Alabama

Two students at Curry High Scholl have been suspended after they posted a photo of the white student lynching a Black student. Although the two say they planned it as a “joke,” it’s drawn a lot of attention. The boys – Wade Sturgeon and Jordan Blackenship – say they are friends and what they did was “just a stupid decision by both of us. We shouldn’t have done it.” The mother of Blackenship, who is white, went on AL.com and issued an apology, saying: “I am the mother of the boy in the picture taken in the Curry locker room. I want to start out with saying my son is no racist, and I will not tolerate any kind of racist behavior from him. I am dealing with him and his punishment. I also want to add he and the boy in the pic have been friends since elementary school and they are both where goofing off when they did this. My son is young and definitely did not think about what the consequences of such behavior would be. He is learning very quickly.”


A sorority president at an Alabama university blames an “oversight” for her chapter’s decision to order T-shirts with an image of a Black man eating watermelon. Samford University officials publicly apologized last week for the offending shirts printed as keepsakes for the spring formal of Alpha Delta Pi, which could face disciplinary action. The shirts depict a map of Alabama marked with various images – including an illustration of a Black man holding a big slice of watermelon. Lauren Hammond, the sorority’s Samford chapter president, said in a statement that, “We failed to focus on the specific images in the design. We are horrified by our oversight.” Hammond’s statement said sorority members were immediately told not to wear the shirts, which she said were being collected so they could be destroyed.

California

Darrell D. Miller of the law firm Fox Rothschild has been named Beverly Hills Bar Association Entertainment Lawyer of the Year. He was honored at the organization’s annual awards dinner on Tuesday. The event included performances by Ludacris, Brandy and Donald Lawrence. Proceeds went to support education and community outreach programs. “Darrell Miller is an outstanding attorney whose innovative and far-reaching strategies have had a tremendous impact on the field of entertainment law,” BHBA Entertainment Law Section Chair Leigh Leshner said. “Darrell’s background as a singer and performer, along with more than two decades of experience in entertainment law, give him a unique perspective and the ability to see the big picture while focusing on creating highly successful brands for his clients.” Honorary dinner chairs included Norm Aladjem, Angela Bassett, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Rocky Carroll, Tracey Edmonds, Brenda and Bill Galloway, Gerry Garvin, Christy Haubegger, Reginald Hudlin, T.D. Jakes, Terrence Jenkins, Matt Johnson, Charles King, NeNe Leakes, Amir Shahkhalili, Courtney B. Vance, Paula White and Dave Wirtschafter. “This award is in reality a testament to the remarkable success and hard work of my tremendously talented clients that I have had the honor of working with over the last 25 years,” Miller said. “I am completely humbled to be singled out by my esteemed peers at the Beverly Hills Bar Association for doing the work that I love to do, which is guiding my clients to understand the urgent need to think differently and embrace change as they approach new opportunities and deal-making today.”


Many young stars have joined on to support the Jonathan Foundation’s Third Annual Spring Fundraiser, which will be held on Saturday, June 11, Marconi Automotive Museum, 1302 Industrial Dr., Tustin. Those joining Cartoon Network’s “The Amazing World of Gumball” stars Jacob Hopkins and African American actor Terrell Ransom Jr. as celebrity youth ambassadors are young Black stars Damarr Calhoun (“Instant Mom”) and Jayla Calhoun. These stars are supporting the Jonathan Foundation’s programs that include: Assessment Scholarship Program advocating for children diagnosed with autism, asperger’s, developmental delay, intellectual disability, ADHD, dyslexia, XXX Syndrome and learning disabilities. More info at the Jonathan Foundation website www.thejonathanfoundation.org

Georgia

Among the four dozen alleged Gangster Disciples members charged in indictments unsealed last week, one sticks out: An Atlanta-area police officer who prosecutors say claimed to be a hit man for the violent gang and tipped off other members about police activity. An indictment filed in federal court in Atlanta last week names 32 people and a second indictment in Memphis charges 16 more. The 48 alleged gang members are accused of participating in coordinated criminal activity, including murder, drug trafficking, robbery, carjacking, extortion and fraud. Most of them face racketeering charges. Vancito Gumbs, who was a Black officer in DeKalb County, just outside Atlanta, tipped off fellow gang members to police activity, including an October raid on a bar that he knew a gang member frequented, the indictment says. He also told someone he killed people as a hit man for the gang. It’s not clear, though, whether Gumbs ever actually killed anyone and he doesn’t currently face murder charges. Gumbs resigned in October after someone reported that he was using drugs, said DeKalb County police Chief James Conroy, who described Gumbs as “a bad apple.” Conroy said he has no reason to believe any other DeKalb officers were involved. The indictment also says that in November 2012 the gang threatened a rapper, identified only by the initials “R.R.,” with violence unless he paid them for using the gang’s name and symbols. Prosecutors declined to identify the artist, but rapper Rick Ross has mentioned the gang in lyrics. In Georgia alone, the gang is responsible for at least 10 murders and 12 attempted murders, said John Horn, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta.

