In East St. Louis, motorists drove around a dying boy instead of stopping to help

It was just after sunset Wednesday in East St. Louis. Fog crept across the city. A light rain fell on the intersection of State Street and Post Place.

Maurice Richards lived a few doors down. The 11-year-old likely had crossed this intersection on many occasions.

But this time, as the boy made his way across the roadway, a car suddenly slammed into him.

Instead of stopping to help, the car kept on driving, according to police. Perhaps worse, other drivers followed the lead, weaving around the boy as he lay on the ground dying.

It was “several minutes” before anyone stopped to help Richards, reported local television station KMOV. By then, it was too late. Richards died at a hospital shortly thereafter.

Authorities called the hit-and-run a “senseless act,” but also called out the drivers who ignored the dying boy.

“Just for the fact that they’re seeing someone lying in the street and didn’t render aid … they need to be held accountable,” East St. Louis Police Detective Jason Hicks told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We as citizens of East St. Louis need to start taking a more serious role in things that go on.”

“If you were one of the ones that saw the young man laying in the street and went around him, you know it’s not right,” Hicks added, according to KMOV.

Richards’s grandmother said they weren’t sure how long the boy lay in the street before someone finally stopped, but that it was long enough that his clothes were “drenched” from the rain.

“They said one lady was praying over him, and she asked other people to join and they wouldn’t join,” Gertrude Richards told the Post-Dispatch. “I guess they just drove by. They had to stop another car from almost hitting him.”

She told the newspaper that her grandson was a student at Gordon Bush Elementary School and enjoyed pizza as well as playing with his four sisters and brother.

“He was a happy kid. He loved to ride his bike,” she said amid tears Wednesday night. “He loved to eat. He was mostly a meat eater. He liked to eat like his daddy.”

She told the newspaper that her grandson was a student at Gordon Bush Elementary School and enjoyed pizza as well as playing with his four sisters and brother.

“He was a happy kid. He loved to ride his bike,” she said amid tears Wednesday night. “He loved to eat. He was mostly a meat eater. He liked to eat like his daddy.”

His mother, Erica Steele, posted two photos of Richards to her Facebook page, where friends left their condolences.

Hicks said investigators had no leads as of late Wednesday night.

“We have no vehicle description, no suspects as of right now,” the detective told the Post-Dispatch.

There was also no sign that the car had tried to avoid the fatal collision.

“There weren’t any skid-marks at the scene, and we do not have any witnesses,” he told the Belleville News-Democrat. “Cars were driving around the boy. The caller who reported the hit-and-run stopped and blocked the area where the boy laid.”

Hicks asked residents to rally around Richards’s death, even if some drivers initially had ignored the boy in his moment of need.

“The citizens need to come together and try to get who did this and get justice for that young man,” Hicks told the Post-Dispatch.

The tragedy seemed to shake even the reporter covering the story for the Post-Dispatch.

“What is wrong with people?” tweeted Valerie Schremp Hahn. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?”

Sheriff and Lieutenant Colonel Arrested in Prisoner Abuse Conspiracy

After ordering unlawful beatings on compliant inmates and pretrial detainees, a Louisiana sheriff and a lieutenant colonel were arrested this week and charged with participating in a prisoner abuse conspiracy under the color of law. Eight former Iberia Parish Sheriff Office (IPSO) employees have previously entered guilty pleas in related abuse cases.

On April 29, 2011, Iberia Parish Jail (IPJ) Warden Wesley Hayes called Sheriff Louis Ackal to request assistance during a shakedown of the jail. After arriving with members of his narcotics unit to search for contraband, the sheriff thought he heard a detainee named Curtis Ozenne make a lewd comment on the recreation yard. In the presence of Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Savoy, a supervisor at IPSO, the sheriff ordered narcotics agent Byron Benjamin Lassalle to “take care of” Ozenne.

When Lassalle asked the warden where he could find a place inside the jail without any security cameras, Hayes responded, “the chapel.” After they escorted Ozenne to the chapel, narcotics agent Jason Comeaux placed handcuffs on the compliant detainee before beating him with a nightstick. As the sheriff allegedly threatened to use a K-9 on Ozenne, the terrified detainee blamed another inmate identified as S.S. for the lewd comment.

