Ava DuVernay to Write and Direct Limited Series About Central Park Five at Netflix

Ava DuVernay (photo via Variety.com)

by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay is continuing her relationship with Netflix, bringing a limited series about the Central Park Five case to the streaming giant. Netflix has greenlit the five-part scripted series for a 2019 debut. DuVernay created the project and will write and direct all five installments.

Participant Media, Tribeca Productions and Harpo Films are behind the limited series with Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh serving as executive producers alongside DuVernay. The project is the latest collaboration for Winfrey and DuVernay who worked together on the Oscar-winning “Selma” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”

For DuVernay, the project marks a return to Netflix for the filmmaker who wrote and directed the platform’s 2016 documentary “13th.” “I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on ’13th’ and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States.”

Based on the true story of the notorious Central Park Five case, each part of the limited series will focus on one of the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — who were wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. The series will span from the spring of 1989, when each were first questioned about the incident, to 2014 when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York.

To read full article, go to: Central Park Five Limited Series From Ava DuVernay Greenlit at Netflix | Variety

Philando Castile Family Reaches $3M Settlement with City of St. Anthony, MN

Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile (photo via eurweb.com)

by Amy Forliti via thegrio.com

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mother of Philando Castile, the black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last July, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement with the city that employed the officer, avoiding a federal wrongful death lawsuit that attorneys said could have taken years to resolve. The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile, who is the family’s trustee, was announced Monday and comes less than two weeks after officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges connected to her son’s death.

Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, was shot five times by Yanez during a traffic stop after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun. The shooting gained widespread attention after Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with her then-4-year-old daughter, livestreamed its gruesome aftermath on Facebook. The acquittal of Yanez, who is Latino, prompted days of protests, including one in St. Paul that shut down Interstate 94 for hours and ended with 18 arrests.

The $2.995 million settlement for Valerie Castile will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which holds the insurance policy for the city of St. Anthony. The plan for distribution of funds requires approval by a state court, which could take several weeks. Robert Bennett, who along with attorney Glenda Hatchett is representing Valerie Castile, said a decision was made to move expeditiously rather than have the case drawn out in federal court, a process that would “exacerbate and reopen terrible wounds.” The settlement will also allow the family, the city and community to work toward healing, Bennett said.

“No amount of money could ever replace Philando,” a joint statement from the attorneys and city of St. Anthony said. “With resolution of the claims the family will continue to deal with their loss through the important work of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.” Bennett said the foundation’s mission is to provide financial support, grief counseling, scholarships and other help to individuals and families affected by gun violence and police violence.

Bennett said Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, is not part of the settlement. Reynolds has also hired an attorney, but it’s not clear if she is still planning a lawsuit or has any standing for a federal claim. Reynolds’ attorney did not return messages Monday.

The settlement happened faster than others stemming from the killings of black men by police officers elsewhere. Last week, a $1.5 million settlement was reached in the case of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri. That settlement came nearly three years after the death of Brown, whose parents sued the city.

Bennett said his decades-long relationship with Joe Flynn, the attorney who represented St. Anthony in Castile’s case, helped bring a quick resolution. He also said the city of St. Anthony has a commitment to make positive changes to their police department. The city is undergoing a voluntary review by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, with the goal of improving trust between the police department and the communities it serves.

To read full article, go to: Philando Castile family reaches $3M settlement in death | theGrio

Capitol Police Heroes Crystal Griner and David Bailey Saved the Day, Preventing Congressional Massacre

Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner (photos via facebook.com)

via thegrio.com

Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are the heroes who kept the shooting on Wednesday from being the “massacre” Congress members say it could have been. Both of the officers are on Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail and put their lives on the line to respond when shots rang out at a congressional baseball practice.

Scalise was standing near second base and was shot by James Hodgkinson before both Griner and Bailey rushed into action, taking down the shooter despite both being injured. Both have since been taken to the hospital and are recovering from their injuries.

“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Senator Rand Paul said to MSNBC. Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised both agents, who had served on his protection detail before. “[Griner’s] an incredibly able and professional individual who always takes her job and responsibility seriously,” Cantor told The Daily Beast. “It is not surprising to hear of her heroism and bravery during this horrible attack.”

“The bravery David showed reflects the kind of commitment he, Crystal, and the team demonstrated each and every day,” Cantor continued. “Incidents like the attack today are never something many of us even imagine happening. David is a trained professional who was and remains ready to act whatever the threat. Wishing him a full recovery.”

After being shot, Griner and her wife, Tiffany, were given a bouquet of white flowers by President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, as she recovered in the hospital. Both agents’ injuries have been described as non-life-threatening.

To read more, go to: Capitol police heroes saved the day, preventing congressional massacre | theGrio

Muslim Groups Raise Money for Portland Stabbing Heroes Ricky Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher

(photo via essence.com)

by Lilhe Z. Mtshali via essence.com

Nearly a week after a white supremacist killed two men who were trying to protect two teens, Muslim groups have banded together to raise over $500,000 to support the families of the brave men and one survivor.Army veteran Ricky Best, 53, and college graduate Taliesin Namkai-Meche were stabbed to death Friday by Jeremy Christian while protecting 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and her friend, who was wearing a hijab. Mangum told reporters that Christian was shouting at them to “go back to Saudi Arabia” and to “leave his country.” When Best, Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, stepped in to intervene, Christian stabbed all three men.

