to remain alert and cautious and to report any suspicious activity or any information that may be related to the shooting.

    SUPD confirmed that a 19-year-old male victim critically injured during the shooting incident was treated on the scene by emergency personnel and was transported to a local hospital where he remains. SUPD detectives and the SU Police Department arrested Larry McCray, 20, of Reserve, Louisiana, as a suspect in connection with the shooting. SUPD reports neither the victim nor the suspect is a Southern University student.

    The University is looking forward to hosting, this Saturday close to 2000 prospective students for our annual Jaguar Preview High School Day. The SU Jaguars will salute senior student-athletes in the last home game for the season in A.W. Mumford Stadium, kick off at 4 p.m.

    A team of staff and volunteers are ready to assist visitors, guests, and fans arriving and leaving the campus for events. As always, gameday on the Bluff will be safe and secure with law enforcement officers assisting with traffic and parking and security.

    The University held a press conference today in the A.W. Mumford Fieldhouse to provide an update from SUPD and the Baton Rouge Police Department, and campus leaders

    Read more »
  • ,,

    System Broken: Can effective criminal justice reform come to La?

    In Louisiana, nearly 4 in 10 inmates released from prison are back behind bars within three years, and the state is spending more than $700 million annually on this broken system.  Organizers of a Criminal Justice Reform Summit said legislators, thought leaders, and others can lead Louisiana to adopt a more just and effective criminal justice system. During the summit, the public and these leaders will learn more about how reforms around the country can be effective within Louisiana’s criminal justice system to lower costs while increasing public safety.

    The summit will be Nov. 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge.  Topics on the agenda include:

    • Justice Reinvestment: What it is and Why it’s Critical
    • Cost Saving and Reducing Crime: Proven Successes and Testimonials
    • Linking Workforce Needs and Re-Entry: Unique Employer Challenges and Realistic Solutions

    Panelists include:

    • Jay Neal, interim executive director, GA Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
    • Stephanie Riegel, editor, Baton Rouge Business Report
    • Representative Greg Snowden, MS Speaker Pro Tempore
    • Ian D. Scott, vice president – communications and networks, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
    • Senator Danny Martiny, LA State Senate
    • Terrence Williams, Kia technician, Premier Automotive
    • Stephen Waguespack, president & CEO, LABI
    • Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc, LA Department of Public Safety & Corrections
    • Sheriff Beauregard “Bud” Torres III, Point Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office
    • Judge William J. “Rusty” Knight, 22nd Judicial District Court
    • John Hightower, vice president, East Region, Premier Automotive / Premier Collision Centers
    • Dennis Schrantz, director, Center for Justice Innovation, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
    • Bryan Kelley, executive relations manager, TX Prison Entrepreneurship Program
    • James M. Lapeyre Jr., president, Laitram LLC
    Read more »
  • ,,

    City Parish, DoJ host community conversations on policing

    The City of Baton Rouge Parish of East Baton will host community conversations to discuss and review police policy on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 at 6pm in the Raisin Cane’s River Center, Exhibition Hall, meeting room 9.

    Organizers said the public will provide recommendations for a community action plan. Discussions will be led and facilitated by Synthia Taylor, regional director for the Department of Justice Community Relations Service –Southwest Region.

    “This is an opportunity to enhance community relations and develop more resources as we strive to continue to improve community policing,” said Mayor Kip Holden. “We welcome the public’s input on these very important topics.”

    Topics include community policing, police accountability, body cameras, police civil service rules as well as training, recruitment, retention, residency requirements, and pay incentives.

    For more information, call (225) 389-3100. Register at https://ebrcommunityconversation.eventbrite.com.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Six BR deputies cleared in shooting death of Travis Stevenson

    “The death of Travis Stevenson was legally justified and no criminal responsibility can be found for the deputies involved as they were legally exercising their rights of self-defense and defense-of-others,” states an official report by the District Attorney’s office.

    According to DA Hillar C. Moore III, an investigation has cleared six deputies of any wrongdoing for the Feb. 23, 2016, death of Stevenson.

