All Articles Tagged "brooklyn"
Brooklyn has dedicated $1.1 million annually to look into cases of potential wrongful convictions. It is under the tutelage of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who has expanded his office’s Conviction Review Unit. And the unit is grabbing national attention.
It has had seven people in six months exonerated. It may not sound like much, but with a country’s judicial system bogged down with paperwork, these numbers are outstanding.
“Since 2007, prosecutors have started conviction integrity units dedicated to making sure the right people were found guilty of crimes. In many cases, exonerations have involved misidentifications and new DNA testing,” reports USA Today. But it has been found that most of the wrongful conviction claims in Brooklyn may involve police misconduct.
“Brooklyn is ground central,” Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, told the newspaper. “They are systematically examining a large set of cases in which there may have been serious misconduct by police officers and possibly by prosecutors themselves over a period of years involving dozens and possibly hundreds of homicide cases…That is an operation on a scale that nobody else has done.”
Compared to other parts of the city, Brooklyn’s cases are more complicated (and potentially more scandalous) as well as costly.
Of the 90 cases the unit is investigating, a whopping 57 of them involve former NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella. Scarcella’s policing tactics have been a sore spot for the NYPD, especially after evidence proved Scarcella coached a witness to pick a suspect out of a lineup. In that case, the suspect, David Ranta, spent 23 years in prison before being exonerated. “Scarcella is also accused of using one crack addicted witness to testify at a number of trials as well fabricating confessions and intimidating suspects,” reports USA Today.
Outrageous wrongful convictions such as Ranta’s have wound up costing the borough and the entire city. In an attempt to compensate Ranta for all the years he spent unjustly behind bars, the City of New York made a settlement for $6.4 million before a $150 million civil rights lawsuit went to trial.
From The Grio
One Brooklyn eight-grade student has turned her hobby into an early profession, granting her the title of published author.
13-year-old Angela Content says reading is one of her favorite activities — so much so that she decided to write her own stories that have now turned into two self-published books.
Angela’s mother, Marie Content, told CBS New Yorkthat she had no idea her daughter was serious about becoming an author until she approached her one day and was surprised to hear the news.
“At first she said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to write a book. I’m writing my own book,’ I said, ‘OK.’ She said, ‘I’m going to publish it.’ I said, ‘OK,’” Marie Content told CBS.
“And then finally one day she said: ‘Mommy, my book is going to publish. I already transmitted everything — it’s going to take 24 hours, they’re going to review it. I said, ‘OK,’” Marie Content said. “And then the next day, I heard it’s on Amazon. I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’”
Angela has written two books: one is a sci-fi fantasy titled “Awake and Alive,” and the other is a romance novel titled “Shattered.” Each book reportedly took her three month to write, with her latest novel reaching just over 200 pages. She also writes the stories by hand — and explains that doing so helps create a constant flow of creativity.
Read more about Angela Content at TheGrio.com
Legacy Of Rebecca Ramnarine, 9-Year-Old Brooklyn Girl Killed In Hit-And-Run, Lives On With American Girl Fundraiser
On May 4, 2014, Rebecca Ramnarine,9, was killed in a devastating car crash. The tragedy took place in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie on Remsen Avenue when 62-year-old Kenneth Palache, who was driving with a suspended license, was pulled over after causing a previous hit and run. The Daily News reports:
“Cops had pulled over Palache’s Honda Odyssey near a bus stop in Canarsie because he was suspected in a hit-and-run crash in which he left part of his minivan’s bumper behind. Palache, who was driving with a suspended license, made like he was going to get out of his car, then slammed the door and sped off about 5 p.m. He hit 60 mph over just two blocks, blew through a stop sign at Remsen Ave. and Avenue N and slammed into the rear of a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, in which Rebecca was in the backseat, police said. A third car was also struck at the intersection.”
