Archives September 2021

Petito case renews call to spotlight missing people of color

In the three months since 62-year-old Navajo rug weaver Ella Mae Begay vanished, the haunting unanswered questions sometimes threaten to overwhelm her niece.

Seraphine Warren has organized searches of the vast Navajo Nation landscape near her aunt’s home in Arizona but is running out of money to pay for gas and food for the volunteers.

Begay is one of thousands of Indigenous women who have disappeared throughout the U.S. Some receive no public attention at all, a disparity that extends to many other people of color.

The disappearance of Gabby Petito, a white 22-year-old woman who went missing in Wyoming last month during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, has drawn a frenzy of coverage on traditional and social media, bringing new attention to a phenomenon known as “missing white woman syndrome.”

Many families and advocates for missing people of color are glad the attention paid to Petito’s disappearance has helped unearth clues that likely led to the tragic discovery of her body and they mourn with her family. But some also question why the public spotlight so important to finding missing people has left other cases shrouded in uncertainty.

“I would have liked that swift rush, push to find my aunt faster. That’s all I wish for,” said Warren, who lives in Utah, one of several states Petito and boyfriend Brian Laundrie passed through. Ella Mae Begay is one of thousands of missing Indigenous women in the U.S.

Source: The Grio

Utah football player killed in house party shooting

A University of Utah football player has died in in a shooting at a house party early Sunday, Salt Lake City police said.

The shooting that killed Aaron Lowe occurred just after midnight, only hours after the Utes beat Washington State 24-13, and less than a year after a teammate of Lowe’s died in an accidental shooting.

Police said another victim in Sunday’s shooting incident — a woman — was hospitalized in critical condition and authorities were searching for a suspect.

“We are devastated to hear about the passing of Aaron Lowe,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Aaron’s family and friends, along with the other individual who was harmed in this tragic incident. Aaron was a great teammate, friend, brother and son and was loved by anyone who crossed paths with him. He will be deeply missed.”

Lowe, 21, was the first recipient of a memorial scholarship created to honor former Utah player Ty Jordan, a 19-year-old tailback who died after an accidental shooting in December 2020.

Source: AP News

GOP-backed Arizona election review confirms Biden 2020 win

A late draft of an election audit that will be presented Friday to the Arizona state Senate will confirm that President Biden carried Maricopa County during the 2020 election, and by a wider margin than the final certified results showed.

The report, compiled by the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas, leaked to several Arizona media outlets on Thursday night, about a day before the final version will be presented. The Hill obtained one draft of the report from several Arizona Republican sources.

The draft acknowledges early on that the audit, which took five months and cost taxpayers and private donors millions, found no significant discrepancies between the certified count — which showed Biden carrying Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes — and a hand recount of the nearly 2.1 million votes cast.

The recount actually found Biden won the county by a slightly wider margin than the official canvass showed: The Cyber Ninjas team added 99 votes to Biden’s tally, while subtracting 261 votes from former President Trump’s total, 204 votes from Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgenson, and 628 votes that were classified as write-ins, over votes or under votes. The certified vote count by Maricopa County found that Trump lost by 45,109 votes, while the Cyber Ninjas audit found Biden won by 45,469 votes.

Source: The Hill

Michael Blackson Raises $10,000 for AJ Johnson’s Funeral Expenses

Earlier this week, Michael Blackson took to Instagram to pay tribute to Friday actor AJ Johnson, who recently passed away at the age of 55. 

In the post, Blackson told his followers that he was raising money for Johnson’s funeral costs on his Cash App, and he added that he would be matching all donations. Speaking about AJ, Michael wrote, “If he’s ever made you laugh let’s all contribute and send him home the right way. I’m not sure what anyone is doing but I’m going to raise my own money for him.” 

On Thursday (September 23), Michael revealed that he had raised $10,000 to send AJ’s family. This comes after AJ’s widow, Lexis Jones Mason, called out the “fake love” she’s been seeing after AJ’s passing.

Mason also addressed a GoFundMe started to raise funeral funds, stating, “There’s people that’s saying that they’re gonna give money…we haven’t received it. Just to bury him and the funeral services alone will be close to 15 (thousand dollars. Just please stop the fake love please stop the fake calls please stop the fake texts. Just for our family…Me the kids and the grandkids, just stop it.” 

CDC endorses COVID booster for millions of older Americans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday.

The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.

The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.

But Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as health care workers.