After escorting S.S. to the chapel, Lassalle also beat him with a nightstick in front of the other officers. Upon learning that S.S. was in jail for a sex offense, Lassalle held his baton between his legs and forced it into S.S.’s mouth, causing him to choke. Under duress, S.S. blamed a third inmate identified as A.T. for making the lewd comment on the recreation yard. Although A.T. was compliant and not posing a threat, he was also taken to the chapel and beaten with a baton while the officers watched.

During that same day, the sheriff learned that an inmate identified as H.G. had written letters complaining about conditions at the jail. After escorting H.G. and another inmate named Anthony Daye into the chapel, the officers attacked the compliant detainees with their batons. While the officers assaulted the inmates, Lt. Col. Savoy ordered K-9 handler Robert Burns to intimidate them with his police dog.

According to Daye’s 2011 lawsuit, the sheriff had also appeared at the jail on the previous day to threaten and harass several inmates on April 28, 2011. After having the detainees strip down to their boxers, the sheriff placed a police dog behind Daye and told him, “Don’t move, or the dog will get you.”

After 20 minutes of intimidation, Ackal whispered to Daye, “Please move because the dog hasn’t bitten anyone in a long time.”

Eight former IPSO employees have entered guilty pleas in related prisoner abuse cases for either participating in or covering up the unlawful beatings. Former IPJ Warden Wesley Hayes, former IPJ Assistant Warden Jesse Hayes, former Lt. Bret Broussard of the Narcotics Unit, former narcotics agent Wade Bergeron, former narcotics agent Jason Comeaux, former narcotics agent David Hines, former narcotics agent Byron Benjamin Lassalle, and former K-9 handler Robert Burns have previously pleaded guilty for their involvement in the jail beatings.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced indictments against Sheriff Ackal and Lt. Col. Savoy. Ackal is charged with one count of conspiracy against rights and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, while Savoy is charged with one count of conspiracy against rights and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. If convicted, Ackal and Savoy face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the civil rights violations, as well as a potential $250,000 fine for each count.

Teenager Who Beat Sikh American in Chicago Sentenced to Community Service

The teenager who beat Sikh American Inderjit Singh Mukker in a Chicago suburb last September has been sentenced to 200 hours of community service over a two-year probation, according to the Chicago Tribune. He must also pay restitution for Mukker’s medical bills not covered by insurance — estimated at $4,870 — and also attend high school every day, as well as counseling for anger management, cultural awareness, and substance abuse.

Sikh American Inderjit Singh Mukker, 53, who was brutally attacked in his car in Darien, Illinois, after being called “Bin Laden” and “terrorist.” Mukker family / The Sikh Coalition

“Since Mr. Mukker was viciously assaulted last September, we have seen a meteoric rise in hate crimes against Sikh Americans as xenophobic political speech has increased,” Harsimran Kaur, legal director of The Sikh Coalition, told NBC News. “Charging the assailant with a hate crime is an important step towards addressing the broader epidemic. We hope that the 200 hours of community service are spent with the Sikh American community in an effort to further educate.”

In September, Kaur told NBC News that Mukker, a U.S. citizen and father of two, was in one of two left-turn lanes when the driver of the car next to him started yelling obscenities and racial slurs, including “Bin Laden” and “terrorist.”

After the light changed, Mukker pulled over to let the other car pass, but instead, the other driver stopped in front of him, came out, and began repeatedly punching Mukker in the face through the open car window until Mukker lost consciousness for 10 or 15 minutes.

RELATED: Chicago-Area Assault On Sikh American Treated As Possible Hate Crime

The teenager, who was 17 when the crime was committed, was initially charged with five counts of felony aggravated battery. However, after the intervention of civil rights advocates, the charges were quickly amended to include one count ofhate crime. The juvenile pled guilty to a hate crime in December.

“The importance of a hate crime charge was never about endorsing a harsher penalty for the assailant, but rather ensuring that our government agencies and the American public acknowledge the problem,” Kaur said. “Mr. Mukker’s case is unfortunately not unique and we must continue to do more to combat this problem together as a nation.”

Jack Astor’s waitress was sent home because hair was in a bun

A 20-year-old woman says she was sent home during her shift at a Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill because her hair was in a bun.

In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Akua Agyemfra said she was wearing her hair in a bun during her job interview when assistant manager Sabrina Chiodo asked, “‘Do you mind if your hair is down?’ And I said, ‘No.'”

Agyemfra said she was over the moon when she got hired “on the spot.” But her excitement didn’t last long.

