Strippers get $3M verdict in discrimination case
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi jury has awarded more than $3 million to five African-American strippers after a federal judge found the women worked under worse conditions than their white colleagues.
U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate ruled in the discrimination case last year. After a trial that lasted nearly a week on the question of damages, jurors decided Wednesday that the women would split $3.3 million for back pay and past and future suffering.
The attorney for Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, Bill Walter, said Friday he would ask Wingate to reduce the award or he would file an appeal.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Danny’s years ago, saying the Jackson club limited when Black women could work and fined them $25 if they didn’t show up for a shift. The board said white strippers had flexible schedules at the club and were not subjected to fines for missing work and other abusive working conditions.
— The Associated Press
D.A. plans get-tough measures for youth crime
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro last week unveiled an eight-point plan to reduce juvenile crime in the city.
Cannizzaro used the recent shooting death of 63-year-old Zelda Townsend, allegedly killed by a 17-year-old during a botched car robbery, as evidence of the city’s “out of control” juvenile crime problem during Thursday’s speech.
“The question is no longer whether this city is too hard on juvenile offenders. It is whether juvenile offenders are too hard on this city. Mrs. Townsend’s murder leaves no doubt of the answer,” he said.
The DA’s plan includes increased enforcement of truancy and curfew ordinances, tougher restrictions on repeat violent youth offenders, the possible arrest of parents who do not adequately monitor their children, requesting additional manpower from the state police during the summer and ending the police department’s federal consent decree.
According to data collected by New Orleans’ city council crime analyst, youthful offenders accounted for 6% of violent offenses in 2018, but 96% of the youth arrested in 2017 were Black.
— The Louisiana Weekly
House panel rejects 2 bills affecting worker’s pay
Baton Rouge, La. — The House Labor Committee rejected bills recently to let local authorities determine their own minimum wage rates and to implement equal pay measures for all women in Louisiana.
The panel cast 9-6 votes against both the minimum wage and equal pay bills..
Rep. Royce Duplessis, a Democrat from New Orleans, who sponsored the bill, said the state should not keep cities “in a chokehold and prevent them from being able to do what they think is in their best interest.”
In 1997, Louisiana was one of the first states to adopt the federal minimum wage. At that time, the state passed a law that revoked local governments’ authority to set minimum wages. Duplessis’ bill would have repealed that decision.
Almost 100 people attended the hearing, where proponents said the national $7.25 wage reflects decades-old economic policy and was not high enough to sustain growth in parishes in north and central Louisiana.
Joe Fuller, a councilman from Alexandria, Louisiana, said low wages are placing Louisiana at a disadvantage with states like Arkansas.
While Texas, Mississippi and Alabama also retain the federal minimum of $7.25, Arkansas increased its minimum wage to $9.25.
— The Lousiana Weekly
School district reports botched asbestos cleanup
NEW ORLEANS — Two charter schools will spend 2019-2020 in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year.
Lafayette Academy and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy in New Orleans had been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release. The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, says it has spent $1.3 million replacing contaminated property.
The Rosenwald Collegiate Academy building, which the growing school has never occupied, is undergoing a $1.3 million asbestos cleanup. The Collegiate Academies charter group discovered the problem last year before the new freshman class was moved into the former Julius Rosenwald Elementary School.
Asbestos, a commonly used building material until the 1980s, is dangerous when its fibers becomes airborne. Many old schools may contain the fire-retardant material in floor tiles, ceiling tiles and pipe insulation.
— The Lousiana Weekly
U.S. drags feet on Harriet Tubman banknote
Washington — Nearly three years ago the government asked Canadians to suggest a person to feature on a new $10 banknote and 26,300 suggestions were received. The top choice was Viola Desmond, a civil rights pioneer from Nova Scotia who was arrested in 1946 for refusing to leave a whites-only balcony seat in a movie theater while waiting for her car to be repaired.
Last year, the Desmond bill was released, and at the same time bumped up Canadian awareness of the obscure incident when Desmond, then 32, was jailed merely for sitting in the wrong theater seat.
Last month, the $10 Desmond bill won the International Bank Note of the Year design award for 2018 among a field of international competitors.
All this happened while the idea of honoring Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist who helped hundreds of slaves escape to Canada along the Underground Railroad, lay in the doldrums.
In 2016, President Barack Obama said Tubman would replace America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Jackson’s personal wealth is acknowledged to have been based on slave labor on his Tennessee cotton plantation.
However, under the Trump administration, the Treasury Department has revised its website to remove any mention of the proposed change. President Donald Trump was reported to have suggested putting Tubman on the little used $2 bill.
— The Louisiana Weekly
Mom proud to see son become mayor of Baltimore
BALTIMORE — Hundreds packed into the War Memorial Building on N. Gay Street on May 9 to see Bernard C. “Jack” Young take the Oath of Office as the 51st Mayor of Baltimore City. Among them was Ida M. Rather, mother of the city’s newest mayor.
“I am so proud of my son,” said Rather who witnessed the special moment a few days shy of Mother’s Day. “I thank God for all of my children. All of them are my favorites. I thank God for allowing me to see what I have witnessed here today.”
Mayor Young highlighted Ms. Rather in his speech.
“My mother, a homemaker who helped to raise 10 children in a small East Baltimore rowhouse is here today to witness her middle child — I’m the middle child ya’ll — be sworn in as the 51st mayor of Baltimore City,” said Young. “It’s a moment I’m sure she never dreamt of when I was a young child running around in our East Baltimore neighborhood.”
Young served from 2010 to 2019 as the president of the Baltimore City Council, and for 14 years prior to that as a councilman.
