California

San Francisco’s police chief resigned last week at the request of the mayor hours after an officer fatally shot a young Black woman driving a stolen car — the culmination of several racially charged incidents in the past year. Pressure had been mounting for the resignation of Chief Greg Suhr since December, when five officers fatally shot a young Black man carrying a knife. Since then, there have been protests, moves to reform the police department and a federal review of its protocol. Mayor Ed Lee supported the chief in December and again in April after it was disclosed that three officers had exchanged racist text messages. The texting scandal was the second to rock the department after it was disclosed that several officers had exchanged racist messages dating back to before Suhr was chief. But Suhr was criticized for moving too slowly to fire the offending officers, all of whom have retained their jobs because of the chief’s failure to start disciplinary action when he first found out about the inappropriate messages. Protesters demanding Suhr’s resignation drowned out the mayor’s second inaugural speech in January, and demonstrators forced the mayor to abandon a planned speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day later that month. Suhr lost Lee’s backing last week, after a patrol car prowling an industrial neighborhood for stolen vehicles came across a 27-year-old Black woman sitting behind the wheel of a parked car. After a chase, the woman was shot and killed by an officer.

Florida

Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market, a mainstay for bargain shoppers in South Florida, has nearly two dozen fewer vendors after federal agents on May 11 shut down several businesses that are accused of illegally trading food stamps for cash, reports the Miami Times. U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer announced that 22 businesses were targeted during a raid at the flea market. The indictments allege the retailers or store operators received more than $13 million in federal payments for transactions in which they did not provide any food. All but one of the retailers involved in the May 11 bust were based at Hialeah Opa-locka flea market. The individuals arrested operated or owned produce or seafood markets. One store is located in Miami Gardens. Prosecutors say the practice is commonly known as “food stamp trafficking.” In addition to the federal indictments, state prosecutors charged six individuals for allegedly receiving additional illegal payments from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Law enforcement officers say this is the largest scheme involving food stamp fraud in U.S. history. “When individuals defraud governmental programs, they steal taxpayer funded benefits that are intended to feed the families and children in our communities who are most in need,” Ferrer said in a statement.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to working with our state and local allies to investigate and prosecute individuals that commit fraudulent schemes for illicit personal financial gain.”  

Georgia

Body camera video shows Georgia sheriff’s deputies using stun guns multiple times on a handcuffed man in the back of a vehicle who died shortly after the struggle on an interstate highway. The video obtained last week by the Associated Press from the family’s attorney and first posted by the New York Times shows Coweta County sheriff’s deputies struggling to subdue 32-year-old Chase Sherman of Destin, Fla., in the back of an SUV Nov. 20. The video, which the newspaper says is from body cameras worn by sheriff’s deputies, shows deputies struggling with Sherman until he’s still and they realize he’s not breathing. The deputies responded after Sherman’s mother called 911. She told the dispatcher she was in a car with her husband, her son and the son’s girlfriend on southbound Interstate 85. She said her son was “freaking out” and had taken a synthetic drug known as spice. Coweta County Sheriff’s Office records from Sherman’s death show one deputy’s stun gun was used nine times in a two-to-three-minute time span, including one use that lasted 17 seconds. The other deputy’s stun gun was used six times in just over four minutes for a total of 29 seconds. The family’s attorney, Chris Stewart, says the records show that the deputies used the stun guns too many times on a handcuffed man. The video shows deputies yelling at Sherman, telling him to stop resisting, and to let go of the stun gun and relax. The deputies also can be heard telling Sherman’s mother to get out of the way, with her telling them not to shoot her son. The deputies respond that he’s being combative and they’re trying to subdue him for their own protection. The video shows Sherman finally being subdued, with one deputy yelling that he’s not breathing. A deputy can later be heard saying that he thinks he will be fired. His death certificate lists his death as a homicide and lists the cause as “sudden death during an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device, prone positioning on the floor of a motor vehicle and compression of the torso by the body weight of another individual.”

Illinois

One of Chicago’s two remaining African-American-owned banks has been saved from failure with a $9 million equity infusion that will keep it under Black ownership. Illinois Service Federal Savings & Loan, a South Side lender tracing its Bronzeville roots to the Great Migration, on April 28 completed a sale to a Ghanaian-American family. The acquisition, which the family says was recently approved by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is a stay of execution for a low-profile South Side institution that has made mortgages and small-business loans for decades. Illinois Service was founded in 1934 by 13 Bronzeville business leaders who saw the need for a bank to provide credit to African-American migrants from the South. The new owners are members of the Nduom family whose patriarch, Paa Kwesi Nduom, 63, was one of the first African-American partners of Deloitte & Touche, working in Milwaukee before relocating to Ghana in West Africa in the 1990s. There he invested in hotels and other enterprises, eventually turning the family’s disparate holdings into Groupe Nduom. Groupe Nduom employs more than 3,000 in Africa, Europe and North America and has investments in industries including financial services, media and entertainment, sports and real estate. “We think (keeping ISF Black-owned) is a critical point,” said Chiefy Nduom, 33, who serves as vice president and general counsel of Groupe Nduom. “We all know race matters in America. It’s not a colorblind society. Everyone is impacted by race in one way or another.”

Kentucky

After winning a three-person primary race last week and defeating a long time incumbent, Attica Scott will be the first African American woman to serve in Kentucky’s State Legislature in 20 years. Scott won the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 41st House District. She defeated Tom Riner who had served in the Kentucky House since 1992, and Phil Baker. Scott won 54 percent of the vote to Riner’s 31 percent. Scott has no Republican challenger to face on election day November 8. Attica Scott announced her victory via Twitter, writing, “Representative Riner just called to concede. Thank you to every single one of you who believed that we could do it. Great job, folks!” She continued, “It feels amazing to be the first Black women in almost two decades to be elected to the legislature in Frankfort — that’s huge. I’m representing a district that is 50 percent Black and 50 percent white so that says that people across the district regardless of race believed in my leadership and also knew it was time for a new voice and a fresh face,.”

