Tag: Freddie Gray

Quiet Billionaire Robert Smith Makes Some Noise with $20 Million Gift to National African American Museum

In 2013, when the founders of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture were seeking donors, people directed them to one man: Robert F. Smith.

“We kept wondering, ‘Who is this Robert Smith?’ ” said Adrienne Brooks, director of development for the museum. Meeting Smith became a priority, said Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director. “We wanted to meet him. And soon,” Bunch said, laughing.

Soon many more people will know Robert Smith by name as the museum celebrates its grand opening this weekend. The private-equity financier was the museum’s second-biggest private donor, with a $20 million gift. Oprah Winfrey was No. 1, with $21 million.

Smith has built a fortune that’s made him one of the nation’s richest men — worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes — but until now he has kept his work and philanthropy relatively quiet.

Even the website of his company, Vista Equity Partners, does not have a picture of him. Better, he had thought, that investors and executives know him first by his abilities. If they saw only the caramel skin of an African American, he might lose out on opportunities.

As Vista’s chairman and chief executive, he is in the business of buying, growing and selling off software companies. Vista’s portfolio has 35 companies with $26 billion in assets under management. He is the majority shareholder of Vista’s management company.

Beyond Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Smith long enjoyed moving in relative obscurity. That changed last fall when Forbes magazine put him on its cover, with an article for which he declined to be interviewed.

Now in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, he’s ready to talk about his life’s work and the powerful social force that has pulled him out of the shadows: the racial tension escalating across the nation. Smith said he grew fearful that the very fabric of the country that allowed his parents to earn doctorate degrees and him to build a successful business is vulnerable.

Watching TV news, he saw the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., after the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, by police. Last year he watched the turmoil following Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore. Across the land, he feared, a sense of opportunity is giving way to rising hopelessness and despair.

“The vision I was sold as a kid is unraveling. I see the little tears in the fabric of society every day. This cannot be,” Smith said in the interview.

His philanthropic efforts go back years. Through the Fund II Foundation, of which he is the founding president, he has supported nonprofit groups that focus on African American culture, human rights, music education and the environment.

It was time to emerge, he thought, and do more. “We have to do something,” he said. “We have to do something for our community.”

To read full article, go to: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/who-is-this-robert-smith-a-quiet-billionaire-makes-some-noise-with-20-million-gift-to-the-african-american-museum/2016/09/23/547da3a8-6fd0-11e6-8365-b19e428a975e_story.html

Freddie Gray’s Family to Receive $6.4 Million Settlement From Baltimore

The settlement, which stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed by the family after Gray’s unlawful arrest and death in April, is said to be one of the largest in police brutality suits since 2011. According to the Sun, the settlement is “larger than the total of more than 120 other lawsuits brought against the police department for alleged brutality,” in years. The plan is scheduled to be approved by the city’s spending panel on Wednesday, the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed.

“The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” the mayor said in a statement. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.”

Unrest erupted after Gray’s funeral as human rights groups, protesters, activists, and residents of Baltimore City piled into the streets to call for reform of police practices and justice for the young man. Six officers involved in the arrest and transport of Gray have pled not guilty to a range of charges that include assault, false imprisonment, and even murder. A pre-trial motions hearing this week will determine if the six individual trials will be moved out of Baltimore.

From the Baltimore Sun:

The city is accepting all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death, but does not acknowledge any wrongdoing by the police, according to a statement from Rawlings-Blake’s administration.

The mayor’s office declined to answer questions about the settlement, including why it was brought to the spending panel before any lawsuit was filed.

Under the proposed settlement, the city would pay $2.8 million during the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in next year, the city said. By entering into a settlement, the city would avoid a public lawsuit that could have played out in court. In such city settlements, a clause has stated that both sides cannot talk publicly about the case.

An attorney representing the Gray family has declined to comment on the settlement.

article by Christina Coleman via newsone.com

Baltimore Creates an Additional 3,000 Summer Jobs for City’s Youth Following Freddie Gray Uprisings

A week after protests took over Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake launched OneBaltimore, a nonprofit dedicated to rebuilding the city and its affected residents. While progress toward addressing systematic failures that impact not only Baltimore, but other major cities across the U.S., is no easy feat, Baltimore has since made gains in the right direction.

