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Transgender Woman Stabbed to Death in Bronx Apartment Building

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Tiffany Harris, a Black transgender woman was fatally stabbed at a Bronx apartment building on July 26. She was found unconscious with stab wounds on Jerome Avenue Sunday morning.

What We Know:

  • Harris was found unconscious with stab wounds on Jerome Avenue Sunday morning. She was transferred to Saint Barnabas hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The police were inconsistent with Harris’ gender identification. They made a physical judgement and identified her as female, but later identified her as male based on her Government Identification card. Princess Janae Palace, an organization that supports homeless LGBQT adults, identified the victim.
  • The NYPD has released footage of a man who they believe to be a suspect in the involvement of Harris’ murder. According to NY Daily News, the person of interest is a Black man in his 20s, wearing dark pants, a white T-shirt, and a surgical mask.

  • NYPD does not have a clear indication of what led to Harris’ murder. She has a reported criminal history and it is not currently linked to her murder. She reportedly served over three years in prison for attempted robbery.
  • Harris’ death adds to a long list of reported murders of Black transgender women. Black transgender women face discrimination in various different ways. This includes housing, health care, unemployment, and police brutality.
  • According to the Human Rights Campaign, 26 transgender people suffered violent deaths in the U.S., majority of them were Black trans women. In 2019, seven transgender people were violently killed, according to the HRC. Just last month, two Black transgender women Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells were fatally killed in the midst of the Trump administration reversing protections for transgender people in the U.S. health care system. Under Trump’s new rule a transgender person could be refused care for something as simple as a checkup from the doctor’s office.

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Harris is urged to contact NYPD at 800-577-8477.

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Three Men Charged with Threatening and Intimidating R. Kelly Accusers

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On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced charges against three men accused of threatening, intimidating, or bribing women who have accused R&B artist R. Kelly of abuse in an attempt to silence them.

What We Know:

  • Michael Williams, Donnell Russell, and Richard Arline Jr. are charged with separately trying to intimidate or influence the testimony of the women named as victims in the New York federal case against the musician, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. “The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid the consequences of his alleged crimes — even if it means re-victimizing his accusers,” Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in a statement.
  • The criminal complaint against Williams alleges that he intimidated and misled one of the victims in an attempt to influence her testimony against Kelly. Williams was also suspected and charged with setting a vehicle on fire outside a home where the alleged victim was staying. In a news release, authorities said Williams additionally conducted internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States.” On Tuesday, he was arrested in Florida.
  • According to another complaint, Russell, a manager and advisor to Kelly, threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly, saying he would release the photos if she did not withdraw her civil lawsuit against Kelly seeking damages. Prosecutors also said Russell threatened the mother of the alleged victim through text messages, writing “Pull the plug or you will be exposed”. He is expected to appear in the Eastern District of New York before a judge at a later date.
  • A third complaint filed against a longtime friend of the indicted singer, alleges Arline Jr. offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly’s prosecution. Arline Jr. attempted to persuade the testimony of the alleged victim by trying to bribe her “with intent to influence her testimony as a witness”. On Wednesday, he was arrested in Illinois where he was brought before a federal judge the day before in Chicago.
  • Kelly, a Grammy-award winning musician, has denied ever abusing anyone, pleading not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. The charges against him range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. In Minnesota, Kelly has also been charged with two counts of prostitution with a minor. The singer is also accused of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.
  • A defense attorney for Kelly said he had “no involvement whatsoever” in any attempt to silence witnesses. “He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so,” attorney Steve Greenberg said on Twitter.

The singer is currently being held in federal custody in Chicago while awaiting a federal trial for child pornography and sexual exploitation of children in Illinois. It is unclear whether Kelly’s Brooklyn federal trial will begin in late September as scheduled, due to coronavirus concerns.

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Coronavirus

Georgia Man Catches Federal Charges for Price Gouging Masks During Pandemic

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On Thursday, a Stockbridge businessman was arraigned on federal charges for hoarding and price gauging N95 masks during a global pandemic.

