Arizona

Singer John Legend and musician Juanes, who is from Colombia, performed outside of a jail in Eloy last week to draw attention to immigration, according to the Associated Press. The performance, which included two songs from each and one together, included Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Legend told the cheering crowd, “The reason why we’re here, one, is because we want to bear witness to what’s happening so we could tell the world about it. Legend played the piano and Juanes the guitar on a flatbed truck that was parked across the street from the detention center before a crowd that was reportedly made up of immigrant rights activists and relatives of detainees. Before putting on the show, Legend and Juanes toured the facility.

California

The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay a total of $24.3 million to two men who spent decades incarcerated for crimes they reportedly did not commit. Kash Register will receive $16.7 million and $7.6 million will go to Bruce Lisker, according to the Assocaited Press. The men’s cases were unrelated. Register served more than 34 years for the shooting death of a 78-year-old man in 1979. His conviction was overturned in 2013. Lister served 26 years for the stabbing death of his 66-year-old mother when he was 17. He was released in 2009. Both had sued the city for wrongful convictions.

Georgia

Craigory Burch Jr., a forklift driver from Fitzgerald who had won a lottery last year, was shot and killed by home invaders. According to television station WALB, he was inside his home with his girlfriend, when the incident happened. His girlfriend told police that he begged the assailants not to shoot him, especially not in front of his kids. Burch had won a lotto last November in the amount of $434,272. Friends reportedly said that he had used some of his winnings to buy Christmas presents for people in need. According to news reports, the suspects were wearing masks and have yet to be identified or captured.


A grand jury last week voted to indict Robert Olsen, a DeKalb County police officer, for the shooting death of Anthony Hill, a Black Air Force veteran suffering from mental issues. Olsen allegedly shot and killed Hill outside of the man’s apartment. Witnesses who testified questioned why the officer didn’t use his Taser or pepper spray since it was obvious that Hill was unarmed (he was naked). District Attorney Robert James Jr. filed numerous charges against Olsen, including felony murder, aggravated assault, violation of oath of office and making a false statement. Hill’s family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Atlanta’s Federal District Court that accuses Olsen of using “illegal and excessive force.”

Kentucky

Gynna McMillen, 16, was found dead at the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center just days ago, and her family wants to know what happened to her. Authorities in the small town of Elizabethtown don’t have answers for the family. All that is known to the public at this time is that McMillen was found “unresponsive” in the juvenile detention center on Jan. 11. She was pronounced dead on the scene. According to St. Louis television station WDRB, facility officials are saying an autopsy was done and the teen died of natural causes. A spokesperson from the Kentucky Justice Cabinet said it couldn’t release any details, only that the death occurred on Jan. 11 at the Lincoln Village site. McMillen’s family is actively trying to get answers and they are trying to pressure law enforcement into providing information. Wrote McMillen’s sister on her Facebook page: “I’m asking that everyone repost and share my sister’s story on your pages and in any groups that will help us get it out there. My 16-year-old sister died in custody of a detention center but they’re not giving out any info on how she was found and they’re saying her autopsy shows no cause of death.”

Louisiana

Jep and Jessica Robertson of reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” have adopted a Black child. Phil Robertson, the new baby’s grandfather, hasn’t exactly been a bastion of civil rights in the past, and in fact, has made some comments that many would consider racist. He’s also spoken out about homosexuality, saying that it is a sin, according to GQ magazine. However, Phil’s son Jep told “Good Morning America” this week that his father loves the newest addition to the family—an African American baby named Jules Augustus. “And you know, he’s always said—you know, I guess this never got quoted—we’re all part of one race, the human race. He says that quite often. So he loves him, man he loves him.” The couple already has four other children: Merritt, Lily, Priscilla and River.

Maryland

Kelvin Sewell, the former chief of police of Polomoke City, and two other Black police officers with the city have filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. Sewell says that his firing by a mostly white city council last June was “racially motivated” payback for his refusal to fire the other two officers after they complained about discrimination, according to a story in the Huffington Post. The lawsuit alleges that the three were subjected to “racial mockery, epithets, threats, humiliation and discrimination” by the law enforcement community in the city of about 4,000. The three are seeking reinstatement, back pay and damages.

Michigan

Rappers Big Sean and Meek Mill have gotten involved in the Flint, water crisis. The hip hop stars have donated $50,000 (Meek Mill) and $10,000 (Big Sean) toward the purchase of drinking water, and Big Sean also launched a fundraising campaign called #HealFlintKids. Big Sean was discovered by Kanye West while free styling at a Detroit radio station, so the rapper said he felt a connection. He and Mill join a slew of celebrities coming to the aide of the beleaguered city, after it was discovered that the city’s drinking water supply has been severely compromised. Others who have joined in to help residents with clean water include Cher, who donated 180,000 bottles, the members of the group Pearl Jam and cast members of the show, “Hardcore Pawn.” Big Sean announced the campaign—a partnership with actor Edward Norton—with the monies slated to go toward the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, according to the Detroit News. In a press release, Big Sean said that he was “devastated” by the situation in Flint. The campaign went live on Thursday at http://crowdrise.com/bigsean and is scheduled to run through the end of April. It includes a contest for donors who pledge $10 or more to be eligible for the chance to win VIP tickets to one of Big Sean’s 2016 concerts, along with meet-and-greet opportunities, according to the Detroit News.

