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Justice

Atlanta Hawks Unveil New MLK Jerseys

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The Atlanta Hawks introduced their new special “MLK” uniforms to honor civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What We Know:

  • The Atlanta Hawks are partnering with the King Estate, the NBA, the Players Association, and Nike to bring these special edition uniforms to life. Proceeds from these jersey sales will be donated toward the economic empowerment of communities of color in Atlanta and additional initiatives championed by Dr. King and his family.

  • Dr. King is the first individual to have his name or initials prominently featured on the chest of an official NBA jersey. The black, white, and gold uniforms will also feature King’s signature. These uniforms are part of Nike’s NBA City Edition Jerseys. The City Edition incorporates different elements from a team and city’s history and culture into the jersey design. The Hawks will also use MLK City Edition-branding on the court of State Farm Arena for the games they choose to wear these jerseys.
  • “This year the Atlanta Hawks are proud to honor the life and work of a global icon and our city’s most favored son, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr.,” the Hawks said in a statement. “Now more than ever since his untimely passing, the eyes and ears of the world are focused on the evolution of social justice, poised to elevate Dr. King’s vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all races.”
  • The Hawks had a rough go of it in 2019-2020, finishing with a 20-47 record and the 14th seed in the East. Their future does look bright with a young and promising roster and a solid coach and front office. The franchise’s centerpiece is of course Trae Young, who averaged an absurd 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game and made his first All-Star team at just 21-years-old.

The Hawks’ decision to honor Dr. King is the latest action in social justice the league has taken this year. “We are building bridges through basketball to better the world around us. We vow to work, to fight to take action . . . to earn these letters every day,” the team said.

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Sagar is a Digital Intern at UnmutedCo. He graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in Trumpet Performance and Economics. Sagar writes for Black News Alerts and the BNA Daily Podcast. He also produces the BossFM Morning Show.

Coronavirus

Inmates in Texas Paid $2 an Hour to Move Bodies of COVID-19 Victims

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People are questioning the ethics behind El Paso County prisoners being paid $2 to move bodies of deceased Covid-19 victims.

What We Know:

  • According to Chris Acosta, the public affairs director at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, there are currently nine “low-level offenders” moving the coronavirus victims’ bodies in prison. She also guarantees that they are “provided full PPE by the morgue/hospital.” Costa also claims that “The work is 100% voluntary,” and adds, “It’s great that these individuals are stepping up and volunteering to assist a community in dire need of help right now.”
  • In El Paso County, there are currently 38,400 active cases of Covid-19, 1,052 hospitalizations, and a total of 802 deaths since the onset of the pandemic. As of September, Texas cases have been sky-rocketing, meaning several bodies have had to be kept in mobile morgues. Meanwhile, businesses in El Paso began reopening Friday, less than 24 hours after a court of appeals reversed a county judge’s decision to shut down.
  • Although the use of prison labor is not unusual in the U.S., people are questioning the morality of what’s occurring in El Paso due to the dangerous nature of the job and the low pay given in compensation. One person on Twitter posted about the ongoing incident, writing, “Texas is one of only a handful of states left that allows unpaid labor in prisons. After at first refusing, these inmates are being compensated a whopping $2/hour for 8 hrs of work in El Paso’s morgues because of the surge in #COVID deaths… not ok.”
  • Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists tweeted contempt to the ongoing labor. Along with a video of the inmates, he adds, “They’ve been doing this tough work since Monday, before El Paso increased to 10 mobile morgues. I cry for El Paso.”
  • Chris Acosta states that El Paso County has requested help from the National Guard to move the bodies, meaning inmates will be told to stop working once they arrive.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the average wage for prisoners working for third party companies ranges from 14 cents to 63 cents an hour.

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Community Alerts

Boy Scouts Face About 90,000 Sex Abuse Claims Filed in Bankruptcy Case

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About 90,000 sexual abuse claims were filed against the Boy Scouts of America as the organization’s deadline for submitting claims in its bankruptcy case arrived on Monday.

