According to the Chicago Sun Times, Starbucks Coffee announced a new policy yesterday that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even without buying anything. The new policy comes five weeks after two black men who hadn’t bought anything were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Company executives have said its previous policies were ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers. Starbucks now says it has instructed workers to consider anyone who enters its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”
The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms, but noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat. “We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.
The two men who were arrested April 12 in Philadelphia were awaiting a third person for a meeting. One of them was denied use of a restroom because he hadn’t bought anything. A worker called police, and the men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested. They spent hours in jail before they were released. The incident, video of which was posted on social media, was a major embarrassment for the coffee chain.
A snippet and the link to this brave man’s work is below. Please read and follow this groundbreaking series via medium.com as well as Shaun King (Facebook, Twitter). He is doing so much what needs to be done to root out injustice not only in NYC, but all across the country:
What I’m about to tell you is the most painful, traumatic, outrageous, outlandish, over-the-top story of government sanctioned police brutality, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful convictions, forced testimony, widespread corruption, money, lots of money, and deep, deep, deep soul-snatching psychological abuse in modern American history. I would not have believed it had I not seen it all for myself. The rabbit hole I am about to take you down is deep and twisted. It should lead to the termination of a whole host of officials. Many should be arrested and a comprehensive independent investigation should begin immediately.
I receive hundreds of personal emails about injustice in America every single day. In mid-July, dozens of those emails were about a Bronx teenager named Pedro Hernandez. People all over the country had seen reports from Sarah Wallace of NBC New York or James Ford of Pix 11 on how Hernandez, who was jailed at Rikers Island, was running out of time to be released in time to start college. Hernandez had won awards at Rikers for his leadership and academic performance, and had also been granted a scholarship from the Posse Foundation to enter college this fall. Offered a plea deal from the Bronx DA’s Office to be released for time served, Hernandez did what few people in his position would do — he turned down the deal. Accused of shooting Shaun Nardoni, a neighborhood teenager, in the leg on September 1st, 2015, Hernandez was offered a ticket out of Rikers in exchange for admitting he shot Nardoni. The District Attorney even sweetened the pot and pledged to expunge his record in five years if he met all of the terms of his probation. Hernandez still refused to take the deal — continuing to pledge that he was completely innocent and would rather take his chances with a jury before admitting to something he didn’t do.
For nearly a week, people emailed me about Pedro’s case before I finally clicked on the link to see what it was all about. Tory Russell, an activist and organizer from St. Louis, who I’d come to know fr
om Ferguson, sent me a direct message on Twitter asking me if I could read the story and support Pedro somehow. I was on vacation with my family and it still took me another three days to finally read the story. I was hooked, but I had questions. As I Googled Pedro’s name and case, I saw several local reports that stated he had been wrongfully arrested and harassed by the NYPD for years. A guard at another facility was actually arrested and charged with criminal assault, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal obstruction of breathing and blood circulation, and harassment after being caught on film brutally beating and choking Pedro. Eight different eyewitnesses had all come forward to state that Pedro was not the shooter. Many even went so far as to identify the actual shooter. Why then, did Pedro remain behind bars? Why did it seem like the NYPD had it out for him? And how could the Bronx DA simultaneously believe that Pedro was safe enough to set free if he took the plea, but so dangerous, that if he didn’t, his bail would be set at an outrageous $250,000 with a stipulation that he not pay the typical 10%, but pay all $250,000 — effectively ensuring that he’d never get out on bail. That Pedro Hernandez, with the entire deck stacked against him, still refused to take a plea, hooked me.
As I reached out to Pedro’s family, I was immediately struck by something peculiar. I’ve written nearly 1,000 stories about police brutality and misconduct and have interviewed hundreds of families suffering through the consequences of those things. Almost every single one of those families, particularly when they are still in a stage of grief or conflict, without fail, want to speak exclusively about their very specific case. Pedro’s family was different. They immediately wanted me to know that Pedro was not alone, but that he was just one of hundreds of victims whose lives had been turned upside down by officers from the 42nd precinct in the Bronx who were working in close concert with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. The accusations were so sweeping and broad that I wasn’t sure how to process them.