Fletcher was wounded but survived.

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The Muslim groups, CelebrateMercy and the Muslim Education Trust, created a LaunchGood online fundraising campaign on Saturday to raise money to help with funeral costs for Best and Namkai-Meche and Fletcher’s medical bills. The initial target of the campaign, which was dubbed Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes, was $60,000 and that was raised within five hours.

The total raised so far is over $516,000.

Christian appeared in court on Tuesday and faces charges including two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, Think Progress reports. Federal authorities are still deciding whether to prosecute him for hate crimes.

Source: Muslim Groups Raise Money For Portland Stabbing Victims | Essence.com

African-American Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership

(photo via dailykos.com)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

The Democratic Party relies on Black women to be the most consistent and engaged progressive constituency, but rarely supports their political leadership. A group of 27 Black female political advocates and leaders released an open letter demanding that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez stop taking them for granted.”We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic party for voter mobilization efforts,” reads the letter, which was published by NBC BLK yesterday (May 24).

“We have shown how Black women lead, yet the party’s leadership, from Washington to the state parties, have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections—with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.'”

The letter’s signatories include elected officials like U.S. congress members Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty (both D-OH) alongside advocates like Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory and Higher Heights for America’s Glynda Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen. The group collectively recognizes electoral victories by senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and state-level politicians that, despite their strategic importance, did not compel Black women’s inclusion in DNC leadership: Black women also made important progressive wins in Minnesota, where IIhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim elected to the state legislature; Kentucky, where Attica Scott became the first woman elected to the state legislature in 20 years; Cook County, Illinois, where Kim Foxx was elected state’s attorney; Orange County, Florida, [where Aramis Ayala became] the first Black state’s attorney in Florida’s history; the state of Texas, [which] elected its first woman SheriffZena Stephens; and Jefferson County, Alabama, [which] elected nine Black women to the judicial branch.

This February, in the DNC elections, we saw an increase in overall diversity within the officer ranks, but no increase in leadership representation of Black women. Since taking office, you have met with and listened to key constituencies. But you have yet to host a Black women leaders convening.”Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women,” the signers continue. “In the absence of our inclusion in discussions about the Party’s forward movement, we question whether the Party values our loyalty and takes our commitment seriously.”The letter ends with a call for Perez to meet with Black women leaders, which he has yet to publicly confirm or reject. Read the full letter on NBCnews.com.

Source: READ: Black Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership | Colorlines

Black Lives Matter Movement Founders to Receive Sydney Peace Prize for 2017

Black Lives Matter founders (left to right) Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors. (Photo by Ben Baker/Redux)

by Elijah C. Watson via okayplayer.com

The Black Lives Matter movement will be awarded this year’s Sydney Peace Prize. The award, which Australia’s Sydney University has offered since 1998, normally goes to an individual peacemaker who promotes human rights and using nonviolence as a means of combating injustice, making the University’s choice of the Black Lives Matter movement as the award recipient unprecedented.

“This movement resonates around the globe and here in Australia, where we have become inured to the high incarceration rates and deaths in custody of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Pat Dodson, the West Australian Laborer senator and the 2008 recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize, said in an interview. “It’s as if their lives do not matter.”

Founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, the Black Lives Matter movement came about following the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Since then, the organization has become a global crusader against injustice, especially following the election of Donald Trump as president.

The organization has also helped bailout black mothers from jail for Mother’s Day, as well as supported black-owned businesses across the country. “We’re not just about hitting the streets or direct action…it’s a humanizing project,” co-founder Cullors said. “We’re trying to re-imagine humanity and bring us to a place where we can decide how we want to be in relation to each other versus criminalizing our neighbors or being punitive towards them.”

To read more, go to: Black Lives Matter Founders To Receive Sydney Peace Prize Okayplayer

Black Parents Sue Mississippi for ‘Inequitable’ Schools with Help of Southern Poverty Law Center

(photo via naacpms.org)

by thegrio.com

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in federal court on Tuesday alleging that the poor performance of black students in Mississippi is the direct result of the state’s failure to live up to the terms of readmission to the Union at the end of the Civil War.

As part of the terms of readmission, Mississippi was required to create a “uniform system of free public schools” for all citizens, both black and white, in order to foster an environment of education that was necessary to democracy.“ Today, Mississippi schools are anything but uniform,” said Will Bardwell, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“If you’re a kid in Mississippi, your chances of getting a good education depend largely on whether your school is mostly white or mostly black. That is not a uniform system.”

However, the state constitution changed several times until in 1890 it allowed only for “separate but equal” systems. According to the complaint, the constitution is now an “empty shell of the guarantee that Congress obligated Mississippi to preserve in 1870” and allows the state to severely underfund schools that serve African-American students.

To read more, go to: Black parents sue Mississippi for ‘inequitable’ schools | theGrio