All Articles Tagged "New York"

New Brooklyn DA Vows To Stop Prosecuting Small Amounts Of Marijuana Possession

February 12th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

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?

White Children, Black Sitters: Photographer Explores Race In Home Childcare

January 16th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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black sitters

Source: Ellen Jacob.com

When I first moved to New York from Indianapolis, there were a whole lot of things I found to be different from where I grew up. The pace was different. The whole subway thing was different. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of food options constantly available to me. And among these differences, I also noticed that there were a lot of black women serving as caregivers for white children. A lot of them. And from what I could tell when they spoke to the children, most of them were and still are West Indian.

(And…as an aside though we frequently refer to child givers as nannies, I’ve read that West Indian women won’t refer to themselves as such because in Trinidad the word is slang for vagina.) 

Anyway, I was very curious about this West Indian sitter/white child thing. It was so prevalent that it had to be “a thing.” What was it about really? Why did white folks want black women caring for their children? Did it harken back to the days of slavery? How did they find these women? Did these women enjoy their jobs–taking care of other folks’ kids– or did they do it because they had to? And if these women had children of their own, who was taking care of them? I really wanted to write about it. But as a newbie with a full-time internship, I didn’t have the time to devote to reporting this story, especially since I probably wouldn’t have been compensated for it.

So I was glad to learn from The Culturea subsidy of the black women’s site, ForHarriet, that photographer Ellen Jacob created and developed a series called Substitutes. Substitutes explores this very subject of black and minority caregivers watching, and in many cases raising, white children all across New York City.

Jacob spent four years searching the streets for subjects who were willing to speak to her. And not surprisingly, but still disturbingly, she found that many of the women, aged 23-60, were immigrants living on a minimum wage income with no sick pay, holidays or health benefits. And they had their own families to take care of when they got home.

Jacob said: “Mothers talk about how much they love these women and they’re part of the family yet when it comes to money they tend to be much more tight.”

Damn shame…especially since these sitters are entrusted with the lives of these children everyday. But Jacob also said that she was surprised to see the lengths some families went through to ensure that the women who had helped raise their children were able to find employment once their child had grown up.

Below the story on The Culture, a white man, based on his avatar left this almost chilling comment:

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, my Nanny taught me to read and to write, she protected me and gave me what my mother didn’t. Love. Affection..a sense of self worth.
My childhood was richer for her.
My very character was formed from her qualities.
What she gave me she couldn’t give her own children.

To this day she is in my dreams and the loss I feel not knowing her still or having her presence near is far greater than the loss of my own mother. Sometimes I cry for her.

I cry also for the lack of respect and value that my parents showed.

Ellen Jacob’s photography series is on view at SohoPhoto in New York City through February 1

Check out more of Jacob’s pictures on the following pages.

Costly Lies: Police Convince Woman To Falsely Testify, Man Receives 25-Life Sentence

January 7th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

It’s no secret that the police are shady. And were even more so in the ’90′s. But luckily, the truth is finally coming out. Even if it’s 20 years too late.

According to The New York Times, on September 10, 1994, Antoine Stone, a street preacher in Far Rockaway, Queens was killed. And Robert Jones was sentenced to 25 years to life for his death. Jones was convicted in large part to eye witness testimony from Joan Purser-Gennace.

Well now, 20 years later Purser-Gennace has come forward recanting all of her testimony. She testified that she was coached by the police to frame Jones.

“They said, ‘This is how I want you to say it,’ and it was a lie.”

As she was testifying many of Jones’ family members burst into tears.

The hearing was granted after a team of lawyers filed a motion claiming that exculpatory information was not given to defense lawyers and Mr. Jones’ lawyers did not investigate a significant lead. The motion also cited the recanted statement of another key witness.

Prosecutors tried to limit the hearing to deal solely with the credibility of the witnesses’ retracted statements. But Justice Joseph Zayas allowed the hearing to also include possible misconduct from law enforcement officials.

Purser-Gennace, who is now 57, explained how she eventually came to falsely identify Mr. Jones as the murderer. She testified for a nearly six hour hearing that Queens detectives harassed her, visiting her home nearly ten times with a photo of the man they initially wanted her to identify.