An Ohio man who was beaten by a drunk cop and left locked in a closet for four days without food, water or access to a bathroom was awarded $22 million in court.
Arnold Black sued East Cleveland police over his 2012 detainment, saying a pair of officers mixed up his car with that of a suspected drug dealer and wrongfully took him into custody. One of the cops reeked of alcohol — and punched Black for “messing up” his night at the bar, according to the lawsuit.
“The officer … grabbed me like this,” Black told Fox 8 while motioning with his hands. “And he held me up, and — Boom! — I just remember getting hit.”
Black said he was driving through the city in his green pickup truck in April 2012 when officers Jonathan O’Leary and Randy Hicks pulled him over and asked him where they could find drug dealers in East Cleveland. The pair said they were hunting for a green truck carrying a load of cocaine — and Hicks, who was slurring his speech and reeked of booze, seemed upset that Black wasn’t the suspected drug dealer, the lawsuit alleged. “I was at a bar with friends. You messed up my night,” Hicks told the driver.
The cop with the blood-shot eyes and cloudy coordination punched Black in the head, handcuffed him and then punched him again, the lawsuit alleged. O’Leary, who did not appear to be drunk, stood back and did nothing to atop the attack.
CROWN HEIGHTS — Three officers and a lieutenant caught on video arresting an on-duty postal worker in Crown Heights earlier this month have been removed from their normal posts as the NYPD investigates the incident, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday.
The four officers arrested 27-year-old Glenn Grays while he was delivering packages along President Street near Franklin Avenue on March 17 after the policemen nearly hit him in an unmarked car as he tried to cross the street, according to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who released a passerby’s video of Grays’ arrest last week.
The NYPD has already said the incident is under review. But on Tuesday, Bratton expanded on that, saying that the Internal Affairs Bureau is looking to figure out a rationale for the arrest, about which he has “strong concerns,” particularly surrounding why the four cops —assigned to a conditions unit that usually wears a uniform — were in plainclothes.
QUEENS — An off-duty NYPD officer who was falsely arrested and beaten by fellow officers inside his own home was awarded $15 million by a federal jury on Wednesday.
Officer Larry Jackson, who is black, was beaten with batons, choked, kicked, sprayed in the face with pepper spray and had his hand fractured during the 2010 attack, according to his lawyer, who blames race biases on escalating the incident.
The confrontation began after Jackson’s wife called 911 to resolve a dispute outside their home, where they had just held their daughter’s birthday party.
When police arrived, they mistook Jackson for one of the agitators and began to physically subdue him, ignoring his repeated attempts to identify himself as a member of the NYPD, according to the lawsuit.
“Dude, it is my house and I am a police officer too,” Jackson told the arresting officers, according to the complaint. Jackson was then handcuffed and taken to the 113th Precinct stationhouse even after officers found his NYPD shield, which had been in his front pocket the whole time, the lawsuit says. “He’ll never be compensated for the disrespect he’s received from the police department,” says Jackson’s attorney, Eric Sanders.
The Brooklyn Federal Court jury found Jackson entitled to punitive damages from 12 individual officers totaling $2.6 million, in addition to $12.5 million in damages.
The Texas state trooper who pulled over Sandra Bland was indicted on suspicion of perjury Wednesday, making him the only official criminally charged after Bland’s death last summer fueled criticism of police and their treatment of minorities.
The Texas Department of Public Safety announced it would move to fire Trooper Brian T. Encinia.
The indictment marked the conclusion of the grand jury’s investigation of the case.
If convicted of the misdemeanor perjury charge, Encinia faces up to a year in jail, according to Warren Diepraam, a spokesman for the Waller County district attorney’s office. The grand jury declined to indict on a charge of aggravated perjury, Diepraam said.
