March , 2019

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Letters to Editors U.S. Senator Al Franken Minnesota I know our warnings about right-wing attacks on ...

Archive for March 18th, 2016

BYP100 Chicago Holds People’s Assembly for Police Accountability: Demands Justice for Rekia Boyd

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on BYP100 Chicago Holds People’s Assembly for Police Accountability: Demands Justice for Rekia Boyd




The Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) Chicago Chapter disrupted the Chicago Police Board’s meeting in order to call a People’s Assembly. BYP100 members and allies, Assata’s Daughters and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), made it clear that they will continue to fight for police accountability in Chicago.

BYP100 is hosting a people’s assembly inside of the Chicago Police Department Headquarters in order to allow family members of people lost to police terrorism and community members to speak without interruption. “Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Board have been pretending to listen to the people. We have been coming here since May of last year and have constantly been shut up with the phrase: Your time is up”, says BYP100 Organizer Megan Graves.

The Chicago Police Board’s job is to decide disciplinary cases involving police misconduct, but they have procrastinated on making a decision on the firing of officer Dante Servin, the off-duty police officer who murdered 22 year-old Rekia Boyd. In April 2015, a judge acquitted Servin of involuntary manslaughter and indicated that he should have been charged with murder; however, Servin could not be recharged due to double jeopardy protections.

Although the Chicago Police Board is not a publicity stunt like the new police accountability task force formed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the murder of Laquan McDonald, it is, in fact, a bureaucratic nightmare of inefficiencies that leave grieving families in limbo about whether or not they will receive justice for the death of their loved one.

BYP100 believes that Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Board understand the problems within the Chicago Police department, but they have decided to ignore them. They assert that they are tired of being told that their two minutes are up and will hold a people’s assembly for the community to speak without interruption, and welcome victims of police violence and their families to speak.

Ashley Boyd of BYP100 said, “The Chicago Police Board now has a history of ignoring the community they are supposed to help protect. This time we are saying that we are done with Lori Lightfoot and the sham they call a Chicago Police Board. Your time is up Lori.” BYP100 announced that if the Chicago Police Board will not give the community a safe space to share their concern, they will provide a space for them.

The Chicago Police Board knows that they have the power to improve police accountability, but they have refused to put the recommendations by the community into action. BYP100 is also calling attention to the problem that 40% of the city’s budget goes to the Chicago Police Department even though an investment into social services have been shown to reduce gun violence and keep Black communities safe, such as: 311 rapid response social workers, gun violence interrupters, mental health care facilities, trauma centers, expanded park district programing, and democratically controlled and funded quality public schools. These services are denied critical funding in poor Black communities throughout the City while Chicago Police Department continues to see an ever increase in funding despite its continued failures.

BYP100 Chicago is committed to holding public officials accountable and continuing the fight for economic, racial, and political justice through demanding divestment from oppressive systems and investment in the lives of Black people.

In The News


Protesters shut down meeting of Chicago police task force


Protesters Call CPD Task Force a Sham, Meeting Erupts in Chaos & Ends Early

Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. We do this through building a network focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy and education using a Black queer feminist lens. We are an organization affiliated with the Black Youth Project.

www.byp100.org – @BYP_100 –  facebook.com/BYP100

Image Credit: Sarah-Ji Rhee (Facebook)

Justice Department and City of Ferguson, Missouri, Resolve Lawsuit with Agreement to Reform Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court to Ensure Constitutional Policing

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Justice Department and City of Ferguson, Missouri, Resolve Lawsuit with Agreement to Reform Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court to Ensure Constitutional Policing

The Justice Department and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, today jointly filed an agreement resolving the United States’ pending lawsuit against Ferguson.  The court-enforceable decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, aims to remedy the unconstitutional law enforcement conduct that the Justice Department found during its civil pattern-or-practice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and the Ferguson Municipal Court.  The department’s findings were released in a public report issued March 4, 2015.

“The American people must be able to trust that their courts and law enforcement will uphold, protect, and defend their constitutional rights,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “The filing of this agreement marks the beginning of a process that the citizens of Ferguson have long awaited – the process of ensuring that they receive the rights and protections guaranteed to every American under the law.”

