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  • Baton Rouge launches web map to monitor heavy rainfall

    The City of Baton Rouge is launching a Web mapping application that allows city officials to monitor U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stream gauge data every hour during weather events. With multi-colored dots that represent each stream gauge, responders can see how high water levels are in that area at a given time. This allows city officials to direct response resources to where they are most needed.

    Baton Rouge announced the launch of this platform via a Facebook post. The map, which is live now, was built in collaboration with the city’s Department of Information Services’ GIS Division.   

    Read more by Zack Quaintance Staff Writer with

  • Government Tech
  • at http://www.govtech.com/civic/Whats-New-In-Civic-Tech-Amazon-Seeks-Proposals-For-Where-To-Build-Its-Second-North-American-HQ.html#.

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    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.

                                                                                                        

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    Street Justice: Thousands demand arrest of BR Police

    Whether it was a gathering of 300 in front of the Triple S convenience store, small groups of 50 meeting at area churches, nearly 400 at city hall, dozens painting signs at LSU, or a thousand marching through downtown, Baton Rouge residents and visitors are protesting the death of 37-year-old man, Alton Sterling, who was shot by Baton Rouge police officers, July 5.

    The shooting drew public attention immediately and protests began taking their cries for justice to the streets, starting on North Foster. of the shooting. Demonstrations for Alton Sterling followed in major cities across the nation.

    Protests have been largely peaceful, however local, city, and state officers’ use of force when arresting protesters have resulted in injuries. Reports have serviced of police attacking, beating, and illegally arresting protesters.

    This treatment has been publicized in national media. Following closed meetings between Black elected officials and the US Department of Justice, East Baton Rouge metro councilman Lamont Cole said the group has “some serious concerns” about how protesters have been handled by police.

    ”I don’t think the police need to make any more arrests or push the people to make an arrest,” Moore said.

    The American Civil Liberties union of Louisiana agrees. On July 13, the group filed a lawsuit against the BRPD, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, EBRP Sheriff’s Department, and State Police for using excessive force and “violating the First Amendment rights of demonstrators who were protesting peacefully against the killing of Alton Sterling.” The ACLU has requested a restraining order that would put restrictions on how protesters can be scattered and detained during future demonstrations. under the order, officers would not be able to use chemical” agents—such as tear gas— without clear warning and authorization from the governor. It also would only allow officers to work protests if their names, agency and identifying number were clearly displayed. The ACLU said protestors were verbally abused and physically hurt.

    “These protests are and will continue to be one of the strategies our citizens use to bring attention to the issue of police brutality and demand justice in the death of Alton Sterling,” said Michael McClanahan, president of the NAACP Baton Rouge Chapter.

    On July 5, BRPD officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were responding to a call from 911 saying there was a “man with a gun” at the Triple S on North Foster Drive at Fairfields Avenue. There they met Sterling who was selling CDs outside the store with the owner’s permission. Two videos of the shooting surfaced online via Facebook within hours, raising doubts about whether the police officers were justified in the shooting. Defenders of the police say other video exists that will exonerate the officers.

    At the request of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the U.S. Department of Justice took over the investigation and the officers were placed on paid, administrative leave. District Attorney Hillar Moore III recused himself due to personal ties to Salamoni’s parents, who are also police officers. The state Attorney General will be in charge of prosecuting any state charges.

    Groups from across the nation have traveled to Baton Rouge to join protestors, train observers, and organize activists for the longterm work of demanding justice. Organizers of rallies have said the work for justice will continue. Across nearly every part of the city, citizens—Black and white, elected officials, and police—are working to find solutions in closed meetings, criminal hearings, at policy meetings, during city council and legislative sessions, at mass, on the stage of poetry slams, and in safety briefings. “But the work began in the streets,” said McClanahan.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate

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    I Fit the Prototype: large and black. Am I Next?

    It has been more than a week since the viral video revealing the shooting death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers flooded social media timelines. The footage ignited widespread fear of local law enforcement and proved that the nation’s woes were no longer just on television but right in residents’ yards, literally.