She said the detectives took things even further by threatening her husband and her children and even hinted that her immigration status might be jeopardy. She explained that when she tried to explain all of this to the assistant district attorney, Debra L. Pomodore, Ms. Pomodore became enraged.

Another witness, who identified the Mr. Jones’ bike as the one he used to flee the scene of the crime, is also set to recant his statement.

After the hearing, Justice Zayas will decide whether or not to throw out Mr. Jones’ conviction and order a retrial.

Mr. Jones’ family was also there and spoke to reporters after the hearing. Mr. Jones’ sister Gertrude Jones-Pinnock was overcome with emotion speaking about her brother who had been incarcerated since she was a child.

“His life has been stolen, 20 years.”

And though she’s saddened by the injustice, she doesn’t harbor resentment toward the witnesses, specifically Purser-Gennace.

“I’m not angry with her, I feel sorry for her her; they threatened her too, threatened her children, threatened her husband. I am so grateful that she is coming forward to tell the truth.”

Another lawyer commended Purser-Gennace for being so courageous. She’s testifying without immunity meaning that she’s admitting she lied under oath and could be punished for it.

But Purser-Gennace told an assistant district attorney “It was eating me up inside.” He asked her if she was just doing this hoping that the truth would help free a convicted man.

Her voice raised to a shout as she explained, “The truth, to set me free.”

Source

A Step In The Right Direction: New York To Treat Prostitutes As Victims, Not Criminals

September 26th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Shutterstock.com

Source: Shutterstock.com

They call it the oldest profession in the world. But prostitution and sex trafficking, in many respects, is also one of the last surviving forms of slavery in this country and throughout the globe. Which is why it’s good to know that the state of New York is going to start treating men, women, boys and girls who are working in the sex trade, whether voluntarily or through coercion, as victims and not criminals.

The state will attempt to steer these individuals toward medical treatment, job training and other services to lead them away from the sex trafficking industry.

Chief judge, Jonathan Lippman announced the initiative Wednesday, noting that it was the first of its kind in the country.

Under the new system, prostitution cases that go beyond arraignment will be sent to a special trafficking court. There, a judge, prosecutor and defense attorney will discuss. If they find that the defendant is a victim in need of help they will refer that person to services tailored to their needs, including drug treatment, education, job training, health care or immigration help, among others.

Defendants who comply with the recommended services will have their charges dropped.

The state is establishing special courts to handle prostitution cases and expects most of them to be set up by the end of next month. Lippman believes the program could help thousands involved in the industry.

While Judge Lippman acknowledged that prostitution is criminal, he also noted that the special courts will make efforts to ensure that “there will be no further victimization of these defendants by a society that can be divorced from the realities of this modern-day form of servitude.”

Lippman explained that a vast majority of people charged with prostitution crimes are being exploited or at the risk of exploitation. Often in sex trafficking the victims are forced into prostitution attempting to pay back a debt or with the threat of physical harm.

Advocates against human trafficking also note the importance of mandating and enforcing stronger penalties for the people who fuel this industry, like johns and the traffickers themselves.

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the court, noted that these services will be offered at no further cost to the tax payer. All expenses will be handled by the various service organizations.

Bookstaver also noted that fewer sex trafficking cases will free up the courts and end up saving money in the long run. But more importantly, he said, “You’re saving people’s lives.”

Source

Rihanna Shares Photos Of Her Turn-Up In Barbados For Kadooment Day

August 6th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Rihanna 5

Instagram

While I hate the phrase “turn up,” Rihanna is definitely the queen of living such a lifestyle and living it well. The Bajan beauty is back in her beloved country of Barbados to celebrate Kadooment Day, which is the finale of the country’s Crop Over celebration. It originally was known as a festival to help signal the end of the yearly sugar cane harvest, but from the outside looking in, it’s Carnival! Folks dance in the streets (booties are definitely shaking) and wear ornate costumes for the Crop Over. If you’ve ever been in New York City for Labor Day Weekend and have been in the center of the West Indian Parade you get it…Ri Ri hasn’t been shy in sharing her time back home and all the twerking that has ensued while there through her Instagram account. The singer, adorned in a white bikini with crystals and both a hefty headpiece and wings and has been letting loose with her best friend Melissa, her assistant Jen, and her grandfather (who was fully clothed if you were wondering). Check out more images of the bad gyal living it up for her first big break since the end of her Diamonds World Tour. Who’s trying to go to this Crop Over celebration next year? Send a sista a ticket…#turnup.

