Police Brutality

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    Korryn Gaines was a 23-year-old young woman who was shot by the police on August 1, 2016, during an hours-long stand-off in Baltimore County, Maryland. This incident happened after a traffic violation where Gaines allegedly didn't appear in court because, when she went into the station to get clarity about her court date, the police told her that the supervisor with the documents was unavailable. Her failure to appear in court led to an arrest warrant and officers showed up to her apartment to serve that warrant.

    When the officers showed up, Gaines grabbed a legally-owned firearm, saying she was doing it in order to protect her 5-year-old son, Kodi, and that they had no right to break into her home. Gaines filmed the incident on Facebook Live. Facebook shut her page down per the request of police. During the hours-long stand-off, a police officer fired a shot; Gaines was then shot three times by an officer. Her 5-year-old son was also shot by police in the crossfire and suffered a lifelong elbow injury and bullet fractures to his face. 

    Ever since her killing, her family has been fighting for justice through legal action. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that the officer who shot Gaines did so out of a loss of patience over the stand-off rather than an immediate threat.

    While the officer who shot Gaines was not charged, in 2018, the family was awarded $38 million by an all-female jury. The jury stated that since the first shot was fired by the officer and not Gaines that his actions were not reasonable and thus violated their civil rights. However, there was an appeal filed which led to a February 2019 verdict by Judge Mickey J. Norman, who ruled that the officer’s actions were reasonable and reversed the prior decision.

    On July 1 this year, the Gaines family got a victory when they appealed again and ruled to reinstate the $38 million settlement. The ruling essentially says that the judge’s prior decision to reverse the settlement was wrong. According to WJZ, the family’s attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, said that Gaines’ mother was emotional about the news and that “she knew that justice was on the wings for us and that we would win this case.”

    Kimberle Crenshaw's podcast Intersectionality Matters! had Gaines' mother, Rhanda Dormeus, on to discuss Gaines' story. Dormeus has been active in the #SayHerName campaign. Dormeus said that the officers wouldn't allow her to talk to her daughter during the incident, and she told Crenshaw that they "had a good relationship and I know her hearing from me, things could've been different."

    Dormeus said that she wasn't aware of Gaines' murder until ten to fifteen minutes after and an officer simply told her, "She's gone." Dormeus stated that the officer who killed Gaines "saw her as a problem because during the trial all of the other officers said that she posed no threat to them...He even admitted he couldn't see her. He shot through a wall. [...] He said that he thought she was going fire on them because he couldn't see it. Then he said he thought that she was going to hurt Kodi. When they got in there she was making him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

    When talking about the grief of losing her daughter, she said, "I had things that I enjoyed before my daughter died. I no longer find joy in them. I'm trying to figure out how to get back to me. We lose ourselves. Our families lose parts of themselves."

    The recent ruling is a step in the right direction. The family attorney told WNZ the next step is to return to court where they will make adjustments to the verdict and figure out what the award will be. However, while the ruling is certainly a victory for Korryn Gaines' family, especially her mother, there's no amount of money that can make up for lost life. When talking to The RootDormeus said, "They couldn’t pay enough money to make me happy. You already took the great love of my life, my baby, away." 

    Korryn Gaines was killed on August 1, making her four-year death anniversary last Saturday. Committing a traffic violation should never lead to death, and we must do better and say her name. We cannot forget her or her story.

    Header image via Flickr Creative Commons / 4WardEver UK

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    On Tuesday, San Francisco voted in favor of the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, otherwise known as the CAREN Act. This legislation will give targets of racially biased 911 calls the right to sue the caller and is one of a few pioneering laws that have been passed in efforts to regulate the reporting of Black individuals for non-crimes including but not limited to barbequingbirdwatchingselling water, and more. 