    Now with the home front being a national headline, three Baton Rouge men tell their stories of what it is to be the prototype victim for police brutality. As they leave their homes everyday with the notion that they could be “next” just because they are large, Black men.

    Dominique Ricks, a 24-year-old educator from Baton Rouge whose first negative encounter with police occurred when he was 13 years old.

    Officers approached Ricks and a friend who were opposite descriptions of the suspects for whom they were looking. Ricks recalled that his mother came on the scene and told the officers that the two were good kids. Officers responded that they didn’t know if Ricks was a good kid, and they didn’t know if they were talking to an honor student or Saddam Hussein.

    “I’ve always feared interaction with the police,” Ricks said. “Ever since then, I’ve had a certain understanding: they don’t know who I am (and) a lot of times, they don’t care who I am, so it’s best for me to stay in my lane and avoid them.”

    Now at 6-foot-1, 291 pounds, his fears have only heightened as his hometown has become a hashtag.

    “I’m afraid that my son might end up growing up without a father, and it’s not because I’m not going to be a part of his life, but because I might get taken away,” Ricks said.

    But he continued that the Sterling incident did not shock him. He is only happy that it was caught on camera. He said he hopes justice will be served.

    Meet radio and television personality, Tony King, a 36-year-old Houston native who is 6-foot-2, 271 pounds and admittedly has a negative history in the criminal justice system. He said he accepts responsibility for his previous actions and has since turned his life around.

    “That one mistake doesn’t define who and what I am, and it does not take away the value of my life,” King said.

    “There’s a level of humanity that is being missed, and when you have people in the community who refuse to see the humanity in everybody–not just people who look like them–then to me, that’s a problem.”

    King, much like Ricks, hasn’t experienced heightened fear of interactions with police. Instead, King said, he’s always been afraid. “My fear looks the same as it has always been,” King said. “Every time an officer pulls up behind me, my chest tightens.”

    Meet Marcel P. Black, a 32-year-old youth development worker and local emcee from Ardmore, Okla. Black, who considers himself an activist, has lived in Baton Rouge since attending Southern University and A&M College, and has started his family in the city.

    As what is referred to as an underground emcee, Black, who is 6-foot-3, 350 pounds, said many times he has sold CDs in front of establishments. “I could have been Alton Sterling,” Black said. “I wear cargo shorts a lot, I wear red t-shirts a lot. We are about the same skin tone, about the same size. That could have been me.”

    Aside from seeing a mirror image of himself in Sterling, Black also said he believes there is a lack of concern for north Baton Rouge that contributes to residents feeling undervalued and creating a culture of unsafe interactions with law enforcement officials.

    “The city created these conditions in north Baton Rouge,” Black said. “North Baton Rouge is under-funded: no hospitals, no healthcare, no jobs, no access to mental health, no healthy food, and then they want to police it, and you wonder why there is unrest.”

    Black is a facilitator of a conversation group called Black Men Talk. The group meets monthly or as needed to discuss issues relating to Black men, mostly in regards to current events. But it’s just conversation. Black said action must be taken to prevent further unrest.

    “We got work to do. Our lives are different now. Our lives will never, ever be the same,” Black said. “Let’s talk prison reform, let’s talk police reform. We got work to do. Lord willing, we stay mobilized and organized, so we can keep doing this. I want to encourage everybody: this is our fight from here on out.”

    Work to be done is a sentiment that Black shares with national NAACP president Cornell William Brooks. Brooks warns that all work headed towards success in justice must be planned and well-thought-out.

    “We cannot be called upon as a community to serially grieve,” Brooks said. “We have to prevent these horrific videos and hashtags and tragedies from occurring again and again.”

    This month Brooks is celebrating two years as national president, and the time is eerily similar to when he was just two weeks into the role, when Eric Garner was killed by officers in Staten Island, New York. Garner was detained after selling loose cigarettes.

    “I would assert that people participating in this so-called underground economy, which is basically small entrepreneurship.This is nothing anybody should lose their lives for, so we’re here to send the message that we’re not going to grieve serially. We have to call for specific policy, legislative reform.”

