Bill Cosby's petition for parole denied after he refuses therapy

The Pennsylvania Parole Board has turned down comedian Bill Cosby's petition to be released from a 10-year prison sentence for aggravated indecent assault, citing his refusal to participate in a therapy program for sexually violent predators. 

Laura Treaster, a spokeswoman for the state parole board, confirmed the decision, which was made on May 11 and first reported on Thursday by Nicole Weisensee Egan, author of the book "Chasing Cosby," on her Facebook page. 

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said his client expected to be turned down. “We knew he was going to be rejected. He called me and told me that if he didn’t take the course, he would be denied," He has maintained his innocence from the beginning.” 

Cosby, now 83, would have become eligible for parole on Sept. 25 after completing the three-year minimum term of his sentence. He was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison and designated a sexually violent predator on September 25, 2018, after being convicted earlier in the year of the rape of Andrea Constand, his former friend at Temple University, in 2004. 

The once-beloved comedian known as “America’s Dad” has been serving his sentence in the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix, a suburb in Philadelphia. 

Treaster said the board would not consider Cosby for parole again unless he completes the sexual violent predator therapy. He must also overcome a recommendation against parole from the state Department of Corrections and maintain a clear conduct record. Cosby was also told to develop “parole release plan.” 

She said the reasons for the negative recommendation by the Corrections Department, and Cosby’s prison conduct record, are not public information. 

Cosby had a hearing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in December on his appeal of his conviction. The court has not yet ruled, and there is rarely any advance notice. 

Wyatt said Cosby is doing as well in prison as can be expected. 

“He’s hopeful,” Wyatt said of the Supreme Court appeal. “He’s cool as a cucumber." 

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On Anniversary Of George Floyd’s Killing, Demonstrators Call For More Police Reform

George Floyd is seen in a photo provided by the Ben Crump Law Firm and distributed by CNN.
Floyd’s family gathered with activists, citizens and others who have lost loved ones to police brutality for a rally in Minneapolis.

It’s been one year since George Floyd was killed at the hands of police in Minneapolis, sparking a wave of protests around the world and a reckoning over systemic racism and law enforcement’s mistreatment of Black people in America.

Floyd’s family attended one of many remembrances on Sunday, gathering with activists, citizens and others who have lost loved ones to police brutality at a rally in Minneapolis

“It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,” Floyd’s sister Bridgett said at the event, which took place in front of the courthouse in Minneapolis where ex-officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in Floyd’s death in May. “It has been very frustrating for me and my family for our lives to change in the blink of an eye. I still don’t know why.”

A series of events to remember Floyd and to continue the call for police reform are taking place this week.

Read live updates on the anniversary of Floyd’s death below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern.)

Members of Floyd’s family and the civil rights attorneys who represented them against the city of Minneapolis announced a fund to benefit community members of the neighborhood where Floyd was killed.

The George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund will award grants to eligible businesses, community organizations and nonprofit groups that serve the community at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the intersection where Floyd died, according to a press release issued by the family.

Floyd’s family will direct $500,000 of the $27 million civil settlement they reached with Minneapolis last month toward the fund, the press release stated. Grant applications will open in the fall.

“As we mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s horrific death, the family feels deeply that something positive should come from the pain and injustice he suffered,” Ben Crump, an attorney representing the family, said in a statement. “The George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund will be an instrumental, long-term partner to the Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood where he died, where we all have seen the continued negative impact of systemic racism.”

― Hayley Miller

The Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was murdered is slated to be transformed into an outdoor festival Tuesday afternoon to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

The “Rise and Remember George Floyd” celebration is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. local time and will include food vendors, children’s activities and musical performances. At 8 p.m., attendees will participate in a candlelight vigil.

The event was organized by the George Floyd Global Memorial, which has collected and preserved over 3,000 pieces of artwork and other commemorative items left at the site of Floyd’s death, reported local CBS affiliate WCCO

“If you’re angry, you can be angry,” local rapper Nur-D, who is set to perform at the event, told WCCO. “If you’re sad, you can be sad. If you’re feeling some sense of joy over the verdict and some sort of like step in the right direction, and you want to celebrate that, do that as well.”

Philonise Floyd on Monday reflected on the year since the death of his brother, saying in an interview on CNN that he believes “things have changed” and though it’s moving slowly he does see progress.

“I don’t want to see people dying the way my brother passed,” Floyd said. He called for police reform legislation alongside civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.

“When an officer takes someone else’s life, to me, that’s not a mistake because a mistake can be erased,” Floyd said. “You can’t get that person’s life back and that family will have to go through what we went through for an entire year and you have other families who went through the same things before us but they didn’t get any conditions.”