What We Know:

  • Milton Ayimadu, also known as Don Milton, 22, was arraigned on federal charges of hoarding and price gouging in violation of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA). According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, Ayimadu was charged by a criminal information. No official court records have been found regarding his case.

  • In the press release, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak claims “Ayimadu allegedly saw the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic as an opportunity to make a profit. Desperate to find personal protective equipment during the pandemic, thousands of customers unfortunately paid his inflated prices.”

  • The claims against Ayimadu state that from early March to May, Ayimadu engaged in hoarding and price gouging of more than 200,000 face masks in violation of the DPA, which President Trump invoked on March 18. On March 25, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with authority delegated by the President, designated certain health medical resources as scarce materials under the DPA – including face masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth.

  • The businessman allegedly purchased more of the face masks from a foreign country for approximately $2.50 each only to re-sell them to Americans, through his website, BabyPuuPu.com, for double the price. During the two months in which he sold the masks, he engaged in over 22,000 financial transactions. While he priced his masks higher than the general market prices at the time to, allegedly, maximize his profits to “the detriment of consumers desperate for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” manufacturers of authentic N95 masks continued selling masks for the pre-pandemic price of under $2.00 per mask.
  • The case is being investigated by the F.B.I., U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tal C. Chaiken and Russell Phillips are prosecuting the case. Attorney General William P. Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force, led by Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, who is coordinating efforts with the Antitrust Division and U.S. Attorneys across the country wherever illegal activity involving protective personal equipment occurs.

  • Acting Special Agent in Charge, Robert Hammer, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama, made a statement. “When the nation needed face masks the most, Ayimadu decided to turn our fears into dollars. HSI and its partners are working diligently to investigate and arrest those criminals that have decided to use illegal business practices to increase their profits during this global pandemic.”

No information has been released regarding Ayimadu’s plea. U.S. Attorney Pak made a note to remind the public that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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TSA: More Loaded Guns Found at Checkpoints Despite Fewer Travelers

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Officials say a TSA officer spotted a .357 caliber revolver loaded with five bullets in the woman’s carry-on bad and notified police. (Source: Transportation Security Administration)

TSA is seeing three times as many guns compared to last year despite reduced passenger volume.

What We Know:

  • Transportation Security Administration officials have discovered 15.3 weapons per million people in carry-on bags in comparison to the 5.1 weapons per million people inspected during July 2019. The rate is alarming given that TSA inspected about 75% fewer passengers in July 2020 over the previous year’s volume.

In July #TSAofficers detected guns in carry-on bags at a rate 3X higher than in 2019. In July 2019 officers detected 5.1 guns per million travelers. This July the number was 15.3 guns per million travelers. Learn how to properly travel with your firearm at https://t.co/s6SDKTlUcB pic.twitter.com/ghCcFA4mQJ

  • The suggested civil fine for an unloaded firearm begins at $2,050 and it starts at $4,100 for a loaded gun. The penalty may go up to a maximum of more than $10,250 per fine, depending on the conditions. The complete list of sanctions is posted on the website.
  • Further financial penalties for individuals who break the rules regarding traveling with firearms will have their trusted traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits canceled for a while. The period of the disqualification will depend upon the gravity of the offense and a repeated history of violations.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske stated that “TSA is diligently working to ensure our employees and passengers are safe and secure while traveling during a pandemic. Yet we are noticing a significant increase in loaded firearms coming into checkpoints.” He continued to say, “Travelers must understand that firearms are prohibited items at airports and in the passenger cabins of aircraft. As hard as we are working to mitigate other risks at this time, no one should be introducing new ones.”

  • Last year, 4,432 firearms were found nationwide in bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 guns per day. It was about a 5% increase nationwide in firearm findings from a total of 4,239 discovered in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of the firearms found at checkpoints last year were loaded.
  • Passengers are authorized to travel with firearms in a checked bag if they are correctly packaged and revealed at check-in with the airline. Firearms must be emptied, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammo. TSA has details on how to correctly travel with a gun posted on its website.

Airlines may have additional demands for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also reach their airline about firearm and ammunition carriage policies.

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