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Across Black America Week of March 30, 2017

3/30/2017, midnight

California

Wyclef Jean was briefly detained and handcuffed in Los Angeles after police mistook him for a robbery suspect, Rolling Stone reports. The incident occurred the night of March 21 after Jean left the studio. It was captured on a video the musician later posted to Twitter. In the clip, Jean stands next to a patrol car with his hands behind his back and says, “L.A., right now, coming from the studio, y’all see the police have handcuffs on me. They just took off my Haitian bandanna. That’s what’s going on right now with Wyclef in L.A. right now. The LAPD have me in cuffs for absolutely nothing.” Sergeant C. Duncan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Jean was detained for six minutes while officers investigated a report that a man and woman had been robbed at gunpoint and beaten near the studio where Jean was working. The victims described the suspect as a Black man in a dark hoodie who fled in a gold or tan Toyota. At about 1:25 a.m., police pulled over a car matching that description. A woman, later identified as Jean’s manager, was driving and the musician sat in the passenger’s seat. Police detained Jean after seeing his red bandanna and contacting the victims, who at that point said that the suspect had also been wearing a red bandanna. Jean was released after six minutes, said Sgt. Duncan, who responded to Jean’s statement that he identified himself, saying, “Just because someone tells me their name I have to verify it through legal means.”

Florida

A state official has been suspended without pay after tweeting that Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who is Black, should be “hung from a tree” reports the Orlando Sentinel. He stated that Ayala “should be tarred and feathered if not hung from a tree.” “Maybe SHE should get the death penalty” Stan McCullars wrote the comment on Facebook under an Orlando Sentinel story about Ayala’s decision not to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases. Ayala, the first African American state attorney in Florida’s history, was removed by Gov. Rick Scott from the Markeith Loyd murder case on March 17. She filed a motion to stay that decision on March 20. Maitland attorney Jennifer Jacobs said when she saw the original posts, “I was pretty disgusted by it. … but I didn’t know the person who posted it. I looked him up and I saw he was an employee of the Clerk of Courts office. I sent his boss a screen shot and advised him what his employee was posting in the Internet.” Jacobs said there was “no possible way for him to claim it wasn’t a racially motivated comment. He was essentially asking for a lynch mob.” Ayala’s office has filed a formal complaint with the Seminole courts office about McCullars’ posts, reports the Orlando Weekly.

Maryland

Georgetown University at one time sold slaves, and one on record is a Black employee’s great-great- great grandmother. She was among some 272 slaves sold by the school to raise money, reports the New York Times. Jeremy Alexander said he had no idea and that when he heard the news, it was very emotional for him. Alexander, an executive assistant in Georgetown’s office of technology commercialization, found out that his paternal great-great-great grandmother, Anna Mahoney Jones, was one of the hundreds of slaves sold by two Jesuit priests at Georgetown to save the school from bankruptcy. “Now I work here—to realize that this is my history, this is my story, blows me away,” Alexander said. “I have been really emotional, as I learned about my ties to the university.” The 45-year-old father of one heard from a woman from Boston, Melissa Kemp, who turned out to be a distant cousin. Kemp was able to go back several generations and introduced Alexander to his connection to Georgetown: Anna Mahoney Jones. She told him that Mahoney Jones was among the 272 slaves sold for about $3.3 million in today’s dollars to help Georgetown survive. They found that Anna Mahoney Jones was born in 1811 and married Arnold Jones in the mid-1820s. Her husband escaped before he could be sold. Mahoney Jones and her two children (ages 6 and 9) were enslaved at the Chatham Plantation in rural Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Her name shows up again in the 1870 census as living in New Orleans, where she died four years later.