Crump echoed his call, urging legislators in Washington to pass the George Floyd Justice and Police Accountability Act, which would ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and encourage states to do the same.

“America is finally having this conversation about racial recognizing but that’s just talk if we don’t act,” Crump said. “Now’s the time to act. Let’s do it in the name of George Floyd and all the others that have been taken from us unjustly by the very people who are supposed to protect and serve us.”

― Nina Golgowski

Floyd’s family will meet with members of Congress on Tuesday — the anniversary of Floyd’s murder — in order to “keep momentum going” on overhauling the country’s police system, according to NBC News.

Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney for Floyd’s family and countless others affected by police brutality, told the network’s Peter Alexander that they will first meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and then separately with senators from both parties, in addition to meeting with Biden at the White House.

Crump told Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday he’s “still encouraged” that Congress is working to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but is “saddened” that it didn’t happen by the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death, as he had hoped. 

“We don’t want to rush a bill just to say we did it on his anniversary. We want it to have meaning and be meaningful because that has George Floyd’s blood on this legislation and so many others,” Crump told Sharpton. “I believe it’s going to happen. The question is how much give and take is going to happen between the two sides of the aisle, because it’s politics?”

Multiple Lawmakers Issue Bipartisan Statement Marking Floyd’s Death ― 5/24/2021, 4:45 p.m. ET

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), as well as Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), have released a joint bipartisan statement marking the anniversary of Floyd’s death. The lawmakers are all involved in the latest talks about legislation to address police reform.

“One year ago, George Floyd’s murder awakened millions of people around the world who had never before witnessed the deadly consequences of the failures in our policing system. This anniversary serves as a painful reminder of why we must make meaningful change,” the statement said.

“While we are still working through our differences on key issues, we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal.”

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Did Floyd's death bring change? Black leaders share views

Perceptions of George Floyd’s legacy and the April conviction of the Minneapolis police officer who killed him are mixed among Black leaders in Anderson.

Kim Townsend, chair of the Race, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup, and Lindsay Brown, president of the Indiana African American Democratic Caucus, each believe the event that set off a nationwide protest hasn’t really led to improved social justice or police reform.

However, Terrell Brown, who helped found the local group It’s Up There in response to Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death, believes social justice headway has been made in the past 12 months.

Townsend said progress in police policies and actions has been slow to come.

“I can’t say that I am seeing any changes,” she said. “I think the police unions are maybe the reasons we aren’t seeing a lot of change. I think George Floyd has affected race relations among people in general, but I don’t see any difference among police.”

One incident simply isn’t enough to make the kind of systemic change that needs to happen nationwide, according to Townsend.

“I think there needs to be more (officers) brought to justice, and maybe that will send a bigger message,” she said.

What’s particularly telling, Townsend noted, is that the entire incident was captured on video for the world to see, and still, there was argument during the trial of Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, about the “actual” cause of death.

“If I had breast cancer and the doctor says I have three months to live and I get hit by a car, that’s what killed me,” she said. “I can’t believe how twisted we are that when we see someone hold a man down like that, it’s still controversial. I just can’t believe it even took that long to come to the decision.”

What still separates Floyd and other Black men from white men is a trial, according to Townsend.

‘JUDGE AND JURY’

“If George Floyd did what they said he did, he didn’t have a trial. His trial was on the streets,” the mother of two adult sons said. “There’s no trial for a lot of our Black males that are being killed in the streets. The police have decided they are going to be the judge and the jury.”

The lack of police reform is visible in their culture, which was on display during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Townsend said. Police officers from departments scattered across the nation and members of the military participated in that event, she noted.

At least 31 police officers are under investigation for suspected roles in the riot.

“What disturbs me is some of these officers getting out on social media and supporting some of the things that have happened in other cities,” she said. “I think that this supremacy movement is becoming more pronounced because people no longer are fearful to display their feelings and beliefs.”

Real change will come when police departments become more diverse and reflective of the communities they serve, Townsend said.

“You can’t have one voice in leadership positions,” she said. “You need different voices at the table. I think it’s hard to get young men interested in law enforcement because of a lack of trust. But still, we can get some of these men interested in some of these roles.”

According to Lindsay Brown, the death of Floyd is really just the story of one man.

“The only things that happened is George Floyd died, and his family is in mourning. We’re still light years away from positive outcomes,” he said.

Lindsay Brown was instrumental in an effort with the state Democratic Party to create a template document to be used by communities throughout the state, including Anderson, for police reform. That effort started prior to Floyd’s death, which acted as a catalyst to bring it before city leaders, he said.

