Demonstrators Mark 3-Year Anniversary of Vonderritt Myers, Jr. Death

MCNS Staff

Vonderrit Myers Jr.

Vonderrit Myers Jr.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the Shaw neighborhood Sunday night to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the police shooting death of Vonderritt Myers, Jr.

Protesters carried signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Police Lies Murder” during the march through the south St. Louis neighborhood.

Having gathered around 6pm at the intersection of Shaw Boulevard and Klemm St., demonstrators proceeded south on Klemm, turned east on Flora toward Grand and circled back around to the origin location. The family of the fallen 18-year old, including his father, Vonderritt Myers, Sr., and mother, Syreeta Myers participated, among the hundreds of marchers carrying candles and releasing balloons. March leaders announced that the organized action ended at about 8:45pm.

The Myers demonstration is one of many marches happening throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area that have reemerged after the not-guilty verdict of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. Often several times per day, the “No Justice, No Profits” protests have caused some temporary business closures and resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Vonderritt Myers, Jr. was shot and killed by former St. Louis police officer Jason Flanery on Oct. 8, 2014, while the officer worked a secondary job for a private security company. Flanery’s statement to investigators that Myers shot at him was, at the time, controversial. The fatal police shooting of Vonderritt Myers, Jr. led to months of protests that coincided with demonstrations against racism and the police shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr. Investigators later stated that evidence supported Flanery’s claims.

Flanery abruptly resigned from the police department in January 2016 after he was charged with a DWI in a different incident in which he was driving his police car and struck a parked car.

New Study Shows Students Benefit from Same Race Teachers

A new study links student success to having teachers of the same race.

A new study links student success to having teachers of the same race.

By Free Radical

Further evidence has materialized that students benefit when they have teachers that belong to their race. A study conducted by scholars Anna J. Egalite and Brian Kisida and published by the American Educational Research Association surveyed 80,000 public school students from grades four through eight.Their results showed that when students had teachers of the same race they felt “more cared for, more interested in their schoolwork, and more confident in their teachers’ abilities to communicate with them” according to NPR.

Conversely, students who had teachers who did not look like them experienced a reverse effect. This was particularly the case for Black students, even more so with Black girls.

The study follows a report published in April which concluded that Black students who had at least one elementary school teacher of the same race were more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not.

The implications are far reaching. Current statistics show that only 18% of the current teaching force is composed of instructors of color. Therefore, White students have an advantage over Blacks and Hispanics who are more less likely to have teachers who look like them.

Remedies include an aggressive recruitment of teachers of color. Yet structural changes such as incentives in teacher pay, student loan forgiveness, and greater flexibility in the classroom are also possible solutions to attract the most qualified applicants who sometimes choose more financially rewarding occupations.

Trump Rolls Back Birth Control Provision

By Free Radicalindex

On Friday, President Donald Trump’s administration rolled back an Obamacare policy that required companies to provide free birth control with no co-payment. Under the original Obamacare plan, religious institutions who opposed birth control could exempt themselves from the policy. Under Trump’s new provision, companies who have “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions” against offering birth control can now opt out of the program. This will greatly expand the number of employers who do not have to offer birth control.

Under the Obamacare regulation, more than 55 million women have access to free birth control.  In its first year, it saved Americans nearly $1.4 billion. Estimates are now that hundreds of thousands of women can now lose access according to The New York Times.

Critics have cried foul, stating that some companies may have dubious religious or moral convictions yet want to opt out of the program to save money. Moreover, they note that birth control helps saves lives and reduces poverty. It is contradictory for conservatives who oppose abortion to make it more difficult for women to acquire birth control. They have also noted that birth control is not only used to prevent pregnancies but also helps with medical conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Yet the GOP has hailed the reform as a victory. House Speaker Paul Ryan called it a “landmark day for religious liberty” and proclaimed that employers now “can freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs.”

Nonetheless, the provision is likely to result in new litigation. The National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, has begun developing measures for a lawsuit since last spring in anticipation of Trump’s reversal.  Trump has already been frustrated several times in his attempts to repeal Obamacare.His own policy initiatives such as immigration restrictions have also faced judicial roadblocks. Opponents hope they will have similar success with the current birth control rollback.

ACLU Sues City of St. Louis for Police Misconduct

By MCNS Staff

Police advancing on protesters during demonstrations Sunday night, September 17.

Police advancing on protesters during demonstrations Sunday night, September 17.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the city of St. Louis for “unlawful and unconstitutional” treatment of protesters opposing the recent acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley.

The lawsuit was announced in a press release on the ACLU’s website and focuses on what it calls police misconduct using chemical weapons, interfering with videoing of police activity and violating due process during demonstrations Sunday night in which 123 were arrested. Those persons arrested include an undercover policeman infiltrating the demonstrations and members of the media, who were corralled in the fray and detained.

The ACLU press release recounts that protestors and bystanders had chemical weapons used against them without proper protocol. It says police also interfered with people recording police activities in photos and on video. On Sunday, the release states, police in riot gear “unlawfully detained people – violating their due process rights – when St. Louis Police used a tactic called ‘kettling’ during a protest downtown.”

The lawsuit says, “Without further instruction or warning… police officers surrounded protestors, observers, and members of the press, cutting off all routes of egress — including via any sidewalk — and prohibiting the people trapped inside from leaving.”

Police officers then used chemical agents without warning on those caught in the area.

Officers removed the goggles some people were wearing and “then sprayed those individuals directly in the face,” the suit states.

The lawsuit also states police have ordered people to delete photos and videos from their phones and cameras.

Plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are Maleeha Ahmad and Alison Dreith, both residents of St. Louis.

The plaintiffs are arguing for a court order requiring that protesters disperse “in a constitutional manner” and that the city follow the Constitution in how police act at protests.

“I think everyone deserves the same rights as I do. I just want peace and justice,” said plaintiff Maleeha Ahmad. “If it hadn’t been for my fellow peaceful protestors – strangers who came to my aid – I don’t know how my eyesight would be today.  I would have been left out in the sun, on the ground, with my face burning.”

“St. Louis should be a place where all people feel safe against retaliation from law enforcement, and all should receive due process. We should strive to be a place where every citizen feels supported by the communities we call home. This is the vision that drives us into the streets and inspires us to hold our leaders accountable when they betray our values,” said plaintiff Alison Dreith.

Both plaintiffs state that they were pepper sprayed by police without warning on September 15.