July 18, 2013

City News Service

 

Two men convicted of the January 2008 fatal shootings of two teenagers at a crowded birthday party in Long Beach were sentenced again on Tuesday July 16, to lengthy state prison terms. A three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal had sent the case back to Long Beach Superior Court for re-sentencing after reversing Izac McCloud’s conviction on 38 of 46 counts of assault with a firearm and Jonzel Stringer’s conviction on 46 counts of attempted murder involving others who were at the Jan. 19, 2008, party at the Masonic hall in the 5900 block of Parkcrest Street.

The justices upheld the convictions of the two for second-degree murder in the slayings of 15-year-old Breon Taylor of Los Angeles and 17-year-old Dennis Moses of Long Beach but ordered McCloud and Stringer to be re-sentenced. Long Beach Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim ordered McCloud —who had been sentenced in October 2010 to 202 years to life in state prison — to serve a minimum of 111 years to life in prison. Stringer —who had initially been sentenced to 198 years to life — was sentenced to a minimum of 36 years to life in prison at the new sentencing hearing.

“I think they deserve at least that much time,” Deputy District Attorney Karen Thorp said outside court.

“They actually deserve a lot more time than they got based on the lives they took and the lives they endangered. But I think justice has been served.”

In its December 2012 ruling, the state appellate court panel agreed with Stringer’s contention that a judge prejudicially erred by instructing jurors on the “kill zone” theory of liability for attempted murder.

“In a kill zone case, the defendant does not merely subject everyone in the kill zone to lethal risk. Rather, the defendant specifically intends that everyone in the kill zone die,” Associate Justice Frances Rothschild wrote on behalf of the panel.

The justices also found that there was sufficient evidence to support only eight of the 46 assault with a firearm convictions against McCloud, noting that 10 shots were fired but that two of them killed the murder victims, both of whom were shot in the head. A 17-year-old boy survived being shot in the leg. Stringer — who was 19 at the time of the crime — and McCloud — 16 at the time — were indicted in August 2008 for the killings, which occurred at a party that had drawn more than 400 youths.

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July 18, 2013

City News Service

 

An arraignment for a Littlerock man charged with murder in the mauling death of a female jogger by pit bulls he allegedly owned was postponed until Aug. 7. Alex Donald Jackson, 29 is charged with murder, negligent ownership of a mischievous animal causing death or serious bodily injury, cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession for sale of a controlled substance. He is also charged with a count of assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a January confrontation with another person.

Jackson, who remains jailed in lieu of $1.05 million bail, faces up to life in prison if convicted on the charges leveled against him, according to the District Attorney's Office. Deputy District Attorney Samantha MacDonald said that since January, authorities had received at least three other reports of Jackson's pit bulls attacking people. Jackson was arrested the day after the fatal May 9 attack.

Sheriff's deputies searched his home and confiscated eight dogs: six pit bulls and two mixed breeds, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Marijuana also was allegedly found growing on the property. Jackson was released on bail May 10 while DNA tests were pending to determine if his dogs were involved in the death of Pamela Devitt, 63.

According to the Sheriff's Department, Devitt sustained 150 to 200 puncture wounds, and DNA tests confirmed that blood found on four of Jackson's dogs was the victim's.

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July 11, 2013

By KENNETH MILLER

Assistant Managing Editor

 

Veteran Congresswoman Max­ine Waters and Congresswoman Karen Bass praised former United States Rep. William H. Gray III who died this week. A powerful and influential former Congressman, Gray was the first Black to become majority whip. He was 71.

“I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of my friend and former colleague, Congressman Bill Gray,” said Waters in a statement.

“Everyone loved him, and his legacy will continue to inspire all who knew him. I feel fortunate to have had the distinct honor of working with him over the years, as both a colleague and a friend. I join the people of Philadelphia and Americans across the nation in mourning the loss of an effective leader and passionate advocate of the public good. Bill Gray will certainly be missed.”

Gray passed away suddenly Monday July 8 while in London with one of his sons to attend the Wimbledon tennis championships, according William Epstein, a former aide to Gray.

Born in Baton Rouge, La., Gray graduated from Franklin & Mar­shall College and Drew Theo­logical Seminary in Madison, N.J., before being elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1978. He served as chairman of the budget committee and became the first African-American in the 20th century to become majority whip of the U.S. House. During his tenure, he authored legislation implementing economic sanctions against South Africa.

