All Articles Tagged "mississippi"

Black Woman Faces Life In Prison For Cocaine Positive Test In Stillborn Child. Is This Justice?

March 27th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Rennie Gibbs

Source: Rennie Gibbs

If you have not yet had your fill of peculiarly arrested and prosecuted black women, may I introduce you to the story of Rennie Gibbs, a 23 year old Mississippi mother, who is looking at the possibility of life in prison for allegedly endangering her stillborn child.

The independent journalism website ProPublica features an investigative piece by Nina Martin about Gibbs, who at 16 years old was indicted by a Mississippi grand jury for what is, as Martin writes a “depraved heart murder. ” Under state law “a depraved heart murder” is an act “eminently dangerous to others…regardless of human life.” According to the piece, Gibbs had given birth prematurely to a stillborn baby in 2006, who had its umbilical cord still wrapped around its neck at the time of delivery.

Most would conclude that the most obvious cause of death would be stillbirth from cord accident, however the medical examiner in the case ruled the death a cocaine toxicity because the baby had tested positive for a cocaine byproduct known as benzoylecgonine. The grand jury agreed and indicted Gibbs for “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” causing the death of her baby. She is out on bail now as her lawyers fight the indictment. If the case is allowed to go through, Gibbs will become “the first woman ever convicted by a Mississippi jury for the loss of her pregnancy.”

As Martin notes:

The case intersects a number of divisive and difficult issues — the criminal justice system’s often disproportionate treatment of poor people of color, especially in drug prosecutions; the backlash to Roe v. Wade and the conservative push to establish “personhood” for fetuses as part of a broad-based strategy to weaken abortion laws. A wild card in the case — Mississippi’s history of using sometimes dubious forensic evidence to win criminal convictions over many years — could end up playing a central role.

Prosecutors argue that the state has a responsibility to protect children from the dangerous actions of their parents. Saying Gibbs should not be tried for murder is like saying that “every drug addict who robs or steals to obtain money for drugs should not be held accountable for their actions because of their addiction,” the state attorney general’s office wrote in a brief to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

But some civil libertarians and women’s rights advocates worry that if Gibbs is convicted, the precedent could inspire more prosecutions of Mississippi women and girls for everything from miscarriage to abortion — and that African Americans, who suffer twice as many stillbirths as whites, would be affected the most.”

Possible and likely racial disparities aside, Martin also writes that Gibbs’ defense is hoping the judge will throw out the conviction based upon some of the discrepancies in the case, particularly around the medical examiner, who has been accused by a consortium of organizations, attorneys and fellow medical examiners “of being sloppy, exaggerating his credentials, and leaping to conclusions that sometimes had no basis in science.” Among some of his alleged shoddier works are the four murder convictions that have been overturned since 2007. More specifically to the Gibbs case, her attorneys are arguing that the medical examiner overstated the significance that the traces of benzoylecgonine in not only determining actual cocaine use (Again, benzoylecgonine is a byproduct of the drug.) but drawing conclusion that it led to toxicity of the fetus.

Martin also writes:

The experts maintain that there were other problems with the findings as well. Hayne, they say, did not order tests to rule out infection or fetal abnormality, two common causes of stillbirth. Hayne said that Gibbs’s placenta was normal, but closer examination, the defense experts assert, showed the presence of blood clots — a sign that the baby’s oxygen supply had been cut off. (In a 2011 study by a consortium of researchers around the U.S., 24 percent of stillbirths were caused by blood clots or other placenta abnormalities.)

The experts said cocaine has been linked to one kind of devastating outcome — placenta abruption (when the placenta pulls away from the uterus), which can lead to stillbirth. That was not present in Samiya’s death. In Gibbs’s case, the evidence pointed to “umbilical cord compression” as the likeliest explanation for Samiya’s death, the defense experts said.

Gibbs defense team is also looking to dispute the very science accepted in most fetal harm legal proceedings, which suggests cocaine exposure causes widespread fetal mortality or serious, long-lasting harm in children. It’s a defense that is gaining traction in the court of public opinion and researchers alike. Most notably, the Dr. Hallam Hurt led study, which over a course of ten years, found no significant differences between the cocaine-exposed children and those without. And as Martin’s own expert shares with her:

But the concerns about cocaine have proven to be “wildly overstated,” said Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrician and researcher at Boston University School of Medicine who has participated in numerous studies on the topic over the past two decades. “There is no consistent association between cocaine use during pregnancy and serious fetal harms, birth defects, or serious long-term physical or developmental impairments,” Frank wrote in an affidavit. “There is no convincing evidence that prenatal cocaine exposure is more strongly associated with fetal harm or developmental deficits than exposure to legal substances, like tobacco and alcohol, or many other factors.”

