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    • Authorities in Alexandria, less than 40 miles southwest of Jena, arrested two people who were driving a red pickup Thursday night with two nooses hanging off the back, repeatedly passing groups of demonstrators who were waiting for buses back to their home states.

      The marchers had taken part in the huge protests in Jena that accused authorities there of injustice in the handling of racially charged cases -- including the hanging of nooses in a tree after a group of black students sat in an area where traditionally only white students sat.

      The driver of the red truck, whom Alexandria police identified as Jeremiah Munsen, 18, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- a reference to the 16-year-old passenger. Munsen also was charged with driving while intoxicated and inciting to riot, according to the police report.

      As officials were questioning the driver, he said he had an unloaded rifle in the back of the truck, which police found. They also found a set of brass knuckles in a cup holder on the dashboard, the police report said.

    • A day after civil rights figures led a massive protest in Jena, La., where racial tensions flared after nooses were hung from a tree outside Jena High School, more nooses were found on a tree outside another southeastern high school.
    • A total of four nooses were found Friday around the campus of Andrews High School in High Point, N.C., police said. 

       Two nooses were hung on a tree in front of the school, one was in a bus loop near the upperclassmen's parking lot and one red noose was tied to the top of the school flagpole, High Point Police Capt. Margaret Erga said, citing a police report. 

       Erga said school administrators discovered the nooses around 8:30 a.m. and immediately notified authorities, who officially filed the report at 10:41 Friday morning. 

    • Police said four teenagers have been charged with a hate crime and one man has been charged with attempted murder after a black college student was beaten and nearly drowned at a beach during the weekend.

      Miguel Aranda, 18, Marino Biondini, Gilberto Maakaroun, both 17, and a 15-year-old whose name is being withheld are charged with a hate crime and battery in connection with the beating of Stephen Barnett, 22. Aranda and Maakaroun are also charged with attempted felony murder.

      Jose Osorio, 21, is charged with aggravated battery and attempted felony murder, but not a hate crime.

      According to the arrest report, police officers responded to reports of a fight at Haulover Marine Center at about 2 a.m. Sunday. When officers arrived, a fisherman who called police said he saw Barnett in the ocean, struggling with one of the accused and having his head held underwater in an apparent attempt to drown him.

      Barnett, a student at Florida International University, told police he was on a boat returning from a party on an island with fellow FIU students Daniel Cabezas, 22, and Christopher Eden, 18, when the teens told him to "get out of the boat, n-----," according to the arrest report.
    • Four teenagers have been charged with a hate crime, accused of the beating and attempted drowning of a black college student at Haulover Beach Park Marina over the weekend. After calling him the N-word, the teens beat Florida International University freshman Stephen Barrett with a baseball bat and tried to drown him in the Intracoastal Waterway, Miami-Dade police said. The suspects in the attack range in age from 15 to 18.
    • ll had attended a keg party at an island in the middle of the Intracoastal. About 1 a.m. Sunday, Barrett and two other FIU dorm mates were on a boat headed back to Haulover Marina when the driver of the boat said it was overloaded.

       

      ”Get off the boat, N—–,” the teens said to Barrett, according to police reports.

       

      Words were exchanged, but the FIU students got off the boat, said Christopher Eden, who had attended the party with Barrett and friend Daniel Cabevas.

       

      The three friends, all 18, decided to wait on the island for the boat’s next trip.

       

      But when they arrived back at the marina, the teens, now armed with baseball bats, were waiting for them.

       

      The three college students were overwhelmed by their attackers.

       

      Barrett was knocked into the Intracoastal, and several teens tried holding his head under water, according to police reports.

       

      A man fishing nearby called police. Another partygoer ran off and flagged down Bal Harbour Officer Steve Goldberg, who was writing a traffic ticket on Collins Avenue.

    • When they were children in Mississippi, Rosa Daniels, now 55, helped her mother make civil rights signs while Steve watched his family dodge Klansmen's firecrackers.

       

      "I'll be taking along all those memories, the pain, the disappointment, all of those dark days," said Steve, 57. "Bringing them along not to be sorrowful, or to still live in the past, but just to see how all of that has birthed this new day for us and for the world."

       

      The Daniels family bought eight airline tickets within minutes of Barack Obama's election. Others will travel to Washington by bus or car. Some will sleep on friends' floors or stay in hotels hours away. Whatever it takes.

    • Doyle was in grade school when she and her older sister, Gaynell Ballard, were visiting cousins in Kansas City. It was their first time in the South, and they stopped by the local Woolworth's as they had done a thousand times before in their native St. Paul.

       

      This time, when they climbed onto the twirling stools to ask for a Coke, the woman behind the counter glared at them. She shook her finger and snapped the N word.