Rihanna 3

Instagram

Two New Cities Join The Fast Food Fight For $15 Minimum Wage

July 30th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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 Spencer Platt Getty Images News

Spencer Platt
Getty Images News

The chants could be heard near the MadameNoire offices yesterday as fed-up McDonald’s employees protested their wages in New York City. Fast food strikes are sprouting throughout the United States and have now reached a total of nine cities, reports ThinkProgress.

The fast food industry has swollen 58 percent since the recession, according to NBC News, the sector with the largest growth compared to mid-and-high paying jobs. But the painfully low wages that fast food corporations offer has forced two new cities, Kansas City and Flint, Michigan, to join the fight against the unsustainable wages.

Just last week, McDonald’s unintentionally broadcast how difficult it is to live off its $7.73 an hour wage. Their budget manual created for employees attempted to make their pay seem sustainable by assuming employees work two full-time jobs and pay $20 per month for health insurance. This sent a firestorm of outrage and may have caused a new wave of cities to merge with the current seven cities picketing against the fast food industry.

Workers around the country are pressuring large corporations to cave into paying their employees $15 an hour; this demand is far higher than President Obama’s push for a federal minimum wage of $9 an hour. Let’s face it, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 is unlivable. As MN as reported before, a minimum wage of at least $14.17 an hour is needed to live a bearable life in the United States. Also, “[t]oday’s minimum wage workers have far less buying power than their counterparts did in 1968,” reports Sacbee.com

An owner of a Quiznos restaurant cringed at the thought of a heightened minimum wage. “The $15 an hour minimum wage would – I’ll tell you right now frankly, and I’m not exaggerating—it would put us out of business,” Brett Habernicht said. However, supporters of a higher minimum wage commonly use Costco as a model; they pay their employees an hourly wage of $20 plus benefits. “The company recently reported $459 million in profits from a single quarter, up 19 percent,” ThinkProgress added.

“[C]an McDonald’s sell burgers for $1 if it’s paying employees $15 an hour? Probably not,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “McDonalds has said the Affordable Care Act will cost it another $10,000 to $30,000 per restaurant.” Now isn’t the best time, when unemployment is still high, to impose the higher minimum wage strain on businesses, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody Analytics told WSJ. “[I]t’s pretty hard to ask franchisees to try to digest the cost of health-care reform and also minimum wage at the same time.”

Whose side are you on? Do you think a $15 minimum wage is detrimental or helpful for the economy?

More Than Half Of Young U.S. Workers Want A Career Switch

July 3rd, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Countless Americans are itching to ditch their jobs and venture into new careers. A recent survey conducted by the University of Phoenix finds that only 14 percent of workers are employed in their dream careers. More than half of all working adults yearn for a change in scenery, but a whopping 78 percent of workers in their 20s long to switch careers, reports Daily Finance.

Younger workers aren’t the only employees in the job market with a desire to jump ship. Sixty-four percent of workers in their 30s share the same sentiment. As respondents of the survey progressively get older, their hunger for a change in careers diminishes. Out of employees in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, 54, 51, and 26 percent, respectively, wish to dabble into a new field.

Forty-three percent of chief executives, even though they make much more than their lower-level employees, are interested in switching careers as well. Only 16 percent of C-level executives are in their dream careers.

The study also  found that where you live can have a profound effect on whether or not you want to stay in your career. San Franciscan workers are much less likely to have interest in switching careers; 60 percent enjoy their field compared to the national average of 45 percent. New Yorkers, however, find it much harder to agree with San Franciscans; 62 percent want to venture off into a new career.

Mid-sized companies are more threatened by workers that are fed-up with their careers than small and large companies, the survey reveals. About 62 percent of medium-sized corporations have employees who desire a career-switch. Out of large and small companies, 46 percent and 58 percent are interested in changing careers, respectively.

The study contends that the barriers impeding these working adults from achieving their dream career stems from a poor financial security, fear of switching into unknown territory, and inadequate experience and education. “It is important that those looking to change careers understand where the jobs are, the necessary skills and how experience from employment will translate into a new industry…”said Dr. Bill Pepicello, president of the University of Phoenix.