Under the agreement, Ferguson will implement reforms to bring about constitutional and effective policing, promote officer and public safety, ensure fundamental fairness and equal treatment regardless of race in the municipal court and foster greater trust between police officers and the communities they serve.  The areas covered by the agreement include:

  • Community policing and engagement: creating a community engagement strategy that requires meaningful engagement between FPD officers and all segments of the Ferguson community.
  • Bias-free police and court practices: requiring implicit bias-awareness training of all court staff and FPD personnel and ensuring that Ferguson does not discriminate on the basis of race and other characteristics.
  • Stops, searches and arrests: ensuring that FPD’s stop, search, citation and arrest practices adhere to the Fourth Amendment and do not discriminate on the basis of race or any other protected characteristic; and prohibiting Ferguson from developing or implementing any law enforcement action in order to generate revenue.
  • First Amendment: protecting all individuals’ First Amendment rights, including their right to record public police activity, lawfully complain about police activity free from retaliation and engage in lawful protest.
  • Use of force: reorienting FPD’s use-of-force policies toward de-escalation and avoiding force except where necessary; re-training all officers; and thoroughly, objectively and timely investigating all uses of force.
  • Officer supervision: requiring close and effective supervision of officers; requiring FPD officers and other personnel to wear and use body-worn and in-car cameras; and requiring supervisors to review camera footage as part of misconduct and force investigations.
  • Accountability: requiring Ferguson and FPD to fully and fairly investigate all allegations of officer misconduct and take corrective and disciplinary action.
  • Civilian oversight: establishing a Civilian Review Board to review, make findings and recommend disciplinary action for investigations of complaints involving excessive force, abuse of authority, the use of discriminatory slurs and other misconduct; review FPD policies and training plans; serve on officer hiring and promotion panels; and review crime, racial profiling and complaint data.
  • Officer assistance and support: ensuring that officers are provided ready access to support services, including physical and mental health services, and requiring Ferguson to develop protocols to ensure that officers are provided relief support during public demonstrations and periods of civil unrest.
  • Recruitment: requiring Ferguson to develop a recruitment plan that will assist FPD in attracting and retaining a highly-qualified officer workforce.
  • Mental health crisis intervention: requiring that Ferguson and FPD implement and train officers in specialized responses to incidents involving individuals in mental health crisis.
  • Data collection, reporting and transparency: requiring FPD to collect the data on its operations needed for it to continue to learn and improve upon its police and court practices;
  • School Resource Officers (SROs): ensuring that Ferguson SROs have the skills to work lawfully, productively and fairly with youth; requiring SROs to divert students toward alternatives; and minimizing the use of force in schools.
  • Municipal court reform: enacting reforms to ensure that municipal code enforcement is driven by public safety, not a desire to raise revenue; implementing an amnesty program for all open cases and associated warrants initiated prior to Jan. 1, 2014; eliminating unnecessary fees and altering the court’s fine and warrant practices to ensure due process; increasing transparency of court operations; eliminating the use of secured money bond; ensuring that no person will jailed for being poor; and ensuring the independence of the court from the city prosecutor and the impartiality of the municipal judge.

An independent monitor to be selected by the Justice Department and Ferguson will assess implementation of the consent decree, provide technical assistance to Ferguson and report on Ferguson’s implementation of reforms through periodic public reports.  The consent decree requires two consecutive years of compliance by Ferguson before the agreement can be terminated.

“Ferguson residents and police officers deserve a law enforcement system that serves their entire community fairly, safely and effectively,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice looks forward to working closely with the city as we implement this landmark agreement to ensure that real reform becomes a reality for all people in Ferguson.”

The Justice Department’s investigation uncovered a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct by the FPD and the Ferguson Municipal Court, including: violating the Fourth Amendment by conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause, as well as using excessive force; violating the First Amendment by interfering with the right to free expression and the right to record public police activity; and violating the 14th Amendment by engaging in racial discrimination, in both police and related court activity, as well as violating individuals’ due process and equal protection rights in court.  The civil investigation was conducted by attorneys and staff from the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section.

Ferguson Consent Decree

Ferguson Joint Motion for Entry

Source: U.S. Justice Department

Deutsche Bank Must Stand Trial in Case Accused of African American Homeowner Beating and Home Invasion

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Deutsche Bank Must Stand Trial in Case Accused of African American Homeowner Beating and Home Invasion

Bank’s Lawyers at San Francisco Severson & Werson LLP Embrace Felon Convicted for Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions to Try to Win Case Against Entrenched Homeowner


Public Foreclosure Home


Oakland, CA (BlackNews.com) — After a six-year legal battle that has yet to be resolved, an African American homeowner in Oakland, California, finally homes in on his quest for a jury trial slated to start March 21, 2016, in the Alameda County Superior Court on claims of invasion of privacy and trespassing. He is seeking punitive damages and injunctive relief against the defendants, OneWest Bank, FSB (One West) and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee of a Securitized Trust (Deutsche Bank Trustee). Following a complete defeat of the defendants efforts to get the case dismissed in summary judgment proceedings, San Francisco/Oakland attorney Raye Mitchell represents plaintiff going to trial.


