KKK member sentenced for driving into protesters

RICHMOND, Va. — An acknowledged member of the Ku Klux Klan was sentenced Tuesday to three years and eight months in prison on charges he drove his pickup truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters near Virginia’s capital city.

Harry Rogers, 37, of Hanover County, was convicted of three counts of assault and battery, one count of destruction of property and one count of failure to stop at the scene of an accident in connection with the attack last June in Henrico County near Richmond, news outlets reported.

Rogers pleaded guilty Feb. 5 and had three felony charges and a fourth misdemeanor assault count dropped. He was originally sentenced to six years in jail in August, but he appealed that conviction.

Authorities said Rogers struck at least two people after driving over a median near a Confederate monument and then through a group of protestors in a roadway. Nobody was seriously injured, though officials said he ran over a man’s toe and twice hit a woman who stepped in front of the truck.

— The Associated Press

$4.5M settlement offered over Alton Sterling’s death

BATON ROUGE, La. — After a $5 million proposed settlement fell through, officials in Louisiana are now offering $4.5 million to settle the civil lawsuit brought by the family of Alton Sterling, a Black man who was killed in 2016 by police who approached him while he was selling homemade CDs in front of a convenience store.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted 7-4 Wednesday in favor of offering the multimillion-dollar settlement to the family of Alton Sterling, news outlets reported.

Sterling’s death had inflamed racial tensions in Louisiana’s capital, cast a national spotlight on the history of strained relations between police and Black residents of Baton Rouge and sparked widespread protests.

“I am pleased our metro council was able to find a consensus and approve an offer of settlement in the Alton Sterling civil case,” Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome posted on social media. “After nearly five years, the people of Baton Rouge are finally one step closer to getting much needed closure in this traumatic episode in our history. Now we must continue the work of building a more fair and equitable community, where every citizen is treated justly, no matter their race or ethnicity.”

The governing council had narrowly rejected a proposed $5 million settlement in November.

The lawsuit names the city, its police department, a former police chief and two officers, one of whom has since resigned. It alleges the shooting fit a pattern of racist behavior and excessive force by the Baton Rouge Police Department and says poor training and inadequate police procedures led to Sterling’s death.

— The Associated Press

New Houston vaccine site to address racial disparity

HOUSTON — Officials in Houston are hoping to address the racial disparity within Texas and the U.S. in who is receiving COVID-10 vaccines with a new clinic on the campus of one of the area’s historically Black universities.

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, one of the hospitals from Houston’s Texas Medical Center, has partnered with Texas Southern University for the clinic that starting Monday will administer vaccines to some of the area’s most vulnerable populations, including people 75 years and older and minorities who meet the state’s guidelines for vaccine distribution.

St. Luke’s Health CEO Doug Lawson said the clinic was part of the hospital’s efforts to reach out to communities of color, underserved communities and address “racial inequities in the health care that we are delivering.”

The campus clinic is located in Third Ward, one of Houston’s historically Black neighborhoods, and will allow the hospital to serve one of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic, said Elizabeth Youngblood, president of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.

— The Associated Press

Man charged with hate crimes for attack on Black teen

MONROE, Mich. — A white man accused of attacking a Black teenager and attempting to strike another has been indicted on federal hate crime charges, eight months after an incident at a Michigan park.

Lee Mouat is accused of striking Devin Freelon Jr. with a bike lock in June. Investigators said he repeatedly yelled racial slurs and said Blacks couldn’t use the beach in Monroe.

He’s also accused of attempting to hit another teen with the lock.

Mouat’s case has moved slowly in federal court since he was initially charged in a criminal complaint in October. His attorney and prosecutors were discussing a possible plea deal to avoid an indictment, according to a Dec. 14 court filing.

The indictment was filed Wednesday. An email seeking comment was sent to Mouat’s attorney.

Freelon lost at least three teeth and suffered other injuries.

— The Associated Press

Vt. to get portrait of early African American lawmaker

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A Middlebury artist has been picked to paint a portrait for the Vermont Statehouse of Alexander Twilight, who is thought to have been the first African-American state lawmaker in the country.

Katie Runde was selected from a field of 18 artists who applied for the commission, the Caledonian Record reported Wednesday. She will paint a large-scale portrait of Twilight, an early Vermont educator and minister.

“I am honored to be commissioned to paint such an important figure both in terms of Vermont’s enterprising, progressive past and how we now choose to model our future,” Runde said.

The Friends of the Vermont State House announced in September that it was commissioning a portrait of Twilight. Twilight had been on a short list of possible portrait commissions for several years as part of a larger plan to broaden the representation in the State House of women and people of color.

“It is the edifice that represents our government, and all Vermonters need to feel connected to it,” said State House Curator David Schutz. “Mr. Twilight was a man of remarkable accomplishments.”

— The Associated Press

Official apologizes to woman hit by rubber bullet

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida woman who was shot in the face by a rubber bullet during a Black Lives Matter demonstration last year has received an apology from a city official.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen reached out to LaToya Ratlieff on Wednesday, news outlets reported.

“I just felt like it was appropriate to reach out and see how she’s doing and talk with her about working together to improve police reform,” Sorensen said.

Ratlieff told news outlets it was the first time anyone from the city has said they are sorry for what happened to her last May when she was struck in the eye by a bullet fired by a Fort Lauderdale police officer as a peaceful protest over the killing of George Floyd quickly escalated.

Ratlieff, 35, suffered a broken eye socket, which required months of treatment.

— The Associated Press

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