According to Martin, the Gibbs case was expected to be heard by a judge the week the original story ran. However that was a week ago, and no new information can be found. When I do find new information, I’ll make sure to update folks. On an aside: I wanted highlight this story to once again inspire folks to give pause the next time we hear and read stories in the media, particularly of young black, mostly poor women. The meme about the welfare mom is toxic. It has conditioned us to ultimately associate poor women as moral failures, when the more likely reality is that it is the system’s moral failure which continuously disenfranchises poor and black women.

93-Year-Old Woman Challenges Wisconsin Voter ID Law

November 12th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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The Grio

The Grio

 

From The Grio 

The civil rights organization Advancement Project filed a federal lawsuit, challenging the sate of Wisconsin voter ID law.

Lorene Hutchins was among witnesses who have taken the stand to testify.

“I feel there is a strategy to keep minorities and older people from voting,” the 93-year-old said, according to court transcripts. “Most of us who migrated to Northern states do not have birth certificates, a prerequisite for obtaining the photo ID required to vote. I’ve been voting since the 1940′s when I voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It would be devastating to lose the right to vote now, after all these years.”

Hutchins was born at home in Mississippi because hospitals at that time did not accept black patients, and she did not receive a birth certificate.

Katherine Clark, Hutchins’ daughter, spent over $2,000 and several years to obtain birth certificates for both herself and her mother.

Hutchins, a former poll worker, said that without the efforts of her daughter, she would not be voting.

Read more at TheGrio.com 

It’s A Hard Knock Life Foreal: Homeless Woman Fired From Job Before Ever Starting

March 29th, 2013 - By Tanvier Peart
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eunice-jasica

A KFC franchise in Tupelo, Mississippi is in some hot water over the hiring and firing of 59 year-old Eunice Jasica. Once a former bus driver and department store security associate, Jasica fell on hard times becoming homeless in December 2012. She lost her job, home, and livelihood, and in efforts to get back on her feet, Jasica found housing at a nearby Salvation Army where she applied for employment eventually landing an offer earlier this month in food prep.

Her hopes of a new start however would quickly dwindle as franchise owner Chesley Ruff informed her upon arrival for duty she would not have employment with the fast food chain. “He told me to come back when I had an address and transportation,” notes Jasica. “But how am I supposed to get all that without a job?”

Why would the general manager offer employment to a homeless woman for the franchise owner to fire her? The Clarion-Ledge reports Ruff claimed he never extended employment though signed documents from the general manager prove otherwise.

Since the story broke, Ruff’s story has changed citing fear of commitment due to lack of proper housing and transportation. Then he altered his excuse yet again saying Jasica had no prior food prep experience and was “too elderly” to possibly perform necessary duties.

Perhaps Ruff would have been better off not saying anything at all? Do you think he has justified concerns, or has a wrongful termination suit on his hands?

Study: The South And The Midwest Have The Country’s Most Obese People, With Mississippi At Number 1

August 13th, 2012 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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While downing a bag of Tostitos tortilla chips and salsa, I saw the numbers came in for states with the highest obesity rates and…I continued eating. But cut me some slack, I’m eating grapes now. Anywho, all in all, Mississippi came out on top with the highest proportion of obese adults at 34.9 percent and Colorado had the least with a 20.7 percentage rate. This isn’t the first time the state has been put on the spot for its obesity rates, as it has claimed this title in the previous six years. If that wasn’t enough, it seems that that southern and Midwestern states took up most of the high obesity list, with 26 of the 30 states with the highest rates coming from both parts of the country. For instance, the top 10 states for obesity, to name a few, included Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Indiana, South Carolina, and even Texas and Kentucky tying for the tenth spot.

On top of that, while those with higher income were more likely to be obese, to be specific, women of lower income were more likely to be obese than women with a higher income, according to the CDC.

On the lower end of the spectrum, states with the lowest rates of obesity included (aside from Colorado), Hawaii, California, New York, New Jersey, and D.C. The study was done by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was actually conducted over the phone. Jeffrey Lavi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health had this to say about the good news and the bad news that comes from the findings:

“The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we’re not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings.”

According to the CDC, and from the Daily Mail, “the latest report on obesity-related medical bills, from 2011, found that in 2006 costs totaled $147 billion, the majority of which was spent treating diseases such as diabetes.”

Of course, this test was based around the whole body mass index calculations, which damn near make everyone out to be obese. But I think we all know when we’re teetering above having some extra curves on our frame and being unhealthy, even if we don’t want to admit it. Hopefully this study will push more people all over, not just in the most obese states, to do more in the way of eating healthier and making better decisions. That way the next time a study like this takes place, the rates for every state on the list will be a whole lot lower. Check out more of the findings and where your state stands at the Center for Disease Control‘s website.