    East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies general detectives Sgt. Charles Montgomery and Det. Shannon Broussard, homicide detectives Sgt. Scott Henning and Cpl. Chris Masters and uniform patrol deputies Lt. Michael Birdwell and Sgt. Verner Budd from the Gardere substation were on the scene when the shooting happened. They were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure, following the incident.

    Reports state Stevenson repeatedly rammed a deputy’s patrol vehicle after officers blocked his car in a parking spot next to an apartment building at the corner of Terrace Avenue and Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. Deputies tried to pull Stevenson from his vehicle, smashing a car window in the process, before deputies shot him, Gautreaux said.

    Dr. William “Beau” Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner, said Stevenson died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    “Four of the responding deputies discharged their firearms,” states the report. “Stevenson was struck several times, resulting in his death. The incident was not recorded on any dash cameras or body cameras. Furthermore, there is no video of this incident known to law enforcement.”

    Louisiana State Police investigators from Hammond oversaw the investigation.

    This case is one of four officer-involved shooting deaths that occurred within East Baton Rouge Parish in 2016.

    ONLINE: Read the official report here.

    Read more »

  • ,,

    Protesters, leaders vow: ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community’

    Alton Sterling’s death has inspired nationwide protests backed by thousands of Americans who want to end police brutality and the unremitting laws that seem to protect those who are employed to serve and protect citizens.

    Sterling’s name is being called by people all over the world who are partaking in public demonstrations, rallies, and protests seeking justice for his death and that of Philando Castile, Dylan Noble, and others who were killed by police officers. With the continued efforts being taken to protest, many people are optimistic about the possibility of justice being served this time around, but what happens if the verdict isn’t in favor of the victims? How will supporters feel? Will the public outcry lead to a volatile response from protesters? In Baton Rouge, leaders are extending a strong message to citizens currently fighting for justice and against police brutality. They are saying, with microphones in hand and in casual conversations, “Rioting and looting aren’t effective forms of retaliation. We will not destroy Baton Rouge.”

    In the past, America has seen the devastating aftermath and retaliation from outraged protesters and residents following seemingly “unjust” verdicts. Many of the most highly publicized officer-involved shootings have resulted in non-indictments, non-guilty verdicts, and dropped charges.

    Despite facing incriminating evidence and unedited videos of their attacks, overly aggressive—and often violent—police officers have managed to walk away from cases with judges ruling in their favor. Instead of serving time, these officers end up getting a slap on the wrist or a severance package to move on with their lives. Only to be met with violent uproar within the communities left on the other side of justice.

    Local community leaders and elected officials have stepped into what could’ve been riotous moments during the protests following Sterling’s killing and deescalated situations in an effort to keep peace. With emotions and tensions at it peak, these leaders say they aren’t personally concerned about the possibility of local looting, but some residents are.“I don’t have a concern about looting, but I’m a business owner and a property owner so, I do know other business and property owners may be worried about those possibilities because they aren’t as close to the situation as I am,” said businessman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    “(Baton Rouge has) done things differently from a lot of other places around the country because we’ve had the opportunity to learn from the lessons and previous mistakes other communities have made and observed that if you tear your community up, once national media leave and professional protesters leave, we’re left to deal with the aftermath.”

    To that, Black leaders throughout the city stress the importance of refraining from destroying the community, saying the aftermath would be detrimental to the advancement of the community.

    “Destructive protests do not accomplish anything because generally our people are the ones who hurt the most from it,” said Doris Gaymon, 64, a lifelong resident of North Baton Rouge. “We tend to destroy our own areas and properties and it defeats the purpose of the message we hope to send. In many cases, the areas destroyed are not insured and total destruction on those locations have made owners apprehensive about rebuilding in the impacted areas due to fears of repeated destruction.”

    For Gaymon, Sterling’s death is quite disheartening and many of the strikingly intense photos from recent protests mirror those from Civil Rights era demonstrations. The images and emotions signify the fight for equality and the ongoing battle against police brutality.

    “It appears we haven’t gotten beyond destruction,” she said.