    But before talking reform, Brooks encourages the community to allow a moment to grieve, followed by a moment to come together and then a decisive course of action.

    “Everybody needs to come together,” Brooks said. “And beyond that, a plan. We are at a time of both increased activism and heightened apprehension. There’s a reason to be vigilant, however it’s not a reason to be paralyzed. We cannot outsource the safety of our community to other people.”

    He said, “We gotta act now.”

    Understanding that there are people who will be fearful to stand on the front lines in times of social and civil unrest and police misconduct, Brooks compared the movement to that of a band.

    “One band, one sound, but that doesn’t mean everyone plays the same instrument,” he said.

    “When you see your sons and daughters being profiled, when you see your people being disrespected, when you see your community being disrespected, now may be the time to engage in activism, even if that’s not your thing,” Brooks said.

    “Beyond that, if you can’t stand on the front lines, then you raise some money for the people standing on the front lines, then you register folks to vote so that they can support the agenda of the people standing on the front line.

    The point being, in this post-millennium civil rights movement, there is a role for everyone to play.”

    Brooks encourages individuals who want to participate in taking action to visit NAACP.org for resources, including research based data for each state in regards to protest and demonstration laws. He also encourages citizens to let their fears motivate them to join together with others who seek justice.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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    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

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    The world is watching Baton Rouge

      Media around the world are watching Baton Rouge:

    MSNBC:Protests have erupted in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after the shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by police early Tuesday morning

    CNN: Louisiana lawmaker calls on Justice Department to investigate police shooting death

    New York Times: Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering

    Wallstreet Journal: U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Police Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://www.wsj.com/articles/louisiana-officer-fatally-shoots-suspect-protests-erupt-1467796285

    BBC: Alton Sterling death: Fresh protests over Louisiana shooting – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36731378

    Philadelphia CBS: Demonstrators Hit Philadelphia Streets Protesting Death Of Alton Sterling – http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/07/06/demonstrators-hit-philadelphia-streets-protesting-the-death-of-alton-sterling/

    Black America Web: #AltonSterling Is The Latest Victim Of A Culture That Dehumanizes Black Men – http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/07/06/altonsterling-is-the-latest-victim-of-a-culture-that-dehumanizes-black-men/

    IMG_20160706_225507

      Social Media:

    Hillary Clinton: “The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family.” – https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/750851893480521728

    Governor John Bel Edwards: Gov. Edwards’ Statement Following Recent Officer-Involved Shooting in Baton Rouge – http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/statement-following-recent-officerinvolved-shooting-in-baton-rouge

    Jessie Jackson: “The shooting of #AltonSterling in #BatonRouge is a legal lynching. Justice must prevail. #Outraged” – https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/750648298415853568

    Drake: “It is impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago.” – https://www.instagram.com/p/BHim8QWjFTx/

    Glen Davis: “I knew Alton Sterling and he wouldn’t hurt a fly” – http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/nba-glen-davis-knew-alton-sterling-wouldn-hurt-fly-article-1.2701263

    Shaun King: “Officers Blane Salamoni & Howie Lake should already be arrested by now. That latest video of their execution of #AltonSterling is enough.” – https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/750870151554174976

    Read more »
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    Auditions open for ‘The Piano Lesson’

    THE PIANO LESSON AUDITION NOTICE
    DIRECTED BY: TIM SANDIFER
    Set in Pittsburgh during the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson explores the troubled relationship of a brother and sister and their struggle over an extraordinary family heirloom, a piano carved with images of their African ancestors. The carvings, done by their enslaved grandfather, instill the piano with a metaphysical legacy – one the siblings avoid or even take for granted, but come to accept and embrace. The piano ultimately brings together a family long torn apart by slavery, violence and murder.Register Here
    When
    Saturday
    April 9, 2016
    1:00 pm
    (General Auditions)
    Where
    Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
    2nd Floor
    427 Laurel Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70801
    What
    THE PIANO LESSON
    REHEARSAL DATES
    April 11, 2016 – May 19, 2016
    Mondays – Thursdays, 6:30 – 9:30 PM
    Sundays, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    Rehearsals are at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
     PERFORMANCE DATES
    May 20, 21 and 22, 2016
    Fridays & Saturday at 7:30 PM Sunday at 3:00