Palache has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminal endangerment, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident and one count of driving with a suspended license. Over 500 people attended Ramnarine’s funeral in East Flatbush at Restoration Temple Assembly Of God and Bishop Hezekiah Walker performed his hit song, “Every Praise.” Despite her short life, Ramnarine’s legacy lives on through an initiative to honor her love of American Girl dolls and collect money for young girls who cannot afford to celebrate their birthday at American Girl retail stores. The site for the fundraiser states:
“We were in the process of planning her 10th birthday party for this October. Since she could not do her birthday party at the American Girl store, she decided that American Girl would be the theme of her party. It is heartbreaking that she will never be able to see the visions of grandeur she had planned for her birthday. There are likely many young girls across the country who would never be able to afford an American Girl party, visit an American Girl store or purchase an American Girl Doll. In Rebecca’s name, a fund has been established to give less fortunate girls the opportunity to have their very own American Girl Doll, and spend an unforgettable day at the American Girl store.”
Rebecca Ramnarine leaves behind her parents, two sisters, brother and church family. Our prayers are with them all. To donate to her American Doll fund, click here.
Brooklyn, NY, is moving to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana as new Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson has vowed to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests.
“I not only want to keep Brooklyn safe, I want to protect the future of our youth,” Ken Thompson said during his inaugural address. “That means we must change the policy regarding those who are arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
“In 2012 over 12,000 people in Brooklyn were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly young, black men,” Thompson said, citing a 2013 report that found blacks in Brooklyn were nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession,” he added.
According to Thompson, such arrests clog the criminal justice system, costing the borough substantial time and money, adding “if these defendants are given criminal records instead of violations, it would make it harder for them in the future to live productive lives. We in Brooklyn can, and must, do better.”
When elected, Thompson became Brooklyn’s first black district attorney. During his run, he promised not to criminally prosecute persons arrested for possessing less than 15 grams of pot. Instead, those arrested would be given a non-criminal violation punishable by a $100 fine.
Currently, in New York, possession of small amounts of marijuana is only a crime if it’s “in public view.” Until 1993, New York City averaged less than 2,000 marijuana arrests annually, but under Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, this rose to more than 50,000 in 2011–more than all the marijuana arrests from 1978 to 1996, combined–as a result of police bringing marijuana into “public view” through stops and frisks.
“Public safety and law and order run hand in hand with civil liberties,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at the inauguration of Thompson whom he called a “progressive.”
“Ken is going to help create a new New York in which we make people safe and respect their rights at the same time, and that means ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk once and for all,” the mayor added.
Conversely, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently gave up an effort to decriminalize possession of under 15 grams of weed statewide. Now he’s pushing for a less controversial medical marijuana plan. Do you think it will get through?
Nelson Mandela’s family has released their first statement since the death of the world leader on Thursday.
In the statement, recited by family spokesman Lt. Gen. Temba Templeton Matanzima and released to the Associated Press, the family said, “The pillar of the royal Mandela family is no more with us physically, but his spirit is still with us.”
The statement went on to read:
“We have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature in our midst — a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will miss him dearly.”
It is easy to forget that while the world mourns a leader in change, the Mandela family lost their loved one.
While they continue to get through this time and South Africa prepares for a period of mourning, a decision has been made in New York City as to how they will honor Nelson Mandela.
According to the New York Daily News, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Friday that a new high school will open next September in honor of Mandela’s legacy.
The Nelson Mandela School of Social Justice will open on the campus of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn as a tribute to the leader. BGHS was one of the first stops Mandela made on his first trip to New York after being released from prison.
Mayor Bloomberg said regarding the announcement:
“President Mandela once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Renaming the campus he visited shortly after his release from prison, will forever serve as a reminder that our mandate as public servants is to provide our children with the weapons they need for a successful future and help us build a city of inclusion.”
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott added: “Every time they enter and exit its doors, our students at this new school will be reminded of the values he personified.”
What a great tribute and it will not come as a big surprise if we see more schools around the world being named in honor of the great Nelson Mandela.
The creator of ‘Stop Telling Women To Smile’( STWTS), the public art series that addresses street harassment has taken her cause to Kickstarter. The artwork seen in Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s series consists of drawn paintings of women who have contributed their stories of street harassment. The paintings are posted on outdoor walls to directly confront harassment offenders.
