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Across Black America week of April 27, 2017

4/27/2017, midnight

California

Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between Blacks and Whites in America, reports the L.A. Times. On social media, he referred to White people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he released a rap album replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “Black soldier.” On the morning of April 18, police say Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno, fatally shooting three White men with a .357 revolver. Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward White people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. Local authorities said they don’t believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime. “If in fact he’s lashing out at White people—White males in this case—that would constitute a hate crime” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.” The chief said investigators don’t believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.” The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief. In addition to the killings on April 18, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white man, the week prior.

Florida

A state senator who unleashed an expletive-laden rant over drinks with two other lawmakers last week, uttering a racial slur for Black people and other vulgarities, resigned from his position on April 21. State Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican from Miami-Dade County, apologized the day after the episode, saying that he let his “temper got the best of me.” But Artiles continued to face increasing pressure to resign. The state’s Democratic Party and members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus said that an apology was not enough. On April 21, Artiles said he would step down immediately. “It is clear to me the that my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this, I am very sorry,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I am responsible, and I am accountable, and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate.” The profane tirade occurred on April 17 at the exclusive Governors Club in Tallahassee during a conversation at a table with several people, including two other state senators, Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, both Democrats who are Black.

Georgia

Fathers Incorporated, a national nonprofit promoting responsible fatherhood, launched its new initiative, Real Dads Read (RDR), in Atlanta. The initial project objective was to create literacy centers in barbershops with the goal of encouraging father-child involvement through reading and improving literacy for young children. Today, with help from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, RDR has established 26 libraries in barbershops around metro Atlanta and nine in Columbus. In addition, 45 barbershops and partners engaged in a citywide book drive, collecting 2,245 books, which included a large donation from the Atlanta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi. Real Dads Read is aimed at elementary and middle school aged children (K-8) and their fathers/male caregivers with the goals of 1) encouraging children to develop a love of reading, 2) improving children’s literacy skills and educational outcomes, and 3) strengthening bonds between fathers/caregivers and their children. National Real Dads Read Day will take place each year on the second Friday of June. “This isn’t complicated; children do better on a host of measures, including reading, when fathers are actively involved in their care, so we simply want to earmark this day to encourage reading among dads and their children and remind the public of the important roles fathers play in the lives of their children,” said Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Responsible Fatherhood. RDR is planning a twitter chat (@RealDadsRead), social media contest (#2017NATRDR), and other fun activities to support National Real Dads Read Day on June 9.