Since announcing the launch of OneBaltimore in May, the nonprofit, which is supported by private–public partnerships, teamed up with the city’s summer jobs program called Youth Works to create an additional 3,000 summer jobs for Baltimore youth. Usually, Youth Works offers positions to 5,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 21, but this year, with the help of OneBaltimore, the program responded to a record number of applications by offering a total of 8,000 positions.

“When businesses hire one or two youths during the summer they are providing jobs that will inspire young people by giving them a glimpse into their future as productive employees,” Donald C. Fry, the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee said in a statement.

Currently, it costs $1,500 to fund one young person in a Youth Works program. To help offset this cost, OneBaltimore partnered with other nonprofits, private businesses, and government agencies to meet the needs of the city’s youth and in total raised $15 million for future programs.

In addition to providing employment, Mayor Rawlings-Blake is working closely with Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Operation Hope to recruit volunteers to hold financial education seminars for the participants. She has also partnered with the Maryland Transit Administration to offer free public transportation passes for students to get to and from work.

article by Courtney Connley via blackenterprise.com

Young Entrepreneurs Who Started Taharka Bros. Ice Cream in Baltimore are Subject of New Documentary “A Dream Preferred”

Large_devon_brown_and_mike_prokop__co-founders_of_taharka_brothers_ice_cream_featured_subjects_in_a_dream_preferred__photo_courtesy_of_tribeca_digital_studios__2_

The media’s representation of Baltimore in 2015 hasn’t been the kindest—well, aside from that time President Obama praised HBO’s The Wire. The sad fact is, the media would’ve continued to ignore the crime-ridden city’s residents’ needs and discontent had it not been for the tragic death of Freddie Gray, the 20-year-old black man who died while in police custody in early April.

Rightfully angered, many of Baltimore’s citizens let their frustrations be seen and heard via riots and protests. And since nationwide news outlets were there on the scene for every broken window and raised-in-solidarity fist, much of the viewing public saw Baltimore’s post-Gray events and formed opinions based on those acts.

Instead of spending so much time focusing on the city’s angriest moment, however, media outlets should be paying more attention to the young men and women who are busting their humps to uplift Baltimore both emotionally and financially.

In the new documentary short A Dream Preferred, filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) have done just that. Co-produced by Tribeca Digital Studios and American Express, the film—which is currently available on various cable on-demand platforms—follows the efforts of six young black men in Baltimore, led by an outspoken go-getter named Devon Brown, who’ve started their own dessert company, Taharka Bros. Ice Cream. (The name is a tribute to Taharka McCoy, a 25-year-old local mentor who was senselessly gunned down in January 2002.)

The company’s goal is, naturally, partly to use their handmade frozen treats to turn profits, but ultimately the Taharka Bros. are aiming to inspire other young entrepreneurs—they’re proof that inner-city minorities don’t need to play sports and make rap music to be successful.

A Dream Preferred, shot throughout the summer of 2013, captures their efforts to raise $28,000 in 29 days through the crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Dubbed “Vehicle for Change,” their Kickstarter plan was crucial to allow the brothers (in the figurative sense, not literally blood-connected siblings) elevate their business above using a rinky-dink ice cream truck.

With charisma to spare, the Taharka crew—especially Devon Brown, who’s the film’s de facto star—give A Dream Preferred a lightheartedness that offsets its heavier underlying themes, mainly the racial discrimination they experience everyday as young black men. In one scene, their efforts to solicit Kickstarter contributions from white folks is mostly a cold-shoulder struggle, and the Taharka brothers’ frustrations are visible.

That scene has struck a lot of people who’ve seen the film,” says Taharka Bros. creative director Darius Wilmore, 42. “It’s interesting, because that scene is part of the challenge of something like this. You have the softest product on the face of the Earth, which is ice cream, that’s made and sold by people who’ve been deemed to be the hardest, and that’s an interesting juxtaposition. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the issue of race. It’s always gonna be there. Some people will be open to it and others aren’t, but you can’t let that stop you from doing what you’re trying to do.”

