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George Floyd’s family calls for Minneapolis police officers to be charged

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As hundreds of protesters confronted police in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday night, following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was suffocated during an attempted arrest, the family now speaks out as peaceful protests quickly escalate into violent clashes.

What We Know:

  • The protests come after a 10-minute video surfaced of police trying to detain Floyd Monday as they responded to a report of suspected forgery. A white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes, as the 46-year-old, with his hands cuffed behind his back, pleaded for help and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” before his body went still.
  • All four responding officers have now been fired from the force. But, Floyd’s family says they want the officers charged. His brothers Rodney and Philonise Floyd and cousin Tera Brown, who are in Houston, said they don’t believe that he was resisting the officers.

  • “You have eyes, I have eyes. You don’t need to believe what they say. You can see what you saw and I saw, and the whole nation saw, the country saw, and every person, black person in America saw the same thing because it don’t happen to nobody else,” Rodney Floyd told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.
  • Police claimed George Floyd was a suspect in a forgery case at a deli and that he had physically resisted officers. But new surveillance video from a store nearby shows officers calmly detaining him.
  • “He was handcuffed long before they took him to that car, and you can see his demeanor from the security video. They did not have to use this excessive lethal force that killed George Floyd. They did not have to do it,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing his family. “And that’s why simply terminating them is not enough because black lives matter.”
  • “Just thinking just how amazing my brother was. He never did anything to nobody. Everybody loved my brother. I just don’t understand why people want to hurt people, kill people. They didn’t have to do that to my brother,” he said. “Hearing him holler over and over, he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe. Nobody don’t want to hear that.”

According to the Minneapolis police training manual, neck restraints are only allowed when a suspect is actively resisting officers and it is only allowed as a non-deadly hold if it does not block the suspect’s airway. Now even Mayor Jacob Frey is calling for the police officers involved to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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