TIME Race

Leaders Seek Solutions, Next Steps for Civil Rights Momentum

Sybrina Fulton trayvon martin
Amanda Edwards—Getty Images Activist Sybrina Fulton participates in a panel conversation at the Manifest: Justice pop-up art space on May 6, 2015 in Los Angeles.

The best way to channel "black lives matter" energy, many said, is by getting out to vote

As the 2016 election draws near, leaders of civil rights organizations are thinking about how to move the conversation generated through the black lives matter movement into more intense civic engagement.

“I say protest and push for policy change,” Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, told TIME. “In order to make change happen that we have to get out the vote.”

Campbell was one of many leaders on hand at the 2015 Essence Festival in New Orleans during the Fourth of July weekend, where many of the more than 150 speakers used the platform to issue calls to action to members of the black community.

During an address on Friday, Sybrina Fulton, mother of the late Trayvon Martin, challenged the gathered crowd to get out to vote and join nonprofit organizations that champion causes they support. All of the guests on a panel Saturday, including Nicole Paultre Bell, wife of Sean Bell, and Van Jones, called civic engagement an obvious next step for activists who’ve taken to the streets to have their voices heard. Deepak Chopra, who opened Saturday’s Empowerment Series, called on the black community to ask a series of questions—chief among them, “How can I serve?”

“People don’t think black folks are going to turn out because President Obama is no longer on the ticket, but we were voting long before that,” Campbell said. “My job is to make sure our voices are challenging anyone running for office.”

The audience at the weekend event, though—largely female, with ages ranging from old enough to have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and young enough to have only lived at a time when there’s a black president—represents a potent voting block when its members turn out. In 2012, the increase in black voter turnout—which surpassed the white vote for the first time since 1996—was due to the swaths of black women who hit the polls. Voter turnout among young black voters, however, was down in 2012.

The black lives matter movement has made a real impact in driving the national conversation around race—as was apparent in the general theme of the weekend’s events—but the challenge going forward, said National Urban League President Marc Morial, is translating the grassroots momentum apparent on the ground into action that can impact the upcoming election.

“The advent of organic social media organizing is a new technique that’s creating an opportunity for a new generation to get its voice heard, but that doesn’t replace traditional work,” Morial said. “Movements don’t exist without changes, without an end goal of changes in public policy.”

Morial said his organization has invited 2016 presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson to an upcoming conference the organization is hosting in Tampa.

“What we’re trying to do is advance the conversation early around these issues—economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, schools and education—where do you stand? What are your points of view?” he said.

TIME Crime

Prison Escapee David Sweat Is Back in Jail

Escaped Prisoners david sweat
AP Police stand over David Sweat after he was shot and captured near the Canadian border June 28, 2015, in Constable, N.Y.

Sweat was shot and captured last week

New York prison escapee David Sweat, who was shot and captured last week after a weeks-long manhunt, has been discharged from the hospital and moved to a new maximum security prison, officials said on Sunday.

Sweat was moved overnight from the Albany Medical Center to the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, a town of 4,000-some people in central New York, CNN reports. The Five Points Correctional Facility is about 200 miles southwest of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, where Sweat and his fellow inmate, Richard Matt, escaped on June 6. Matt was shot dead by police on June 26, two days before police shot and captured Sweat.

Sweat is being evaluated in the infirmary, after which he will be transferred to a “single cell” in a 23-hour confinement facility, officials said. He has also been placed on suicide watch in a cell officials said is designed to “limit movement.”

Two prison workers have been arrested in connection with the escape, while a dozen prison officials, including the prison chief, have been placed on administrative leave.

[CNN]

 

TIME Accident

Maine Man Dies in Fourth of July Fireworks Accident

First death since Maine legalized fireworks two years ago, officials say

A 22-year-old man died on Saturday night in Maine as a result of a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July, officials said.

Devon Staples, 22, was killed instantly in Calais, Maine, after he put a fireworks mortar on his head, marking the first death since the state legalized fireworks two years ago, NBC-affiliate WCSH6 reports. Staples had been drinking with friends when the incident occurred at approximately 10 p.m. ET, according to Maine Public Safety spokesperson Steve McCausland.

Fireworks were involved in more 10,000 injuries and 11 deaths in 2014, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

[WCHS6]

TIME cities

Protestors Throw a Confederate Flag on the Grill in New Orleans

Demonstrators used the 2015 Essence Festival taking place in the city to draw attention to a movement

Just blocks from the 2015 Essence Festival, where civil rights leaders are gathering to discuss what’s next in the Black Lives Matter movement, a crowd of a nearly 100 protesters stood in the unrelenting New Orleans heat Saturday to demand action around a subject that’s been gaining steam in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

Demonstrators burned a confederate battle flag in a charcoal grill beneath a towering statue honoring confederate general Robert E. Lee. The statue and other monuments to Confederate leaders that pepper the city, they demanded, must come down. “Down, down with the racist monuments. Up, up with the people’s empowerment,” the crowd chanted in unison.