The case is convoluted and complex and exposes the underbelly of the battle homeowners face in fighting these illegal non-judicial foreclosures that stole away the dream of homeownership for over 9.5 million Americans. Put simply, the case stems from some form of botched securitization attempt by IndyMac FSB in 2007 to transfer a void loan to the Trustee of the Asset Securitization Trust 2007-A8 Mortgage Pass through Certification Series 2007-11 Under Pooling and Servicing Agreement Dated June 1, 2007. The plaintiff says that the defendants, who are complete strangers to him and his family, stole his home via forged and void loan documents, including two different copies of the so-called original note, they used to grant themselves the right to foreclosure. Yet, action on those claims is reserved for the California Court of Appeals, based on the recent California Supreme Court unanimous decision in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corp.


The dispute that erupted in 2010 came after the plaintiff initiated a loan transaction with the now defunct bank, IndyMac FSB, in May 2007 to refinance his family home in San Leandro, CA, owned since 2001. The loan did not go through and was not funded because he rescinded it under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which provides for a three-day right to rescind. The plaintiff never received any billing statements for the cancelled loan. Later, IndyMac FSB funded a new and different loan under a new loan number, but the plaintiff never received nor executed any loan documents with the new loan number. IndyMac failed in 2008 and was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, (FDIC).


In the summer of 2009, the defendants simply appeared and alleged that the plaintiff owned them money for the old, cancelled loan. They then claimed that they were entitled to foreclose on his family home utilizing the forged and rescinded loan documents from the failed loan. The plaintiff denies he was in default and also denies he executed the documents that were utilized to foreclose upon his home.
Despite this dispute, in August 2010, the defendants alleged they conducted a non-judicial foreclosure on the plaintiffs family home. The plaintiff alleges that the whole foreclosure was rigged and was a fraud by the defendants. On the date of the alleged foreclosure, the plaintiff claims that the defendants sent person(s) to his house who entered upon his property without his consent, invaded his privacy, and threatened him and his family with bodily harm. In response to a 9-1-1 call, police eventually contacted a Michael Renquist about the events of the home invasion. As it turns out, Michael Renquist is a real estate investor who later pleads guilty in 2013 for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California. According to the initial reports about Mr. Renquists guilty plea, the conspirators suppressed competition and lined their pockets through fraudulent and collusive conduct at the expense of lenders and distressed homeowners, said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justices Antitrust Division in a March 2013 press release on the matter. As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Renquist was supposed to make restitution to the person(s) harmed.


Three days later back in August 2010, the plaintiff claims that the defendants sent other agents to his house for a type of self-help eviction who blocked access to his home, disrupted utilities, and entered his property without his consent. Attorney Raye Mitchell intercepted the agent, and during this encounter, the defendants agent(s) were accused of hitting Ms. Mitchell in the face and head, causing the plaintiff physical harm that drew blood from his face, and cuts near his eye, and on his head, along with causing significant property damage.


Lastly, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants invaded his privacy by accessing and sharing confidential information in his mortgage loan files with third parties without his consent and wrongly utilized the private information in litigation by its lawyers against the plaintiff in an effort to shame him and even body-shame and body-slam Attorney Raye Mitchell. He also claims that the defendants engaged in an improper investigation of his private affairs and an improper investigation into the affairs of his lawyer, Ms. Mitchell, in retaliation for fighting the illegal foreclosure, for refusing to surrender his home in an illegal self-help eviction effort and refusing a meager $ 6300 cash for keys offer to release all of his claims against the defendants for the illegal foreclosure.


The defendants seek to suppress some of the evidence in this case, including an audio of a death threat upon Ms. Mitchell from one of the accused agents of the defendants. Further details of the case and preview of case documents and the death threat audio can be found at www.HelpRestoretheAmericanDream.org.
The defendants, represented by the law firm of Severson & Werson, LLP, deny these claims and in preparation for the trial, the defendants lawyers identified Michael Renquist as one of their lead witnesses. It seems strange that the lawyers at Severson & Werson LLP would embrace an admitted felon whose scheme was to cheat banks like OneWest and cheat homeowners like the Plaintiff. Clearly there was fraud in the whole alleged foreclosure, but rather than seek restitution from a convicted felon, the defendants and their lawyers at Severson & Werson LLP would rather embrace the felon to deny this African American homeowner his home, added Attorney Raye Mitchell. Even as she prepares for jury trial, the defendants are still changing the rules of engagement by seeking to suppress an audio of the death threat plaintiff claims was left by one of the defendants agent toward Ms. Mitchell for fighting the defendants efforts at an illegal self-help eviction. The public can access certain key trial documents and a copy of the death threat at the website for www.DrRayeMitchell.com. Ultimately plaintiff looks forward to exercising his constitutional right to have a jury of his peers carefully consider all the evidence.