She came forward following CBC’s Marketplace investigation into skimpy uniforms that some restaurants require their female staff to wear.

Agyemfra said on her third day of training at the restaurant’s location near Highway 27 and Dixon Road, Chiodo “sits me down and says, ‘I’m sorry to have to let you go home.'”

Agyemfra said she took her hair out of the bun so Chiodo “could see it doesn’t go down. She understood. She realized I couldn’t wear my hair like that during a shift, that it looked ridiculous.Akua Agyemfrah (2)

“She was really nice about it,” Agyemfra said. “She said a lot of the girls were talking about my hair and that it was in a bun and theirs isn’t. But it kinda sucked.”

Agyemfra said “a lot of Caucasian people don’t really understand” that her hair doesn’t go down.

“But it still doesn’t take away from the fact that she sent me home.”

Speaking to CBC Wednesday, Chiodo did not deny that Agyemfa was sent home because her hair was in a bun. She added that the chain’s policy dictates that waitresses wear their hair down.
But Kathryn Long, the national marketing manager for Jack Astor’s, told CBC waitresses can wear their hair down or in a “stylish up-do.”
Long also said Jack Astor’s is reviewing its uniform policy.

Agyemfra said her friends can’t believe she was sent home because her hair was in a bun and that her mother suggested she not return to the Jack Astor’s restaurant where the incident happened.

“You should have your hair however you want, that’s my only problem (with what happened),” she said. “I feel your hair should be up in a restaurant. It’s more classy and more professional.”

A spokeswoman with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) told CBC Wednesday that when “setting out dress codes to meet business needs, employers should not rely on stereotypes or sexist ideas of how men or women should look.”

​On Tuesday, the OHRC called for an end to clothing requirements that discriminate against female and transgender workers.

Hillary spoke 32% longer, moderators interrupted Bernie 150% more

Hillary total: 1409 sec or 23:29 | interrupted 10 times (not including clarification/follow-up)
Bernie total: 1071 sec or 17:51 | interrupted 25 times (not including follow-ups)
Started timing at 6:50 pm Pacific
H – 1:40 uninterrupted
H – 1:42 uninterrupted
B – interrupted at 0:34, interrupted 0:40 (interrupted 5 times) | 1:30 total
H – interrupted at 0:30 | 1:11 total
B – interrupted at 0:15, and 0:30 seconds | 0:32 total
H – interrupted at 0:20 | 0:30 total
B – applause at 0:15, interrupted by mod at 25 seconds | 0:31 total
H – (not her turn) Interrupted at 2 seconds, 5 seconds | 0:40 total
B – (response to her response), interrupted at 10 seconds | 0:10 total
H – interrupted at 1:40 for reiteration of question and applause | 3:08 total — ignoring applause and mod questioning time
B – (30 sec response), interrupted at 30 seconds and 35 seconds| 0:42 total

COMMERCIAL

B – Career politician question | 1:24 total
H – Latino jobs, (but talked about Climate change?), interrupted at 1:33, 2:17 | 2:17 total
B – Response, interrupted at 0:30 | 1:23 total
B – ‘Free’ college (including his clarification up top), interrupted at 0:42 | 1:29 total
H – Ph.D student/loans | 1:20 total
B – Response (I said it before her) – whispers on mic on this question, interrupted at 0:42, 0:58 | 0:58 total
H – Response (quote bailout quote got money), interrupted at 0:49 | 1:02 total
B – Response, interrupted at 0:32 (by mods and Hillary) | 0:32 total
H – Response | 0:49 total
B – Response, interrupted at 0:42 | 0:45 total
B – Climate change, interrupted at 0:52 | 1:29 total
H – Climate change (bi-partisan specific), interrupted at 1:12 (by mods, Bernie told to speak) mod at 1:42 again | 2:00 total
B – Response, interrupted at 0:42 | 0:42 total (not equal to Hill’s overtime like told)
H – E. Warren question (also economy?), interrupted at 1:33 | 1:33 total
B – name mentioned response, interrupted at 0:34, 0:41, 0:47 | 0:57 total

COMMERCIAL

H – Castro question | 1:39 total
B – Cuba follow-up, interrupted at 0:35 | 0:35 total
B – Castro video, interrupted at 1:19 (for follow-up question), 1:28, 2:08 | 2:08 total

H – Puerto Rico debt (also an addition to BS’s video), | 1:33 total
B – Response (overthrowing foreign gvmt/PR), int at 0:40 | 0:50 total
H – (Supreme Court) | 1:19 total

COMMERCIAL

H – (Closing statement) | 1:06 total
B – (Closing statement) | 1:14 total

Update On Rape Victim, Latesha Clay. The Child Wants Coloring Books.

