Carnival in NYC

Carnival New York Style

Colorful costumes were the order of the day as revelers participated last week in the West Indian American Day Parade in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The Labor Day festivities continued a tradition started in the 1930s in Harlem by Jessie Wardell and some of her West Indian friends. —The New York Amsterdam News/BILL MOORE

End of immigrant medical relief program spurs lawsuit

BOSTON — Civil rights groups sued President Donald Trump’s administration Thursday over its decision to stop considering requests from immigrants seeking to remain in the country for medical treatment and other hardships.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit in Boston challenging the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ decision to end its “deferred action” program as of Aug. 7.

The agency, in letters sent out last month, denied pending applications and ordered applicants to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation.

The civil rights groups argue the decision to end the decades-old humanitarian relief policy was done without the advance public notice and justification required by law before changing a substantial federal government regulation.

It also argues the move was “driven by racial and ethnic animus” and a desire to limit non-European immigration and therefore in violation of the Constitution.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Irish International Immigrant Center, a Boston-based organization that represents 19 families from the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa who had received or were seeking deferrals for the treatment of cancer, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other serious conditions.

The action follows a letter by more than a dozen state attorneys general —among them are New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — seeking answers from federal immigration officials about their decision to stop considering requests from immigrants seeking to remain in the country for medical treatment and other hardships.

The letter sent Wednesday to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asks, among other questions, how immigrants with severe medical conditions can request deportation deferrals going forward.

— The Associated Press

Black female trailblazer in ballet will be honoree

WASHINGTON — Misty Copeland had the world of ballet standing still, when she made history as the first Black female principal dancer to the prestigious American Ballet Theatre in 2015, just months after becoming the first Black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette” in ABT’s coveted “Black Swan” in the winter of 2014.

On Sep. 11, the Congressional Black Caucus will honor Copeland for shattering the glass ceiling in the ballet world with its esteemed Trailblazer Award during the CBC’s annual “Celebration of the Arts” event.

“It’s so important for other Black dancers to see a possibility, a future for themselves, in a world that still doesn’t include many other Black ballerinas,” said Copeland, who grew up with five siblings and took her step into history by beginning ballet lessons at the age of 13 at a local Boys and Girls Club in California.

“If I didn’t have art in my life, then I wouldn’t be the articulate, confident person that I am today. Fields in STEM are important but the arts are also so vital… not every child learns the same way and sometimes the missing link is art,” she said in a statement.

“I’m still a Black ballerina and a Black woman in this world and that doesn’t just disappear with titles,” Copeland said. “The more I use my visibility, my platform, my voice, to continue to speak about diversity both in front of the scenes and behind them, the more I’ll be able to help change the (trajectory) of dance,” she added.

— NNPA News Wire

Embattled official draws link to Marcus Garvey

ST. LOUIS — The Universal African Peoples Organization, led by longtime human rights activist Zaki Baruti, held its 30th annual celebration of the great Pan-Africanist visionary Marcus “Mosiah” Garvey.

The Aug. 18 event at Legacy Bookstore featured speaker was Kimberly Gardner, the first Black circuit attorney for St. Louis. The theme for the program was “The Quest for Social Justice Reforms.”

The more than 175 people in attendance were there to celebrate Garvey’s 132nd birthday and to support Gardner, who revisited the trials and tribulations of Garvey in her opening remarks. He had been falsely accused and convicted of mail fraud in 1923.

Gardner compared his situation to the plight she faced with the unprecedented political attack against her social justice reforms that she was working to implement through her office.

She reminded the audience that at the height of the popularity of Garvey’s movement under the Universal Negro Improvement Association with a membership of over 2 million, that the powers to be were determined to destroy his organization.

In addressing social justice reforms, Gardner emphasized getting away from mass incarceration, which causes great harm to Black and poor families, and outlined her diversion program as a logical alternative to incarcerating nonviolent offenders. The program would allow those who have run afoul of the legal system a second opportunity by engaging in community service work.

— St. Louis American

NYC councilman wants better data on police stops

NEW YORK — City Councilman Donovan Richards is sponsoring a bill that would require the New York Police Department to indicate the race and ethnicity of every driver they stop.

