California

The Associated Press reports that activists are suing Los Angeles police and prosecutors, arguing that sweeping gang injunctions violate the civil rights of thousands of people. The federal lawsuit, filed Oct. 25 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, says the 46 injunctions that bar gang members from such things as meeting in certain areas or wearing certain clothing in public are unconstitutional. The suit says people covered by 46 injunctions—an estimated 10,000 mainly Black and Latino men—face parole-like restrictions without having a previous court hearing or other chance to prove they aren’t gang members. The suit says that violates due process. In March, the city settled a lawsuit over gang injunction curfew restrictions by agreeing to spend $30 million on job training and other services for gang members.

Florida

It’s been almost five years since Trayvon Martin was shot down, and the shooter was found not guilty, but pop star Lady GaGa wants people to remember the slain teen. She says that the current political climate inspired her latest song, a tribute to Martin titled, “Angel Down,” a track off her latest album “Joanne.” “Doesn’t everyone belong in the arms of the sacred … Why do we pretend we’re wrong … has our young courage faded? Shots were fired down the street by the church where we used to meet … Angel down, angel down … why do people just stand around.” Says GaGa, “It’s a very extreme year and a very high, stressful time; people of all ages, I think, are feeling it. Especially with politics and with society—the way things have been moving, the chaos in America. This was a lot of my inspiration on the album,” she explained. GaGa also went on to say that it was a response to “the epidemic of young African Americans being murdered in this country. How can I not say something?”

Massachusetts

The wife of a Millbury police officer is accused of faking a robbery and vandalizing the couple’s own home with “Black Lives Matter” graffiti, reports CBS Boston. On Oct. 17, Maria Daly reported a burglary at her home, saying jewelry and money had been stolen. She also reportedly said her house was tagged with graffiti that read “BLM,” a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement. Just after she filed the police report, Daly took to social media saying, “We woke up to not only our house being robbed while we were sleeping, but to see this hatred for no reason.” Millbury Police Chief Donald Desorcy said on Oct. 28 that investigators determined the entire account was made up. “Something wasn’t quite right,” said Desorcy. “Basically we came to the conclusion that it was all fabricated,” said Desorcy. “There was no intruder; there was no burglary.” The chief says Daly’s husband, Officer Daniel Daly, was not involved. “She must have tagged the place herself,” one neighbor said to CBS. “I don’t know why you’d do that. If you’re gonna stage a robbery, I mean really come on, you’re a cop’s wife. You should know better.”

Michigan

A young Black female athlete is making history, yet was subjected to racism’s ugly face. Ashton Brooks made news this football season by becoming the first female to be on Dow High School’s varsity football team. She’s an amazing kicker … in fact, she is the top kicker in her conference, reports the Huffington Post. Brooks is the first girl to be on the team, but was recently subjected to a racist Instagram post comparing her to a gorilla. Brooks, who is the top football kicker in her conference, and the first ever female varsity player in the city of Midland, was targeted by a racist Instagram message Oct. 21 from a now-deleted account posted by a White woman named Reyna Muck, a Michigan State University student identified by Facebook user Chris Aeschliman. According to school district officials, the MSU student last attended Midland Public Schools in 2015. Muck likened star kicker Brooks to a gorilla. The Midland Daily News reported the social media user posted the photo after Midland, Michigan’s Dow High School took on rival Midland High School in a game last week. During the game, Dow won 26-22.

Brooks captured the image on Twitter, sharing it Oct. 22. Despite her accomplishments, a former student of rival team Midland High School posted a photo of herself on Oct. 22 posing with a person in a gorilla costume. Her caption: “Got a picture with Dowse kicker.” Brooks saw the photo and initially shared it with her Twitter followers, writing: “Well u don’t even graduate high school so u got come back to talk st about people doing well in it.” According to the Midland Daily News, she has received both academic and athletic scholarships to attend Northwood University next year.

Missouri

Officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will undergo training on First Amendment rights under a mid-October settlement with four journalists who were arrested during the Ferguson protests two years ago. The settlement, which the Huffington Post obtained through a public records request, requires those officers on the SWAT team and in the Civil Disobedience Unit to be trained in particular on how to deal with individuals who are recording police activity. The class will emphasize the rights of members of the press and public to observe, photograph and otherwise document the actions of police officers. The training has to be completed within 90 days of the settlement’s effective date of Oct. 10. Under the settlement, current and future recruits at the St. Louis police academy must also take the First Amendment class. The agreement runs until Oct. 7, 2019. For their part, journalists Ryan Devereaux, Lukas Hermsmeier, Ansgar Graw and Frank Herrmann will receive a total of $12,500 from the city of St. Louis ? a figure that includes attorney fees and costs.

