No Shootings Since ‘Army’ of Moms Formed by Tamar Manasseh Set Up on South Side – But They Need Help

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Tamar Manasseh formed Mothers Against Senseless Killings and said she is looking for more volunteers. (DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson)

When Tamar Manasseh formed Mothers Against Senseless Killings to patrol the neighborhood in Englewood, IL after a murder in the 7500 block of South Stewart last month, she hoped to stop any retaliatory violence.  So far, in the five weeks since a man opened fire on three women on June 23, killing 34-year-old Lucille Barnes, there have been no shootings on the block or on the 7500 block of South Harvard where the patrols have also been set up, according to a DNAinfo Chicago map of shootings in the city.

“When you have sisters like sister Manasseh and others out here just participating, it makes a big difference,” said Johnny Banks, the executive director of the community organization A Knock at Midnight.

But Manasseh, who makes the trek daily from her home in Bronzeville to the neighborhood, said her group really needs more people in the area to join the effort, and that recruitment has been difficult.  “Recruiting and getting more volunteers has been quite the challenge,” Manasseh said as she sat on her folding chair on 75th Street and Stewart Avenue, watching over the block, not far from where she used to live at 55th Street and Bishop Avenue.

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Tamar Manasseh sits with other volunteers keeping an eye on the neighborhood since a murder on June 23. (DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson)

Right now there are about 15 adult volunteers who have pledged to be out there every day until Labor Day. That’s about the same number the group had when it started a few days after the June shooting.

Manasseh said she didn’t think it would be this difficult to bring in more concerned residents.

“What we’ve learned since we’ve been out here is that people’s attention spans are short,” she said. “It’s hard to keep their interests between tragedies.”

 

 

Andrea Watson says organizers want moms to remain active:

The block and surrounding area where the “army of mothers,” as she refers to it, have set up have been peaceful since the group formed, she said, but the lack of adult volunteers surprised her.

“It’s like some people want to put their children in a bubble because they have good kids,” she said. “They want to separate their good kids from all of these bad kids, but your kids are going to grow up in the world alongside those very kids that you tried to shield them from. So wouldn’t it be better if you tried to save them all instead of just yours?”

She said she had higher expectations for the adults, but underestimated the teens from the neighborhood. At least two dozen teens have taken an interest in keeping their community safe and have taken part in the patrols, Manasseh said.

The ultimate goal is to get people on other blocks to follow her and start their own neighborhood patrols. She said she wants to hold an orientation in the near future to teach them conflict resolution and strategic placement.

Community policing in Englewood and on the South Side is important to Manasseh, she said, because she wants to help save her own children from becoming victims of the violence.

Chicago Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Banks’ group, which provides direct services such as workforce development, family advocacy and more to Englewood residents, encourages more adults to volunteer, but he said he understands why some might be hesitant.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “Our people are afraid so they don’t participate.”

He said that’s all the more reason the group of moms and others should be praised for their courage and determination.

Manasseh said although the neighborhood has changed since she was a child, she is holding on to one day seeing a better, safer community.  “It’s like Englewood is the land that time forgot,” she said. “It’s the land that has been forgotten, but I have hope, I see hope here.”

In addition to seeking more volunteers, she’s asking for water and any other donations, which can be dropped off daily between 4-8 p.m. at 75th and Stewart.

To help, people can visit Behindthemask.org.

article by Andrea V. Watson via dnainfo.com

University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Samuel DuBose

la-na-university-cincinnati-shooting-20150729-001

(Photo via latimes.com)

University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month that a prosecutor called “totally unwarranted” and “senseless.”

In the indictment handed up by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19.

At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joseph T. Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper in what he called a “chicken crap” traffic stop.  “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Mr. Deters told reporters. “This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make, totally unwarranted.” A body-camera video of the shooting was also being released.

“He purposely killed him,” Mr. Deters said of Officer Tensing. “He should never have been a police officer.”

Officer Tensing turned himself in on Wednesday after his indictment, according to reports.

Samuel Debose

Samuel Debose

The death of Mr. DuBose, who was black, at the hands of Officer Tensing, who is white, joined a string of recent episodes — in Staten Island, Cleveland, North Charleston, S.C., and Ferguson, Mo., among others — that have raised hard questions about law enforcement use of force, and the role of race in policing. Video cameras have recorded many of the episodes and nonlethal encounters like the arrest of Sandra Bland, who died three days later in a Texas jail cell, offering disturbing evidence of the confrontations that often contradicts the accounts of people involved.