The idea is to see whether Black and Hispanic drivers are being disproportionately targeted for stops, as Richards says the concept of “driving while black or brown” is very real.

The official NYPD response is cautious.

“We’re gonna have our legal advisers look and we’ll get back,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. “We’ll have them study it and take a good look.”

Richards, the chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, says any extra burden on police is minimal because the information they need to gather is right there on each person’s driver’s license. He said, though, that complaints about “driving while black” seem to be diminishing.

— The New York Amsterdam News

Texas congressman joins GOP retirement bandwagon

AUSTIN, Texas — A fifth Texas Republican congressman added his name Wednesday to the list of House GOP retirements in the nation’s biggest conservative state.

Five-term Rep. Bill Flores is the 14th House Republican so far to announce plans to depart this year, compared with three House Democrats who have said they are leaving. Another GOP incumbent, Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, resigned earlier this year but the party retained the seat.

While Flores’ district is considered safe for Republicans, the number of GOP departures has complicated the party’s uphill quest to recapture the House majority in the 2020 elections. Democrats control the House 235-197, with one independent and two vacancies in North Carolina that are scheduled to be filled in special elections next week.

At least four of the retiring Republicans are vacating seats that Democrats could win, largely in suburban districts where an aversion to President Donald Trump among educated women is weakening the GOP.

Flores said he made a commitment when he first ran for Congress that he would serve fewer than six terms. He easily held onto his mostly rural district by 15 percentage points last year during an election cycle when other Republican incumbents got a scare in races closer to Texas’ big cities.

More than one-third of the House GOP retirements are now from Texas, where a generation of Republican dominance is weakening amid demographic changes and booming suburbs that are trending to Democrats

Among the other Texans leaving are Will Hurd, the House’s only black Republican, and Rep. Michael Conaway, a former House Agriculture Committee chairman.

— The Associated Press

NYPD arrests drop since firing in Eric Garner case

NEW YORK — Arrests totals in New York City have plunged in the two weeks since the police department fired an officer for the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, pointing to a possible slowdown amid a heated response to the firing from the officers’ union.

Felony arrests are down about 11% and misdemeanor arrests are down about 17% since officer Daniel Pantaleo’s Aug. 19 firing, compared with the average daily totals for the rest of the year. At the same time, the NYPD has seen a 32% drop in moving violations, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Wednesday.

O’Neill stopped short of saying the declines were the result of an intentional slowdown. He said he and other department leaders are studying data such as sick time usage, response times, radio backlogs and enforcement activity to pinpoint where and why fewer arrests are occurring.

The Police Benevolent Association has called for O’Neill’s resignation after taking a no confidence vote.

— The Associated Press

Nestlé plant layoffs are part of board restructuring

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nestlé plans to lay off 53 Portland employees beginning Nov. 1 as part of a broad restructuring of its frozen foods organization.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the company notified state officials of the layoffs in a letter dated Sept. 2.

Nestlé plans to close the entire facility in Portland. In May, it told Bloomberg News that it would lay off 4,000 U.S. workers in its frozen pizza and ice cream organizations. The company said it was shifting from direct delivery to grocery stores to a warehouse model.

The Nestlé site closing in Northeast Portland serves both Nestlé USA and Nestlé Dryer’s Ice Cream.

— The Associated Press

Judge lets lawsuit over specialty license plate stand

LOS ANGELES — A U.S. judge ruled a soccer fan can sue the California Department of Motor Vehicles and claim it violated his freedom of speech by rejecting his request for a specialty license plate.

Jonathan Kotler, a devoted fan of Britain’s Fulham Football Club, sued the DMV after it refused to issue him a license plate lettered “COYW,” short for “Come On You Whites” and the fans’ regular chant for their white-jerseyed players.

The DMV told Kotler the lettering has “connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”

U.S. District Judge George Wu in Los Angeles recently refused to dismiss the lawsuit by Kotler, a University of Southern California journalism law professor, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday .

California sought the dismissal, saying all vehicle license plates constitute speech by the government. DMV regulations define “offensive” plates as including those with any sexual connotation, as well as any term that is vulgar, racist, profane, insulting or degrading.