Fazlalizadeh began the STWTS project to explore the agency behind gender based street harassment. By collaborating artwork with the cause, Fazlalizadeh was able to give a public image to the street harassment she experienced in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Therefore, the paintings help humanize the sexual exploitation that occurs in the streets.
The process behind the artwork goes as follows: Fazlalizadeh interviews a woman who shares her harassment story; she then designs a poster which reflects the mood of the harassment incident through imagery and text. Because of the growing support, Fazlalizadeh would now like to travel to different states to investigate how street harassment differs in various regions. She would install STWTS exhibitions in those cities, as well.
What happens in Bed-Stuy will differ from what happens in Oakland, or Kansas City. It’s important for me to learn about these differences and create work that will resonate better within a particular community. What do women who live in cities where public transportation is mostly used experience as opposed to women who live in cities where everyone drives? What’s the slang? What do queer and trans women experience? What street corners are hot-spots for harassment in a particular city? What type of harassment specifically happens on those corners? And most importantly, what do the women who experience street harassment around the country want to say back to the harassers in these posters?
The goals of the Kickstarter project will fund:
- Travel Expenses – Flights to 6-8 US cities, food, lodging, local transportation.
- Rewards – Costs of producing the rewards, packaging, and shipping
- Materials- Costs of printing the posters, brushes, rollers, etc.
- Documentation- Flights for filmmaker, equipment, travel expenses, etc.
- Participation Costs – Costs of producing and distributing posters
Although many would understand the cause of STWTS, the attitudes of others have been dismissive towards the project. Reason being, a gray answer comes from the question, what is street harassment? Yes, we know it as a person coercing another but how can a demographic of women define what it is when culture shapes the language men use to approach women? Also if a woman strikes up a conversation with a man who has “cat-called” her, it will appear she folded her stand against street harassment. Most importantly, do the rules of street harassment apply in a more inclusive social setting, such as a nightclub or networking conference? Identifying street harassers ultimately comes from a pre-disposed notion of who women believe they should interact with and how they should be treated by such men. This involves the dress, speech and behavior males possess.
The Kickstarter goal of STWTS is $15,000; currently $11,550 has been raised. Below is a video from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh; she plans to hire a film maker to create a documentary on ‘Stop Telling Women To Smile’.
Would you support STWTS or is the cause a waste of time?
Yesterday Beyoncé and her video team invaded the famous Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn, NY for an apparent video shoot. While we imagine that this was a pleasant surprise for many, it was nothing short of a nightmare for 47-year-old Manhattan resident, Dorris Hone, who says she was stuck on top of the amusement park’s Wonder Wheel for nearly thirty minutes while Bey’s glam squad did her makeup at the bottom.
“When I was realized I was stuck up there, we were up there for a while, I started freaking out. I’m afraid of heights. I was horrified.” Hone told Page Six.
When Bey approached the wheel, amusment park workers reportedly let six to ten riders from their cars, but Hone was left in hers.
“I just didn’t understand why they would do that. I didn’t know at first — but it was Beyoncé,” she said.
“She was screaming at the top of her lungs, ‘Get me off this ride. She was just hysterical up there.” one of Hone’s friends revealed.
But unfortunately, the roaring sound of screaming Bey fans below masked a hysterical Hone’s cries. When the ferris wheel finally moved again, Hone made a tearful exit.
“Ironically, my son is a big fan of Beyoncé. I’m just really shaken up. It would be nice to get an apology from her,” Hone told reporters.
Do you think Bey owes her an apology?
Fans adore Solange Knowles because of her eclectic style and creative passion. Last night, the 27-year old singer took her brand to another level by performing in her neighborhood Brooklyn laundromat, Altantic Super Wash. What some residents thought was going to be a boring evening folding clothes and trying not to spill detergent on themselves turned into a fun surprised. The performance was sponsored by Fader Magazine and Vitamin Water’s #uncapped series. During the event Solange decided to cover Nivea and R.Kelly’s classic throwback,“Laundromat”. Check out what the soulstress has been up to in her interview with Fader Magazine below.