Mr. Deters, who also met with Mr. DuBose’s family, said he was shocked by the video.  “I realize what this was going to mean to our community, and it really broke my heart because it’s just bad,” Mr. Deters said.  “I feel so sorry for this family and what they lost,” he said. “And I feel sorry for the community, too.”

Mr. DuBose, 43, a father of 10, was just south of the university campus, driving a green 1998 Honda Accord without a front license plate, when Officer Tensing began following him, according to an account that Jason Goodrich, chief of the university police, gave on Monday. Moments later, the officer pulled Mr. DuBose over on a side street, a few blocks from the campus, Mr. Goodrich said.

University of Cinncinati Officer Ray Tensing (photo: nytimes.com)

University of Cinncinati Officer Ray Tensing (photo: nytimes.com)

He said that when Officer Tensing asked for a driver’s license, Mr. DuBose handed him a bottle of alcohol instead. But Mr. Goodrich gave no more insight into the confrontation that followed, in which the officer fired one shot that struck Mr. DuBose in the head.

Another university officer who arrived shortly after the shooting, Eric Weibel, wrote in his report that Officer Tensing told him that “he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon,” and that “Officer Tensing stated that he was almost run over.” A third officer, he wrote, said he had seen Officer Tensing being dragged.

“Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface,” Officer Weibel wrote.

On an audio recording of police radio communications, after Officer Tensing shouted “Shots fired! Shots fired,” a dispatcher asked who was injured. It is not clear if he replied “I am injured” or “I’m uninjured.”

“I almost got run over by the car,” the officer said. “He took off on me. I discharged one round. Shot the man in the head.”

Another officer can later be heard saying, “It was Officer Tensing that was injured.”

At the news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Deters dismissed Officer Tensing’s claim that he was dragged by the car. Officer Tensing “fell backward after he shot” Mr. DuBose in the head, Mr. Deters said.

The University of Cincinnati closed its main campus in anticipation of grand jury action in the case.

article by Richard Pérez-Peña via nytimes.com

University of Pittsburgh Acquires Archives of Jazz Pianist Erroll Garner

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Jazz Legend Erroll Garner (photo via jbhe.com)

The University of Pittsburgh announced that it has acquired the professional archives of jazz pianist Erroll Garner.

Garner was born in Pittsburgh in 1921. He began playing piano at age 3 and by the age of seven was performing on the radio. In 1944, Garner moved to New York City where he became a leading performer and composer. He wrote the score for several films and Broadway plays. His ballad “Misty” became a major hit of Johnny Mathis was the featured in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me.

To see video of his signature song, click below:

 

The archives were assembled by Garner’s long-time agent and manager, the late Martha Glaser and were donated to the university by Glaser’s estate. Included in the collection are correspondence, performance and recording contracts, sheet music, awards, audio and video recordings, photographs, and memorabilia.

Erroll Garner died in 1977 at the age of 55.

original article via jbhe.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson 

Mary J. Blige & Queen Latifah Join the Cast of NBC’s “The Wiz”

Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige join The Wiz

When it was first announced that NBC would remake the 1978 cult classic The Wiz, folks were admittedly nervous. After all, the network’s other production, the Sound of Music, was roundly criticized by fans. But after NBC scored Stephanie Mills–who starred in the original Broadway production–to play Auntie Em, people began to relax. Now, the latest casting news about The Wiz has given fans even more hope.

Tuesday, NBC announced Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige have signed on to the Wiz. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Latifah will assume the role of the Wiz.

While it still remains to be seen who will play Dorothy, the addition of Latifah and Blige will no-doubt get viewers to tune in when the Wiz premieres December 3.

article via clutchmagonline.com

New York Summer Camp Gives Homeless Children A Chance To Just Be Kids

Participants in Homes for the Homeless' summer camp program taking part in swimming lessons.

For most kids, summer is a time of year to look forward to.

But that’s not typically the case for the 23,000 children who live in New York City’s homeless shelter system. With children out of school, shelters and temporary housing alike often become more crowded and stressful and the kids themselves are left with little to do during the day.

But Homes for the Homeless, a New York-based nonprofit, offers an alternative for over 500 homeless children each summer. Since 1989, the organization has brought hundreds of children each summer for three 16-day sleepaway camp sessions on the grounds of Harriman State Park in upstate New York. For many participants, the experience marks their first time traveling outside of the city.

