December 05, 2019 

By City News Service 


Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro joined members of Black Lives Matter today as they demanded that police officers who shot and killed a man running through a mall carrying a long knife be held accountable.


“Are people going to be held accountable for violating LAPD policy or not?” Castro asked at a news conference outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. “That's especially important where somebody loses their life. And so, you know, it's important for me to lend my voice.”


The issue centered on the shooting on April 10, 2018, of 30-year-old Grechario Mack, who ran through the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw shopping mall armed with a foot-long kitchen knife.


The Police Commission, the civilian panel that supervises the LAPD, ruled that the final shots fired by the two officers, while Mack was on the floor, violated policy.


“Accountability begins when people who do not meet a standard or policy are held to account for that,” he said.


Mack's parents were among those joining Castro at the news conference.


Continuing a two-day visit to Los Angeles, Castro also attended a roundtable discussion on veterans' homelessness at the Rosslyn Hotel on Fifth Street and later joined supporters at a lunch reception.


On Thursday, Castro will deliver a foreign policy speech at his alma mater, Stanford University, and attend a reception with supporters in San Francisco.

Category: News

December 05, 2019 

By Errin Haines 

Associated Press 


Kamala Harris cloaked her presidential campaign in the promise of becoming the first black woman in the White House. That wasn’t enough for donors and supporters, including black voters.


The California senator abruptly withdrew from the race on Tuesday after her once-promising campaign failed to coalesce around a message that would resonate with voters. And without clear support from voters, Harris couldn’t raise the money needed to keep going.


Responsibility for the collapse of a presidential campaign almost always rests with the candidate. But Harris’ exit also demonstrates the unique challenges facing candidates of color in the 2020 campaign. As Democratic voters of all races almost singularly obsess over who is seen as best positioned to defeat President Donald Trump next year, candidates who aren’t white are largely seen as not fitting the bill.


With less than two months before voting begins, those judgments — right or wrong — are becoming fatal as donors watch these cues to decide when to pull back.


“It’s the money, it’s the support, it’s the polls. … It’s an assumption for black candidates that their campaigns are long shots,” said Quentin James, the founder and executive director of CollectivePAC, an organization aimed at building black political power. “We’re left to wonder why is it that a candidate’s race still impacts how much money they can raise or how much support they get from institutional Democratic donors.”


Of course, Barack Obama, the first black president, is one of the most successful Democratic fundraisers, still collecting millions of dollars for the party nearly three years after he left the White House. And plenty of white candidates have had money problems this year.


John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, couldn’t raise enough money for his presidential bid and chose to run for the U.S. Senate instead. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is a powerhouse fundraiser in her home state but couldn’t translate that success to her presidential campaign and dropped out in August. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock ended his campaign this week, also bemoaning money trouble.


But other white candidates have had success that women and candidates of color have said isn’t available to them. Harris, for instance, is the highest-ranking black woman in the U.S. government. But the $35.5 million she raised during her campaign falls far short of the $51.5 million that Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old white mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has collected.


Other white candidates with big questions about their electability have also hauled in substantial sums of money. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised $61 million — more than any of his rivals — despite debate over whether his policies are too liberal. Concerns over the 78-year-old’s candidacy also grew after he had a heart attack in October. He has since returned to active campaigning.


Former Vice President Joe Biden is legendarily gaffe-prone and also faces questions about whether, at 77, he’s too old to manage the demands of the presidency. But he’s raised $37.7 million, topping Harris even though he launched his campaign more than two months after she did.


This is not just about Harris. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has struggled to raise money. In September, he pleaded with supporters to donate $1.7 million in 10 days to keep him in the race. On the debate stage last month, he turned his closing statement into another pitch for cash, raising over $500,000 in nine hours. Although he has met the fundraising threshold for this month’s debate, low polling numbers may keep him off the stage for the first time.


“People assume he’s going to be in this all the way because he’s credentialed and such a serious candidate,” said Jenna Lowenstein, Booker’s deputy campaign manager. “We saw it coming, that this was going to narrow this way, that it was going to be because of money. We’ve really been looking for every opportunity when eyeballs are on us to make direct appeals because every time we do it, it works.”


Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro — a Latino whose successful 10-day, $800,000 fundraising push in October brought his campaign back from the brink — may miss the debate stage for the second time in a row.


Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who’s black, entered the Democratic presidential race just last month, and he has almost no chance to qualify for the December debate.


