In New York City on Sunday afternoon, hundreds of demonstrators faced temperatures that nearly hit 90 degrees to gather in Union Square for a “Justice 4 Trayvon” rally. “This is a show of strength, but it’s also a show of solidarity with the family because last night, what happened, was complete disrespect to them,” said Imani Henry, an activist with the People’s Power Assembly. “We want to show love and respect to them.”
Some in the crowd said they were still in shock over the verdict. “I’ve been speechless all night, I couldn’t sleep,” said Kelly Knight, a Brooklyn resident who came for the protest. “I have a young daughter, and I thought, if it happened to him, it could happen to her,” she said.
Local churches across the country were also organizing rallies and urging supporters to wear hoodies in honor of Martin, who was wearing a black hoodie when Zimmerman shot him in the chest on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him.
In Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, demonstrators continued to hold rallies well into Sunday evening. Along with expressing solidarity with Martin, many held signs calling for an end to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people fearing for their lives to use deadly force if they believe their lives are at risk.
In the Florida state capital of Tallahassee on Sunday, roughly 200 protesters, some wearing hoodies, sang songs of justice and carried signs that said “Racism is Not Dead.”
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it is looking into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. The department opened an investigation into Martin’s death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.
In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal probe, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial. The statement said that, in the government’s words, “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation.”
It seems impossible that anyone may not know only hours ago George Zimmerman was found not guilty and cleared of all charges in the Trayvon Martin trial held in Florida. Is seems impossible that anyone may not react with sadness, anger, disbelief, or any combination of the three. It also seems impossible to know what to do in this moment that would counteract this miscarriage of justice and continued devaluation of the humanity of young black men in America. But if we consider the basics of what we know about Trayvon Martin, we can honor him by following his example and setting our own:
1. Act lawfully – no rioting or lashing out in anger – only defend yourself when you need to. Refuse to reduce yourself to prejudice and unprovoked violence. Both are the refuge of the cowardly and weak.
2. Get proactive. Write, email and tweet your local, state and federal officials and representatives and let them know you consider this verdict a travesty and want them to publicly make a statement saying as much.
3. Join the NAACP’s movement to get the Department of Justice to file civil charges against Zimmerman by clicking here or here at moveon.org and signing the petition and share the link immediately on all your social media.
4. Urge every Floridian you know to clamor for the repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law by contacting their state and federal representatives.
5. Vote. In every local, state and federal election. Use your voice to make policy and change policy.
6. Go see “Fruitvale Station” if it is playing in your town this weekend, or flood the theaters on July 26th when it opens wide. Make this movie number one. Show America with your dollars that taking the lives of black men simply for being black men demeans us all as human beings and will not be tolerated any longer.
7. Emmett Till. Medgar Evers. Martin Luther King Jr. Oscar Grant. Trayvon Martin… and countless, nameless others. Teach the history. NEVER FORGET.
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Editor-in-Chief
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Department says former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx has been sworn in as President Barack Obama’s new transportation secretary.
Foxx was sworn in during a private ceremony with his wife and two children Tuesday at the department’s headquarters. The department says he’s spending his first day focusing on transportation safety and preparedness for hurricanes and severe weather.
Foxx says under his tenure, safety will remain the department’s top priority. He says he’ll work on efficiency and infrastructure needed to make sure the nation’s transportation system works for future generations. Foxx’s background includes stints as a Justice Department attorney and a Democratic aide to the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate voted unanimously last week to confirm Foxx. The 42-year-old replaces outgoing secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman.
article by Josh Lederman, AP via thegrio.com; Copyright 2013 The Associated Press
Saying it has an obligation to prepare students for a more global society, the University of Washington will require undergrads to complete a course in some area of diversity — economic, cultural or political — before they can graduate.
The new policy, initiated by a group of mostly minority students, followed three failed attempts over the past 22 years to introduce changes meant to ensure that all graduating students know a little more about other cultures and people who differ from them than they did when they first arrived.
