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B-C President Asked To Resign After DeVos Debacle

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The Florida NAACP is calling for the resignation of Bethune Cookman University President Edison O. Jackson, after students booed and turned their backs on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who delivered the keynote address at commencement on May 10.

At one point, Jackson interrupted DeVos to warn protesting students that if they continued to boo, “your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you wanna go.” According to news reports, this is not the first time DeVos has received a negative reception. Back in February, protestors prevented her from entering Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C.

On the heels of the NAACP’s call for Jackson’s resignation as president, comes a letter of support for the resignation from more than 200 African-American faculty members. Camika Royal, an assistant professor of urban education at Loyola University Maryland and one of three principal authors of the letter, said the message was clear that the students needed support.

“As a graduate of an HBCU, I know how important an education is for an individual, as well as a community,” Royal said, in a recent interview in The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “So, to look at these Bethune-Cookman students have that moment taken away from them and see Betsy DeVos be held up as a speaker, was a slap in the face to them and their families.”

The letter of support included signatures from scholars at North Carolina Central University, Ohio State University, Princeton and Duke.

Those who initially rejected DeVos’ visit and later organized the protest against it explained their objections by pointing to clear examples. “This is a person who’s planning to privatize our schools,” said Rachel Gilmer, who works with the Dream Defenders, a Florida-based progressive-leaning youth organization. “They’re planning to gut many of the steps taken to protect student borrowers by Obama … she has made it clear in her words and her actions that she doesn’t care about the futures of Black people.”

The event launched headlines nationwide. And the state branch of the NAACP called for the president’ “to resign effective immediately,” because it had received multiple complaints about the suppression of free speech from students and faculty.

The NAACP said in a recent statement, “Multiple allegations have surfaced including faculty intimidation demanding their silence or risk termination and threats to students by potentially withholding earned degrees and fines for freedom of expression.”

Moreover, the NAACP said it had lawyers who were prepared “to represent faculty and students who peacefully protest (but are) subject to retaliation by the university. Our partners have reviewed the university student code of conduct, and it does not contain any prohibition on peaceful protests and freedom of expression. The NAACP Volusia County Daytona Beach Branch and several attorneys will be on the ground monitoring this situation.”

While DeVos did not directly acknowledge the protesters in her address, she did say the Trump administration would “continue to support” HBCUs.

According to news reports, on May 1 protests began on campus when officials said DeVos would deliver the keynote address at commencement. Some demanded that the invitation be rescinded. Soon an online petition was started by Dominik Whitehead, who is a 2010 graduate of Bethune-Cookman, community organizer and political activist.

“Do not use Bethune-Cookman as a photo op,” Whitehead said, shortly before he delivered the petitions to the administration building. “Come to the table with something that is going to actually do something, in terms of policy, funding.”

The university posted a statement about the situation on its website. According to the statement, 374 students received degrees, 20 students “expressed their freedom of protest during her speech,” and 13 students “were escorted out of the ceremony due to disruption.”

A university spokesperson said, “I am here to celebrate you and all of your achievements. We are all here to applaud your perseverance and to encourage each of you to keep working to reach your full potential.”

 

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4 People, Including A Baby, Have Died In A Jail Run By Potential Trump Nominee Sheriff David Clarke

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“American citizens are dying unnecessarily in his jail, and it would be nice if he could take some responsibility for it and address the problem.” About a week after Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke visited the Fox News set in New York to appear on the shows “Outnumbered” and “Fox and Friends,” but before he set sail on a National Review cruise, a court-appointed medical monitor visited the jail Clarke is charged with running.

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 ― as Clarke was calling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “Mrs. Bill Clinton” on the Kelly File, writing a blog post defending his use of that term, and tweeting that the “renowned” U.S. justice system doesn’t need reform ― Dr. Ronald Shanksy was interviewing staffers at Clarke’s Milwaukee County Jail.

Four people, including a newborn baby, have died at the Milwaukee County Jail since April. One man, a 38-year-old with mental health issues, died of “profound dehydration.” For a facility with a population cap of 960 that previously averaged a couple of deaths per year, the string of deaths is concerning.

During his visit, Shanksy said he was alarmed by the “extremely large number of vacancies” at the facility, particularly for medical positions.

“Questions certainly can be raised about the occurrence of these four recent deaths and the relationship to officer shortages ... as well as the health care staffing vacancies and the adequacy of oversight of staff,” Shanksy wrote.

Now Clarke may be overseeing a much larger operation. Clarke was in New York City once again this week to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. He’s reportedly in the running to take over the Department of Homeland Security, and said he would accept a Trump cabinet position if asked.

Clarke’s national profile rose a few years ago when he began making regular appearanceson Fox News in late 2014 to talk about policing after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. Since then, he’s made a name for himself by providing a voice for those who want to believe there’s nothing wrong with our criminal justice system and to ignore America’s historic racial inequalities.

Clarke, who grew up in a white neighborhood and attended a mostly white private high school, has said African Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.” He calls Black Lives Matter “Black Lies Matter” and compared them to the KKK. He once claimed that “police brutality ended in the 1960s.” Clarke made an appearance in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where RNC delegates gave him a standing ovation as he proclaimed “Blue Lives Matter” and celebrated the acquittal of a Baltimore officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

More recently, just ahead of the election, Clarke said it was “pitchforks and torches time” and that it was time to run politicians out of Washington. 

It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time

Then, after the election, he called anti-Trump protests “temper tantrums” from “radical anarchists” that needed to be “quelled.” There was “no legitimate reason to protest” the election, he declared.