    The CAREN Act is an obvious nod to the meme-ified “Karen,” a term popularized on Twitter to describe “a specific type of middle-aged white woman who exhibits behavior that stems from privilege, such as using the police to target people of color.” In recent months, we’ve seen many Karens: Amy Cooper“McMuffin Cop,” “Permit Patty,” and Lisa Alexander, among others.

    In an interview with the New York Times, Shamann Walton, the Democratic supervisor who proposed the CAREN Act, said, “We wanted to put something in place that’s going to stop these racist, prejudiced calls that weaponize police against Black people and people of color.”

    The legislation was drafted by Brittni Chicuata, the chief of staff at the city’s Human Rights Commission, after the Viktor Stevenson case came out, in which Stevenson was accused of breaking into a business while checking the security system of his own high-end lemonade stand. “When white people threaten to call the police on people of color, that is, to me, a very violent act,” said Chicuata to the New York Times.

    Under the CAREN Act, individuals who are subject to unwarranted 911 calls, and as a result, are harmed by the police, can sue the caller for at least $1,000. Hopefully, this will set a precedent for white people who continue to make racially charged reports to the police at the expense of Black lives.

    Top image courtesy of The Library of Congress via Flickr Commons

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  • Terry Ellis of En Vogue Sitting Cross-Legged In Black And White

    As a founding member of the chart-topping ‘90s R&B girl group En Vogue, Terry Ellis and her three bandmates are recognized as being among the highest grossing American girl groups in history, selling over 20 million albums and racking up over 30 million streams. Their hits, “Hold On,” “Free Your Mind,” “Never Gonna Get It,” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “Whatta Man featuring Salt-N-Pepa” are instant portals to whatever lives we were living in the 1990s and have all become karaoke classics. More recently, Ellis made headlines this past Juneteenth when she released a solo single, “Angry Black Woman,” a powerful protest anthem that articulates the pain and rage Americans feel after decades of seeing Black citizens being victimized by racist police officers. In this episode of BUST’s Poptarts podcast, Ellis talks about being an “Angry Black Woman,” reveals why Luther Vandross spent months torturing En Vogue in 1993, shares her passion for paper crafts, and more!

    Terry Ellis Showing Off Her Handmade Journal

    Listen to the Terry Ellis episode of BUST's Poptarts Podcast Here:
     

    More About BUST's Poptarts Podcast:

    BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Logan del Fuego.

    Photo by Troy Jensen

    Hey! Did you know that the Poptarts podcast has a swell new Patreon program with fab thank-you gifts for members? Well it does! Give it a look-see at patreon.com/poptartspodcast !

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    On September 13th tens of thousands marched in Minsk on the eve of Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin. This protest is one of many that has occurred in the last month where the women-lead Belarusian protest group called The Women in Whitetakes a leadership role. 

    These women-led protests continue to flood the streets of Minsk and other Belarusian cities in opposition to the unfair election of Lukashenko and continued police brutality. The United Nations has reported that an estimated 6,000 people have been subjected to detention because of these protests, and in some cases, torture by Belarusian security agents.

     According to rferl.org, an independent European news source, heavily armored vehicles accompanied by troops were seen parked along some central streets in Minsk; The Interior Ministry claimed they were a violence prevention measure. However, riot police were seen in Minsk knocking peaceful demonstrators to the ground and dragging them away into police vans. The Interior Ministry reported that more than 400 people had been detained by nightfall.

     To further push the clear and uncensored sexism of the Belarusian government, the Interior Ministry commented, “It’s a shame to watch: screams, screeching… Such behavior is unfeminine.”

    Despite these laughable and unfortunate comments, the most prominent oppositional figures to this government continue to be women, including exiled Presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kolesnikova, and Veronika Tsepkalo.

    There is still hope among the protestors that are often echoed in international media. The Atlantic reported on the protests, affirming, “The moment demonstrates a trend in global mass movements: Protests that feature women are typically larger, less violent, and more versatile than those that do not. Most important, they are also more likely to succeed.”

     

    Header image by Artem Podrez via pexels

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