“Representative Gray’s leadership was made apparent by being the first African American to serve as Chair of the Budget Committee and later as the Majority Whip,” Bass said.

“He gained a reputation as a consensus builder and his legacy reminds us of the importance of working together for the good of country over politics.”

In 1991, he surprised colleagues by resigning to run the United Negro College Fund, for which a biography on his company website says he raised more than $2.3 billion for minority institutions. In 1994, President Bill Clin­ton tapped him as a temporary special adviser on Haiti.

“During his tenure, Con­gressman Gray also wrote legislation that implemented economic sanctions South Africa during apartheid,” said Waters.

“As our thoughts and prayers are with Nelson Mandela, we must remember and appreciate the fact that Congressman Gray spearheaded federal efforts to eradicate apartheid.”

Succeeding his father as pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in 1972, he continued in that position until 2007. Epstein said he commuted back to the city on weekends to deliver Sunday sermons.

“Representative Gray dedicated his life to serving members of his community in Philadelphia as well as poor and middle-class citizens across the country and the globe.  From his years as pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church to his chairmanship of the Democratic Caucus and his successful efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, Bill Gray showed true leadership and left an indelible mark on the world,” offered Bass.

Gray also founded Gray Global Advisors, a business and consulting firm of which he was chairman emeritus at the time of his death.

His mother, his wife and three sons survive him.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Story.

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July 18, 2013

By KENNETH MILLER

Assistant Managing Editor

 

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D CA-37) will be hosting Congress­ional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge during a private ceremony this weekend in Los Angeles.

Fudge is just the 23rd chair in the 140-year history of the CBC, an organization that has been a benchmark for African American leadership on Capitol Hill.

“I am very honored that (Rep.) Marcia Fudge will be my honored guest this weekend,” Bass told the Sentinel.

“She has been on the forefront in fighting for justice in the Trayvon Martin case, a strong advocate for voting rights and will soon be discussing the CBC’s meeting it had with the President.”

Bass was re-elected to her second term representing the newly drawn 37th Congressional District last year and she has been an outspoken advocate for balanced fiscal policies that preserve the social guarantee to seniors and invest in the future.

Bass also serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee Bass is working to craft sound criminal justice reforms as well as protect intellectual property right infringements that threaten the economic health of the 37th District.

She was selected by Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus and is also playing a leadership role in the Con­gressional Black Caucus (CBC), where she serves as whip for the 113th Congress.

The CBC protects congressional members who often face violent opposition in Washington, DC and within the communities of which they were a part, but through the CBC Black Members of Congress have relied on a combination of legislative tactics and grassroots, community-based initiatives to bring attention and positive change to issues of social and economic injustice.

Fudge will continue to lead the charge during the 113th Congress.

She took the oath of office for the 110th Congress completing the unexpired term of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and becoming the second African American female in the state of Ohio to hold the position. 

A native Ohioan, Fudge graduated from Shaker Heights High School and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ohio State University, in 1975.  She went on to receive a J.D. from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University in June 1983.

Fudge’s experience in law is diverse.  She has enjoyed roles as a solo law practitioner, visiting referee and acting judge.  These experiences have been instrumental in her success in civic endeavors.

Fudge gathers strength from her church, Zion Chapel Baptist church.  She has modeled her life after her mother, Marian Saffold, and practices the principles of the sorority she served as 21st National Presi­dent, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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July 11, 2013

By Freddie Allen

NNPA Washington Correspondent

 

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The failure to invest in Black males threatens America’s real-world economic future and national security, experts say.

“We have to realize that we are moving backwards and the country has to realize that the greatest national security and economic security threat is not from some outside enemy, it is from our failure to invest in these children and spending all this money on prisons instead of schools,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s  Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for children with a focus on poor and minority children. “The Black community has to raise a ruckus nobody is going to do it for us.”

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation, said leaders don’t realize the gravity of marginalizing Black males.

“They have to begin to understand, economically, that their failure to invest in this represents their own demise,” said Banks. “This country will not continue to be globally competitive if they’re wasting this human capital. It’s not going to work.”

According to a statistical profile compiled by Educational Training Services and the Children’s Defense Fund, Black males enter high school with great expectations, only to see them dashed in resource-starved classrooms.

“As African American students begin 9th grade, 62 percent of them expect to attain at least a bachelor’s degree. However, only 18.5 percent of Black men between the ages of 25-29 reached that goal in 2012,” according to the ETS/CDF profile.

