Category Archives: National

Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency

Cyntoia Brown is now scheduled to be released in August after being granted clemency.

Cyntoia Brown is now scheduled to be released in August after being granted clemency.

By Malcom Speaks

Cyntoia Brown was granted executive clemency by Tennessee governor Bill Haslam last Monday. Therefore her life sentence for murder was commuted and she is now eligible for release on August 7.

Brown is a victim of child sex trafficking and was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of 43-year-old Johnny Allen in 2004. She was 16 at the time and living with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp known as “Kut Throat” who forced her into prostitution. Allen solicited her for sex, and she shot him dead at his home, saying she thought he was reaching for his gun to kill her, according to court documents.

Miss Brown was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, among other charges. She was sentenced to life in 2006.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Governor Haslam said in a statement on Monday, according to the Tennessean. “Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

“Transformation should be accompanied by hope.  So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”

This past December, Tennessee’s Supreme Court ruled that Brown was to remain in prison for at least 51 years before she can be eligible for release. A lawsuit was filed on her behalf, stating that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. However, the court rejected that contention, thus prompting a Women’s March to announce nationwide protests for Brown and other sex-trafficking victims.

Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna publicly joined those supporting Brown after PBS produced a documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story” in 2011.

In the documentary Miss Brown speaks about being forced into prostitution at a young age, sex-trafficked, and raped repeatedly.

“The first time he did something to me is when he choked me and I passed out,” Brown recounts of her alleged pimp in the documentary. “I made him money…he wasn’t going to let me go nowhere. He told me he’d kill me.”

Report: Police Killed 1,165 People In 2018

imagesBy Free Radical

A report by Mapping Police Violence and the Washington Post revealed that 1,165 people were killed by police in 2018. For 343 of the 365 days of 2018, someone was killed by police.

African-Americans bore the brunt of police violence, accounting for more than a quarter of all police killings (26.7%), though comprising just 12.6% of the national population. At this rate, Blacks were three times more likely to be killed by police than Whites.

The report also showed that Black People represented 30% of the victims of police violence who were unarmed. Whites comprised just 21%.

Recently released data from 2015 showed that of all the cases involving police killings, cops were not charged 99% of the time.

Mapping Police Violence is a research collaborative that collects comprehensive data on police killings nationwide to quantify the impact of police violence.

Oscar Grant Remembered 10 Years Later

By Free Radical 

Oscar Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, continues to fight for justice for her slain son Oscar Grant.

Oscar Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, continues to fight for justice for her slain son Oscar Grant.

January 1 not only marked the beginning of a new year but also the ten year anniversary of the murder of Oscar Grant who was killed at the age of 22 by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer.

On Tuesday nearly 200 people memorialized him at the Fruitvale train station where he was killed in 2009.

Family members and friends remembered him as a caring father, thoughtful son and grandson, and a lover of animals.

Even attendees who did not know Grant personally could speak to his importance. Lateefah Simon, the current BART director, revealed that his death prompted her to run for office.

“When Oscar died, I knew, like thousands of people in this city and millions in the world, that we needed to change structures,” she told the crowd. “So I ran for the BART board, and you all elected me.”

Onlookers captured Grant’s death when BART officer Johannes Mehserle shot him in the back while another officer pinned him down. The footage which quickly went viral sparked national protests against police brutality.

Mehserle quit the BART force and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and a separate charge of intentionally firing a gun in 2010. The gun charge was thrown out by the presiding judge. He only spent the minimum of two years in jail and was credited for time served.

A mural for Grant is expected is expected to be completed at the Fruitvale station in March 2019. The family is also pushing for the site of his murder to be renamed the Fruitvale-Grant station. BART has expressed resistance to this idea,  but the family is persistent.

At the memorial, Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson affirmed “Fruitvale Grant Station — we’re claiming that. We believe that, and we will fight!”

Two Officials Plead No Contest in Flint Water Contamination Case

By MCNS Staff

Stephen Busch (left) and Michael Prysby (right) took plea deals in connection with the Flint water poisoning controversy.

Stephen Busch (left) and Michael Prysby (right) took plea deals in connection with the Flint water poisoning controversy.

Two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials pleaded no contest to misdemeanors Wednesday and agreed to testify against other defendants in the criminal cases arising from the Flint drinking water contamination case.

Michael Prysby, 55, of Bath and Stephen Busch, 42, of DeWitt are the fifth and sixth defendants of fifteen who were charged through the state Attorney General’s Office to enter pleas for criminal charges with connection to the city of Flint, Michigan.

All of the pleas to date have been no contest pleas to misdemeanors with agreements to cooperate in prosecuting other defendants. No contest pleas are generally treated similarly to guilty pleas for sentencing purposes.

Todd Flood, the Flint prosecutor hired by the Attorney General’s Office, said he was accepting the pleas because of “substantial assistance being given to move the ball down the field in the Flint water investigation,” likely to the African-American Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, who is facing involuntary manslaughter and other charges regarding a legionella bacteria breakout that took place prior to March 2015.

Michael Prysby, a state drinking water official, pleaded no contest to one count under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, related to the issuance of permits for the Flint Water Treatment Plant. He was also cited for approving the start-up of the plant in April 2014, before it was ready to properly treat water from the Flint River and distribute it for human consumption.

Stephen Busch, the Lansing district coordinator for the DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of causing a disturbance in a public building.

Genesee District Judge David Goggins was informed that as long as Mr. Prysby cooperates and follows the terms of his probation, that charge and other more serious charges against him are expected to be dismissed. Charges that were initially brought against him included several felonies including two counts of misconduct in office and one count each of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and tampering with evidence.

The court was also informed that Mr. Busch, who faced charges similar to Mr. Prysby’s, will also be placed on probation for one year and have his charges dismissed in return for cooperation. The sentencing date for both Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch is Jan. 23.

In 2016, in a move to save money, the state switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a tributary that was notorious for its filth. Additionally, the Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the corrosive water, which ate into the city’s iron and lead pipes, causing lead to leach into the drinking water.