But even setting aside Clarke’s extreme rhetoric, there are serious concerns about whether Clarke is qualified to oversee a massive federal law enforcement agency. Running the jail is one of the main responsibilities of the sheriff’s office, which has limited law enforcement duties in Milwaukee. And there appear to be major problems. 

“Sheriff Clarke has time to promote his radical ideas on Fox News, far rightwing radio stations, and other conservative outlets. He has time to blog, tweet, and write op-eds to advance his divisive agenda. Yet, while he’s doing all of this self-promoting, his own jail is understaffed in dire need of leadership,” says Erik Heipt, an attorney for the family of Terrill Thomas, the man who died of dehydration inside Clarke’s jail in April.

“American citizens are dying unnecessarily in his jail, and it would be nice if he could take some responsibility for it and address the problem,” Heipt said.

“The deaths do raise a lot of questions in terms of the training and supervision of people within his department, and they’ve had a lot of staff turnover,” said Peter Koneazny, litigation director for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, who is involved in litigation about conditions in the jail. “We have concerns about the management of the jail, about the overall quality of care and treatment of inmates.” 

A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial said Clarke’s office had been “shamefully silent” about the deaths and hasn’t provided records regarding outside investigations that the county is legally required to have. 

“Maybe Clarke thinks the peasants of Milwaukee County don’t need to know what’s happening at the jail. Maybe he’s hoping for a call from President-elect Donald Trump (for whom he campaigned so eagerly while people were dying in his jail) so that he can walk away from doing his job,” the editorial said.

“Whatever his faulty reasoning, he’s wrong. Clarke owes the public answers about the deaths and about the state of inmate care at the jail. And the public deserves a sheriff who will do his job.”

 

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Speculation persists about Kamala Harris preparing for a presidential run In 2020

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A first-term U.S. Senator from California could be the rising star Democrats are hoping can lead the party in the 2020 presidential race.

She is Kamala Harris who, according to her Senate bio, "was the first African-American and first woman to serve as Attorney General of California and the second African-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate in history."

McClatchy is reporting that, while she has denied interest in running in 2020, she appears to making the moves that a potential candidate would, including speaking to key groups and on high-profile panels, fundraising for fellow Democrats, and connecting with journalists.

As Democratic political adviser Bob Shrum told the news outlet, "From everything I've seen of her she'd be an attractive candidate, she could be a compelling candidate, and I think she'd have a lot of appeal for primary voters."

Others have agreed, with the Washington Post calling her "formidable" due to her "California fundraising and activist base coupled with her historic status in the party..."

And in the wake of Hillary Clinton's failure to become the first female president, the Huffington Post has suggested Harris could be "the next best hope for shattering that glass ceiling."

Both outlets compared her rise to that of former President Obama who also ran with just one Senate term under his belt.

However, when the Los Angeles Times' Patt Morrison asked her about running for the top job a few months ago, Harris deflected the question, saying, "I don't know why my name is in that context. I'm focused on being the junior senator from California and very proud to be representing our beautiful state."

Even if she decides to join the race in 2020, she may have some tough competition for the Democratic nomination in the form of former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

 

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Historically Black University Cancels Sen. John Cornyn’s Speech After Outcry

A Houston university has canceled an upcoming commencement speech by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), days after protesters booed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at another historically black university’s graduation. More than 800 people signed a petition to protest Texas Southern University’s decision to invite Cornyn, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, to speak at its Saturday commencement ceremony. On Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the speech was off.

“Every consideration is made to ensure that our student’s graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come,” the university said in a statement posted on Facebook. “We asked Senator Cornyn to instead visit with our students again at a future date in order to keep the focus on graduates and their families.”

Cornyn aides told the Chronicle that the senator “respects the Administration’s decision and looks forward to continuing to engage with the University in the future.”

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Rebecca Trevino, the student who started the online petition, wrote that having Cornyn speak at TSU would be an insult to all historically black colleges and universities. The petition notes Cornyn’s support for DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his voting record in favor of voter ID laws, his opposition to sanctuary cities, and his criticism of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, after whom TSU’s law school is named.

This is our graduation,” Trevino wrote. “We have the right to decide if we want to refuse to sit and listen to the words of a politician who chooses to use his political power in ways that continually harm marginalized and oppressed people.”

A similar petition followed Bethune-Cookman University’s announcement that DeVos ― who has made controversial comments about HBCUs ― would be the commencement keynote speaker. Protesters say they gathered 50,000 signatures to stop the speech at the school in Daytona Beach, Florida.

DeVos ultimately gave the keynote address on Wednesday, but students in the audience turned their backs and repeatedly interrupted her with loud booing.

TSU did not immediately respond to a question about whether DeVos’ reception at Bethune-Cookman influenced TSU’s decision to cancel Cornyn’s speech.

According to TSU’s calendar, U.S. Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, both Texas Democrats, will give presentations at the school’s commencement.

 

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White House: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

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President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, according to the White House.

The president informed Comey of his termination a week after he generated national headlines with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Reports emerged on Tuesday that the FBI had found part of that testimony to be inaccurate.

In a letter sent on Tuesday, President Trump informed Comey, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigations" before stating that he agreed with the recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to relieve the director of his post.

"I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," wrote Trump.

Comey may have been blindsided by his firing on Tuesday, according to reports that say FBI and Justice officials had no prior knowledge of Trump's bombshell announcement.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The FBI is one of our Nations most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement, said President Trump.

 
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