Illinois

Rev. Catherine Brown is suing the Chicago Police Department after a 2013 case when two police officers can be seen on camera assaulting her in front of her children during a road rage incident. Brown says she was driving home through a narrow alley that she always goes down, when suddenly she was encountered by a police car heading straight toward her. She says that one of the officers, Officer Michelle Morsi Murphy, jumped from the other vehicle and immediately began yelling obscenities and foul words at her. Brown says she was shocked and reached for her driver’s license when the second officer, Jose Lopez, got out of the squad car and pointed a gun at her head. Scared for her life, Brown called 911 and requested that a supervisor be sent to the location. Office Murphy reportedly jumped onto Brown’s car yelled, “B*, move that fing car back.” And instead of waiting for a supervisor to arrive as Brown had requested, both Murphy and Lopez can be seen on camera attempting to force the door of Brown’s vehicle open. Lopez can even be seen on the video laughing. Brown says, in an effort to be visible to witnesses, she put the car in reverse and backed out of the alley. Meanwhile, during all of this, her children can be heard in the back seat screaming and crying. And later, it was discovered that both officers, have received multiple complaints from others. In fact, according to the Citizens Police Data Project, Morsi Murphy has received 19 complaints and Lopez has received 21.

Brown was later charged with attempted murder, but she was found not guilty.

Maryland

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Morgan State University a National Treasure. This significant designation is crucial to the preservation strategy for Morgan State and long-term planning for the largest historically Black college in Baltimore. While many Black colleges around the country are struggling financially, it’s gratifying to learn that a prominent institution such as Morgan State has been identified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a landmark campus. “The National Trust believes Historically Black Colleges and Universities tell an important and often overlooked American story,” Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Morgan State University- a nationally recognized innovator and education leader – to demonstrate how the preservation of their remarkable older buildings can be a springboard for growth, rejuvenation, and revitalization.” Morgan State was founded in 1867 as one of the nation’s earliest institutions to offer post-secondary education for African-Americans and the largest in the state of Maryland. The National Trust for Historic Preservation said Morgan State University’s urban campus “has an impressive collection of historic buildings.” According to the Trust, Morgan State’s landscape features 20 contributing structures – ranging from Classical and Italianate to Modern and Brutalist – eligible for listing on the National Register. Buildings on the campus were designed by pioneering and celebrated Black architects such as Albert Cassell, Hilyard Robinson, Louis Fry and Leon Bridges.

Michigan

There is a story brewing about another Black teen that was beaten severely by police for no apparent reason… other than he ran. Natalie Thompson has filed a federal lawsuit against the Grand Rapids police force for violating her 15-year-old son’s Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to excessive force resulting from an unreasonable search and seizure. Her son Donavan was hanging out with some friends on June 13, 2014, in Grand Rapids, according to various news sources, when police reportedly came up to them. The police were allegedly looking for a suspect. Donovan and his friends bolted and a chase ensued. One of the cops caught up to the kid while he was trying to jump a fence. He allegedly tackled him to the ground and began beating the teen about the head with his flashlight. When the flashlight broke, he continued hitting the boy with his fists while two other cops stood by and watched. When the cop was charged with assault, he claimed he thought the kid had a gun, and a judge dismissed the charges. Donovan suffers from permanent brain damage as a result of the beating. “My son’s injuries are so severe that he will never fully heal mentally, physically, or emotionally. He, myself, and our family are devastated by the abusive beating that a minor child endured,” Thompson told MLive.

Ohio

A team of Cleveland teens, who are Blackboth Murphy and Lopez can be seen on camera attempting to force the door of Brown’s vehicle open. Lopez can even be seen on the video laughing. Brown says, in an effort to be visible to witnesses, she put the car in reverse and backed out of the alley. Meanwhile, during all of this, her children can be heard in the back seat screaming and crying. And later, it was discovered that both officers, have received multiple complaints from others. In fact, according to the Citizens Police Data Project, Morsi Murphy has received 19 complaints and Lopez has received 21.

Brown was later charged with attempted murder, but she was found not guilty.

Maryland

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Morgan State University a National Treasure. This significant designation is crucial to the preservation strategy for Morgan State and long-term planning for the largest historically Black college in Baltimore. While many Black colleges around the country are struggling financially, it’s gratifying to learn that a prominent institution such as Morgan State has been identified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a landmark campus. “The National Trust believes Historically Black Colleges and Universities tell an important and often overlooked American story,” Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Morgan State University- a nationally recognized innovator and education leader – to demonstrate how the preservation of their remarkable older buildings can be a springboard for growth, rejuvenation, and revitalization.” Morgan State was founded in 1867 as one of the nation’s earliest institutions to offer post-secondary education for African-Americans and the largest in the state of Maryland. The National Trust for Historic Preservation said Morgan State University’s urban campus “has an impressive collection of historic buildings.” According to the Trust, Morgan State’s landscape features 20 contributing structures – ranging from Classical and Italianate to Modern and Brutalist – eligible for listing on the National Register. Buildings on the campus were designed by pioneering and celebrated Black architects such as Albert Cassell, Hilyard Robinson, Louis Fry and Leon Bridges.

Michigan

There is a story brewing about another Black teen that was beaten severely by police for no apparent reason… other than he ran. Natalie Thompson has filed a federal lawsuit against the Grand Rapids police force for violating her 15-year-old son’s Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to excessive force resulting from an unreasonable search and seizure. Her son Donavan was hanging out with some friends on June 13, 2014, in Grand Rapids, according to various news sources, when police reportedly came up to them. The police were allegedly looking for a suspect. Donovan and his friends bolted and a chase ensued. One of the cops caught up to the kid while he was trying to jump a fence. He allegedly tackled him to the ground and began beating the teen about the head with his flashlight. When the flashlight broke, he continued hitting the boy with his fists while two other cops stood by and watched. When the cop was charged with assault, he claimed he thought the kid had a gun, and a judge dismissed the charges. Donovan suffers from permanent brain damage as a result of the beating. “My son’s injuries are so severe that he will never fully heal mentally, physically, or emotionally. He, myself, and our family are devastated by the abusive beating that a minor child endured,” Thompson told MLive