    Gaymon remembers the 1972 rally at Southern University where Denver Smith and Leonard Brown were fatally shot by white deputies while protesting on campus. Although their protests weren’t centered around police brutality, they were fighting for a number of on-campus changes and the resignation of certain administrators.

    “The death of Alton Sterling has only culminated a deep-rooted problem that has been festering for many years. Hopefully, we, as a people, can understand that destruction does not resolve anything,” Gaymon said.

    In spite of all the horrific events Baton Rouge has experienced—including the shooting death of Sterling, attacks on peaceful protestors, and the deaths of three uniform officers—most residents agree emphatically that retaliation in the form of rioting and looting won’t relay the message of justice the community is hoping to send.

    “At every opportunity, you will hear leaders and residents all over saying, ‘We will not destroy or burn down our community!’,” said Dunn. “And we will not. This is ours.”

    By Meaghan Ellis
    Special to The Drum

    Originally published July 2016 in the print edition of The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baker man one of 42 prisoners released by President Obama

    On June 3, 2016, President Barack Obama granted commutation of sentences to 42 individuals.

    Cleon Jermaine Hawkins of Baker, LA, was the only Louisianan commuted this month. His 180 month imprisoment was scheduled to expire Oct. 1. Hawkins had been found guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime by the Middle District of Louisiana.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge Police to offer Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense class

    The Baton Rouge Police Department is offering an Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense class. The free class will be held at the Baton Rouge Police Department Training Academy, 9000 Airline Hwy, 6 pm – 10pm. The course covers: facts about violence against women, reducing the risk of becoming a victim, defensive striking, common grab defenses, head-lock defenses, bear hug defenses, striking and knife defense and group escapes. The class is open to women over the age of 13. Participants should wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity. Participants must attend all 4 sessions to be certified.

    Class size is limited so participants should register early by following this link.

    Session 1

    Tuesday, August 18th

    Session 2
    Thursday, August 20th

    Session 3
    Tuesday, August 25th

    Session 4
    Thursday, August 27th

     

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Family walks and 3,100 petition for justice

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson holds “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge

    On Monday, July 6, the family and friends of Lamar Alexander Johnson, led a peaceful protest in downtown Baton Rouge in response to the controversy surrounding Johnson’s death while in police custody.

    The 27-year-old’s death has sparked controversy about the series of events that led to his passing while being held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)[/caption]While the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has claimed Johnson hung himself from his isolated jail cell, Johnson’s family and friends have insisted that this could not have been the case, especially considering Johnson believed he was being held for minor offense.

    IMG_2404Johnson, a father of three who was engaged to be married, was arrested on May 26 after an officer pulled him over for a window tint violation. According to the family, Johnson admitted to the officer that he had an outstanding 2011 warrant for what he believed, at the time, was a failure to appear for a traffic violation. On May 30, when the family tried to inquire about Johnson’s status, they were informed he was in the hospital, after prison officials said they discovered him hanging from his bed sheet in his cell. Johnson’s family said Lamar had no history of mental illness or depression.

    “Throughout the process, I stayed in touch with my son,” said Linda Johnson Franks, Lamar Johnson’s mother. “He kept assuring me that this was small potatoes and he’d either serve a few days or figure out how to pay whatever fines might be levied. This wouldn’t make sense in any situation, but especially if you knew Lamar. No way.”

    Johnson passed away on Sunday, June 10 from a total brain injury due to lack of oxygen.

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    Friends and Family of Lamar Johnson to “Walk for Justice” in Downtown Baton Rouge. (From Facebook page)

    While the EBRSO said it conducted an internal review of the incident that confirmed their original story, the family has called for EBR city-parish officials to sanction an “uninterested, third-party investigation” into the series of events that led to Johnson’s injury. An online, Change.org petition started late last week calling for the same had 3,078 signatures at the time of this story.

    “We’re not making any accusations, we just want answers,” said Karl Franks, Lamar’s father. “And to get them, the investigated shouldn’t be conducting the investigation. That’s just common sense.”

