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Race Relations

HISTORIC COURT RULING: LAST LIVING SURVIVORS OF 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE ENTITLED TO PROVE PUBLIC NUISANCE

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TULSA, Okla. and NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and a team of civil rights lawyers today announced that Tulsa County Judge Caroline Wall released her 13-page order late on August 3 denying the defendants’ efforts to entirely dismiss plaintiffs’ claim that the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was a public nuisance under Oklahoma law and finding that plaintiffs 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, 107-year-old Viola “Mother” Fletcher, and 101-year-old Hughes Van Ellis are entitled to proceed to discovery and prove that the Tulsa Race Massacre was a public nuisance that continues to impact Black Tulsans today. 

From May 31 through June 1, 1921, a large white mob completely decimated Tulsa’s thriving, all-Black community of Greenwood.  The mob, which included members of the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department and the Oklahoma National Guard, as well as other city and county leaders, overwhelmed the approximately 40-square-block community, killing hundreds of Black residents, injuring thousands more, burning down over one thousand homes and businesses and stealing residents’ personal property.

The damage caused during the Massacre is estimated to be approximately $200 million in today’s dollars.

“The Court’s ruling is historic,” said Sara Solfanelli, special counsel for pro bono initiatives at Schulte Roth & Zabel.  “This victory not only recognizes that the Massacre was a devastating attack on the Black community 100 years ago, but clears the path for our clients to prove that it was also a public nuisance that continues to harm the community today.”   

“The Massacre deprived Black Tulsans of our sense of security, hard-won economic power and vibrant community,” says Solomon-Simmons, a Tulsa native, “and created a nuisance that continues to this day.  The nuisance has led to the continued destruction of life and property in Greenwood in every quality of life metric—life expectancy, health, unemployment, education level, and financial security.” 

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“For the first time in over 100 years, the last three living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre will finally have an opportunity to hold accountable the institutions that instigated and facilitated one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in this country’s history. While we are excited about the Court’s historic ruling, this case is by no means over,” commented Michael Swartz, co-head of Schulte Roth & Zabel’s litigation group.  “We believe that discovery will unearth more facts of what truly happened at the Massacre; the plaintiffs and the public deserve a deeper understanding of the events and their aftermath, and a more accurate historical record.” 

“We look forward to proving our case around the Massacre’s ongoing catastrophic effects and demonstrating the actions that defendants must take to repair and rebuild the Greenwood community during our clients’ lifetimes,” added Solomon-Simmons. 

The Court dismissed certain plaintiffs and defendants, as well as the unjust enrichment claims, and further allowed plaintiffs to amend the petition to cure potential deficiencies that would strengthen their claims.

In addition to Solomon-Simmons, Swartz, and Solfanelli, the Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys J. Spencer Bryan and Steven Terrill of Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC, Professor Eric Miller of Loyola Marymount College of Law, Maynard M. Henry, Sr., Lashandra Peoples-Johnson and Cordal Cephas of Johnson Cephas Law PLLC,  Kymberli J. M. Heckenkemper of SolomonSimmonsLaw, and Randall T. Adams, McKenzie Haynes, Ekenedilichukwu (Keni) E. Ukabiala, Angela Garcia, Alex Wharton, Erika L. Simonson, Vincent W. Moccio, and  Melanie S. Collins of SRZ.

SOURCE Schulte Roth & Zabel

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Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.

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Race Relations

Across the US, white neighborhoods have more greenery, fewer dilapidated buildings, fewer multi-family homes

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A new nationwide study utilized millions of Google Street View images and linked built environment characteristics to racial disparities in adverse health outcomes such as diabetes, asthma, and poor sleep.

Newswise — Historic redlining and other racist policies have led to present-day racial and economic segregation and disinvestment in many cities across the United States. Research has shown how neighborhood characteristics and resources are associated with health disparities such as preterm birth and asthma, but most of these studies are limited in scale and overlook many aspects in a neighborhood that are difficult to measure, including dilapidated buildings and crosswalks.

Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and the Center for Antiracist Research (CAR) at Boston University (BU) has utilized panorama digital technology through Google Street View (GSV) to identify these neighborhood characteristics on a national scale and shed light on how they contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in local resources and health outcomes across the US.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study found that predominantly White neighborhoods had better neighborhood conditions generally associated with good health, such as fewer neglected buildings and multi-family homes, and more greenery than neighborhoods with residents who were primarily Black, of other minority races, or of a variety of races and ethnicities. 

The findings underscore the need for comprehensive and accessible data platforms that researchers can utilize to better understand the role of the built environment on racial and health inequities, and inform policies that aim to create equitable neighborhood resources in all communities.

“Large datasets on determinants of health can help us better understand the associations between past and present policies—including racist and antiracist policies—and neighborhood health outcomes,” says study corresponding author Dr. Elaine Nsoesie, associate professor of global health at BUSPH. “Neighborhood images are one dataset that have the potential to enable us to track how neighborhoods are changing, how policies are impacting these changes and the inequities that exist between neighborhoods.”

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For the study, Dr. Nsoesie and colleagues analyzed national data on race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, and health outcomes, and 164 million GSV images across nearly 60,000 US census tracts. The team examined five neighborhood characteristics: dilapidated buildings, green spaces, crosswalks, multi-family homes, and single-lane roads.

The largest disparities in neighborhood environments were reflected in green space and non-single family homes. Compared to predominantly White neighborhoods, predominantly Black neighborhoods had 2 percent less green space, and neighborhoods with racial minorities other than Black had 11 percent less green space. Compared to White neighborhoods, neighborhoods with racial minorities other than Black had 17 percent more multi-family homes, while neighborhoods with Black residents and neighborhoods with residents representing a variety of races and ethnicities had 6 percent and 4 percent more multi-family homes, respectively.

The researchers also conducted modeling to measure how the built environment may influence the association between health outcomes and the racial makeup of neighborhoods, and found the strongest connections between sleeping problems among residents in neighborhoods with racial minorities other than Black or White, and asthma among neighborhoods with residents representing a variety of races and ethnicities.

“An interesting finding from our paper is how a considerable portion of the racial/ethnic differences of the built environment conditions was shown at the state level,” says study co-lead author Yukun Yang, a data scientist at CAR. “This prompts us to think practically about how state and local government and policymakers could and should address the inequitable distribution of built environment resources which could further address the health disparities we observed today.” 

“Our findings really demonstrate the path-dependent nature of inequality and racial disparities,” says study co-lead author Ahyoung Cho, a racial data/policy tracker at CAR and a political science PhD student at BU. “It is critical to develop appropriate policies to address structural racism.”

Source: Boston University School of Public Health

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Black History

Discussing Slavery in Classrooms — #1 New York Times Bestselling Author’s New Book Shows the Way

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Kwame Alexander’s An American Story releases Jan. 3 and will help educators and parents start the conversation.

Book Title: An American Story  
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: January 3, 2022  

NEW YORK, Dec. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — On January 3, 2023, Kwame Alexander, the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Crossover, The Door of No Return and The Undefeated, will kick off a national tour at Judy Blume’s in Key West, Florida for An American Story, a bold children’s picture book that explains American slavery through the voice of a teacher who is struggling to help her students understand its place in history.

Told through lyrical writing and stunning illustrations, the powerful, multilayered narrative by Alexander and artist/sculpturist Dare Coulter will take educators, parents and young people from fireside tales in an African village, through the passage across the Atlantic and the backbreaking work in the fields of the South to eventual emancipation.

“I wrote this book after a rather difficult parent-teacher conference back in my daughter’s fourth grade school year,” said Alexander, whose book The Crossover is a forthcoming Disney+ television series. “An American Story is for all teachers and parents trying to find their voices, trying to share a lesson that we all find so difficult to discuss. It is a story for readers of all ages — a story of a people’s struggle, strength, horror and hope that needs to be told and understood by all of us.” 

Coulter, a longtime sculpturist and illustrator, said: “I want there to be these big assemblies of beautiful, hopeful kids reading this book, to whom we can say, ‘Yes, this did happen, yes, it is terrible; but the way forward is acknowledgement and understanding.’ I want readers to walk away feeling resilient.” 