“I made the changes to fit the community,” he said. “We don’t do their job. We don’t know what the dangers are they are facing. I am not against the police. I just want to make sure they are doing their jobs by the book and by the law.”

Lindsay Brown said he faced resistance from Anderson City Council that eventually derailed the effort.

“Instead of the people’s best interests, some of the council members had the police’s best interests at heart,” he said.

BODY CAMERAS

On the upside, Lindsay Brown said, discussions of reform reopened the possibility of providing Anderson police with body cameras to record their response to incidents. Video can help not only in situations that involve bodily injury or death but even when officers are involved in smaller incidents that lead to charges such as disorderly conduct.

Anderson officials said this month that the city had received the body cameras it purchased and that APD officers were in training to use the cameras.

“We wouldn’t have the body cameras if I didn’t write that legislation,” Lindsay Brown said. “I think if a body camera, if the video is released, it can show a different side.”

Transparency also is key to better policing, he said.

“Until it becomes public knowledge of disciplinary actions for police officers, we’re going to be hit,” Lindsay Brown said.

Terrell Brown said he’s seen indications over the past year that the cause of social justice is advancing.

“With the whole George Floyd situation, it opened up the eyes of everyone,” he said.

Unlike Townsend and Lindsay Brown, Terrell Brown believes Black men are safer because of Floyd’s death. They also are safer because there are more Black judges and the election of the nation’s first Black vice president, he added.

“We came together and started a movement that sparked something across the world,” he said. “They see the peak of our capability when we unite, so I think it’s safer out here.”

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Trump Organization Now Under Criminal Investigation, New York Attorney General Says

“We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity,” the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

he New York attorney general has opened a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, expanding a probe into the business empire of former President Donald Trump.

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the Organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, New York AG Letitia James’s press secretary, said in an email Tuesday night. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA. We have no additional comment.”

James opened an investigation into the Trump Organization in 2019 related to the former president’s business dealings before he entered the White House. At the time, Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney, told Congress that Trump had inflated his assets to secure bank loans while at the same time devaluing them in tax filings to save money.

The New York Times obtained years of Trump’s detailed tax filings last year, which showed the president’s efforts to use the tax code to avoid mountains of federal income tax. James’s office is said to be examining if those efforts were legitimate or if Trump took tens of millions in tax deductions he wasn’t entitled to.

The Trump Organization has filed a bevy of legal challenges in an attempt to shield documents from state investigators, but the company has lost several key battles and been forced to hand over records related to Trump properties.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance Jr., has been conducting his own criminal investigation into Trump and his employees to determine if his company committed any financial crimes, looking into a vast array of business deals centered on Trump properties, including Trump Tower, Trump hotels and his Seven Spring estate north of New York City.

Vance’s office stepped up its criminal investigation in February, hiring a former federal prosecutor experienced in white-collar and organized crime to dig into the Trump Organization’s finances.

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Democrat Val Demings To Run For Senate Against Marco Rubio

PHOTO COURTESY VAL DEMINGS/FACEBOOK

The congresswoman had been weighing whether to run for the Florida governorship or a seat in the Senate.

Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida plans to run for the U.S. Senate in a bid to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is up for reelection in 2022, Politico and NBC News first reported Tuesday morning.

An adviser to Demings confirmed to HuffPost that she is planning a Senate bid and would make a formal announcement shortly.

Later on Tuesday, Demings tweeted that she was “humbled at the encouraging messages” she’s received about her potential run but stopped short of announcing her campaign.

“I know the stakes are too high for Republicans to stand in the way of getting things done for Floridians, which is why I’m seriously considering a run for the Senate,” she continued. “Stay tuned.”

Demings, 64, had been weighing whether to enter the state’s gubernatorial race, but ultimately decided she could be most effective in the Senate, Politico reported, citing Democrats who are familiar with her thinking.

The congresswoman told MSNBC last month that she was “seriously considering” jumping into a race but wouldn’t say whether she was seeking the governorship or a seat in the Senate.

“I have received calls and texts and messages from people all over the sate asking me to run because they feel that they are not represented and their voices are not heard,” Demings said at the time. “And I believe that every Floridian deserves to have representation regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, how much money they have in the bank, their sexual orientation or their religion.”

Democrats have been angling for a way to win over Rubio’s seat, but have struggled to find someone they think could take on the two-term senator.

Demings was first elected to the House in 2016 to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which includes a large portion of Orlando. She was previously the city’s chief of police ― the first Black woman to hold that position. She gained national attention last year for her role in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, in which she served on the House panel that charged him with misconduct.

Earlier this month, Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida, who was once governor of the state, became the first Democrat to announce a bid against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022.

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