New York

Willie Morgan, who is originally from Georgia, grows cotton in Harlem to teach children in his neighborhood about slavery. “I tell the kids … that the jeans they’re wearing come from cotton. They don’t know anything about it,” he said in a recent interview with the Independent. “I give them the cotton and they can take it into their classes.” Morgan began planting his cotton plants in 2005, and they now sit right at the iconic Harlem statue of Harriet Tubman at the junction of 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. “This is what slavery was about. They did not have machines. They needed people to pick it … [That way] they know about the cotton, they know what their forefathers did,” he said. Morgan plants the seeds in June, and harvests them in September and October. He also plants peanuts, collard greens, okra, onions and stevia in his own plot of land not too far from the statue of Tubman. She is also known as Black Moses for her exploits during slavery.

North Carolina

An African American man was thrown out of a Donald Trump rally on Oct. 26 and called a “thug” by the Republican candidate, reports multiple news agencies. But Rocky Mount resident C.J. Cary is a Trump supporter, and has even faced off with his neighbors over his choice in this year’s presidential election. According to the News and Observer, Cary drove more than an hour from his home to the Kinston Jet Center to deliver a note to Trump urging him to be more inclusive of Black people, women, people with disabilities and college students. On the night of the incident, the ex-Marine said he walked toward the front of the center, stood about 20-30 feet from the stage and shouted “Donald” while waving his document to try to get Trump’s attention. Trump’s response: “Were you paid $1,500 to be a thug?” And then, “You can get him out. Get him out,” as three suited security guards walked Cary out to the crowd’s cheers. Since July, Cary’s lawn has repeatedly been vandalized to the tune of more than $1,800 worth of Trump signs. He told the Rocky Mount Telegram that he has every right to put the dozens of signs up in his yard.

Ohio

Racist incidents connected to Xavier University are creating turmoil at the Cincinnati school, reports the New York Daily News. In one incident, a White female student posted a Snapchat image of herself in blackface on Monday with the caption, “Who needs White when Black lives matter.” Another racist image circulated among students the next day showed a skeleton wearing an African dashiki hanging from a dorm room ceiling, suggesting a lynching. The skeleton had a “TRUMP, Make America Great Again” flag displayed next to it. “We are tired of the blatant racism that is so comfortably shown to us on Xavier’s campus,” a Black student told the newspaper. “From racism/prejudice reports being brushed off to being told that ‘it wasn’t meant that way.’ From threats being made on Yik Yak (an anonymous twitter) to sly comments being made as we walk by. We are tired. This is not okay.” In an e-mail to the Xavier community, the university’s president, Michael Graham, called the incidents “racist actions” and said they’re “unacceptable on our campus.” Graham added: “When one of us falls short, we all fall short.” Kelly Leon, the university’s communications director, told WCPO-TV that any student accused of violating the school’s code of conduct would face a “student conduct process.”

Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia 76ers apologized Oct. 28 for canceling the national anthem performance of a singer wearing a “We Matter” jersey. The 76ers backtracked from their original stance when they told R & B singer Sevyn Streeter she could not perform the anthem before Wednesday night’s season opener because of the slogan. “We are sorry that this happened,” the Sixers said in a statement. “After receiving feedback from our players, basketball operations staff and ownership group, we believe that the wrong decision was made, and Sevyn should have been welcomed to sing. We apologize to her, and in an effort to move the conversation forward, we have reached out to offer her an opportunity to return and perform at a game of her choice. We are waiting to hear back.” Streeter said in an interview with The Associated Press late Wednesday she was told she could not sing just minutes before her performance. “I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game,” the R&B singer said by phone. “I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.” The Sixers players met the next day and were considering whether to respond to Streeter’s cancellation.


Ariell Johnson, the Philadelphia woman who made history in January by becoming the first Black female owner of a comic book store on the East Coast, is making big moves once again. The 33-year-old, who owns and operates Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philly, currently appears on a variant cover for the latest issue of Marvel’s “Invincible Iron Man.” Johnson, whose store promotes diversity and inclusion in geek culture, shares the cover with fictional character RiRi Williams, the teenaged Black girl genius who also just happens to be the new Iron Man.

Wisconsin

After a football game on Oct. 29, where a fan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed up in an Obama costume with a noose tied around its neck, the school released a statement calling the racist outfit “repugnant,” and called it “an exercise of the individual’s right to free speech,” reports the Root. Someone at the game snapped a picture of the historically offensive and arguably violent get-up of our first Black president, and posted it to Twitter where it immediately went viral. Later that day, UW officials released a statement giving its side of events, saying that guest services were called and the fan was asked “to remove the offensive components of the costume.” He apparently complied. UM says that the man was exercising his right to free speech and it too exercised its rights by not asking him to leave, but by asking him to remove the “offensive parts of the costume.”