    ONLINE: Change.org
    TWITTER: #JusticeforLamar
    FACEBOOK:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Lamar-Johnson/1116391165045014?fref=ts

    Read more »
  • ,

    Rep. Richmond calls for investigation into abusive practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office

    WASHINGTON, DCIn a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into alleged abusive patterns and practices of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office:

    “We can no longer allow the abusive culture that has permeated IPSO to go unchecked,” said Richmond who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee,. “The accounts of discrimination, abuse, and even deaths occurring as a result of the actions of deputies clearly illustrate a pattern and practice that systematically violates the basic rights of citizens. It is imperative that the Department of Justice step in and correct this conduct before there is any more loss of life.”

    “Just last year Victor White III– died as the result of a fatal gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of an IPSO squad car. According to IPSO Deputies, Mr. White pulled out a handgun, while his hands were cuffed behind his back, and shot himself in the back. However, the full coroner’s report indicated that Mr. White had died from a single shot to his right chest, contradicting the initial police statement that he had shot himself in the back. This is just one example of the copious discrepancies that has plagued the office.”

    “Recent unrest in communities across the country have shed light on the fact that many people feel they have been unfairly targeted by police and forced to live their lives under the threat of an oppressive regime. The role our law enforcement officers fill is too important to the function of our society to allow this dynamic to go on unchecked.”

    The letter to Attorney General Lynch can be found here.

    Read more »
  • CONSUMER ALERT: Don’t pay for a vacation to nowhere

    With school out and summer in, many Louisiana residents may be itching to get out of town for vacation. As consumers search for their perfect getaways, they may come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing.

    In an instance where a deal sounds too good to be true, that may be exactly the case. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell cautions consumers to beware of the vacation to nowhere.

    “Unfortunately, some ‘deals’ are advertised by scammers trying to steal your money,” Caldwell said. “They may offer unbelievable vacation destinations at what appear to be unbelievable prices, except that vacation to paradise may turn out to be a vacation to nowhere. It’s important to avoid wiring money, and to always research travel offers.”

    Scammers may create fake websites that look legitimate, using names and logos of real hotels. They might post gorgeous photos of homes and condos — real and fake — on property sharing sites. And they know they’ll get a consumer’s attention with super low rental prices.

    They might ask you to wire money to hold the rental — either a deposit or the full amount. But when you show up for your vacation, suitcases in hand, there’s a problem. Sometimes the rental property doesn’t exist. In other scams, the place you thought you booked wasn’t actually available. Either way, your money is gone, along with the hopes of a stress-free vacation.

    Here are some tips to help you avoid a vacation rental scam:

    • S
    • earch online for the owner and listing with words like review, scam, or complaint. You may find comments from others who have identified this listing as a rip-off. Another clue it may be a scam? If you find the same ad listedunder a different name or with different contact information.
    • Check that the address of the property really exists. And get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm specific details about the location and the contract.
    • Consider using a credit card to book your rental. If there are any problems, you’ll get better protections that way. But whatever you do, don’t be pressured into wiring money. If a property owner requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, chances are, it’s a scam.

     

    Do you think you sent money to someone for a fake vacation rental? Report it by contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 or www.AGBuddyCaldwell.com. If you paid by credit card, get in touch with that company as soon as you can. And contact the fraud department of the website where you found the posting. You might not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the post removed.

    Read more »
  • Nation Saw Record Number of Exonerations in 2014

    Report from National Registry of Exonerations Documents More than 100 Exonerations in a Single Year for the First Time

    The National Registry of Exonerations recorded 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in 2014, the first time the Registry found more than 100 exonerations in one year, according to a report released today that analyzes trends in exonerations and details the work of the nation’s 15 prosecutorial Conviction Integrity Units.

    “The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of the report.

    The states with the most exonerations in 2014 are Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7), Michigan (7), Ohio (6), North Carolina (4), Louisiana (3), Maryland (3), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (3), and Tennessee (3). The states with the most recorded exonerations are not necessarily those where most false convictions have occurred.

    The Registry credits Conviction Integrity Units for contributing to the spike in exonerations: 34 more than the previous record of 91 exonerations in 2013.

    Read the report, Exonerations in 2014, at http://bit.ly/1C4YwIk

    Read more »
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