The three-credit course won’t add to the number of hours students now need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And it won’t apply to current undergrads, only to the incoming class in the year the policy takes effect — possibly next fall. Helen Fillmore, a graduating senior majoring in environmental science and resource management, is a member of First Nations @ UW and of the UW Students for Diversity Coalition, which began pushing for these changes nearly three years ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is calling attention to the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act that aimed to eliminate gender wage disparities, making the case for strengthening the law that President John F. Kennedy signed in 1963.
Obama, speaking to an audience almost entirely of women, says women continue to be paid less than men. He says: “This is the 21st century. It’s time to close that gap.”
The event’s focus on women’s pay comes during a week when Obama is paying special attention to Democratic constituent groups. On Tuesday he will speak at the White House in support of an overhaul of immigration laws. He will be fundraising for the Democrats on Wednesday. On Thursday he will observe LGBT Pride Month with remarks at the White House.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Newark Mayor Cory Bookerformally announced today he’s in the race to finish the U.S. Senate term of the late Frank Lautenberg. The 44-year-old Democrat made his candidacy official at a news conference Saturday in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. He was joined by former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former pro basketball player who for 18 years held the seat Booker is seeking.
Bradley, who endorsed Booker, called him “the right person for the right office at the right time.” Booker began raising money for a Senate run even before Lautenberg, who died Monday, announced retirement plans in February. He had raised $1.9 million by the end of the last reporting period in March.
Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are also planning to enter the Democratic primary. Booker is considered the early front-runner. Pallone, 61, had $3.7 million in his campaign coffers at the end of March and has deep union support. Holt, 64, a former research physicist, had $800,000 on hand.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, announced this week that there would be party primaries Aug. 13 and a special general election Oct. 16 The only Republican running so far is Steve Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor who runs the New Jersey office of Americans for Prosperity.
Booker, 44, has 1.4 million followers on Twitter — or five for every resident of the city where he’s the mayor. He tweets frequently, answering questions about city services, posting about his workouts and, perhaps most often, trying to provide inspiration.
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.
Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.
Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama Monday will nominate mayor Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation, a White House official said Sunday on the condition of anonymity. The nomination of Foxx, who hosted last year’s Democratic National Convention, would make him the only African-American selected for a Cabinet opening in Obama’s second term.
As mayor of Charlotte, what it called one of America’s most vibrant cities, the White House said Foxx has the firsthand knowledge needed to create jobs and compete in a globe economy. The White House praised Foxx’s ability to integrate local, state and federal resources to meet transportation challenges.
Federal officials cited his work on the Charlotte streetcar project to bring a streetcar line through the center of the city, expanding Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and extending the city’s light rail system north to UNC Charlotte.
Some of Foxx’s accomplishments that the White House has praised have been questioned closer to home, however.
The mayor is fighting an effort to shift control of Charlotte-Douglas from the city to an independent authority – a move Foxx has been stridently against. Local business leaders and some legislators have said they are worried the city has been meddling in airport affairs, a charge Foxx has denied.
The streetcar project, which Foxx is launching with a $25 million federal grant, is in limbo. The mayor has been unable to convince City Council members to approve expanding the 1.5-mile line currently under construction, and the streetcar has been the cause of a nearly year-long impasse over the city passing a nearly $1 billion capital budget.
Foxx, who has called Obama a friend, was elected mayor in 2009. He was re-elected in November 2011 with nearly 70 percent of the vote. He also is a lawyer for Charlotte hybrid bus maker DesignLine.
President Barack Obama, next to Vice President Joe Biden, gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, about the defeat in the Senate of a bill to expand background checks on guns. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Blocked by Congress from expanding gun sale background checks, President Barack Obama is turning to actions within his own power to keep people from buying a gun who are prohibited for mental health reasons.
Federal law bans certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, but not all states are providing data to stop the prohibited sales to the FBI’s background check system. A federal review last year found 17 states contributed fewer than 10 mental health records to the database, meaning many deemed by a judge to be a danger still could have access to guns.
The Obama administration was starting a process Friday aimed at removing barriers in health privacy laws that prevent some states from reporting information to the background check system. The action comes two days after the Senate rejected a measure that would have required buyers of firearms online and at gun shows to pass a background check. That’s already required for shoppers at licensed gun dealers.
Stung by the defeat, Obama vowed to keep up the fight for the background check expansion but also to do what he could through executive action.