A few of the most obese states:

1. Mississippi 34.9

2. Louisiana 33.4

3. West Virinia 32.4

4. Alabama 32.0

5. Michigan 31.3

6. Oklahoma 31.1

7. Arkansas 30.9

8. Indiana (tie) 30.8

8. South Carolina 30.8

10. Kentucky (tie) 30.4

10. Texas 30.4

And a few of the least obese states:

1. Colorado 20.7

2. Hawaii 21.8

3. Massachusetts 22.7

4. New Jersey (tie) 23.7

4. District of Columbia 23.7

5. California 23.8

6. Utah 24.4

7. New York (tie) 24.5

7. Connecticut 24.5

7. Nevada 24.5

Good Ol’ Mississippi: White Baptists Refuse To Marry Black Couple At Their Church

July 30th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Gossiprocks.com

It might be 2012 most places in the nation, but at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs in Mississippi, it’s about 1950-something. There, the predominantly white congregation objected to marrying a couple this month not because they weren’t members or didn’t do premarital counseling–simply “Because of the fact that we were black,” Charles Wilson told CNN Sunday night.

“Some of the members of the congregation had got upset and decided that no black couple would ever be married at that church. All we wanted to do in the eyes of God was to be man and wife in a church that we thought we felt loved. What was wrong with that?”

Apparently a lot in the church members’ eyes. At the last minute, Pastor Stan Weatherford asked the couple to move their wedding location on behalf of the congregation. As a compromise, he married the couple elsewhere.

“This was — had not — had never been done here before so it was setting a new (precedent) and there were those who reacted to that,” Weatherford told CNN affiliate WLBT. “I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’ Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”

The wedding was still clearly affected. The couple had already sent out invitations listing the church as the place of the wedding so they had to redirect everyone to a new spot. Not to mention taking in the fact that the church which Te’Andrea had bee a part of for over a year was somehow accepting of having a black member but not marrying them. Hindsight being 20/20, some members of the church have now come forward to express regret over the protest of a supposed minority of people. Attendee Bob Mack told WLBT:

“I would say, ‘I’m sorry this happened and would you forgive the people who caused it? Because we’re gonna try to.’”

Charles isn’t so sure he’s ready to forgive what was his new church home’s transgressions though.

“If it was such a minority of people [who didn't want us to get married there], why didn’t the majority stand up and say, ‘In God’s house we don’t do this?’”

An excellent question I’m sure the members don’t have an answer to.

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for madamenoire.com. Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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Why Wasn’t Anyone Watching Him? Violent 9-Year-Old Attacks Infants at Daycare

July 26th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: GAdailynews.com

The purpose of a daycare center is for someone to watch children when their parents can’t, but workers at the Kiddie City Childcare Center in Vicksburg, MS, totally dropped the ball when a 9-year-old boy attacked  several young children for nearly a half hour and nobody even noticed.

Surveillance video captured the child punching one little girl multiple times; choking another, then patting her on the back as she cries; kicking one kid; and violently shaking yet another. Police released the footage after former daycare worker Sandra Trevillion was arrested and charged with two counts of contributing to the neglect of a minor for letting this behavior carry on.

“This 9-year-old child, he was allowed to pretty much run rough shot over that entire room for a period of 15 to 20 minutes,” Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong told KLTV. “All his actions went unnoticed.”

Jamie Williams,  a parent of one of the girls the boy attacked, was also arrested following the incident. He said his daughter came home for about a week with injuries, including a busted lip and a bite mark on her chin, and he was angered when daycare workers couldn’t give an explanation as to why his 1-year-old was repeatedly getting hurt. He ended up slapping a boy he thought was responsible for the injuries but it was the wrong child and Williams was later arrested and charged with simple assault.

“I understand why Jamie Williams would be upset. However, even if he had attacked the nine year-old he still would have been arrested and it would have been just as wrong as him attacking the six year-old,” Armstrong said.

Trevillion was being held on a $2,656 bond and police have interviewed the 9-year-old and his mother but it’s unclear whether he will face charges. His aunt, Vinia Dolley, tried to explain his behavior in an interview with WLBT.

“He['s] bad. He fight[s] but he don’t fight little babies,” she said. “He do[es] also have a problem. He take[s] medicine every day and he['s] just a normal child. I feel bad about him jumping on a two year-old baby, he 9 years old. He don’t fight his own 2-year-old brother like that or cousins.”

At the very least, children’s services needs to step in and see what type of environment this little boy has been exposed to that would make him behave so violently at this age.

Check out the disturbing video here. Do you think the boy should face charges?



Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for madamenoire.com. Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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Momma Don’t Play That! Mom Interrupts Son’s Robbery Attempt By Snatching His Toy Gun

July 6th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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"Roy Mitchell"

Source: KLTV

Yes, you read that right. A Mississippi mom is being called a “little hero” after she botched her own son’s armed robbery attempt by grabbing his toy gun.

