Ta'Neasha Chappell, 23, died after being transported to a hospital from Jackson County Jail in Brownstown, Indiana.

Black couple claims

racism at Tyson FarmsA Black couple who worked at Tyson Farms plant in North Carolina filed a lawsuit alleging their supervisor frequently used racial slurs against them, showed disdain for their Muslim faith and the company ignored multiple requests for help.

Michelle and Adrian Switzer filed the lawsuit in Forsyth County Superior Court in April. Tyson Farms, with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, and 123 plants nationwide, replied in an email that a response could be expected within five business days.

Neither Tyson nor the couple’s attorney could be reached for comment at presstime.

Michelle and Adrian Switzer began work at the Tyson Farms plant in Wilkes County in 2015, according to the lawsuit. The Switzers’ complaint alleges their team leader regularly used a racial slur in front of Adrian and Michelle Switzer, berated Adrian Switzer, watched him during work breaks and, on one occasion, threw a protective smock at Michelle Switzer.

Michelle Switzer was fired on April 20, 2019. Her suit claims the termination was retaliatory as well as being racially and religiously motivated. Adrian Switzer was forced to quit because of the hostile environment that Tyson Farms failed to address, the document says.

In January, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a right to sue notice for the Switzers, according to the lawsuit. The couple is seeking a trial by jury, compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000, and attorney’s fees.

— The Associated Press

State Police investigate death of woman in custody

Indiana State Police are investigating the death of 23-year-old Ta’Neasha Chappel, a Black woman who died after being transported from Jackson County jail to a local hospital July 16.

According to law enforcement officials, Indiana State Police arrested Chappell in May, alleging she participated in a shoplifting ring operating in Kentucky and Indiana. Unable to raise the $4,000 bond, Chappell remained in custody awaiting a court hearing.

Authorities at the prison said Chappell complained of feeling sick and was rushed to Seymour Hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead last Friday. However, Chappell’s mother, Lavita McClain, told reporters her daughter feared for her life in the jail.

“She called every day telling us to get her out of there,” McClain said. “ ‘Mama, they’re going to kill me in here, they’re going to kill me in here.’ And she would always say ‘If anything happens to me, just know that they did it.’ ”

Chapell’s family remembered her as “a loving mother, sister, daughter, and friend who touched the lives of many around her. She leaves behind her 10-year-old daughter Nevaeh who will miss her terribly.” The family has established a GoFundMe site that’s raised about $2,600 for funeral expenses and an autopsy, published reports say.

The family also demands answers.

“We are all devastated by her loss but are working tirelessly to figure out the events that transpired moments before her passing,” Chappell’s brother, Jeffontae Elijah McClain, said.

— NNPA Newswire

Democrats aim to prune charter school funding

A small provision tucked into a massive federal budget proposal put forth by the House Appropriations Committee would cut money for charter schools by $40 million and could potentially limit many charter schools from receiving federal funds altogether.

The bill would prohibit any funds going to “a charter school that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.”

The National Alliance for Public Charters Schools objects to the cuts saying the move would impact a majority of 3.3 million charter school students, who are overwhelmingly children of color and from low-income families. The vast majority of charter schools are nonprofit organizations, though some states allow for-profit companies to manage charter schools.

Alliance President Nina Rees told CNN that the sweeping language could impact schools that contract out for cafeteria services, special education services, or back office staff — some of the same things local district schools also hire private companies to do. Without contracting out, schools may not be able to offer the services to special needs students that they are legally require to provide.

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement to CNN that this claim is incorrect.

“A well-funded misinformation campaign is incorrectly claiming that this provision would prevent federal funds from going to any charter school that contracts with any small entity, for any service. This false claim is being advanced by those seeking to continue federal funding for for-profit charter schools and should not be taken seriously,” DeLauro said.

“The language is clearly focused on ending the practice of charters accepting federal funds only to have the school run by a low-quality, for-profit company rife with conflicts of interest,” she added.


Maryland county commits to change after settlement

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A $2.3 million payment to a group of Black and Latino police officers to settle their workplace discrimination lawsuit against a Maryland police department is the latest effort toward reforms within the department, a county official said Thursday. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she will make sure that the future actions of the Prince George’s County Police Department don’t support bad behavior. ”Moving forward, I will continue to do the work needed to ensure that our culture and policies do not support bad actors or bad behavior,” Alsobrooks said during a news conference. “And we will also make sure that everyone in this government knows that discrimination and bias are not acceptable in our police department or any other agency.” The plaintiffs, members of the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association and the United Black Police Officers Association, had accused police officials of condoning racist, abusive behavior by white officers and retaliating against Black and Hispanic officers who complained about misconduct. The lawsuit also said the county’s police chief at the time, Henry Stawinski, allowed racism to “thrive” in his department. Stawinski resigned last year.

— The Associated Press

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