       

      You ... have to go to the back counter, she thundered.

       

      Gaynell and Barbara looked at each other, stunned. They slunk toward the door.

       

    • Hate crimes experts and law enforcement officials are closely watching white supremacists across the country as Barack Obama prepares next week to be sworn in as the first black president of the United States.
    • So far, there is no known organized effort to express opposition to Obama's rise to the presidency other than a call by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for its members to wear black armbands as well as fly the U.S. flag upside down on Inauguration Day and Obama's first full day in office.

      As Tuesday approaches, when Obama stands outside the Capitol to take the oath of office, experts expect anger about the new president to spike. But they don't expect it to go away.

      "The level of vitriol, I expect, will go up a bit more around inauguration time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

      There "is concern" about white supremacist groups during the inauguration, said Joe Persichini, the assistant FBI director who is helping to oversee security during the inauguration.

    • Anger, violence and interest in racist ideology did increase in the hours and days after Obama was elected president in November, hate groups experts said.

      Three New York men were indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with voting rights -- accused of targeting and attacking African-Americans in a brutal crime spree soon after Obama was declared the winner on November 4.

      And interest in racist ideology was so high right after the election that computer servers for two White supremacist Web sites crashed, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

    • Black babies, according to the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have higher death rates than white babies. Black women are more than twice as likely as white women to die of cervical cancer. And in 2000, the death rate from heart disease was 29 percent higher among African Americans than among white adults, and the death rate from stroke was 40 percent higher.
    • that they do not explain why such differences exist among racial groups.
    • A new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions affiliated with Harvard University provides empirical evidence for the first time that when it comes to heart disease, bias is the central problem -- bias so deeply internalized that people are sincerely unaware that they hold it.

      Physicians who were more racially biased were less likely to prescribe aggressive heart-attack treatment for black patients than for whites. The study was recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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    • Fueled by an explosion of jobs attracting immigrants to the nation's suburbs, the percentage of minorities has dramatically increased in six local counties -- including Prince William, where the share of minorities grew from 35 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2006, according to census estimates to be released today.
    • In addition, Manassas Park was one of eight jurisdictions nationwide that shifted to majority-minority status in 2006, bringing the total number of counties in which minorities outnumber whites to 303 -- nearly one in 10 of the nation's 3,141 counties.
    • The Hispanic population continued to grow fastest in large metropolitan counties in the South from 2000 to 2006. But it also increased by 22 percent in small towns and rural areas in which the overall population growth was 3 percent.

      "A lot of these rural places would have lost population if it weren't for their Hispanic population gains," said Mark Mather of the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau. He produced a report on the data with colleague Kelvin Pollard.

      Mather and Pollard speculated that such areas are losing non-minority populations because of fewer jobs in family farming, manufacturing, mining and other longtime core industries. In their place, positions are being created in less-well-paying industries such as commercial agriculture, meatpacking and textiles. Those jobs attract foreign-born workers willing to labor for less money. By contrast, minority growth in suburban and exurban areas appears to be driven by the overall population increase of those areas, according to William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

      Large numbers of blacks are following the pattern of suburbanization that was more common among whites during earlier decades, Frey noted.

    • Whites are now in the minority in nearly one in 10 U.S. counties. And that increased diversity, fueled by immigration and higher birth rates among blacks and Hispanics, is straining race relations and sparking a backlash against immigrants in many communities.
       

      "There's some culture shock," said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based research agency. "But I think there is a momentum building, and it is going to continue."

      • Terrance Heath
        Terrance Heath on 2009-01-20

        That's got to be a source of anxiety, especially in places where the population is dropping and jobs are disappearing. People feel their towns, their communties changing around them, and the encroachment touches on their identity.

    • "It's the folks who come in and try to maintain the culture of the country they came from," Letiecq said. "They don't seem to embrace the American culture, the English language, the social norms of American culture."

       

      Nationally, the number of minorities topped 100 million for the first time in 2006 — about a third of the population. By 2050, minorities will account for half of U.S. residents, according to Census Bureau projections.

       

      "I don't think Latinos or any other so-called minority group are seeking to make white people a minority," Jacinto said. "It's just a reality."

      • Terrance Heath
        Terrance Heath on 2009-01-20

        The notion of "American" culture simply serves to removes whiteness from the "ethnic" category -- white, western culture isn't enthnic; it's just culture.

    • The courtroom was packed with supporters and cameras Friday as Georgia's top justices heard arguments over whether a young man serving a 10-year prison term for consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager should be freed.

      The long punishment spurred angry protests and led the state to change the sentencing law. A state judge in June ordered the young man freed, but because of an appeal by the state attorney general, Genarlow Wilson remains behind bars.