On January 11th, in Kent County, Michigan, Latesha, a 15-year-old African-American girl and mother to two toddlers, was sentenced in an adult court to 9 years in jail for being used as bait in a scheme to rob men responding to a Backpage escort ad placed for her. After men met Latesha at a motel and gave her money for sexual services,  two older teens would show up rob the men using a fake gun.

SWOP-USA members and board share outrage at the injustice that has already been voiced by the sex worker community. As others have already pointed out, Latesha, as a minor advertised for commercial sex, meets the Michigan state definition of a human trafficking victim. Similarly, the men who were robbedcommitted several state felonies when they agreed to pay for sex from a minor, an act that is now federally defined as human trafficking.

These laws were created from the belief that all youth in the sex trade are victims and all men who solicit sex from a minor are perpetrators. Why, then, was Latesha treated as a perpetrator and charged in an adult court? Why weren’t the men who had solicited and paid to have sex with her? And worse, Michigan has no statutory requirements to try minors as adults–so why did prosecution specifically petition to have Latesha tried there?

This injustice, as well as many similar ones, affirm what organizations like Incite have been saying for years: that new anti-trafficking laws are constructed to arrest black men and halt migration, not save black children and immigrant women. That a judge would give an 9-20 year sentence to a vulnerable 15 year old girl with a complicated life who played a marginal role in the robbery of men attempting to committed state and federal sex offenses against a minor (Michigan banned mandatory minimum sentences last summer) suggests that all the energy funneled towards trafficking awareness and legal reform is ultimately failing the people this energy is intended to help: public awareness campaigns dramatizing perfect (often white) victims are distorting our understanding of sex trafficking to the extent that we can’t recognize a real (and fairly typical) victim; and immunity and record relief remedies for minors, if restricted to minors in the sex trade and prostitution charges alone, fail to adequately help most youth in the sex trade, who are criminalized in multiple ways for, essentially, just trying to survive.

Latesha also serves as a reminder of the injustice of the juvenile justice system in America. Latesha is one ofan estimated 250,000 youth tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults each year. She is also one of roughly 10,000 minors in an adult prison or jail today.  Among high-income nations, the United States’ practice of sentencing youth as adults, mandatory minimums sentences, and excruciatingly long sentencing lengths is an outlier…and an aberration. Sentencing any of the teens who participated in the robbery, least of all Latesha, to time in adult prisons is an injustice.

Latesha’s sentencing is also a glaring reminder of race and class disparities in sentencing. Minority youth are far more likely to be arrested, and subsequently far more likely to be tried in adult courts, convicted in those courts, and incarcerated than white youth.  And had Latesha been white and middle-class, well, it’s likely she wouldn’t have needed to engage in survival crimes to support herself and her children.

*******

What You Can Do

COYOTE and SWOP-USA are working on researching concrete ways to support Latesha. We will update you with further information as it becomes available. In the meantime, COYOTE director Bella Robinson, who has been in touch with Latesha and offers the following action items:

 

  • Send Latesha age-appropriate coloring books: Latesha asked for coloring books.We set up a “wishlist” featuring coloring books we think a teenage girl would like in order to reduce duplicates or too many books arriving at the same time and being trashed because she is over quota. We’ll update it as we get more information about her interests. You can also send them independently — mailing books to prisons is often faster and easier through major online vendors, like BarnesAndNoble, Dalton, or Amazon.
  • Add money to Latesha’s commissary account: You can do this through JPay. Latesha’s DOC number is972719.
  • Send age-appropriate letters of support, via mail or the JPay email system.
  • You can donate to a fundraiser for an appeals lawyer being organized by Latesha’s mother. Click here for the fundraiser link.

 

*Instructions for sending mail to Michigan State Correctional Facilities are here. Please remember that all communication to incarcerated individuals are opened and read before they are received

**Latesha’s address is:

 

[Full Name] – MDOC Number

Womens Huron Correctional Facility

3201 Bemis Rd.

Ypsilanti, MI, 48197

I walked on Rum and turned Water to Whiskey.