    3 Performances at the LSU Shaver Theatre
    AUDITION REQUIREMENTS
    Please prepare a one-minute dramatic monologue.
    CHARACTERS
    CHARLES DOAKER: Male, 40-60, African Descent, African American The uncle and the owner of the house, spent his life working for the railroad, functions as the play’s testifier.
    BOY WILLIE: Male, 25-40, African American, Berniece’s brash, impulsive, and fast-talking brother who plans to sell the family piano and buy the land his ancestors once worked on as slaves.

     

    LYMON: Male, 25-40, African American, Boy Willie’s longtime friend, speaks with a disarming “straightforwardness”, fleeing the law, he plans to stay in the north and begin a new life.

     

    BERNIECE: Female, 30-40, African America, Boy Willie’s sister, still in mourning for her husband, Crawley, blames her brother for her husband’s death.

     

    MARETHA: Female, 10-14, African American, Berniece’s eleven-year-old daughter who is learning to play piano, the next generation of the Charles’ family.

     

    AVERY BROWN: Male, 30-45, African American, A preacher who moves north once Berniece’s husband dies in an attempt to court her, honest and ambitious.

     

    WINING BOY: Male, 45-65, African American A wandering, washed-up recording star who drifts in and out of his brother Doaker’s household whenever he finds himself broke.

     

    GRACE: Female, 25-35, African American A young, urban woman whom Boy Willie and Lymon each try to pick up.

    Email questions to info@newventuretheatre.org.
    Read more »
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    Small business and recruitment events end June 4

    East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden will host a series of events during the first week of June to foster the growth of opportunities for small, woman-owned and minority businesses, and individuals seeking employment.  All events are free, but participants for each event are asked to register in advance online at http://businesswithbr.com.

    The Mayor will kick off the week by welcoming the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and the Southern Regional Minority Supplier Development Council fora 6pm networking event on June 1, at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel, 777 L’Auberge Avenue.

    From 9am – 1pm, June 2 the Mayor will host a technology recruitment fair for those seeking employment opportunities.  Representatives will be sourcing business consultants, designers, certified professionals, programmers and other highly skilled technical professionals.   This fair will take place at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.  Holden encourages those attending to come dressed for success with several copies of their resume.

    The Mayor will then host his 4th annual Small Business Development Summit on June 4 , to help local businesses explore possible contracting opportunities with the City-Parish. The summit will be held from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at L’Auberge Casino and Hotel.

    Representatives from the following city-parish departments will be on hand to discuss their processes for procuring goods and services, and to provide information about how small businesses can take advantage of those opportunities:
    •           Purchasing
    •           Mayor’s Office of Community Development
    •           East Baton Rouge Parish Library
    •           Downtown Development District
    •           Sanitary Sewer Overflow Program/Department of Public Works
    •           Fire Department
    •           Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
    •           Division of Human Development and Services
    •           Juvenile Services
    •           Information Services

     There will also be opportunities to meet one-on-one with city-parish departments, procurement managers and technical assistance partner.

    “Building on our past successes, this year’s upcoming summit will again work to strengthen the local pool of qualified small businesses and  help small business owners achieve success by providing one-on-one consulting, networking opportunities and other assistance,” Holden said.

    All three events, including the summit are free, but participants are asked to register in advance online.

     

    Business with Baton Rouge is part of the Mayor’s Small Business Investment Initiative administered by the Mayor’s Office of Community Development to stimulate the local economy through small business growth.   The program is funded by an SBA grant obtained by the Mayor for supporting entrepreneurship, creating jobs and stimulating local economic recovery and growth. 

    The Business with Baton Rouge program, coordinated by the City-Parish Business Development Coordinator, Stacie Williams,  brings our City-Parish agencies together to assure there is consistency across programs designed to encourage small business participation. 

     

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