Minnesota

The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter is calling for the officer who posted “run them over” on social media to be criminally charged. The group is referring to Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker, who reportedly posted his comments in response to demonstrators on MLK Day last week. His complete post read: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.” The officer then allegedly explained how to avoid being charged for striking a protestor. Rothecker has been put on paid administrative leave, but the Black Lives Matter organization in the area wants more action, and it seems the mayor agrees. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he’s “outraged and disgusted by the post,” and he vowed to “take the strongest possible action allowed under law,” according to the Pioneer Press.

New Jersey

Marley Dias, an 11-year-old fifth grader at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, told her mother one day that she was tired of reading about “White boys and dogs.” She was reportedly referring to the reading assignments she received in her class. So the little girl started her own book drive, #1000BlackGirlBooks. “And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where Black girls are the main characters in the book and not background or minor characters. “So far the inspired youngster has collected about 400 books, which will be donated to low-resource libraries. Book donations can be sent to 59 Main St., Ste. 323, West Orange, N.J. 07052.

New York

The city of New York got out its checkbook this week to the tune of $45,000 to settle a another racial profiling lawsuit. This one involved Trayvon Christian, a college student who was arrested for “shopping while Black” at high-end retailer Barneys back in 2013. Christian reportedly claimed his civil rights were violated, when two undercover New York cops handcuffed him inside the Upper East Side store. He had used his own debit card to purchase a $348 Ferragamo belt. The clerk reportedly asked him for ID, which he provided. Outside the store, though, he was stopped, handcuffed and taken to the police station. Christian was accused of credit card fraud, and while in custody, asked questions such as “How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?” according to the New York Daily News. He had earned money from a work/study job, he explained. This is the second settlement revolving around this case. Barneys agreed to pay a $525,000 fine, and the store was asked by the state attorney general’s office to implement measures to reduce the chance of Blacks and others being profiled. Christian, who reportedly lives with his mother in Queens, is studying engineering at New York City College of Technology.


Nielsen Holdings Inc., the company responsible for the Nielsen TV ratings, has promoted Angela Talton to chief diversity officer. “Diversity and inclusion are crucial to our growth, strength, and ability to innovate. Angela’s vision, leadership and execution have helped us reimagine diversity at a global scale,” said CEO Mitch Barns. “As Nielsen’s Chief Diversity Officer, she will be a vital part of my leadership team and a champion for our companywide investments to ensure our business is representative of the communities where we live and work.” Prior to this appointment, Talton served as Senior vice president global diversity and inclusion. She will continue to oversee Nielsen’s diversity and inclusion programs including supplier diversity, training and employee engagement. Talton holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ohio

The family of Samuel DuBose, a young Black man shot and killed by campus police, has been awarded $4.8 million by the University of Cincinnati. In addition, the school will provide tuition and fees for all 12 of DuBose’s children, according to NBC News. The children range in age from just 4 to 23 years. Considering costs of a college education today, that part of the settlement alone is more than half a million dollars. Meanwhile, the officer who shot and killed DuBose—Ray Tensing—has yet to go to trial. He has pled not guilty to a murder charge. University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono also issued a public apology. “I want to again express on behalf of the University of Cincinnati community our deepest sadness and regrets at the heartbreaking loss of the life of Samuel DuBose.” Tensing, 25, shot the 43-year-old during a traffic stop. DuBose’s car was missing its license plate on the front of the vehicle. The prosecutor handling the case said the fatal shooting, which was captured on a police officer’s body camera, was “the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make.” Tensing, who is out on $1 million bond, claims DuBose tried to drive away.

Oklahoma

A police officer who allegedly used his badge to sexually assault Black women in Oklahoma City was found guilty and a jury found showed no mercy in sentencing the convicted man, Daniel Holtzclaw—263 years in prison. At the time of the alleged assaults, he was a police officer for Oklahoma City. According to police, he raped and committed other crimes against at least 13 victims over a period of six months. According to prosecutors in the case, Holtzclaw chose victims as he drove through a Oklahoma City neighborhood that was considered a low-income area. He chose women who had past criminal records for things such as prostitution or drugs, because he reportedly felt they would not tell on him for fear no one would believe them. An all-White jury convicted the former law officer, whose father is White and mother is Japanese. His father is a lieutenant on the same police force, according to CNN. Holtzclaw’s attorneys asked for a new trial, alleging that prosecutors failed to disclose information that some of the accusers falsely made claims against him. A judge, however, denied the request. Holtzclaw’s victims ranged from a 17-year-old teenager to a 57-year-old grandmother, prosecutors charged.

Washington

A Black consignment shop owner in Redmond says she was shocked to find a KKK robe in a bag of clothes left at her store. According to the Seattle Times, authorities are now looking for a White man in his 20s who allegedly sold her the bag. Leona Coakley-Spring said the man began to act suspicious and then fled the store before she discovered that what she first thought was a priest’s robe was the KKK robe. “Then I saw the hood, and the hood had two eyes cut our, and then it came to me: He’s from a hate group and he wanted me to open that bag in front of him,” she said. Coakley-Spring said the bag also contained a loose rope, and that the whole incident made her feel paranoid.

Compiled by Carol Ozemhoya.