A 2012 study by The Schott Foundation for Public Education found that barely half (52 percent) of Black males who started ninth grade in the 2006-2007 school year graduated on time. According to the study, 78 percent of White male students graduated in four years that started in the 2006-2007 school year.

The profile notes that, “Over the course of the childhood, two out of three Black children (66 percent) born from 1985 through 2000 were raised in neighborhoods with at least a 20 percent poverty rate, compared to just 6 percent of White children.”

Many researchers say that economic and educational disparities force Black males to make tough life decisions without desperately needed parental guidance.

“They come in behind the curve and keep losing ground,” said  Edelman. “Then, they have schools that are separate and still, mostly, unequal. They’ve got the least experienced teachers.”

Edelman said that kids that need the most should get the most, but it’s just the opposite.

According to the Educational Testing Service profile, “18 percent of Black secondary school students attend high-poverty schools compared to 2 percent of White secondary school students.”

And when minorities make up 90 percent of the student body, those schools spend $733 less per student annually than schools where 90 percent of the students are White.

“In high schools with a student population that is at least half Black, 25 percent of math teachers do not have a college degree in math and are not certified to teach math. For predominately Whites schools, this figure is 8 percent,” the profile reported.

Twenty-five percent of Black students go to schools that are dubbed “dropout factories,” where less than 60 percent of 9th graders are enrolled in the 12th grade four years later. Five percent of White students attend such schools.

Edelman said that the lure of the streets coupled with the absence of enough positive opportunities and good role models pose unique challenges for young Black men at a time when, like most teenagers, they are testing the limits.

“They navigate to gangs and peers for family and on top of that, they have all of these external cultural messages from the TV and the Internet about violence,” said Edelman. “You have to have all of this bling and you don’t have the means to get it, because there are no jobs.”

According to the latest jobs report, Black youth (16-19 years of age) face a 43.6 percent unemployment rate compared to White youth at 20.4 percent.

“It’s the absence of mediating adults in our churches, in our families, in our neighborhoods, we’re scared of these kids you overlay that with drugs and violence and guns everywhere and you’ve got a pretty combustible thing,” said Edelman.

The ETS/CDF profile stated: “Black male high school students are twice as likely as their White peers to report that they did not go to school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to and from school on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey.”

The profile continued: “In 2010, there were 3.5 more White males ages 15-19 than Black males of the same age. 114 White young men were killed in gun homicides, while 903 Black young men lost their lives in gun homicides.”

During a recent conference, a number of programs focused on high school-aged young Black men were held up as models for success. One program led by David Banks in New York City features a network of all-boys public schools and has managed to improve graduation rates among young Black males.

According to their website, “The Eagle Academy Model is a maximized educational approach to nurture the ‘whole’ child so that each Eagle Academy student is successful in the classroom and in life.”

The academy teaches the young men the importance of holding each other accountable “as students, as family members, and as engaged citizens in their communities.”

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation said, “It’s the kind of culture that we have been able to build that helps young men really understand who they are.”

Banks said that getting parents engaged in the educational process often meant doing things like scheduling weekend meetings with parents may be less convenient for teachers, but it works for parents who are extremely busy, sometimes single, juggling jobs and chores at home.

“We figured out how to get parents to really be involved and to buy-in and that’s critically important when it comes to young men and how you get them to be fully engaged in their own education,” said Banks. “Wednesday night meetings at six o’clock and seven o’clock are good for school people, but they’re not good for parents.”

Banks said that Saturday morning meetings when you start on time and end on time appeal to parents.

School officials say that The Eagle Academy in Bronx, N.Y. boasts an 87 percent graduation rate.

The Children’s Defense Fund also offers summer enrichment programs that provide positive mentoring and role models for at-risk youth and works to foster constructive attitudes towards learning, increased parental and family involvement.

Currently, CDF operates 197 Freedom School programs that serve 12,000 children in 29 states.

The profile compiled by Educational Training Services and the Children’s Defense Fund reported that, “Over the course of his or her lifetime, a single high school dropout costs the nation approximately $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity.” And because high school dropouts often end up behind bars, the failure to invest in young Black men drains resources from the cradle to the prison.

Banks added, “So, even if you don’t love these little Black boys but if you love your own economic condition you’ll recognize that you have to invest in them to protect your own investment.

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