Why did you chose to cover Nivea’s“Laundromat”?
“Laundromat” might actually be, and my best friend can co-sign, one of my top 15 most-played songs. Since it came out. I’ve always wanted to cover it and as soon as I found out that this was going down in a laundromat, it just had to be done. I wish we would’ve had more time to rehearse it, because being R. Kelly and Nivea at the same damn time is just not possible. So I was trying my best.
You just recorded a new music video. Which song is it for and where was it shot?
It’s for “Lovers In The Parking Lot.” I shot it in Houston, which is incredibly exciting, at a place called King’s Flea Market, which is basically my hometown hang-out, where we’d go on the weekends. Flea market culture in Houston is like swap meet culture in LA. It’s where you’d get your white tees in bulk, your stereo system, your bang in your trunk, your grills. Although I was never interested in that, I did get my nameplate necklace and my ex-husband’s nameplate chain there.
You currently live in Brooklyn and you’re very much a local girl. You hang out at Prospect Park and catch movies at Brooklyn Academy of Music. How does the Brooklyn Flea stand up to the Houston Flea?
I like the Brooklyn Flea, but it’s overpriced! It depends on what you’re going for. I’ve always gone to look for more housewares stuff, but it gets up there. I think it’s fun and that the energy is great. Even if you’re not wanting to buy anything, it’s just a fun weekend hang.
You’re just getting back into the studio after True. What’s the recording process for this new album been like so far?
I’m [working on it] up in Long Island as of now. It’s just really really been a chill vibe. A lot of the songs were pre-written. I wrote them two months ago just on the piano. So we’re just developing the sonics around them, which is great. It’s really kind of premature to talk about who’s working on the record because I’m really just working with a bunch of people and trying to find that chemistry.
You’ve moved from Los Angeles, to Idaho, to Brooklyn and you’ve now decided to leave Brooklyn. Where to next?
You basically said, “B***h moves around!” I’m not leaving Brooklyn, that is a statement. I am going to live part-time in New Orleans. I’m more so excited about going down to the South again. New Orleans is such a magical city and I’m really excited to explore all of the creative and cultural aspects that it has to offer. It’s going to be nice, but I’m for sure still going to be a Brooklyn girl.
How do you think the new city will affect the sound of your album?
Who knows. New Orleans is deeply rooted in music, but I feel like, the sonics [of the new album] will be set here in New York. But I’m probably gonna record my vocals there [in New Orleans].
Do you have any fun plans for the rest of the summer?
I got all of my fun out of the way a couple of weeks ago, I went to Croatia for a few days and Senegal which was incredible. I had a great time but now it’s back to work.
Click the next page to hear Solange’s cover of “Laundromat”!
After 20 years in the industry – any industry – it can be hard to look at your profession through fresh eyes and put a new spin on the products and services you offer. For Tameeka McNeil-Johnson, a Brooklyn native and veteran of the hair care industry, the secret for thinking creatively lies in tapping into the passion she has for the work she does.
Before live hair tutorials were the rage on YouTube, Tameeka began teaching hair care classes in the homes of her clients and their friends, helping women embrace their natural hair through her “hair parties.” The demand for her demonstrations grew into partnerships that stretched across state lines, culminating with live demonstrations for packed theater audiences.
Tameeka has established a branding team for her natural curl movement “Jaded Tresses,” with a book, live demonstration tour and NYC Fashion Week events coming soon. We caught up with the “Curl Whisperer” to learn more about how her passion fuels her success.
MadameNoire: What drew you to your profession?
Tameeka McNeil-Johnson: I absolutely LOVE and enjoy what I do. I have a passion for healthy hair education and making others feel good about themselves. As child of mixed ethnicity and one of 12 siblings, we simply did not have the money to have our hair done, so we did our own… which meant I did everyone’s. The hair textures in my family ranged from wavy to kinky, so that served as the perfect training ground for me on the many nuances of textured hair. As a young lady I would listen to my siblings complain when they had bad haircuts that did not work with their texture or suit their facial structure and in my mind I would create a visual of what I thought would look best on them. While I was attending high school I was accepted into a vocational program and initially began studying to pursue a career in the automotive industry but everyone in my circle encouraged me to pursue the cosmetology track instead, they thought I was great at braiding, finger waving and styling hair. The following semester I joined the cosmetology program and my professional journey as a textured hair specialist began.