About Raye Mitchell
Raye Mitchell is the founder of www.HelpRestoretheAmericanDream.org, a website-based movement to assist homeowners protect and fight for the American dream of home ownership. As an author, public speaker, and retired attorney with expertise in entertainment law, privacy, and consumer rights, Ms. Mitchell has practiced consumer law in California for 25+ years. She currently provides affordable legal consulting for homeowners before and after foreclosure distress.



She also offers training for the financial services industry and the legal profession in homeowner cultural competency and how to work with homeowners to resolve disputes and avoid litigation. She is currently writing a new non-fiction book entitled Litigation Lynching: The Homeowners Un-pretty Battle for Dignity to Protect the American Dream of Homeownership. The book is about civil judicial reform, restoring homeowner dignity, protecting homeowner rights, rebuilding communities, the elimination of racial, gender, and economic status bias, and restoring the American dream of homeownership stolen from millions during the foreclosure crisis of the Great Recession. She earned an undergraduate degree in Public Policy from the University of Southern California (USC), an MBA from USC Marshall School of Business, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Raye Mitchell is also looking forward to supporting the efforts of The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School that is preparing to launch a new project – the Houston / Marshall Plan for Community Justice to reinvest in communities of color. #BlackLivesMatter.


Disclaimer: The opinions and statements expressed in this article are not those of CopyLine Magazine, but of the author.

CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield to Senate Republicans: The American People Deserve Better

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield to Senate Republicans: The American People Deserve Better

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman G. K. Butterfield released a statement in response to Senator Mitch McConnell asserting the Senate Republicans plan to move on with other legislative business, continuing the obstructionist rhetoric that has characterized the Supreme Court nomination dialogue:

“Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell restated his shortsighted and reckless plan to not hold hearings or even so much as meet with the U.S. Supreme Court candidate.  President Obama has fulfilled his duty by nominating Chief Judge Garland who is a highly qualified candidate.  We call on Senate Republicans to do their job and give Judge Garland full and fair consideration.  For the sake of our nation, the Republican obstructionist agenda must stop.  The American people deserve better.”

Madigan Issues 2015 Public Access Report During Sunshine Week

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Madigan Issues 2015 Public Access Report During Sunshine Week

Public Access Bureau Received Over 4,700 New Matters in 2015

CHICAGO, IL — In recognition of Sunshine Week, Attorney General Lisa Madigan released the Public Access Bureau’s annual report detailing more than 4,700 new matters received in 2015. The Bureau works to foster transparency and openness in Illinois government by resolving disputes regarding compliance with the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA).

“My Public Access Bureau continues to receive an increasing number of requests for assistance to obtain public records,” Madigan said. “We have made progress in fostering greater transparency in Illinois, but it is clear we still have work to do to ensure access to government at all levels.”

The Public Access Bureau received 4,770 formal requests for assistance pursuant to FOIA and OMA in 2015. The vast majority of the requests came from members of the public. Requests came from every area of the state and involved all types of public bodies – from small villages to large cities and state agencies.

In response to the requests for assistance, the Bureau resolved 3,385 of the new matters that were received in 2015. Since 2010, the Public Access Bureau has closed over 85 percent of the matters received. The Bureau also conducted 36 training sessions in 2015 for members of the public, government officials, members of the media and students.

The Bureau issued 15 binding opinions to enforce the state’s open records and open meetings laws. Among the notable matters that resulted in binding opinions were the following:

  • Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 15-002, issued Jan. 23, 2015 – In response to a FOIA request for financial records related to Garth Brooks’ appearance at the Allstate Arena, the village of Rosemont denied records and adopted a home rule ordinance attempting to shield financial information from public disclosure. The Attorney General concluded that the ordinance did not supersede FOIA and that financial terms of contracts with public bodies must be disclosed.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 15-004, issued June 17, 2015 – In response to a FOIA request seeking a copy of a settlement agreement resolving a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Markham, the city denied access to the settlement agreement. The city’s arguments included reliance on the terms of a confidentiality provision contained in the agreement. The Attorney General concluded that the city of Markham must disclose a copy of a settlement agreement. As part of the analysis, the Attorney General concluded that the confidentiality provisions could not be enforceable because FOIA specifically mandates that settlement agreements entered into by or on behalf of public bodies are public records subject to disclosure.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 15-006, issued Aug. 31, 2015 – In this matter, a local resident submitted a FOIA request to the Franklin Hospital District, a unit of local government, seeking the employment contracts for a number of physicians. The Hospital District disclosed the contracts but redacted the physicians’ compensation information, arguing, among other things, that it is highly personal and confidential. The Attorney General concluded that FOIA requires the disclosure of the physicians’ compensation information because that information reflects the Hospital District’s use of public funds.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 15-007, issued Sept. 16, 2015 – The Attorney General concluded that a committee of the Knox County Board violated OMA by improperly citing “personnel,” which is not a valid closed session exception, and by improperly discussing a hiring freeze in closed session.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 15-008, issued Sept. 22, 2015 – The Attorney General concluded that the Governor’s calendar is a public record for the purposes of FOIA, and that the Governor’s Office improperly redacted information from the calendar, including the names of meeting attendees.



2015 Public Access Bureau Activities

The Public Access Bureau received 4,770 new matters in 2015, the majority of which were submitted by members of the public rather than media representatives. The role of the Public Access Bureau is to analyze and work to resolve disputes regarding the release of public records and the public’s access to government meetings. Members of the public and media submit “requests for review” to the Bureau when they believe records have been denied improperly or a public meeting was not held in accordance to OMA.

Of the 4,770 total new matters received by the Public Access Bureau:

  • 4,381 requests for review came from those who were denied records under FOIA:
    • 3,686 from members of the public,
    • 648 from the media or other organizations, and
    • 47 from public bodies.
  • 389 requests for review raised issues under OMA:
    • 326 from members of the public,
    • 46 from the media or other organizations, and
    • 17 from public bodies.
Success Stories of Illinois’ Sunshine Laws
In 2015, the Public Access Bureau received several requests to review FOIA denials for police records and police dashboard camera videos. In the following instances, the Bureau found that records and videos were improperly withheld and must be released:
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr. 34055, issued March 31, 2015 – A reporter for the Rockford Register-Star submitted a request for review alleging the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office improperly withheld police reports and a dashboard camera video of a police pursuit that resulted in a fatal car crash. The PAC determined the sheriff’s office had failed to meet the standard necessary to withhold the records under a FOIA exemption for a pending court proceeding, and the sheriff’s office disclosed the records.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr. 33967, issued July 21, 2015 – A reporter for the Chicago Tribune alleged that the Wheeling Police Department improperly denied a FOIA request for a dashboard video of an accident in which a police car struck and killed a 20-year-old pedestrian. The department denied the request, asserting its disclosure would cause an unwarranted invasion of privacy of the victim’s family. The PAC determined there was a strong public interest in disclosing information that shed light on the police officer’s actions, and the department disclosed the recording.
  • Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr. 35850, issued Nov. 6, 2015 – A reporter for The Wall Street Journal alleged that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) improperly denied a request for the dashboard camera video of a police officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. CPD asserted that disclosure of the video would interfere with active administrative enforcement proceedings, create a substantial likelihood that a person would be deprived of a fair trial, and unavoidably disclose the identities of complainants or witnesses who provided information to law enforcement. The PAC determined that CPD did not provide any evidence to support those claims and determined the video should be released. CPD disclosed the video following a Cook County Circuit judge’s order in a separate FOIA lawsuit filed by an independent journalist.



More information about Illinois’ sunshine laws can be found at Madigan’s website. For assistance from the Public Access Bureau, contact the hotline at 1-877-299-FOIA (3642) or send an email to publicaccess@atg.state.il.us.


Among Delinquent Teens, Whites More Likely Than Blacks to Abuse Hard Drugs

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Among Delinquent Teens, Whites More Likely Than Blacks to Abuse Hard Drugs

Findings call for reform addressing disproportionate incarceration of African Americans

• First comprehensive study of substance abuse and dependence in delinquent youth after detention through young adulthood

• More than 90 percent of males, nearly 80 percent of females diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence by late 20s

• Non-Hispanic whites 30 times more likely to abuse cocaine than African Americans

• Contradicts stereotype that African Americans abuse “hard drugs” more than non-Hispanic whites

CHICAGO, IL –  Abuse and dependence on “hard drugs” (cocaine, hallucinogen or PCP, opiate, amphetamine and sedatives) are less common among delinquent African American youth than those who are non-Hispanic white, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The study offers the first comprehensive picture of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence in delinquent youth after detention. The investigators followed youth up to their late 20s.