Louisiana

A school district stripped Amite High School valedictorian Andrew Jones of his cap and gown on graduation day because he declined to shave off his facial hair, according to WWL-TV. The superintendent said the school district has a longstanding facial hair ban, and 14 graduates, including Jones, were reminded of the policy before graduation day. Jones was the only graduating student who refused to comply. He told the news station the ban “didn’t make sense,” because students were permitted to have facial hair throughout the school year. WWL-TV found two pictures of Jones wearing a beard this school year — on campus and at the school board office. Jones’ aunt, Sabrina Davis, has suspicions about what motivated the sudden graduation day enforcement. “What was the real issue that he couldn’t walk with his class?” a frustrated Davis asked WWL-TV. “He was top of his class, you know, that moment was the most important moment of his life. For a young man that talented, and very academic, to hold a 4.0 and still manage to be a father to his child, the sky’s the limit to me.” Jones said he’s ready to move forward. He has academic and athletic scholarships to Saint Louis University, where he has a place on the football team as well.

Wisconsin

A fraternity has been suspended on University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus (Madison) after a member reported that the organization created an environment that breeds discrimination and racial insensitivity, the school said. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter on the university’s Madison campus has been suspended of all activities until Nov. 1 and all fraternity members are required to go through diversity, inclusion and mental health training, the school said in a statement last week. The suspension stems from a complaint from an unidentified member who reported to the university‘s student-led Committee on Student Organizations that he was subjected to fellow members using racial, anti-gay and anti-Semitic slurs on several occasions since 2014, the school said. In one instance, the student reported that a fellow fraternity member addressed him with a racial slur and choked him for five seconds until other members intervened during a Halloween party in 2014, according to the school. The committee found the chapter violated its nondiscrimination requirements and suspended the organization. The suspension comes amid allegations of other racially insensitive incidents on other U.S. campuses involving the fraternity including reports of members chanting a racist song on several occasions from 2012 to 2015, according to the national fraternity organization. The national fraternity said in a statement that it was investigating and apologized, saying that members who were responsible are no longer with the fraternity.

Texas

A rope burn a 12-year-old Black girl received around her neck during an overnight school campout has left the girl’s mother asking if her daughter was victimized by racially motivated bullying by sixth-grade classmates, according to CBS News. Sandy Rougely of Waco has retained a lawyer to press a personal injury claim against Live Oak Classical School, the private school where her daughter is enrolled. She told the Dallas Morning News that her daughter returned from the April 28 campout with the injury to the front half of her neck. “It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together,” she told the newspaper. In a statement to the newspaper, school trustee Jeremy Counseller said the girl was injured accidentally by a rope swing and accused Rougley’s attorney of exploiting the accident for financial gain. “The student received first aid treatment immediately after the accident by a parent chaperon who is also a physician, and she was able to enjoy the remainder of the field trip, which lasted through the next day,” Counsellor said. Counsellor said Rougely and her attorney, Levi McCathern of Dallas, asked the school to pay $2.7 million in damages or the allegations would be made public. McCathern tells the newspaper they asked for money after the school requested a financial demand in writing. The girl, whom the newspaper did not identify by name, said she was helping classmates pull a rope to move the swing when she stopped to watch. She said she felt nothing except the rope wrapping around her neck from behind and being pulled against her neck. She fell to the ground and was tugged backward. None of her classmates moved to help her, so she removed the rope, looked back and saw three boys, all of them white, who she said had been picking on her. She said she asked if they had done it on purpose and they said no. Rougely’s daughter said the staff treated the injury with petroleum jelly and ibuprofen. Even if the injury were not the result of an intentional act, the school’s handling of the situation was “beyond poor,” said T.J. Jones, a lawyer with McCathern’s law firm.

National

With a Democratic congressman calling it a symbol of “racism, slavery and division,” the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed legislation banning Confederate flags at cemeteries run by the Veteran Administration. In a vote of 265-169, including 84 Republicans, the House voted “to make it illegal to drape or hoist the flag prominently in national veterans’ cemeteries, including over mass graves,” reports the Washington Post. The measure must still be passed by the Senate.  California Democrat Jarred Huffman authored the bill after the tragic shooting death of nine Black worshipers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in June of last year. “Over 150 years ago, slavery was abolished. Why, in the year 2016, are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries?” Huffman said on the House floor, Reuters reports. The bill does not prevent families from placing small Confederate flags on individual gravesites. State run cemeteries, the Dept. of the Army, or the Dept. of the Interior are also not affected by the ban.


President Barack Obama signed a bill taking racially offensive words such as “negro” and “Oriental” out of all Federal laws, reports Mediate. Sponsored by Congresswoman from Queens, N.Y., Grace Meng, bill H.R.4238 (co-sponsored by all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus) will strike words such as “Negro, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or a Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent” and replace them with “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or an Alaska Native.” Rep. Meng, who is Chinese-American, said that she is especially happy that the word Oriental is going the way of the covered wagon. “Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory,” says Meng. “But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.”


Elaine Welteroth, who made headlines when she became Teen Vogue’s first African American beauty director, has been made the title’s new editor-in-chief. She will be the youngest editor in the company’s 107-year history. She is also the second Black woman named to head a Conde Nast book; Keija Minor has been at the helm of Brides magazine since 2012. Welteroth, 29, has held editorial positions at Glamour and Ebony magazines, and has been at Teen Vogue for more than three and a half years. She received her degree in Mass Communications/Media Studies with a minor in journalism from Cal State Sacramento.