Young began leading the city on April 1, when former Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave of absence. She resigned May 2 amid a scandal surrounding her self-published book, “Healthy Holly.”
— Baltimore Times
Lawmaker cites mental health in resignation
ST. Louis — State Rep. Bruce Franks will step down from his seat, citing a need to deal with his anxiety and depression, reported St. Louis Public Radio.
The Democrat said he still wanted to make his mark on St. Louis’ politics, even though he’ll no longer be in elected office. He also hopes his spotlight on mental health will resonate.
While Franks hasn’t set a resignation date, he said won’t return for the 2020 legislative session. Gov. Mike Parson will have to call a special election for his 78th District House seat that encompasses eastern parts of the city.
Franks, who had gained a following as a rapper and activist, burst on the St. Louis political scene in 2016, when he unseated then-state Rep. Penny Hubbard.
— St. Louis American
N.Y. bill seeks to restore jury duty for ex-felons
Albany, NY — State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s bill to restore the rights of New Yorkers with felony convictions to serve on juries recently passed the state Senate.
If the bill is signed into law, after an individual with a felony conviction who has served his or her time, including any probation or parole, will be able to serve on a jury again.
“When people have made mistakes and served their time, they’ve been rehabilitated. When they re-enter society they should be able to participate fully in our democracy. Serving on juries and being able to vote are both part of being equal, full citizens in a free democracy,” said Benjamin.
Reports indicate that the bill is being opposed by several Republicans who call it the “Criminal Bill of Rights.” Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan reportedly said that allowing convicted felons to serve on juries “is justice denied to all law abiding citizens.”
— New York Amsterdam News
N.C. first Black female sheriff shows her toughness
WILMINGTON, N.C. — Five of North Carolina’s seven newly-elected Black sheriffs say being African-Americans, elected to be the top law enforcement authority in their areas presents a special set of challenges with which other sheriffs don’t have to deal.
That is especially true of Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance, North Carolina’s first African-American female sheriff, and only one of three throughout the entire country.
“Being a female sheriff has its issues in and of itself,” said Dance, who shared the NCBA Town Hall last Friday with Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson of Edgecombe County, Sheriff Danny Rogers of Guilford County, Sheriff Gerald Baker of Wake County and Sheriff Garry McFadden of Mecklenburg County.
“I have to sometimes go above and beyond to prove myself,” she said. “I always have and will continue to do so.”
Because law enforcement is a male dominated field, Dance said she has to “lead with a leadership of confidence that I know what I’m doing. I have to have the “buy in” from the men in my department, and I’ll tell you, from day one, I haven’t had an issue with that.”
Dance said her staff understands that she earned her way up through the ranks over the years and that “…nothing was given to me. I earned it.”
The Black sheriffs of Durham, Forsyth, Buncombe and Cumberland counties were not present at the town hall.
— The Wilmington Journal
N.C. moves expungement bill for ex-offenders
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate last week unanimously passed The Second Chance Act, which will expand the opportunity for individuals to have certain nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions expunged after their sentences have been completed.
The bill allows people who have been convicted of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies as 16- or 17-year-olds to petition the court for expungement. Its advocates say the measure will give young nonviolent offenders a chance at productive lives by removing barriers to college or employment.
In addition to the changes for juvenile convictions, the bill allows individuals to petition the court for the expunction of multiple nonviolent misdemeanors or felonies. It also creates an automatic expunction for individuals who are acquitted or have charges dismissed after July 1, 2020, and directs the Department of Public Safety, Department of Justice and Administrative Office of the Courts to develop recommendations and costs involved to automate this process. Convictions for motor vehicle violations, including driving while impaired, are not eligible.
— The Charlotte Post
Trayvon Martin’s mom runs for county post
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The mother of the unarmed black teen who was shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012 has announced her candidacy to run for local office.
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, spoke to supporters Monday in Miami Gardens. She is challenging the city’s mayor, Oliver Gilbert, for a Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners seat that is up for grabs in 2020 because of term limits.
Fulton says her 24 years as a county employee and her activism have prepared her for office. She was thrust into the national spotlight after her son’s killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted under Florida’s controversial self-defense law.
Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida, at the hand of a neigborhood watch resident, George Zimmerman, sparked national outrage and was the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.
— The Associated Press
Alabama State honors founders on 150th year
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama State University has honored its founders at an event commemorating its 150th anniversary.
Nine former slaves established the Lincoln Normal School in Marion, Alabama, in 1867. The school later moved to Montgomery and changed its name to ASU.
Descendants of the founders attended the event last Tuesdany and exchanged stories, photo albums and historical artifacts from their ancestors, known as the “Marion Nine.”
“They started a school and it survived Jim Crow, black codes and all efforts to put African Americans back in a pseudo-slavery situation,” said Gary Franklin, a genealogist and great-grandson of two of the founders.
Students in the past celebrated William Paterson as the university’s founder. The Scottish native served as one of the first presidents of the university is credited with relocating the school to Montgomery.
— The Associated Press
Detroit Pistons to share $25M arena with university
DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons announced plans to bring the NBA G-League to the city.
A specific timeline for the G-League to arrive in Detroit has not been determined. Discussions with NBA G-League officials regarding an expansion franchise and the Pistons current G-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, are ongoing.
The Pistons and Drive recently extended their hybrid operating agreement through the 2020-21 G-League season.
The G-League serves as the NBA’s developmental league preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front-office staff for NBA positions while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.
As part of a multi-faceted partnership with Wayne State University, the Pistons’ G-League affiliate will play in a new arena the school is planning to build for its men’s and women’s basketball programs less than two miles from both Little Caesars Arena and the new Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center.
— Michigan Chronicle