During the 12 years after detention, non-Hispanic white youths had 30 times the odds of cocaine use disorder compared with African Americans. Hispanic youths had more than 20 times the odds compared with African Americans.

“Those findings are striking, considering the widely accepted stereotype of African Americans as the most prevalent abusers of ‘hard drugs,’” said Linda A. Teplin, senior author of the study and Owen L. Coon Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Researchers found that substance use disorders were common and there were substantial sex and racial/ethnic differences. The study, part of the Northwestern Juvenile Project, was published March 17 in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Our findings add to the growing debate on how the war on drugs has affected African Americans,” Teplin said. “We found that African Americans are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to abuse hard drugs. Yet, African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug crimes.”

The 12-year longitudinal study examined 1,829 youth (1,172 males and 657 females, ages 10 to 18 years at baseline) who were detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago between 1995 and 1998. Researchers conducted up to nine follow-up interviews with participants through their 20s.

Among males born in 2001, one in three African Americans and one in six Hispanics will be incarcerated at some point during their lifetimes — compared with one in 17 Caucasians — according to a U.S. Department of Justice estimate. “We must address — as a health disparity — the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans,” Teplin said.

The study also found that 91.3 percent of males and 78.5 percent of females had had a substance use disorder by their late 20s. Males were more likely to have a marijuana and alcohol use disorder than females. Females were more likely to have cocaine, opiate, amphetamine and sedative use disorders than males.

“Unfortunately, substance use disorders were the rule, not the exception,” said lead author Leah Welty, associate professor in preventive medicine and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg.  “These young adults already face substantial challenges in completing education, establishing careers and building families. Substance abuse further compromises their futures.”

Marijuana was the most common substance use disorder during most of young adulthood, the study found. When youth were in their late 20s, however, alcohol abuse and dependence surpassed marijuana.

“Substance abuse is among the most serious health problems in the United States,” Welty said. “Rehabilitation and treatment services during incarceration and after would reach a sizeable proportion of people in need and would address health disparities in this highly vulnerable population.”

The study received funding support from the following National Institutes of Health sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse grants R01DA019380, R01DA022953 and R01DA028763, National Institute of Mental Health grants R01MH54197 and R01MH59463 (division of services and intervention research and Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS) and grants 1999-JE-FX-1001, 2005-JL-FX-0288, and 2008-JF-FX-0068 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Major funding was also provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Center for Mental Health Services, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment), the NIH Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention), the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, the NIH Office of Rare Diseases.

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/


Kirk: Force Backpage to Stop Denying Role in Sex-Trafficking

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Kirk: Force Backpage to Stop Denying Role in Sex-Trafficking

Nation’s Top Sex Trafficking Site Refuses to Comply with Senate Subpoena

Backpage Recently Sued Justice Department to Block Kirk-Authored SAVE Act

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the following statement after voting to force Backpage.com, the nation’s biggest sex-trafficking website, to provide documents related to their online sale of children for sex:

“Backpage is the nation’s number one sex-trafficking website, so it’s no surprise they are hiding their role in selling children online for sex. I have repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate Backpage and enforce my SAVE Act, and while the Justice Department has yet to act, today’s vote is one more step towards stopping Backpage from facilitating modern-day slavery across the U.S.”


S.Res. 377 directs the Senate Legal Counsel to file suit to enforce a Senate subcommittee’s subpoena for information about how Backpage reviews, edits, blocks or approves advertisements, whether it cooperates with law enforcement investigations of sex-trafficking, and how much it profits from adult advertisements.

Backpage has refused to comply with the subpoena, which the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued on October 1, 2015.


In May 2015, Senator Kirk’s bipartisan legislation to combat the sale of children for sex online, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act, was signed into law as part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA). The SAVE Act also had the support of 53 state and territorial attorneys general.

The SAVE Act aggressively combats Internet sex-trafficking and the selling of children under the age of 18 for sex by making it a crime for a person, such as the owner of a website, to knowingly advertise a commercial sex act with a minor. Websites like Backpage provide a platform for this type of sex-trafficking advertising, earning more than $30 million a year from their illicit ads, and ultimately contribute to the selling and exploitation of minors.

In December 2015, Backpage sued Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an attempt to prevent the enforcement of provisions in Senator Kirk’s SAVE Act. While Senator Kirk is not a defendant, he was among Members of Congress referenced in the suit.

Kirk Calls on Lynch to Investigate Backpage

In August 2015, Senator Kirk sent a letter to Attorney General Lynch requesting a Department of Justice investigation into Backpage. In January 2015, Senator Kirk led a similar letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

In October 2015, Senator Kirk sent a follow up letter to the Attorney General, again calling for an investigation into Backpage and its owners.