Bland, 28, who was black, was found hanging by a plastic bag in her jail cell three days after she was arrested July 10 during a routine traffic stop about 55 miles west of Houston.
Encinia pulled over Bland for making an improper lane change. The confrontation that ensued, which led to Bland’s arrest on suspicion of assaulting Encinia, was captured on a dashboard camera video that went viral.
The charge against Encinia stemmed from a one-page probable cause affidavit that Encinia filed with jail officials justifying Bland’s arrest, in which he wrote that the reason he removed her from her car was to conduct a safer traffic investigation, said special prosecutor Shawn McDonald.
“The grand jury found that statement to be false,” McDonald said.
After she was arrested, Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail in nearby Hempstead, where she was unable to make $500 bail. Officials said Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag.
Bland’s family and Black Lives Matter supporters questioned why she had been arrested at all, with some asking whether she had taken her own life. At the time Bland was stopped, she had just accepted a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.
For those who grew up in the 1980s, Public Enemy was one of a handful of nationally-known hip-hop acts that created socially-conscious rap almost exclusively. From “Don’t Believe The Hype” to “Fight The Power” (from Spike Lee‘s still-all-too-relevant movie about racism and police brutality Do The Right Thing) to “By The Time I Get To Arizona”, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the crew were on the forefront of calling out media manipulation, systemic racism and bigotry, and the widespread mistreatment of black people in America.
Now, over 30 years after they’ve formed and three years since their last album, Public Enemy has released Man Plans God Laughs, offering much-needed and necessary protest music once again. The video for the single “No Sympathy From The Devil” was just released today, and it packs a chilling punch. It ties historical acts of racism with the racism of today – and so much of it looks the same (at the 1:56 mark, Sandra Bland‘s mug shot appears and has the effect of a gut punch).
The entire album, which was released a few weeks ago on July 15, can be heard on Spotify:
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.
Floyd Dent has settled his lawsuit with the City of Inkster for $1.4 million.
However for Dent, who was beaten by Inkster police in a shocking attack caught on video earlier this year, becoming a millionaire is less important than improving police relations with the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.
Given the choice, Dent would rather be broke and never have had this happen. “Money isn’t everything,” he said. “You can’t buy happiness.”
Dent says he hopes something good will come from the incident, a new beginning for Inkster. “The city of Inkster needs to move on and service the great citizens of Inkster,” he said.
The Defenders broke the story, exposing video of police officers punching, kicking, and using a Taser on Dent after a traffic stop. The Defenders also uncovered a second video of police apparently imitating and mocking Dent at the police station instead of immediately him to a hospital for his injuries.
“I’m bleeding and asking for a doctor and they are sitting there joking and high fiving. That’s unreal,” Dent said.
After the video was revealed, prosecutors dropped assault and drug charges against Dent and instead filed charges against William Melendez, the now-former Inkster police officer who punched Dent 16 times in the head.
Inkster also has a new police chief and two other officers were suspended. Now, with this a seven-figure settlement, Dent says a strong message has been sent about police brutality. “Nothing like this will ever happen in Inkster,” Dent said.
Dent’s attorney Greg Rohl said the city stepped up to do the right thing for his client and for Inkster.
“At least some good can come out of all this,” Rohl said. “Floyd is proud of being the person that brought about this change.”
Becoming a millionaire may bring friends and relatives out of the woodwork, but Dent said the money won’t change him.
“There’s going to be be a lot of people ringing my doorbell. You know, long lost friends,” he said. “Do you have any plans for the money? No, not really, I’m going back to work. I miss work. I miss the people I work with.”
The settlement is not the end of this case. Dent still has to testify against Melendez in the criminal case.
Dent said he will tell the truth and let the justice system take care of it from there. He also knows his time in the spotlight is coming to an end, which is fine with him.
“I want people to remember me as an honest person that wasn’t afraid to go against the officers that done this to me and i want people to know that I’m grateful,” he said.