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Lil Baby Arrested in Paris on Drug Charge, NBA Player James Harden Released

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Hip-Hop rapper Lil Baby was arrested, and NBA player James Harden was questioned in Paris for allegedly transporting drugs.

What We Know:

  • Lil Baby, whose real name is Dominique Jones, was stopped by French police on Thursday after exiting his car. Officers say they stopped him and others due to a few of the individuals smelling like marijuana. They searched the group and arrested Lil Baby and at least one other member of his entourage. Harden, who was nearby, came over to intervene and ended up getting searched by officers…he was eventually released. DJ Akademiks tweeted that the rapper was arrested for having “20 grams of weed” inside the car.

  • Lil Baby is a three-time Grammy-nominated rapper who has found success in the industry since the release of his 2017 mixtape Perfect Timing. The mixtape included features from rappers Young Thug and Lil Yachty. In 2020, the rapper released his album My Turnwhich “was the #1 streamed and #1 selling album of any genre” that year. He has over 22 billion global streams and put out eight #1 songs on urban radio. The 26-year-old has made Forbes “30 Under 30″music list, was awarded Apple Music’s Global Artist of the Year, and Spotify’s “Rap Caviar” MVP of 2020.
  • In June 2020, Lil Baby released his song “The Bigger Picture,” which expressed his frustration with police brutality and systematic racism after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The rapper met with Vice President Kamala Harris on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death to speak about passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Lil baby remains close to the Floyd family and even threw Floyd’s daughter Gianna a surprise birthday party.
  • Lil Baby is not a stranger to being arrested on drug charges. He was first arrested in 2012 for possession with an attempt to sell. The hip-hop artist dropped out of high school and ended up getting arrested again in 2013 and 2014 for possession of marijuana. In 2019, he was arrested in Atlanta, GA, for reckless driving and attempting to escape the police.
  • Harden is a guard for the Brooklyn Nets, who lost in the second round of this year’s NBA playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks. The 12-year veteran is a nine-time All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist, and has earned All-NBA Team honors seven times. Harden was set to play on the Team USA basketball team at this year’s Olympic Games but had to drop out after sustaining a Grade 2 hamstring strain during the playoffs.
  • The pair was in the European city, attending various Paris Fashion Week events. They were photographed sitting front row alongside rapper Kayne West at the Balenciaga Fall 2021 Couture show on Wednesday. Both men have posted photos of themselves hanging out and enjoying their time together in Paris. Since being in Paris, Lil Baby and Harden have been sworn by the paparazzi and were even caught off guard leaving an event.

Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in France. The city’s 8th district police precinct is investigating the rapper’s arrest as he remains detained.

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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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Crime

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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Crime

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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