In February 2016, 36 law enforcement officials across Illinois sent a letter to Attorney General Lynch in support of Senator Kirk’s request for an investigation into Backpage. 

In 2012, Senator Kirk co-signed letters to 40 companies and organizations urging them to stop placing advertisements in publications owned by Village Voice Media, then the parent company of Backpage.

Black Women’s Expo Debuts 22nd Season of Uplifting Black Women

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Black Women’s Expo Debuts 22nd Season of Uplifting Black Women

Popular experiential expo slated for three city tour in 2016 

CHICAGO, IL – The Black Women’s Expo (BWE), one of Chicago’s most anticipated annual experiential events, celebrates its 22nd anniversary in Chicago April 8 – 10 at McCormick Place, marking the first stop of a three city tour that will take the BWE to Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Under the theme “She Matters, the Black Women’s Expo offers African American women an opportunity to get informed, empowered and enlightened, while discovering the latest trends and amazing new products and services specifically created for them.

For 22 years, the Black Women’s Expo has continued to grow in Chicago, and is now the longest running exposition of its kind. Over 30,000 people, from 14 surrounding states, are expected to attend the expo during its three-day run at the McCormick Place Convention Center. This year that experience will extend to the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. September 16 – 18 and Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center October 7 – 9th. The rich cultural experience, while targeted to women, has elements for men, families and children.

“At the Black Women’s Expo we’ve always championed the fact that Black women matter and we’ve sought to celebrate all the roles they fill in their family, career and community, said Merry Green, founder of the Expo. This year’s theme of “She Matters” is a recognition of the times in which we find ourselves, and we plan to carry that message of support for Black women across the country in 2016.”

The BWE offers informative seminars and panel discussions presented by notable local and national speakers and lecturers, educational exhibits and corporate displays, and rousing entertainment. Historically, the standing-room only seminars have addressed such issues as health & wellness, racial equality, hair & beauty, travel, career advancement, business/entrepreneurship, the welfare of our children and much more.

BWE’s seminars and workshops will be far-ranging and engaging, featuring topics that impact women’s daily lives. Additionally, there will be a Town Hall Meeting examining the issues around police involved shootings and protecting our civil rights and a Teen Summit addressing issues pertinent to African American youth.

BWE also offers African American consumers themed pavilions including the Literary Café, which showcases African American authors and booksellers; the Natural Hair Pavilion, featuring products specifically for natural hair; the Health & Wellness pavilion, where local medical institutions provide much-needed health information and screenings; B-Groomed Men’s Den, a space where male guests can experience pampering and grooming, as well as see the best in men’s fashion; the Kidz Korner, sponsored by Mariano’s is an exciting space for young people with interactive games, exercise and fun activities. New this year is an Art Pavilion curated by artist Jonathon Romain featuring 10 outstanding artist.

The BWE official opening night event will be the BWE’s Phenomenal Woman Awards Reception, paying tribute to seven outstanding Chicago area women whose excellence in a variety of fields commands recognition. The 2016 honorees are Corporate – Corliss Garner, BMO Harris; Community Service – Torrey Richardson, Dear Father Letter Writing Movement; Education – Carol “Safisha” Lee, PhDThe Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools; Health- JoAnne Glenn, W.O.T. Foundation, Inc.; Faith-Based – Rev. Janette Wilson, Rainbow Push; Entrepreneur – Fallon Johnson, Annie Bell Fragrances; Political – Kim Foxx, Cook County Government; Philanthropy- Nicole Robinson, Mondelez; Launa T. Thompson Spirit Award – Angela Ingram, iHeart Media Markets Group, Chicago Region; Inaugural She Matters Award – Sandra Bland (Posthumous). The Gala will be presented on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan Avenue, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Continental Ballroom.

The Black Women’s Expo is brought to you by Walgreen’s, State Farm, United Airlines, ABC 7 Chicago, Luster’s You Be-Natural and Pink, Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA), Mariano’s, the Illinois Lottery, University of Chicago Medicine, BET Centric, PNC Bank, T-Mobil, ComEd, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Inspiration 1390, V-103 and WGCI. Media sponsors include The Chicago Defender and the Chicago Crusader. Expo hours are Friday, April 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, April 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, April 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $6 for children; weekend passes are available for $45. Tickets for The Black Women’s Expo can be purchased online at www.theblackwomensexpo.com . Half-priced, advanced adult tickets are currently on sale at participating Walgreens stores.

For information or tickets for the Phenomenal Woman Awards Reception, call 312-454-6100. Follow The Black Women’s Expo on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and use the hashtag #SheMatters.