The panel had offered the option of a booster for those ages 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one. But the advisers refused to go further and open boosters to otherwise healthy front-line health care workers who aren’t at risk of severe illness but want to avoid even a mild infection.

The panel voted 9 to 6 to reject that proposal. But Walensky decided to disregard the advisory committee’s counsel on that issue. In a decision several hours after the panel adjourned, Walensky issued a statement saying she had restored the recommendation.

Source: WBAL

Haitians see history of racist policies in migrant treatment

The images — men on horseback with long reins, corralling Haitian asylum seekers trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico — provoked an outcry. But to many Haitians and Black Americans, they’re merely confirmation of a deeply held belief:

U.S. immigration policies, they say, are and have long been anti-Black.

The Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian migrants, they say, is just the latest in a long history of discriminatory U.S. policies and of indignities faced by Black people, sparking new anger among Haitian Americans, Black immigrant advocates and civil rights leaders.

They point to immigration data that indicate Haitians and other Black migrants routinely face structural barriers to legally entering or living in the U.S. — and often endure disproportionate contact with the American criminal legal system that can jeopardize their residency or hasten their deportation.

Haitians, in particular, are granted asylum at the lowest rate of any nationality with consistently high numbers of asylum seekers, according to an analysis of data by The Associated Press.

“Black immigrants live at the intersection of race and immigration and, for too long, have fallen through the cracks of red tape and legal loopholes,” said Yoliswa Cele of the UndocuBlack Network, a national advocacy organization for currently and formerly undocumented Black people.

Woman killed in grocery store shooting was mother of 3

The woman killed in a grocery store shooting in Tennessee on Thursday was a widowed mother of three, friends said.

Olivia King was one of 13 people shot, including employees and customers, friends told The Commercial Appeal. The suspected shooter was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the store, authorities said.

On Facebook, one of King’s sons, Wes King, posted about his mother’s death. He wrote that he had spoken to the trauma surgeon and learned his mother was shot in the chest.

“They tried to save her at the hospital to no avail,” he wrote. “I apologize for the graphic details, but this type of crime needs to stop being glossed over and sanitized. No one deserves this.”

Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said the shooting broke out at a Kroger grocery in Collierville, a suburban community 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Memphis. He said the remaining 12 victims were taken to hospitals, some with very serious injuries.

Kroger worker Brignetta Dickerson told WREG-TV she was working a cash register when she heard what at first she thought were balloons popping.

“And, here he comes right behind us and started shooting,” Dickerson said. “And, he kept on shooting, shooting, shooting. He shot one of my co-workers in the head and shot one of my customers in the stomach.”

Lane said police received a call about 1:30 p.m. about the shooting and arrived almost immediately, finding multiple people with gunshot wounds upon entering the building.

He said a police SWAT team and other officers went aisle to aisle plucking panicked people from hiding and taking them out safely. He said the shooter was male but did not identify him further.

“We found people hiding in freezers, in locked offices. They were doing what they had been trained to do: run, hide, fight,” the chief said.

Lane said police were still investigating the shooting.

Source: AP News

Budget talks hit ‘stalemate,’ $3.5T may take a while

President Joe Biden said Friday that talks over his $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan have hit a “stalemate” in Congress as he made the case for his expansive effort to recast the nation’s tax and spending programs and make what he sees as sweeping, overdue investments.

Biden spoke at the White House as Democrats in the House and Senate are laboring to finish drafts and overcome differences between the party’s centrist and moderate factions. Despite efforts by the president and congressional leaders to show progress, Biden cast the road ahead as long and potentially cumbersome, even with upcoming deadlines.

“We’re getting down to the hard spot here,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We’re at this stalemate at the moment.”

Biden said the process is “going to be up and down” but ”hopefully at the end of the day I’ll be able to deliver on what I said I would do.”

The president said his private meetings with some two dozen Democratic lawmakers this week in efforts to hasten progress and close the deal went well — describing the tone as collegial and with “no hollering.”

But as lawmakers raised objections over the sweep and scope of the plan, which is to be funded by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, Biden said he tried to get them focused on priorities — what they can and can’t live with.

”It’s about paying your fair share, for lord’s sake,” Biden said. “There clearly is enough, from a panoply of options, to pay for whatever it is.”

In a stark reality check, Biden suggested talks could drag to the end of the year. “It’s just going to take some time,” he said.

Source: AP News