A former U.S. airman is currently sitting in a Florida prison for what his supporters argue was a simple act of self-defense. Just two years into a 25-year sentence, he joins a list of cases that have drawn national attention to the Sunshine State’s sentencing and gun laws. Encouraged by the activity, his family is hoping to stir up interest in his case and is currently petitioning Florida’s governor for clemency.
Angela Corey, the controversial prosecutor at the center of the George Zimmerman trial, was served with a lawsuit Thursday by a former employee claiming he was unlawfully fired.
Ben Kruidbos, a former IT worker for the state attorney’s office, is seeking more than $5 million in damages from the Florida State Attorney’s office.
Read more at theGrio.com.
Rev. Jamal Bryant, center, with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson
at a March rally for Trayvon Martin, calling for the arrest of
George ZImmerman. (Twitter)
It was Rev. Jamal Bryant's mission to register one million new black voters this Easter. He and a collection of other black ministers across the country set out to use one of the Church's highest attended days to bring their congregations into the political process in an effort they call the Empowerment Movement. While all the results aren't in, Bryant calls the Easter-day drive just the beginning. With the case of slain teen Trayvon Martin as a catalyst, he sees a future of increased political empowerment for young black Americans.
"I'm very excited about the momentum that the Empowerment Movement has built, said Bryant. "We're barely over 40 days old and we've registered 110,000 people to vote." While the number is just over a tenth of the organization's original goal, Bryant said he can rest well with the results. "Most civil rights organizations haven't done that in ayear," he added.
Bryant stated in a March press release that there are an estimated 500,000 black churches in the United States and over five million unregistered black voters. The website for the Empowerment Movement states their official goal was registering one million voters on April 8, 2012, "making Guinness World Book history for democracy, by challenging every black church in the United States to register 20 people on that day."
|Emmett Till (left) and Trayvon Martin (right)|
What we think of as hate crime legislation began with the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It said, in part, that anyone who injures, intimidates, or attempts to do either to another based on their race, color, religion or national origin "shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." It goes on to detail assaults, attempted assaults, threats, sexual abuse, kidnapping and murder as offenses with special consequences when motivated by bias -- those consequences ranging from something as small as a fine to as significant as a death sentence.
Such laws did not exist throughout much of America's history of racial terrorism, intimidation and crime; these provisions, written into the Civil Rights Act, did not exist until 13 years after the murder of Emmett Till. They could possibly play a part if charges are brought in the death of Trayvon Martin, however.
Notably, the legislation does specify that free speech and peaceful assembly are still protected by the Constitution, but not to the point that they aid or invite another to commit an act of violence upon someone.
Despite the fact that the provisions set forth in legislation, like the Civil Rights Act, define the protection and limits of free speech, critics of hate crime laws say they put limitations on civil liberties.
Kenneth Herrera, a 17-year-old student at the Bronx Academy of Letters in
New York, in the library. Thursday, March 22, 2012. (theGrio/Donovan X. Ramsey)
The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has saturated media coverage in recent days, with some commentators calling it a case of a modern-day Emmett Till. Details have emerged that suggest his shooter, George Zimmerman, may have been motivated by racial stereotypes of young black men.
The debate over black male stereotypes, which has endured throughout America's troubled racial history, often resurfaces when events like Trayvon's death occur. While we still don't know all the details about what occurred that fateful night when Zimmerman and Trayvon's paths crossed, the tragic result of their encounter is felt by many black teens today.
"I kinda feel threatened too. Like what if this happens to me?," said Kenneth Herrera, a 17-year-old student at the Bronx Academy of Letters in New York. Kenneth explained how Trayvon's death struck him as "pure racism."
|Former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., right, participates in the |
Conservative Black Forum on Jan 23. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
J.C. Watts, once perhaps the most famous black Republican in the country, has returned to politics in a surprising role: one of the most prominent supporters of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The former football star and Oklahoma representative, who retired from Congress in 2002, reemerged in December when he appeared on FOX News to endorse Gingrich. Since then, Watts has campaigned aggressively for his former colleague, even as other African-Africans have accused Gingrich of race-baiting for his attack on President Obama as a "food stamp president."
Gingrich's primary rival in the GOP nomination process, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, has criticized the former Speaker for making millions as an adviser to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But Watts, who has served as chairman of FM Policy Focus, a coalition of financial-services and housing-related trade associations that monitors the activities of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, has defended Gingrich's claim he did not lobby for the firms.