Neither businessman Andrew Yang, who’s Asian, nor Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who’s American Samoan and Hindu, has yet qualified for this month’s debate, meaning the debate field could be all-white for the first time this cycle.


The rapidly shifting dynamics strongly suggest that a Democratic field that began as the most diverse in history is unlikely to yield a person of color as its nominee. That raises structural questions about how modern campaigns function.


Small-dollar donors tend to be overwhelmingly white, older and well-off with disposable income — in many ways, the opposite of the Democratic Party’s voter base. For someone like Castro, the lone Latino candidate, he’s speaking to supporters who are not part of the traditional donor class, or in a position to support him financially even if they like his message, said campaign manager Maya Rupert.


“Our donors are a part of this campaign in a way that’s probably true of a lot of campaigns, but is also tied to being able to get on the next debate stage and remain viable,” she said. “We very much meant it in October when we said, ‘We don’t see a path forward if we’re not able to raise this amount.’ People have to understand the urgency.”


There have also been challenges with bigger donors. Just last week, Booker super PAC Dream United closed after being unable to raise the money it had hoped to use to buttress his campaign.


The failed effort points to “a lurking fear that a black candidate is less electable,” said Steve Phillips, who launched the effort in December 2018.


“There are many more people of color who are able to contribute more than $2,800,” said Phillips. “We had people who were prepared initially to write seven-figure checks, but who then were reluctant to pull the trigger. It became clear that these fears about electability were larger than we originally anticipated. What you see in the polling numbers among black voters you also see in the giving numbers.”


“There’s a fear,” he continued, “that this would be wasted support because of their fears about whether the rest of the electorate will back a person of color.”

Category: News

December 05, 2019 

By Stacy M. Brown 

NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent 


Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were released and exonerated after spending 36 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit.


The men were teenagers when they received a life sentence in 1984 after being convicted of murdering 14-year-old DeWitt Duckett in Baltimore.


"Everyone involved in this case — school officials, police, prosecutors, jurors, the media, and the community — rushed to judgment and allowed their tunnel vision to obscure obvious problems with the evidence," said Shawn Armbrust, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which represents Watkins.


"This case should be a lesson to everyone that the search for quick answers can lead to tragic results," Armbrust stated.


DeWitt reportedly was shot in the neck following a dispute over a jacket as he walked to class at Harlem Park Junior High School in Baltimore.


Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City State's Attorney, reopened the case earlier this year because of lingering questions and recent revelations of corruption in the city's police department that allegedly stretched back for decades.


Chestnut also sent a query to the city's Conviction Integrity Unit, which the Washington Post said included exculpatory evidence that he uncovered in 2018.


An assistant prosecutor who worked on the case in 1984 reportedly said that prosecutors had no reports at the time that would have cast doubt on the guilt of the three men.


Following their conviction, court records were sealed, and it wasn't until a year ago, that Chestnut had successfully obtained the related documents through a freedom of information request.


According to the District Attorney's office, the police records revealed that several witnesses told authorities that the person responsible was an 18-year-old who immediately fled the scene and dumped his weapon.


Instead, the Baltimore police focused their investigation on Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart. The alleged shooter was fatally shot in 2002.


"On behalf of the criminal justice system, and I'm sure this means very little to you, gentlemen, I'm going to apologize," Circuit Court Judge Charles Peters told the men at a hearing on Monday, November 25.


Peters said the men are entirely exonerated.

Category: News

December 05, 2019 

By City News Service 


Two boys remained hospitalized today in serious condition with injuries they suffered in a two-car crash in the Green Meadows area of South Los Angeles, while authorities identified the woman in their car who died at the scene, authorities said today.


The woman identified as Felicita Lemus, 52, of Los Angeles, said coroner's Investigator Kristy McCracken.


The crash occurred at 11 p.m. Friday in the 800 block of East Colden Avenue, at McKinley Avenue, said Sgt. B. Peterson of the Los Angeles Police Department's South Traffic Division.


A man driving a car eastbound on Colden ran a stop sign and broadsided a car that was northbound on McKinley on the left, Peterson said.


Paramedics worked to free the woman and two children from the wreckage, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles Fire Department.


The two boys, age 11 and 12, were taken to a hospital in serious condition, Peterson said. The relationship of the victims was not clear, she said.


The other driver remained at the scene and there were no signs he was driving impaired, Peterson said.


The investigation was ongoing, the sergeant said. 

Category: News

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