MN: Did you foresee natural hair coming back the way that it has?
TMJ: As a textured hair specialist I have always had clients with natural hair. What has surprised me is the rapid growth of the community and the rapid growth of the natural hair care product market in response to the natural hair movement. As a community of women of color we have always embraced styles such as twisting, knotting, braiding etc… those styles speak to our culture but have become the standard for how many women of color choose to style their hair. Those styles have been around for centuries and will be around for many more.
MN: Tell us about your “Hair Parties” and how you came up with the idea for them.
TMJ: My hair parties started over a decade ago. My schedule would be booked so many weeks in advance that many of my regular clients could not get appointments. So I came up with the idea to offer hair parties on my days off where I would visit the homes of my clients, provide the same services that I did in the salon and cater to them and their guests. Over the years it has grown into an opportunity to educate women on how to grow a beautiful head of healthy hair, transition from relaxed to natural, and what products work best for their hair. We chat, we eat, we laugh, and we talk about all things hair. Word spread and before you knew it I was traveling out of state to offer my signature “Transformation” events and hair parties. I feel incredibly blessed to have such loyal customers and clients. I could not do what I do without them. I love making naturalistas feel beautiful and when they know how to care for their hair, style their unique texture they become incredibly confident.
Baltimore, Maryland native Khalilah Williams-Webb is known for bringing style to the sidelines. She styles some of sports’ biggest names in the game (and fashion), most notably Carmelo Anthony. But Khalilah is more than that, much more. When she’s not hunting for size 14 shoes and extra-long trousers she works as a stylist for power players like Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price, and an image consultant for brands like Samsung and Foot Locker. Most recently she took on the role of shopkeeper at her new boutique, Shirley + Alice, (named for her fashionable grandmothers) in the legendary neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. She’s come a long way from cocktail waitressing and working the floor at Express and Tommy Hilfiger.
We caught up with Khalilah to learn more about what propels her success and the motivation behind her new retail venture.
Madame Noire: Where does your love for fashion come from?
Khalilah Williams-Webb: My mother and my grandmothers. As a young child, they use to bring me along with them as they shopped; shopping and dressing me up as a child! It honestly came so naturally because I grew up around it!
MN: You’re widely known for styling Carmelo Anthony, but you have a lot going on! Describe what your brand entails and what guides you when pursuing new ventures.
KW: My brand entails styling, imaging consulting, and running a my new boutique. But most importantly, maintaining my image as a great mom, wife, and family figure. When pursuing new ventures I love to be challenged.
MN: With so many ventures pulling from your creativity, how do you stay inspired to come up with fresh ideas?
KW: I strongly believe in taking time out to refresh and rebuild! But I also do a lot of research and draw inspiration from old movies, magazines, etc. I also have to give credit to my great team. We collectively come up with creative ideas to be ahead of the game.
MN: What prompted you to make the move into retail?
KW: It has been a dream of mine to open a vintage store since I moved to NYC two years ago.When my husband Richard and I found out we were expecting a baby, I made the decision to slow down with styling, and to put my energy into my love for vintage. I began hosting trunk shows, first in my husband’s gallery, “House of Art”, then in a mansion converted to a school (the ambiance was perfect). I started to realize with the amount of inventory I amassed and the demand, I needed a storefront.
MN: Do you approach styling men differently than dressing women?
KW: My approach to styling is no different. I make to adhere to what the client is looking for, and put my own twist to it.
MN: How is Shirley + Alice different from the other vintage boutiques that populate Brooklyn?
KW: I wanted a boutique that had a cozy and homely feel; as if you are playing dress up at your girlfriends house or your mother’s closet as we all did as a kid. A place where you could feel welcome, have a glass of wine, conversation and do what women want to do most — shop! I want it to be an experience, not just a place to buy a piece of clothing.