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Alexander’s national tour for the book launches with a live virtual conversation from Judy Blume’s Key West, Florida bookstore, Books and Books, on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. EST on his Facebook page (Facebook.com/KwameAlexanderBooks). The virtual event will be followed by a nine-city book tour, which kicks off on Jan. 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina and includes stops in Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston and Charlotte. Learn more at kwamealexander.com

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher and New York Times bestselling author of 37 books, including the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, the Newbery medal-winning novel, The Crossover (a forthcoming TV series on Disney+), and Becoming Muhammad Ali, co-authored with James Patterson. He is also a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition.

About the Artist

Dare Coulter (she/her) is an award-winning artist, muralist, and sculptor whose primary artistic objective is to create positive imagery of Black people and families. She aims to install sculptures depicting Black joy around the world. Learn more at darecoulter.com.

SOURCE Kwame Alexander

   

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Race Relations

“Driving while Black”: CDPDJ scores another victory against racial profiling in Repentigny

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MONTRÉAL /CNW Telbec/ – A black man represented by the CDPDJ has just won a case for racial profiling in a police intervention in Repentigny. According to the reported facts, two police officers did a U-turn after spotting the complainant driving his BMW. They followed him for a long distance before intercepting him and asking him if the vehicle belonged to him, asking for his papers and identification. Feeling that he was a victim of discriminatory profiling and having no explanations as to why he was intercepted, the complainant refused to identify himself, which led to his arrest, handcuffing, search and the issuing of a statement of offence.

The victim, Mr. Ducas, filed a complaint with the Commission, which brought the case before the Tribunal des droits de la personne. In its decision, the Tribunal concluded that the complainant had suffered a discriminatory attack on his right to preserve his dignity and that he had been the victim of racial profiling by the police officers of the City of Repentigny. The judge awarded moral damages of $8,000 to the complainant, who remains extremely upset by the events to this day.

“This is an important victory in the fight against racial profiling and the stigmatization of Black communities. Systematically intercepting black people while driving and for no reason is unfortunately a phenomenon that continues to be widespread and must be eradicated. We continue to work closely with all stakeholders to bring about a fundamental change in policing practices,” said Myrlande Pierre, Vice President responsible for the Charter mandate.

Based on the expertise filed by the Commission, the judge in the case believes that the police intervention constitutes differential treatment resulting from unconscious prejudice and bias against a black man driving a luxury car. “The Tribunal is convinced that the policewomen would not have turned back if the person driving the car was white”.

“It is a start, a step in the right direction to recognize racial profiling in Repentigny. My case is not unique and unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done. Profiling, with its perverse effects, greatly undermines the confidence of racialized communities in the police,” commented Mr. Ducas following the ruling.

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The judgment underlines that thanks to “the vigilance and meticulous work done by the Commission over the past few years in this type of case”, the Repentigny Police Service, as well as police services in major cities in Quebec, have become aware of the phenomenon of racial profiling and are now working to modify their practices.

“The Commission welcomes the Tribunal’s recognition of its more than 20 years of expertise in racial profiling. While we welcome the fact that police services are taking action to change certain discriminatory practices, we wish to emphasize the importance that these steps take into consideration human rights and the principles set out in the Charter. We would also like to reiterate the importance of documenting the phenomenon of racial profiling to address it more effectively,” said Philippe-André Tessier, President of the Commission.

In this regard, the Commission is disappointed that the judgment does not follow up on its request to the City of Repentigny to adopt an anti-profiling policy and to collect data on the perceived or presumed racial affiliation of persons who are intercepted. The Commission’s latest recommendation to all Quebec police forces is to document the phenomenon of racial profiling through an independent database.

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Human Rights and Youth Commission) ensures the promotion and respect of the principles set out in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It also ensures that the interests of children are protected and that their rights recognized in the Youth Protection Act are respected and promoted. In addition, the Commission oversees compliance with the Act respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies.

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SOURCE Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse

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