Continue reading “Young Entrepreneurs Who Started Taharka Bros. Ice Cream in Baltimore are Subject of New Documentary “A Dream Preferred””

Baltimore Plans To Equip Police Vans With Video Cameras After Freddie Gray’s Death

Protests in Baltimore over Freddie Gray
Source: Anadolu Agency / Getty

After a vociferous public outcry over the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody this spring, Baltimore officials announced plans Wednesday to equip transport vans with video recording cameras, according to Reuters.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the change comes in the wake of protests after the death of 25-year-old Gray, who was fatally injured while being transported to lockup in a police van in April on an unspecified charge. Gray’s death sparked days of fiery protests over police brutality in the Black community.

From Reuters:

We’re working through a process that will place cameras with recording capabilities in the backs of all our police vans, to ensure that we have a more complete record of what occurs there,” Rawlings-Blake told reporters.

The van in which Gray was transported had a non-recording camera that the driver could use to monitor the passengers, but it was not working at the time.

Rawlings-Blake also announced plans to review riot gear used by police during the unrest, as some of it failed to work, the report says. She said the city needs working equipment so that police can respond if trouble breaks out following trial verdicts in the Gray case.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Baltimore Medical Examiner Rules Freddie Gray’s Death a Homicide

The medical examiner found that Freddie Gray’s “rough ride” was to blame for his death. (Photo via Colorlines.com)

According to a copy of the autopsy report obtained by The Baltimore SunFreddie Gray’s death was a homicide. The report—which was completed on April 30 but hadn’t yet been released to the public—found that Gray suffered a single “high-energy injury” to his neck and spine and concluded that it was likely caused by sudden deceleration in the police van where he was improperly restrained and shackled. The ME compared the injury to one obtained from diving in shallow water and wrote that the officers involved did not follow proper safety procedures “though acts of omission.”

In the report, assistant medical examiner Carol H. Allan wrote that it was “not an unforeseen event that a vulnerable individual was injured during operation of the vehicle, and that without prompt medical attention, the injury would prove fatal.” In addition to examining Gray’s body, the examiner used videos, witness statements and an inspection of the van to complete the report. She also found that there were no previous injuries to Gray’s spine, noting that he was not incapacitated by a neck hold or other type of physical restraint.

Twenty-five-year-old Gray was arrested in Baltimore on April 12 and died a week later due to a spinal injury inflicted while he was in custody. The six officers involved in his arrest and transport have all been charged with crimes ranging from second-degree depraved-heart murder to second-degree assault. Last week, each officer pleaded not guilty. Their trial date has been set for October 13, and a motions hearing is scheduled for September 2.

article by Kenrya Rankin Naasel via colorlines.com

U.S. Justice Department Officially Launches Baltimore Police Investigation

U.S. Attorney General Officially announces investigation of Baltimore Police Department (Photo via newsweek.com)
U.S. Attorney General Officially announces investigation of Baltimore Police Department (Photo via newsweek.com)

Washington (CNN) The Justice Department launched on Friday a pattern or practice investigation into the methods of the Baltimore Police Department, weeks after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

Calling police-community relations “one of the most challenging issues of our time,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday the investigation, which will look into whether the police department has used excessive force and conducted unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and discriminatory policing practices through the lens of civil rights and constitutional violations.

She said she launched the investigation at the urging of Baltimore officials and community leaders, and with the support of the Baltimore police union.  “Our goal is to work with the community, public officials, and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” Lynch said at a press conference Friday.

If violations are found, the investigation will result in a “court-enforceable agreement” to change the practices of the Baltimore Police Department.

Attorneys and investigators with the Justice Department’s civil rights division will meet with Baltimore law enforcement officials and community members in the coming days and weeks, Lynch said.

Lynch said the protests in Baltimore in recent weeks revealed that the trust between the community and Baltimore police officers “is even worse and has been severed” and said she hopes the investigation can lead to reforms to “create a stronger, a safer and a more unified city.”

She also emphasized that the turmoil in Baltimore — from Gray’s death in police custody to the ensuing protests and rioting — should not define the city.