      The Supreme Court justices will decide whether the state judge's order freeing Wilson should stand.

    • The 1995 law Wilson violated was changed in 2006 to make oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor, similar to the law regarding teen sexual intercourse. But the Supreme Court later ruled the 2006 law could not be applied retroactively.

      Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation following a 2003 New Year's Eve Party at a Douglas County hotel room where he was shown on videotape having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Wilson was 17 at the time.

      The state Supreme Court had declined Wilson's appeal of his conviction and sentence, but the justices agreed to hear the state's appeal of a Monroe County judge's decision to reduce Wilson's sentence to 12 months and free him. The Monroe County judge had called the 10-year sentence a "grave miscarriage of justice."

    • Something about the case of the "Jena 6" has sparked a rumbling within the black community. It's ironic, sadly, because there is an everyday sameness to what has happened. Consider: A racially provoked incident and a lackluster community response -- same as ever. Extreme charges brought for less-than-spectacular alleged crimes -- same as ever. An overzealous prosecutor, an inept defense attorney, an all-white jury, witnesses not called, a quick guilty verdict -- same, same, same. Unfortunately, any of these elements is less than extraordinary in black American life.
    • The story of the Jena 6 is long and filled with stunning details. The basic points are these: In the predominantly white town of Jena, La., white students hung three nooses last September after black students sat under a schoolyard tree where white students normally congregated. The white students were suspended for three days. After black students protested peacefully, the La Salle Parish district attorney threatened them, saying: "I can make your life go away with a stroke of a pen." Eventually there was a schoolyard fight in which a white student was beaten; he was treated for a concussion and multiple bruises. Although the student was well enough to attend a school function the same evening, six black boys between the ages of 15 and 17 were arrested, five of whom were charged as adults with attempted murder and conspiracy. The sixth student was charged as a juvenile.
    • On the contrary, for black Americans to hear of the Jena 6 is to feel as though the color has been washed out of our lives, that we are suddenly watching ourselves in grainy black-and-white footage of the Jim Crow South. Our vulnerabilities are laid bare before all the world; a school fight can cost our children their lives, and it can happen without America giving so much as a second look.

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    • In some ways, this town is still the same rural community it was a half-century ago, before integration pushed blacks and whites together in schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.

      African-Americans, who are a little more than a tenth of the town's nearly 3,000 people, still live mostly in the two areas that have always been the black sections of town. They worship separately from white churchgoers. When they die, they are buried in the black cemetery.

      Jena's residents, black and white, say such separation is typical of small towns — and some big cities — in the South. They say it doesn't justify a portrait of a town awash in racial hate, the portrait they think black activists and the news media have sent worldwide after a tense year that ended with six black teens charged with attempted murder for beating a white classmate in December.

    • Jena at one time was known as the home of some of Louisiana's largest sawmills. It has been struggling since the mills began to close in the 1950s.

      Now Jena is known for the Jena Six. The charges followed a series of incidents that began at the start of school in 2006, when nooses were found hung from a tree that was a traditional gathering site for white students after a black student asked to sit under it.

      Last week, an appeals court overturned the first conviction. Mychal Bell, 17, had been scheduled for sentencing on Thursday. The prosecutor, Reed Walters, will appeal. Charges for three others have been reduced to aggravated battery.

      Now, on the eve of a rally that organizers say may bring 40,000 people from across the country, Jena is mired in misunderstanding and distrust.

    • Did you hear the good news on "The  Jena 6"? The adult conviction and potential 22 year sentence  of Mychal Bell has been overturned. This comes less than one  week before widespread protests scheduled for this Thursday in  Jena, Louisiana. Since this case and the fate of the other five  boys are a looooong way from being resolved mass protests will  continue as planned.
    • Jena Six in Context: No actual  lynchings occurred, but just about everything else ­ rope  included. Discussing the Jena Six is an exercise in determining  just where to start: subjects like "the white tree";  tree permission slips; hanging nooses; school boards wrist-slaps;  DA threats; "deadly" tennis shoes; and outrageous sentences  are all worthy of outrage in their isolation. Taken together,  they form a coordinated web of systemic Jim Crow terrorism that  even the likes of Rush Limbaugh can understand.
    • nd, of course, Jena is located  in Louisiana: the state whose majority white population voted  for David Duke for Governor back in 1991; the state where a town's  very first African-American mayor was executed (immediately ruled  a "suicide" of course) just two days before he was  set to take office way back in 1957 2007; and a state that is  essentially the prison-building capital of a country that is  the incarceration capital of the world.