“…[W]e see many working adults coming back to school 10 to 20 years after they started their careers to prepare for a new career or to find growth opportunities in their current industry,” said Pepicello.

The most desired fields of the fidgety workers are in arts and sciences as well as business. That makes sense. The arts typically don’t offer the kind of security most people are looking for, hence the “starving artist.” And the sciences require a skill set that will send workers back to school, requiring the kind of time and expense that takes a commitment many aren’t willing to make.

This survey recruited 1,616 American workers over the age of 18 in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Ft.Worth, San Francisco, and Atlanta.

As a sidebar, we reported only last week that 70 percent of workers want to quit their jobs. So this thread of discontent is pretty strong.

 

 

From The Sidelines To The Streets: Khalilah Williams-Webb Brings Vintage Style To Brooklyn

June 14th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Khalilah Williams-Webb, stylist, image consultant, and owner of Shirley + Alice

Khalilah Williams-Webb, stylist, image consultant, and owner of Shirley + Alice

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.

Is This A Good Idea? Art Exhibit Lets Strangers Touch Black Women’s Hair

June 7th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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natural hair

It’s an understood rule among black women that it is impolite to walk up and stick your hand in someone’s hair without permission. But a new art exhibit in New York is breaking the rules.

In something like a social experiment three black women, one with loose, curly natural hair, one with locks and another with a relaxer, stood on a corner holding signs that read “You Can Touch My Hair.”

The exhibit was the idea of hair blogger Antonia Opiah. In an interview with the Huffington Post she said:

Black hair is unique. It requires different care techniques and routines. And in a country where we primarily see commercials for white hair products and magazines that mainly cover white beauty topics and TV shows that mainly feature white characters, we, and those curious about us, have to find information about our hair from other sources.It’s easy to cite the media as the cause for underexposure to the various cultures of America. The media definitely plays a huge role. But another factor is the lack of the right kind of curiosity across the American population.

The exhibit ran today and will run again tomorrow, June 8 from 2-4pm in New York City’s Union Square.

What do you think about this exhibit do you feel it places black women on display for mainstream consumption or is this a good way to promote discussion?

Whether You Like It Or Not: Tiffany Pollard aka New York Is Returning To Reality Television

May 28th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Before the days of Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop and Real Housewives of Atlanta, reality TV junkies like myself indulged in  dating shows like Flavor of Love. Although the days of FOL have come and gone, a few of the show’s breakout stars have made their marks on the entertainment world. During a recent interview with Spoken Entertainment, one of FOL’s most successful and popular candidates, Tiffany Pollard aka New York, revealed that she’s planning to return to reality television very soon. She also discussed how she feels about her former co-stars and being a Christian. Check out a bit of what she had to say below.

On returning to reality television:

“I’ve been long awaiting a hearty healthy return to reality television. And the concept would have to fit my life and where it is right now.  Fortunately, three weeks ago…I shot a pilot with a brilliant production crew.  The concept is bananas.  When you guys see this.  It’s like…we couldn’t have accepted her back in any other way.  It’s true HBIC performance.  It’s coming!”

On why she’s not interested in doing Bad Girls Club:

“It’s not that I’m against that…but they already got that going. Why would they need me over there?”

On her former FOL co-stars:

“Obviously Flav and I and a lot of the other contestants are busy.  But if we see each other out somewhere…it’s all love.  We all support each other. If I see somebody from the past doing their thing on television I don’t throw shade.  To tell you the truth, there’s only so many spotlights on television so if you can jump into one of them, I’m applauding you.”

On finding love:

“Honey chile…I will say this.  There is somebody in my life. And he is a big part of it.  He influences me daily.  I keep it real private…and that’s why it works.  Sometimes when you moving in certain circles people try to infiltrate that love and test it.”

On being a Christian: 

“I am a Christian.  But I’m not a scary Christian.  God inspires me.  His whole gospel was to give back to people and to care about mankind.  I do a lot of humanitarian work.  Of course that does not get picked up, but when you do it from your heart….you’re not looking for recognition.”

 

 Check the next page for audio from her interview. What do you think of Tiffany returning to reality TV?
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