“Earlier this week I visited with members of the community who took to the streets in the days following the unrest to pick up trash to clear the debris and they are Baltimore,” Lynch said, adding that youth leaders and tireless police officers focused on protecting the community “they too are Baltimore.”

Continue reading “U.S. Justice Department Officially Launches Baltimore Police Investigation”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Calls For Department Of Justice To Investigate Police Department

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

A day after U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore in the wake of unrest after Freddie Gray died of fatal injuries received in police custody, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the city’s embattled police department, according to a live report on CNN.

Lynch visited the city on Tuesday and attended a series of meetings with the mayor, embattled Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, and members of Gray’s family, reports The Baltimore Sun. Gray’s death reinflamed nationwide tensions over police brutality in Black communities, sparking sometimes violent protests last week.

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson released a statement Wednesday regarding the possible DOJ investigation:

“The Attorney General has received Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s request for a Civil Rights Division ‘pattern or practice’ investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.  The Attorney General is actively considering that option in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials, and community, faith and youth leaders in Baltimore yesterday.”

Rawlings-Blake’s announcement follows a bold move last week by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to bring charges against six police officers in Gray’s death, which has been ruled a homicide.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Prince to Play “Rally 4 Peace” Concert in Baltimore this Sunday

Prince at the Grammy Awards in February.
Prince at the Grammy Awards in February. (Credit: John Shearer/Invision, via Associated Press)

A protest song was not enough.

Days after announcing his song “Baltimore,” a tribute to Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered a fatal spinal-cord injury while in police custody, Prince has announced a surprise “Rally 4 Peace” concert in Baltimore. It will be held Sunday at Royal Farms Arena.

“In a spirit of healing, the event is meant to be a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S.,” Live Nation, the concert promoter, said in a statement. “As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence.”

Tickets go on sale today at 5 p.m. EST at LiveNation.com. Part of the proceeds will benefit Baltimore youth charities, organizers said.

While “Baltimore” has yet to be released — Prince said he was considering streaming the track on Jay Z’s Tidal service — its lyrics were made available online. The song begins:

Nobody got in nobody’s way

So I guess you could say

It was a good day

At least a little better than the day in Baltimore

Does anybody hear us pray?

For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray

Peace is more than the absence of war

Absence of war

article by Joe Coscarelli via nytimes.com

“I’m Here For You”: Black Baltimore Police Sergeant K Glanville Gives Moving Speech To Protesters (VIDEO)

Baltimore Police Sgt. K. Glanville (Photo via YouTube)
Baltimore Police Sgt. K. Glanville addresses group of peaceful protesters. (Photo via YouTube)

A police officer’s kind words during a period of unrest over the death of Freddie Gray touched many across Baltimore, who have for so long witnessed police violence in their communities.

Sgt. K Glanville spoke to a crowd on Saturday during a festive rally about her role as a police officer and expressed that not all officers are in the business of harming unarmed civilians. Glanville retold stories of her encounters with pedestrians in the city and says she understands why so many have questioned the tactics of police officers.

The mother says she gives out her number to children in an effort to show she is a protector of the community. According to the Huffington Post,

“My heart is in this,” Glanville told a small crowd. “I’m not wasting time on someone that’s not trying to let me in, when I got all these other people that got the door wide open, saying ‘Sgt. Glanville, please step in.’ I am here, I’m available. I give kids my phone number, I tell people ‘you need something, you call me.’ It all starts with relationship building.”

A Baltimore native and a 19-year veteran, the officer has never received a complaint. Her speech brought tears to the eyes of many in the small crowd. Glanville told onlookers that everyone has to start working together to stop the problem of police violence.

”We have to start doing better,” Glanville told the crowd. “We know better, and we have to start doing better. It doesn’t matter what color you are. People are watching to see the next move that Baltimore makes coming out of this … I want other cities to look at this and be able to see a template….And the main thing we need to do is make sure these babies are ok.”

The following day, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the overnight curfew would be lifted effective immediately. In a statement, Rawlings-Blake expressed that the curfew had helped reduce violence in the city following last Monday’s riots after Gray’s funeral.

Check out Glanville’s speech to the city of Baltimore below:

article by Desire Thompson via globalgrind.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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