All Articles Tagged "Alabama"
If you’re ever in the unfortunate position to have to appear in court, you’re always told to look your best—not because you’ll be dismissed otherwise, but to put forth a good impression of you being a standup citizen. But maybe there is a little more to it as Yancina Johnson learned the hard way Tuesday. The Mobile, AL, woman was set to testify against Hykeem Kemp, a man who she says has been threatening her family since her son’s murder in February, and whom she believes had something to do with his killing, but when she arrived to go before the judge, she wasn’t allowed her day in court because of what she was wearing.
Johnson told the Local 15 news:
“I told (the bailiff) my name, she said, ‘Okay, but you can’t go back in the courtroom because what you have on is not appropriate.’”
Though Johnson didn’t exactly put her best fashion foot forward in a sundress with thin straps, the reaction seems a bit harsh and unprecedented. Johnson said she was still told to wait in the hall until she was called to testify but that never happened.
“Nobody came and got me, nobody came and talked to me,” she said. “How could they have his trial without me being there?”
Kemp, the man she was supposed to testify against, ended up receiving credit for time served and being released from jail that day, making the circumstances of her son’s murder seem all the more suspicious to Johnson. In February, her son, Darrius Rowser, was found shot to death multiple times in his car with the engine still running. Four months later no one has been charged with the killing. Johnson said she’s continuously been given the runaround by police and the court system, with the dress debacle being the latest dead end. She also said witnesses are too scared to come forward because Kemp and other men have intimidated them, which is why she felt giving her testimony was so crucial.
“They need to find out what’s going on in my neighborhood so these people can be put somewhere before they hurt somebody else,” she said. “They need to be serious about other stuff than a tank top.”
When the local news station spoke with Presiding Judge Holmes Whiddon about Johnson’s removal from the courtroom, all he had to say is it’s up to the bailiff to decide whether an outfit is appropriate for court. He also said it’s possible Johnson’s testimony was no longer needed if Kemp took a plea deal, but you would think someone would have informed her if that was the case.
Do you think people should be stopped from testifying in court over their clothing?
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Roughly 20 black men, women, and children are said to have been involved in a brutal beat down that occurred in Mobile, AL, Saturday and left the man seen here, Matthew Owens, in critical condition. Four days later, the circumstances surrounding the altercation are still a bit fuzzy.
Many reports on the attack have labelled it a hate crime while others have called it retaliation for Trayvon Martin since one of the men involved in the fight was heard saying, “Now that’s justice for Trayvon” when the beating ended. Mobile’s mayor Sam Jones says that quote has been blown out of proportion and new details suggest that Owens may have actually been the original aggressor in the altercation. One person told WPMI that Owens was spewing racial slurs at people on a basketball court and even pulled out two kitchen knives. Another witness quoted him as saying:
”He’s going to lynch all the black kids, he hates black n***ers, he hates that we moved on this street.”
It’s these new details that have stopped investigators from looking into this beating as a hate crime, Mayor Jones says.
“Wait for the facts as far as we’re concerned right now,” he told Fox 10. “But, I would caution people to not jump to conclusions right now. This is really very divisive in communities throughout the country, and I don’t think we have any reason to be divisive here because I don’t see any evidence of that.”
Though Owens is awake now and says he doesn’t know why he was attacked, at the time, he was left unconscious with bleeding on his brain after the fight and witnesses say he was beaten with bricks, bats, and cans of paint by the mob. His wrap sheet doesn’t do much to clear claims that he may have been the aggressor in the case. He’s been booked on charges of assault, domestic violence, harassment and public intoxication in the past. Despite whatever motivation may have led up to the incident, the brutality of the attack is rather extreme. Still, no one has been arrested thus far.
What do you think about this situation?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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President Obama took a minute to reflect on the past earlier this week. Wednesday, while he was visiting the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the president sat in the Montgomery, Alabama bus seat Rosa Parks refused to vacate.
Later, while in Detroit, the president shared his thoughts on the experience:
”I just sat in there for a moment and pondered the courage and tenacity that is part of our very recent history but is also part of that long line of folks who sometimes are nameless, often times didn’t make the history books, but who constantly insisted on their dignity, their share of the American dream.”
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Rev. Al Sharpton’s mother, Ada Sharpton, passed away early this morning after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia for several years.
Ada Sharpton was 87 years old and lived in Dothan, AL. Al reportedly learned of her passing while boarding a flight to Sanford, FL, to attend a rally for Trayvon Martin this evening, and he sent a tweet to let followers know that he will still continue with his plans to fight for justice for the slain teen.
“My mother, Ada Sharpton passed in the early hours of this morning,” he tweeted. “She was my all. I hope God will give her now, PEACE. I love you, Mom.”
“I am on the flight to Florida and will move forward with our plans to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin,” he added. “My MOM would have wanted me to.”
After the rally, Al will fly to Alabama to make plans for his mother’s funeral. Hopefully his work in Florida will comfort him at the time of this sad news.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By Charlotte Young
A new Alabama immigration law has some parents afraid to send their children to school. According to the Christian Science Monitor, a judge upheld several parts of Alabama’s strict new immigration law, which includes a section on public school enrollment.
Starting on Thursday, schools must check the birth certificates of students who enroll in Alabama schools for the first time. If no birth certificate is presented or if officials decide that the child is not in the US legally, then the parent or guardian must produce other documentation or sign an affidavit which deals with the citizenship status of the student. If no document is produced, school records will then mark a student as “enrolled without birth certificate.”
“This will have an incredibly chilling effect on children and on parents,” Mary Bauer, a key opponent and the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the CS Monitor.
As the law will require government officials to report illegal immigrants, Bauer believes that it will also force school and government officials to play the role of immigration agents as well.