What We Know:

  • The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection back in February after hundreds of lawsuits came to light alleging incidents of sexual abuse by Scout Leaders. Since the organization’s filing, lawyers across the country have been gathering clients to represent against the Boy Scouts. One attorney, Andrew Van Arsdale, created a network called Abused in Scouting, which he said gained about 16,000 claimants. The attorney claimed that his clients doubled after the Boy Scouts released a late August campaign, notifying abuse victims that they had until Nov. 16 to seek compensation.
  • In a statement, the Boy Scouts address, “We are devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward.” “We are heartbroken that we cannot undo their pain,” they added. In efforts to repair the decade-long damages to victims, they state it “intentionally developed an open, accessible process to reach survivors and help them take an essential step toward receiving compensation.”
  • Although the organization has not yet announced how much they plan to spend on settlements, NBC News reports that they are expected to contribute a substantial portion of their assets, including financial investments and real estate. Additionally, the Boy Scouts’ insurers and roughly 260 local councils and companies that insured them in the past will also be contributing to the compensation. Van Arsdale comments, “They spent millions trying to encourage people to come forward. Now, the question is whether they can make good on their commitment.”
  • Due to the numerous claims of child sexual abuse, the organization has seen a significant decline in membership since its peak of over 4 million in the 1970s. Around this time, most pending sex abuse claims are dated before the Boy Scouts implemented criminal background checks, abuse prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders must be present during activities.

The influx of claims makes this case the largest regarding child-sex abuse claims in a single organization. “More sexual abuse claims will be filed in the Boy Scouts bankruptcy than all claims filed against the Catholic Church throughout the nation,” the Torts Claimants Committee said.

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Crime

Russell Simmons Beats Lawsuit From Anonymous Rape Accuser

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Russell Simmons has defeated a $10 million lawsuit filed by a Jane Doe in 2018 who accused him of rape.

What We Know:

  • An undisclosed woman says she met Simmons after a concert she took her son to. The lawsuit then claims he invited her to an afterparty and she accepted. She first dropped her son off with a babysitter before going for drinks with him at a nightclub. Simmons allegedly needed to pick something up from his hotel later that night. According to the lawsuit, upon arriving to his hotel room, he threw her onto the bed and raped her.
  • On November 13, Los Angeles Judge Mark H Epstein ruled in favor of Simmons because the woman’s claims date back to 1988 and therefore was past the statute of limitations; the judge calculated by law she had to have filed the claim in 1990 unless the statute of limitations was tolled-suspended. The plaintiff argued the timing of her case should have been considered appropriate because Simmons was absent from California for an extended period. Yet, Simmons provided proof of his residency in California from 1996-1999 and again from 2012-2018.
  • The renowned music producer stood victorious in the lawsuit on a technicality rather than proof of innocence. Although, at the time he did deny her claims along with assault claims from a number of other women. In a statement Simmons said, “I vehemently deny all the allegations made against me. They have shocked me to my core as I have never been abusive or violent in any way in my relations with women.” He goes on to say he took a handful of lie detector tests in regards to the accusations and supposedly passed them all.
  • Since 2017, over 20 women have come forward accusing Simmons of sexually assaulting them with at almost half of them alleging they were raped. Jane Doe is not the first woman to sue Simmons for an alleged rape. In 2018, aspiring filmmaker Jennifer Jarosik sued him for $5 million dollars; she claimed he raped her in his home in 2016. Simmons’ attorney contended she only filed claims after hearing about women who suffered “real abuse” receiving large amounts of money. They believed her intentions were to shakedown the defendant in order to fund her film. She eventually dropped the lawsuit.
  • The judge gave his tentative ruling on October 1 allowing Jane Doe two weeks to respond. She did not file an opposition to the motion, so Epstein entered the judgement in Simmons’ favor.

Though he resigned from roles in his companies last fall, Russell Simmons has not swayed from his denial in any of the various claims.

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