At the base of Lee’s figure, which stands atop a 60ft column in a sprawling and immaculately kept circle also named after the general, two organizers of the protests ripped and burned a confederate battle flag that was purchased from the Confederate Memorial Museum, located just steps away.

The flag, according to an organizer who identified himself only as Quess, cost $22. As the flag crackled in the charcoal grill, local trumpeter Mario Abney performed a jazzy melody and the crowd jeered and hooted. It was a far cry from Fourth of July barbecues taking place elsewhere in the United States.

The national campaign to drive symbols of the confederacy out of the American mainstream was lent a sense of urgency by the shooting of nine black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina in June. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, posed with a confederate battle flag in images posted online alongside a racist screed.

In the wake of the massacre, the South Carolina legislature moved to remove the flag from outside its statehouse — a previously unthinkable act in a state where support for the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage still rides high.

It was a bitter-tasting victory for a decades-long movement that had been gaining traction even before the shootings. Activists in New Orleans have won a series of concessions over the years — the moving of a monument commemorating a bloody battle that many black residents felt glorified white supremacy; the removal of the names of confederacy figures from a handful of schools. And last week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he wanted to rename Lee Circle and remove the statue. The change will likely coincide with the city’s tri-centennial celebration in 2018.

But the protestors at Saturday’s march and rally don’t want to wait that long. “We don’t need any more dialogue, we need demolition,” said Rev. Marie Ortiz, a veteran activist in the New Orleans area. Earlier, Ortiz told the crowd she’d been pushing for the removal of confederate symbols since her early 30s. She wants a figure of New Orleans Civil Rights leader Rev. Avery Alexander to replace Lee.

“If his words were sincere and he meant it, it doesn’t matter when he takes it down. Now is the time to do it,” the 75-year-old said.

Ortiz was among those who marched from New Orleans’ Canal Street Ferry Station to Lee Circle Saturday. The group trekked down New Orleans’ Convention Center Boulevard just past noon, occupying the same sidewalks and streets as cheerful tourists in town for the 21st annual Essence Festival. Many stopped to take pictures and chant along in solidarity.

The group later veered onto Magazine Street, which houses the National World War II Museum, weaving in and out of clusters of confused tourists. Once they reached the statue, the protestors sang, chanted, and signed a petition calling for the immediate removal of Lee’s statue and others found throughout the Big Easy, including a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States.

“There are monuments like these all over the city and these symbols create the environment for police brutality and oppression,” said Quess, the organizer who led the flag-burning. “Black lives really don’t matter if there are all of these monuments to our former oppressors.”

TIME States

Why Texas Wants Its Gold Back

And why that will be much harder than it seems

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Forget Fort Knox or the Federal Reserve. Texas has decided to start keeping its gold holdings within in its own borders. But what makes sense politically in such a sovereignty-loving place is creating a logistical conundrum.

Texas is the only state that owns an actual stockpile of gold, according to public sector and financial industry experts — not just gold futures or investment positions, but approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million. The holdings, stored at a New York bank, for some harken back to century-old fears about the security of currency not backed by shiny bullion.

The Legislature’s decision this summer to bring its gold cache home was hailed by many conservatives, and even some on the far left, who are suspicious of national government.

“There will always be the exact same amount of gold in there as the amount that was put in,” no matter what happens to the financial system, said Republican state Rep. Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, a former tea party organizer from the Dallas suburbs who authored the gold bill.

But for the Texas comptroller’s office, which has to implement the policy, the catch is that the new Texas Bullion Depository exists in name but not reality.

The law doesn’t say where the depository would be or how it should be built or secured. No funding was provided for those purposes or for leasing space elsewhere. Further complicating matters is a provision allowing ordinary people to check their own gold or silver bullion into the facility.

“We are honestly at the phase where the questions we are answering are creating more questions that we have to answer,” said Chris Bryan, a comptroller’s office spokesman.

Charged with figuring everything out is a four-member task force within the comptroller’s office, which recently dispatched an official to a precious metals conference to study up.

One immediate concern is the possible cost. When Fort Knox was completed in 1936 it cost $560,000 — or roughly $9.2 million in today’s dollars. When Capriglione first introduced his bill in 2013 it had an estimated cost of $23 million.

But Capriglione now thinks private companies would bid to create a depository in exchange for charging storage and service fees.

The plan has kicked up chatter outside of Texas that it’s a step toward secession, an idea raised now and then on the state’s farthest political fringe.

“Just moving it would be pretty expensive and, unless Texas is anticipating withdrawing from the union, which I suspect is some peoples’ want, I don’t see what advantage it is…,” said Edwin Truman, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics who has written about gold and monetary policy. “What are you getting for what you’re paying for?”

But Capriglione says he’s just convinced that gold is safer, especially close at hand.

After the bill sailed through the Legislature, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed it and tweeted: “California may be the golden state, but Texans deserve to keep their gold in-state!”

Texas’ state-owned gold is held by the University of Texas Investment Management Company, the nation’s second largest academic endowment behind Harvard. It began gradually amassing gold futures in 2009 as a hedge against currency weakness in the recession. It eventually transitioned to physical bullion, and by 2011 had $1 billion worth.