While Alabama’s interim superintendent of Education Larry Craven assures that “no student should be denied enrollment for not providing a birth certificate,” illegal-immigrant parents have already declared they plan to leave.
Dawn DuPress Kelley, the principal of Greenwood Elementary Schools told the CS Monitor that the new regulations make her uncomfortable, as they put pressure on her to report student immigration status and destroy the trust she’s established with parents.
“We’ve been having to troubleshoot today to offer encouragement…and let them know that the best place is to have their child in school,” she said to the CS Monitor.
Opponents have tried to use the 1982 Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe to challenge the constitutional merit of the Alabama law. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that all children in the US have the right to a free public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their citizenship status. However the judge ruled Wednesday that the plaintiff’s stance did not show that Alabama’s new immigration law “posed a concrete threat of injury to them.”
“If the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, there would be no need for Alabama – or other states – to pass a law such as this,” Robert Brentle, the governer of Alabama said in a statement. “I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”
(Christian Science Monitor) — A federal judge in Alabama has temporarily blocked a controversial state law that is designed to sharply curtail illegal immigration in the state. The ruling was released early Monday afternoon, three days before the law, considered one of the most expansive in the United States, was scheduled to go into effect. Judge Sharon L. Blackburn said the courts need at least a month “to adequately address the numerous challenges” to the law and that the injunction will remain in effect until Sept. 29, “or until the court enters its ruling, whichever comes first.” Judge Blackburn indicated that at this stage her ruling should not be interpreted as a critique of the law. “In entering this order the court specifically notes that it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions,” she wrote. The order follows a nine-hour hearing last Wednesday in federal court in Birmingham that pit special interest groups and US Justice Department attorneys against state legislators who sponsored the bill, which was signed into law June 9 by Gov. Robert Bentley.
(Wall Street Journal) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill Thursday aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration that both supporters and opponents consider the toughest law of its kind in the U.S. Supporters say the sweeping measure will protect the jobs of legal residents in Alabama. Opponents say it is unconstitutional, and some business groups worry about its impact on the state’s economy. Like the Arizona law that partly inspired it, the Alabama law requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop whom they have a “reasonable suspicion” might be in the U.S. illegally. It requires all businesses to check employees’ paperwork against the federal E-Verify database to confirm their work eligibility. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees can ask the Department of Homeland Security to conduct the procedure for them.
BV Black Spin raises a point that isn’t discussed too often, if at all. What has become of the cities that were once bedrocks of social change during the Civil Rights movement, long after the hype has died down and the descendents have scattered? In Selma, Alabama, the prognosis is not good.
“So much here belies its rich and historic past, first as home to Alabama’s wealthy slave-era cotton kings, later as an important staging ground for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But after the marchers had gone and the cameras disappeared, and a handful of the rights were won, so many of the deeper ideals remained unrealized here. In 1977, Craig Air Force base left town like so many other employers,” BV Black Spin reported.
It seems that more residual effects of America’s Great Migration are unfurling. When frustrated youngsters and tired old folks stole away from oppressive towns like Selma in the early 1900s in favor of more liberal cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., we forgot to, or decided rather, to wipe our memories clean of “the old country.” But while trying to escape recollection of the Jim Crow South, much of the black community that is left over in those places has suffered by our abandonment. “Practically all that’s left today is a paper factory, a re-segregated public school system and a political culture that remains broken along racial lines. Some residents say remnants of Selma’s segregationist past linger on the lips of politicians who are race baiting for votes,” BV reports.
Selma was the stage for the infamous and historically significant Bloody Sunday, where armed officers brutally attacked peaceful protesters attempting to march across the Edmond Pettus Bridge for voting rights. Those same factors that drove blacks out of those cities are the same issues that cripple its growth today. Bitter racial divides, a staggering economy and a negative reputation have people like Joyce O’neil of the Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church in Selma noting, “How’s that saying go? The more things change the more they stay the same.”
Could there be some kind of awakening in Selma and that would attract young black professionals or other economy boosters to rescue the historic town from oblivion?
Read more: Selma 46 Years After Bloody Sunday
It’s been 67 years, but Recy Taylor has finally gotten the apology she deserves.
Back in 1944, when Taylor was 24, she was raped by a gang of seven white men as walked home from church in Alabama. The men forced her into their car at “knife and gun point,” then drove her to a grove of deserted trees. Six of the men raped her and left her at the side of the road.
Her attackers were put before two all white and all male grand juries that refused to indict the men. According to Taylor’s brother, Robert Corbitt, the family was threatened and his sister’s house was firebombed.
Taylor, now 91-years-old and living in Florida, told the Associated Press in an interview last year that she believes the men responsible for her ordeal are dead, but she was still requesting an apology from the state of Alabama.
The House approved the resolution last month and on Thursday, the Senate gave Taylor’s request final approval for a resolution that expresses the state’s “deepest sympathy and deepest regrets,” the AP reported.
“It’s been a long time,” Taylor said. “I’m satisfied.”
(The Root) — From Selma to the Ivy League to Oxford to Wall Street to Congress — that is the improbable but impressive arc of Terri Sewell’s life. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, she became the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. Bull Connor must be writhing in the afterlife, and his nemesis Martin Luther King Jr. must be smiling. ”I offer a voice for rural America,” says Sewell, 45, a partner in the 200-person Birmingham law firm of Maynard, Cooper and Gale. “I have probably wanted to represent this district all my life.” She grew up in Selma, the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt, but spent much of her childhood summers with her grandparents in Lowndes County, known back in the day as “Bloody Lowndes” and as the place where the Black Panther Party began to take shape. She says she shucked plenty of corn and cut down lots of sugar cane during those summers.