At HFH’s Camps Lanowa and Wakonda, the children — who range in age from 6 to 13 — are assigned a bunk in a cabin and take part in a range of activities, including swimming, volleyball, beadwork, dancing, drama, fishing, singing and hiking. In addition, activities like journal writing and bug hunting have an educational component disguised as summer fun.

Campers show off their drumming skills.

The impact of the campers taking part in these activities in a bucolic setting can be huge for both the participants themselves as well as their families, Sarah Herold, then-program coordinator, explained to the Queens Chronicle in a 2013 interview.

“It provides kids with a break from shelter life and helps combat summer learning loss,” Herold told the Chronicle. “We give the kid a break by sending them into the natural world and it gives the parents a reprieve because living in a shelter can be a stressful situation. For them to know that their child is in a safe space really allows them to relax.”

A break is much needed for these youth. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, children experiencing homelessness go hungry at twice the rate of other kids and have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems when compared to their non-homeless peers. By age 12, an estimated 83 percent of homeless children have witnessed at least one serious violent event. Continue reading

TX Prosecutor Appoints Committee Outside His Jurisdiction to Investigate Death Of Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland (photo via fusion.net)

Sandra Bland (photo via fusion.net)

In the wake of funeral services for Sandra Bland this past weekend, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis has appointed a committee of attorneys from outside his jurisdiction to review findings in the mysterious death of Bland. This committee will review evidence as it continues to be collected, all in an effort to help Mathis sort out the many moving parts of the case.

Mathis made the announcement on Monday, just as the fervor around finding out how exactly the 28-year-old Illinois woman died just three days after a traffic stop in Texas on July 10. Mathis’ office released a toxicology report last Monday, revealing that Bland had marijuana in her system. According to the Chicago Tribune, a pair of experts that reviewed the report for the Associated Press suggested that Bland may have used the drug while in custody.

Mathis said he and the collective of lawyers intend to review “credible evidence and not rumors” according to a report from CBS News. Mathis has much to contend with in that arena, as Bland’s family and supporters are questioning findings that her death was indeed a self-inflicted hanging by way of a plastic trash bag in her Waller County jail cell.

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Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin Found Web-and-Mobile-Based Platform Myavana to Integrate Scientific Analysis into Care for Black Women’s Hair

Myavana creators Candace Mitchell and  Chanel Martin

Myavana creators Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin (photo via gtalumnimag.com)

Scope out the hair-care aisle in the beauty section of any major retailer and you’ll find a familiar scene: a woman with a bottle of shampoo in hand, staring in dismay at the horde of options on the shelves in front of her. Should she pick sulfate-free or biotin add-in shampoo? Should she be looking for hydration or volume in her conditioner?

The process of reviewing ingredients, comparing prices and questioning the purported hair-care benefits can be overwhelming—particularly for black women, who over the past few years have seen an uptick in the number of products tailored to their specific hair texture needs. The inventory that was once relegated to a small section of a single shelf, or worse, not available in major outlets at all, now spans entire store aisles and endcap displays.

The creators of Myavana, a web-based mobile and social platform, understand firsthand the frustration of the shelf scan. Computer scientist Candace Mitchell and chemical engineer Chanel Martin launched their Atlanta-based startup in 2013. “The goal was to leverage science and technology to provide women of color with a personalized hair-care experience that takes guessing out of the equation and delivers hair nirvana,” Mitchell says.

The Myavana website (myavana.comis a destination where customers can discover new hair products, hair styles and salons in their area. It joins the zeitgeist of blogs, Instagram feeds and YouTube channels that deliver black hairstyle tutorials and homemade solutions to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. No doubt social media has helped this movement gain traction throughout the United States and abroad, Mitchell says.

Increasingly, black women are going online to share stories and tips in their journeys as they move away from harsh chemical straighteners and the synthetic products associated with them, and turn toward unprocessed, curly hair styles and natural products. Myavana seeks to tap into this ever-expanding market—with an estimated buying power surpassing $500 billion annually—with the goal of providing end-to-end hair-care guidance to women of color.

Myavana’s linchpin is its new custom hair analysis service that promises to find the right product for each customer. “Yes, we want women to send us their hair,” Mitchell says. “But only a little bit of it, and just long enough to view the hair through a microscope and to offer customers meaningful hair product recommendations.”

Consumers initiate the process on the Myavana website, where a one-time fee of $49 will buy a single Hair Collection Kit. The kit includes a special comb for the sample, instructions for getting a proper cross section, a questionnaire and pre-paid postage. Once the kit arrives at the Myavana lab—the company rents space on campus at the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology—the hair strands undergo a nine-point data analysis.

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