According to ABC News, 22-year-old Roy Mitchell, came to a D’s One Stop Food Mart with his mom, went inside the store, grabbed a bag of Doritos, then pointed his “gun” at the clerk demanding money, and the entire incident was caught on surveillance tape.

Before the clerk could hand anything over, Roy’s mom, who had come into the store behind him, grabbed the gun out of his hands! She apologized to the the clerk and told her that the gun was fake and that Roy was just playing around. She begged the clerk not to call the police and she pushed her son out of the store.

Of course, the clerk called 911 anyway and when police tracked them down 20 minutes later, they found the toy pistol still in the car.

They arrested Roy and now he is in jail being held on a $300,000 bond facing one charge of attempted robbery. As for his mother? Police assistant chief Chris Butts told ABC News that the young man’s mother was a ‘little hero’ for confiscating the gun.

He said: “If the clerk had a gun it could have been real messy.”

Not only did this man attempt to rob a gas station with a bogus gun, he did it in the vicinity of his mother. Who does that? Now, with his face all over the news, jail is probably the best place for him and his humiliation right now.

Although I think having to live with his mother after that incident would probably be a much harsher punishment.

What would you have done if that was your son?

Follow Alissa Henry on Twitter @AlissaInPink

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Street Smart With A Little Book Sense: Jackson State Student Busted In Dorm Room Credit Card Scheme

April 23rd, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: www2.wjtv.com

If Ashley Dover would have applied her criminal genius in the classroom, she’d probably have a bright future ahead of her. Unfortunately for the Jackson State student that future just got a lot more bleak because she’s been busted running an elaborate credit card scheme from her dorm room.

Police arrested the 22-year-old and three of her friends who were apart of the scam after recovering a credit card making system in Dover’s dorm room which included the actual embossing and tipping machines. Like Dover, the accomplices, Olivia Ray, Tashanna Toler, and Kieariah Collins are all from Illinois, but Dover was the only student at the school. According to Detective Lloyd Coulter, the credit card fraud was quite professional.

“They put in a tipping machine which would overlay the card with whatever design they liked. Nascar, Regents Bank, Trustmark Bank, any of those things. We know right now 54 credit cards have been compromised. As of right now, only four victims have come forward. My understanding is they had an inside source at the bank that leaked out the information.”

More than $35,000 has been spent in metro businesses using at least four stolen credit card numbers reaching as far as North Carolina.  The girls used the money to buy electronics like iPads or gift cards which they sold for cash. Now the ladies are being held in the Rankin County Jail on 16 felonies charges of Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud with a bond of $450,000 each. The U. S. Secret Service has also been contacted and is assisting in the investigation which means they might as well get comfortable.

Authorities are also reminding people to monitor their credit card statements and make sure no odd activity is present, considering there are 50 unidentified victims out there at this point.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Mississippi is “Worst State in America to Have HIV”

November 29th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
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A Mississippian with HIV/AIDS is almost twice as likely to die from the virus than the average American, and if you are an HIV-positive African-American in the state, the chances of dying are 10 times greater than a white resident.

An article on Salon.com charges that Mississippi not only has the highest new infection rate and greatest percentage of people living with HIV in the country, but also the least interest in helping them, particularly due to racist and homophobic attitudes. Representing only 37.5% of the population, African Americans make up 78% of new HIV infections in Mississippi. Out of a $4.9 million budget, the state only contributes $750,000 to HIV/AIDS programs and an abstinence-education statute bans any programs offering information about condoms to demonstrate how to use them. A lack of anti-discrimination laws also leaves infected individuals vulnerable to discriminatory employment and housing practices.

Advocates are hopeful that the state’s new STD/HIV director, Nicholas Mosca will bring about the necessary change to turn Mississippi’s HIV/AIDS statistics around, but what can a public health advocate do to change the bigoted attitudes underlying the lack of care for these patients?

Are you shocked at the HIV death rate among African Americans in Mississippi? What do you think the state can do to turn this issue around?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Black Man in Running for Top Miss. Seat

August 25th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AP) – JACKSON, Miss. – Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree on Tuesday won the Democratic nomination for Mississippi governor, becoming the first black candidate in modern times to win a major-party nod for the state’s top job.  DuPree defeated Clarksdale attorney and developer Bill Luckett in a Democratic primary runoff.  DuPree, 57, advances to the Nov. 8 general election to face Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, 56, of Brandon.  “I’m just so proud of the fact that we had people who believed in us, believed in the message, believed in what we’re trying to accomplish. I’m so proud that people took a hold of that,” DuPree said in a phone interview from a Hattiesburg community center, where he celebrated with family and supporters.

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