Wu noted in his ruling that British media refer to the Fulham club as “the Whites” while Chelsea, another London soccer club, is known as “the Blues,” for the color of its jerseys. New Zealand’s national rugby team is the “All Blacks.”

— The Associated Press

Black state senator running for mayor of Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — State Sen. Lena Taylor is running for mayor of Milwaukee, setting up a potential challenge to incumbent Tom Barrett, a fellow Democrat.

Barrett, the mayor since 2004, has yet to formally say whether he plans to seek re-election in 2020. His campaign has $811,000 on hand, compared with just $2,200 for Taylor who announced her bid on Tuesday.

Alderman Tony Zielinski, a Democrat, is also running for mayor. He has more than $574,000 in his campaign fund.

Taylor, 53, is an attorney who has been in the legislature since 2003. She has been critical of the 65-year-old Barrett, saying he’s out of touch with voters on job creation, racial issues and the city’s health department.

Taylor ran for Milwaukee County executive in 2008 but lost to Republican Scott Walker.

— The Associated Press

Papa John’s founder gives $1 million to private HBCU

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The founder of Papa John’s has donated $1 million to a historically Black college in Kentucky, coming more than a year of backlash for his use of a racial slur.

News outlets reported that John Schnatter announced the donation Wednesday at Simmons College of Kentucky. The school’s president, the Rev. Kevin Cosby, and board of trustees chairman, Mark Lynn, emphasized that people should focus on Schnatter’s actions and not his words.

Simmons is Kentucky’s only private historically Black college.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO of the Louisville-based pizza chain in 2017 and later resigned as its chair after blaming disappointing sales on the NFL player protests over police abuse and using the N-word during a company conference call.

— The Associated Press

Commission won’t reinstate officer tied to fatal shooting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A city commission has decided a white Little Rock police officer who was previously fired for fatally shooting a Black motorist should not be reinstated to the police force.

The Little Rock Civil Service Commission made its decision late Wednesday to uphold the termination of former officer Charles Starks following a daylong hearing.

Starks fired at least 15 times through the windshield of a car Bradley Blackshire was driving in February. Starks and another officer were attempting a motor vehicle stop at the time.

Pulaski County prosecutor Larry Jegley in April declined to file charges against Starks. Jegley said the car was moving and an “imminent threat” that justified the use of deadly force.

Police commanders fired Starks in May, saying he violated department policy.

Blackshire’s family filed a federal lawsuit in June claiming Starks and the second officer used excessive deadly force and failed to provide medical care.

— The Associated Press

Michigan to issue first ban on flavored e-cigarettes

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved Wednesday to make her state the first to ban flavored electronic cigarettes, accusing companies of using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to “hook children on nicotine.”

The Democrat ordered the state health department to issue emergency rules that would prohibit the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, including to adults, and the misleading marketing of e-cigarettes. Retailers will have 30 days to comply with the rules once filed in coming weeks.

The rules will almost certainly be challenged in court.

New York last November began taking steps to bar the sale of flavored e-cigarettes but withdrew proposed rules, and legislators rejected Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to clarify the state health department’s authority to limit sales.

The federal government and states ban the sale of vaping products to minors, yet government survey figures show that last year, 1 in 5 U.S. high school students reported vaping in the previous month. Top government health officials, including the surgeon general, have flagged the trend as an epidemic.

As of last week, 215 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes had been reported by 25 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least two deaths — one each in Illinois and Oregon — have been linked to vaping.

— The Associated Press

Amazon’s doorbell cameras attract congressional eyes

BOSTON — Amazon-owned doorbell camera company Ring is facing questions from a U.S. senator over its partnerships with police departments around the country.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter Thursday to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raising privacy and civil liberty concerns about Ring cameras that are capturing and storing footage of U.S. neighborhoods.

Markey is seeking more information from Bezos about Ring’s video-sharing agreements with law enforcement agencies. The lawmaker says he’s also alarmed that Ring may be pursuing facial recognition technology that could flag certain people as suspicious.

The Washington Post reported last week that more than 400 police agencies have signed agreements with Ring since the company began the partnerships last year.

— The Associated Press

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