The price of gold has since mostly slumped amid a soaring stock market. Today, the fund’s gold bars represent about 2.5 percent of its $25.4 billion in holdings, said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Zimmerman.

Asked about the new depository, Zimmerman said, “We don’t do politics. We’re just investors.”

The Fed declined comment on the new Texas depository, as did HSBC bank, which currently stores the gold bars in an underground vault in Manhattan.

Stacked together, the state’s gold occupies about 20 square feet. It’s unclear whether repatriating it could be done with an electronic transfer or would require a fleet of planes or armored cars.

One possible effect of the new depository might be more attention to the idea of returning to the gold standard, long a cause of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The Federal Reserve was founded more than a century ago so that the value of the U.S. dollar no longer had to be anchored to gold, and Richard Nixon formally scrapped the gold standard in 1971.

“I think Texas is once again showing they’re ahead of the curve,” said James Rickards, author of the 2014 book “The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System.” ”They’re not waiting for the disaster, but preparing for it.”

TIME LGBT

Hillary Clinton Comments On Viral ‘Humans of New York’ Photo

The former Secretary of State tells gay child: "Your future is going to be amazing"

Street photographer Brandon Stanton — better known as the creator of Humans of New York — posted a picture Friday of a tearful boy with the caption, “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

The post garnered 498,000 ‘Likes’, about standard for a HONY post, but what Stanton may not have expected was a comment from Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton wrote, “Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them.”

The photo initially became the subject of controversy when Stanton claimed Facebook had removed it from the site. But a Facebook spokesperson said Saturday the photo had not been intentionally deleted, but had been temporarily unavailable due to a bug. The photo is now available to be seen online, along with Clinton’s comment signed with her distinctive “-H.”

Humans of New York features photographs of ordinary people on the street along with quotes from the subjects, who typically do not identify themselves.

TIME Crime

‘Wheelchair Bandit’ Arrested After New York Heist

Wheelchair Bank Robber new york city
NYPD—AP In this June 29, 2015 photo provided by the New York Police Department, a man gets away after he robbed the Santander bank in the Queens borough of New York.

Kelvin Dennison, 23, said he was using the wheelchair after being shot

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City man in a wheelchair has been arrested two days after he pocketed $1,212 in a daytime bank robbery, authorities announced Friday.

Kelvin Dennison, 23, was picked up by officers at a hospital two days after he rolled into a Santander Bank branch in Queens Monday afternoon and claimed to be armed, police said.

“Give me all you have,” he told a teller, according to court papers. “I have a gun.”

The teller then passed him the cash before he pushed himself out of the bank and then fled down the street in his wheelchair, police said. Authorities released an image of a man in a wheelchair leaving the bank taken from a store’s surveillance camera.

When Dennison went to a Queens hospital two days later, someone recognized him and called police, prosecutors said. Authorities didn’t say why Dennison went to the hospital.

When he was questioned by investigators, Dennison told them he was in a wheelchair after being injured in a shooting, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney’s office told the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1HD7Hok).

Dennison was charged with robbery and is being held on $15,000 bail. Attempts to reach his attorney for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.

TIME Crime

Trump Says San Francisco Shooting Proves Him Right on Immigration

Killing of Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 "yet another example of why we must secure our border"

Donald Trump said the fatal shooting of a young woman at a popular San Francisco tourist spot was further proof the U.S. needs to crack down on border control, his latest in a string of controversial comments about immigration policy.

Kathryn Steinle, 32, was gunned down at Pier 14 in San Francisco on Wednesday. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr told NBC Bay Area that the suspect arrested in the shooting — Francisco Sanchez — had “made an admission” with regards to the seemingly random shooting.

Trump seized on the killing on Friday to tout his immigration views after it emerged that …

Read more from our partners at NBC News

 

TIME States

California Towns Cancel Fireworks Over Drought Fears

More than 300 fires were started by fireworks last year

Drought-weary California will be extra careful in its celebrations this Fourth of July weekend, with some communities canceling their official fireworks displays and others that used to allow residents to shoot off a few of their own saying not this year.

“As we head into the fourth summer of a severe drought, it is more important than ever that everyone use an abundance of caution to avoid sparking a fire,” CalFire director Chief Ken Pimlott said in a release on June 30.

Officials statewide have warned of the danger fireworks can pose with more than 71 percent of the state in a …

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Accident

Alligator Kills Texas Man Who Went for a Late-Night Swim

The 28-year-old was attacked in a private marina

A 28-year-old Texas man was fatally attacked by an alligator early Friday morning.

Tommie Woodward had gone for a late-night swim in a private marina near the Louisiana border when the alligator struck, severely injuring one of his limbs, the Associated Press reported. Officials said he had been swimming with a woman, though by one account she only entered the water after he cried for help; she is reportedly unharmed.

Police found Woodward’s body two hours after the attack.

The marina’s owners had earlier posted a warning sign about the alligator, which they had spotted in the water and estimated to be more than 11 ft. long.

[AP]

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