Food Stamp Fraud: Supermarket Owner Imprisoned for Multi-Million-Dollar Scam

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Food Stamp Fraud: Supermarket Owner Imprisoned for Multi-Million-Dollar Scam

Tessema Lulseged owned a supermarket in Decatur, Georgia, but he was selling much more than groceries. He was trafficking in food stamps, and, for a time, it made him a wealthy man.

Lulseged owned the Big T Supermarket, a convenience store just outside Atlanta. He routinely and illegally allowed his customers to exchange food stamp benefits for cash—taking a substantial cut for himself. From 2009 until 2014, Lulseged’s crimes netted him approximately $6.5 million.

“He didn’t even have to know you to trade food stamps for cash,” said Special Agent Will Filson, who investigated the case out of the FBI’s Atlanta Division along with agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General.

The federal food stamp program, administered by the Department of Agriculture and supported by taxpayer dollars, is intended to offer low-income citizens nutritional assistance. Recipients are issued debit cards pre-loaded with monthly benefits that range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the number of dependents in a household. Stores that participate in the program are prohibited from exchanging cash for food stamp benefits or accepting benefits for alcohol, tobacco, or other non-food items.

Lulseged allowed customers to exchange benefits for cash if they purchased groceries valued at 10 percent of the amount of cash they wanted. For example, if a customer wanted $200 in cash, he or she was required to buy $20 worth of groceries. The person would then get their money, and Lulseged would pocket $150 for himself. A total of $350 would be deducted from the food stamp debit card.

“If you were shopping at a big-box grocery store and spent $800,” Filson said, “you would be pushing five big carts out to the parking lot. At the Big T Supermarket, people allegedly spent that amount and were walking out with their items in a single plastic bag.”

The investigation began in 2013. Sources and undercover operatives were used to make controlled exchanges, and investigators also compared the amounts of products Lulseged bought from vendors with the amounts redeemed using food stamp benefits.

“When we compared actual vendor purchases against submitted food stamp redemption amounts, it was outrageous,” Filson said. “It was something like $500,000 worth of products purchased and $8 million reported in food stamp redemptions. The figures were completely skewed.”

Search and seizure warrants were executed against Lulseged in 2014, and more than $700,000 was recovered from his various bank accounts. The government also seized Lulseged’s supermarket building and his personal residence. In 2015, Lulseged pled guilty to trafficking in food stamps. Last month, a federal judge sentenced the 49-year-old to four years and three months in prison.

Filson praised the partnership between the FBI and the Department of Agriculture investigators. “This case was a big success not only because of the prison term but also because of the nearly $1.5 million in cash and property forfeited to the government,” he said.

As for the food stamp recipients who illegally received cash back, Filson said the individual amounts were not substantial enough for state or federal charges to be filed. But the food stamp program has an administrative process, and those who abuse the system are subject to having their benefits suspended.

“Food stamp fraud can be a significant drain on the federal budget,” Filson said. “This $6.5 million case was just one store. If you add up all the fraud across the country, it would likely run into the hundreds of millions.”

Case in point: Earlier this month, another Atlanta convenience store owner pled guilty to eight counts of wire fraud for illegally exchanging food stamp benefits for cash over a nearly five-year period. The scheme allegedly netted the man nearly $2 million.

Lulseged press release
Additional Atlanta case

Source: FBI

Beverly “Squatter” Pleads Guilty

Posted by Admin On March - 18 - 2016 Comments Off on Beverly “Squatter” Pleads Guilty

One of four men charged last year with illegally occupying and renting out foreclosed properties, several of which were located in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, pled guilty today and was sentenced to 45 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Arshad Thomas, 27, pled guilty to one count of burglary in connection with a property located in the 1600 block of West 106th Street.

According to prosecutors, Thomas was one of four men charged last July with illegally occupying and renting out numerous foreclosed properties located in communities in Chicago. Capitalizing on mortgage foreclosures in local Chicago neighborhoods, the four men are alleged to have engaged in a pattern of illegal activity in which they unlawfully claimed foreclosed or vacant properties as their own and either moved into the property themselves, or rented the home to a third party and acted as a landlord. Thomas was alleged to have unlawfully entered three different properties, changed the locks, and resided in the properties without the authority of the lawful owners.

Thomas entered his plea at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago before Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan who handed down the 45 month prison sentence.
The other defendants, whose cases are pending, are Raymond Trimble (Thomas’ father), David Farr and Torrez Moore.

The investigation was conducted by the Chicago Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Inspector General’s Office, the Chicago Office of the FBI, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Financial Crimes Unit.

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