State Withheld Evidence in Smith Suit

imagesBy MCNS Staff

Local reports indicate that attorneys representing the state of Missouri withheld key evidence from Anthony Lamar Smith’s family during a 2012 civil lawsuit, investigations have found.

The Smith family’s attorney, Albert Watkins, says that lawyers did not tell them about or submit “vital” DNA evidence.

Smith, a 24-year-old black man, was killed in 2011 by a white St. Louis police officer in 2011 after a high high speed chase before which he threatened to kill Smith. The city paid a $900,000 settlement to Smith’s daughter.

Attorney General Josh Hawley commissioned the investigation after Watkins complained in September about the missing lab reports. Watkins lodged similar complaints in 2016.

For more on the investigation uncovering state-withheld evidence from this high-profile case,click here:

Black Women Carry Jones to Victory

Black women were instrumental in leading new Alabama Senator Doug Jones to victory.

Black women were instrumental in leading new Alabama Senator Doug Jones to victory.

By Free Radical

In a stunning victory, Democratic soon to be Senator Doug Jones defeated controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore late Tuesday night. Alabama’s African-Americans community was among the first group of supporters he thanked, and for good reason.

Black people came out in droves to support Jones. They accounted for 30% of the electorate and 96% of their votes went for the Democratic candidate. Black women in particular showed up for Jones, contributing 98% of their votes to him while Black men gave 93% of their vote.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez acknowledged, “Black women led us to victory. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic party.”

Black women and men provided their support for Jones despite what many have called a tepidly run campaign geared toward their interests. The most noted appeal from Jones was that as an attorney he secured guilty convictions for the murderers of four African-American girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Yet little beyond this plank of his campaign was catered towards African-Americans who frequently rank at the bottom of Alabama’s socioeconomic order.

Jones also brought African-American electoral professionals within the fold late into his campaign. According to Alabama State Rep Merika Coleman, “these professionals need to be included from the beginning of a campaign and not brought after a candidate has made mistakes in messaging to the black community. These blunders can be avoided by simply bringing their expertise and wisdom to the table in the onset of a political campaign.”

Such professionals were key in turning out the vote in the state’s largest cities such as Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile.  Quite fittingly, voting was especially high in Dallas County where the city of Selma is located. The historic campaign for suffrage there, which resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has helped make African-Americans the Democratic Party’s most loyal base.

Only time will tell if Jones has the acumen and courage to advocate for their interests in a traditionally Republican state  where the new senator will face another election in 2020

Mayor Lumumba Protests Trump Presence at Museum Opening

By MCNS Staff

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Jr.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Jr.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and a significant list of elected officials protested President Donald Trump’s stop in Jackson, Mississippi for the opening of a Civil Rights Museum this past Saturday and instead attended a press conference with U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, NAACP President Derrick Johnson along with other local leaders in order to pay homage to those who have dedicated their lives to the civil rights of Mississippians.

“I believe that Trump’s presence is a distraction. His policies don’t reflect his statements that this is a movement that will bring people together. Trump has not demonstrated a continuing dedication to the ideals the civil rights movement upholds,” Mayor Chokwe Lumumba told the Clarion Ledger.

Mayor Lumumba also said that he originally planned on attending the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum but changed his mind when he learned that he would not have an opportunity to speak at the event.

“I had some words that I wanted to say,” Mayor Lumumba said, “but when I found out that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to speak, I decided that I didn’t want to share the stage with Trump.”

However, Mayor Lumumba did encourage others to attend the event. Additionally, he said he would visit the civil rights museum and Museum of Mississippi History, both of which opened this past Saturday after Trump left.

Norman White, Criminal Justice Pioneer Passes

Norman White

Norman White

By Free Radical

Norman White, a pioneering criminal justice professor at SLU passed from a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 64 years old.

Since joining SLU’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, White was known for his scholarship which analyzed how schools and juvenile court systems prematurely and unjustly target marginalized children.

Yet White did not restrict his scholarship to the ivory tower. In 2014, he received a grant to help teachers and administrators recognize the impact that race and trauma have on students and developed effective ways to support them. White also headed the Shut it Down: Closing the School to Prison Pipeline which placed the family court, public schools, and other stakeholders together to alter school culture in order to improve student performance while reducing student interactions with law enforcement.

With student volunteers he also developed the Overground Railroad for Literacy program which tutored local students.

White was also a mainstay during the Ferguson uprising. While on campus, he spray painted “Safe Space” in his office for students to voice their frustrations and map out his strategies during that revolt.

Given his expertise, trial lawyers used him as a witness to advocate for juveniles where he used his theory of risk immersion, which according to his close friend and attorney Nina McDonnell, “argues that children who grow up in extreme poverty and neglect and violence – they are not at risk, they are immersed in risk. That’s the only world they know. They don’t know the world of not being at risk of violence and trauma.”

White leaves a legacy of social justice and scholar activism. According to St. Louis Public Schools superintendent, Kelvin Adams, “He was a passionate advocate for the fair and equitable treatment of kids and families, and we can only honor him if we continue to do the work that he started, training and supporting those who work with children. But this is a tremendous loss.”