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    • Only a few observers usually show up for arguments before the Georgia Supreme Court. But the gallery was packed on Friday as the seven justices heard two expedited appeals on behalf of a young man serving a mandatory 10-year sentence for having had consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party in 2003.
    • The man, Genarlow Wilson, now 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation, which was a felony in Georgia in 2003. The state legislature has since made the crime a misdemeanor.

      Mr. Wilson, who was 17 at the time of the party, has served two years of the mandatory minimum sentence, which was so harsh it shocked even the jury members who convicted him. State law also requires that Mr. Wilson be listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The two appeals the court heard Friday dealt with whether Mr. Wilson’s sentence was constitutional and whether he is eligible for bond as his appeal moves through the legal system.

      In June, a county judge ordered Mr. Wilson’s release after changing his sentence from a felony one to a misdemeanor and resentencing him in ruling on a habeas corpus petition.

    • The case of Mr. Wilson, a star athlete and an A-student, has made headlines around the world and drawn the attention of celebrities, lawmakers and business executives who raised a million-dollar cash bond to help free him from prison. In June, a Monroe County judge ordered Mr. Wilson released from a Douglas County prison on the ground that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

    • This story begins in the small central Louisiana town of Jena. Last September, a black high school student requested the school's permission to sit beneath a broad, leafy tree in the hot schoolyard. Until then, only white students sat there.

      The next morning, three nooses were hanging from the tree. The black students responded en masse. Justin Purvis, the kid who first sat under the tree, told filmmaker Jacquie Soohen: "They [other black students] said, 'Y'all want to go stand under the tree?' We said, 'Yeah.' They said, 'If you go, I'll go. If you go, I'll go.' One person went, the next person went, everybody else just went."

    • Jena, a community of 4,000, is about 85 percent white. While the black community gathered at a church to respond, others didn't see the significance. Soohen interviewed Jena town librarian Barbara Murphy, who reflected: "The nooses? I don't even know why they were there, what they were supposed to mean. There's pranks all the time, of one type or another, going on. And it just didn't seem to be racist to me." Tensions rose.
    • The next day, Dec. 4, 2006, a fight broke out at the school. A white student was injured, taken to the hospital and released. Robert Bailey and five other black students were charged ... with second-degree attempted murder. They each faced 100 years in prison. The black community was reeling.

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    • FOUR YEARS AGO, researchers identified a surprising price for being a black woman in America. The study of 334 midlife women, published in the journal Health Psychology, examined links between different kinds of stress and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Black women who pointed to racism as a source of stress in their lives, the researchers found, developed more plaque in their carotid arteries -- an early sign of heart disease -- than black women who didn't. The difference was small but important -- making the report the first to link hardening of the arteries to racial discrimination.
    • More than 100 studies -- most published since 2000 -- now document the effects of racial discrimination on physical health. Some link blood pressure to recollected encounters with bigotry. Others record the cardiovascular reactions of volunteers subjected to racist imagery in a lab. Forthcoming research will even peek into the workings of the brain during exposure to racist provocations.
    • But the new work draws on a different vein of research. In the early 1980s, Duke University social psychologist Sherman James, introduced his now-classic "John Henryism" hypothesis. The name comes from the legendary 19th-century "steel-driving" railroad worker who competed against a mechanical steam drill and won -- only to drop dead from what today would probably be diagnosed as a massive stroke or heart attack. In James's work, people who churn out prodigious physical and mental effort to cope with chronic life stresses are said to score high on John Henryism. James showed that blacks with high John Henryism but low socioeconomic position pay a physical price, with higher rates of blood pressure and hypertension.

      Racism, other research suggests, acts as a classic chronic stressor, setting off the same physiological train wreck as job strain or marital conflict: higher blood pressure, elevated heart rate, increases in the stress hormone cortisol, suppressed immunity. Chronic stress is also known to encourage unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and eating too much, that themselves raise the risk of disease.

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    • The researchers found that whites more accurately assessed the burden of discrimination borne by a hypothetical minority group in a fictional country than they did in the specific case of black people's experience in the contemporary United States. In the hypothetical, whites estimated that the minority group members (described in the same terms as black Americans) deserved $1 million in compensation, but when presented with the question in the context of black Americans, the median estimate was $10,000.
    • "Our data suggest that such resistance is not because White Americans are mean and uncaring, morally bankrupt or ethically flawed. White Americans suffer from a glaring ignorance about what it means to live as a Black American."

      I think the data -- along with all my experience both as a white person and someone who writes about white supremacy -- suggests exactly the opposite:

      White Americans are mean and uncaring, morally bankrupt and ethically flawed, because white supremacy has taken a huge toll on white people's capacity to be fully human.

    • My reasoning is simple: Given all the data and stories available to us about the reality of racism in the United States, if at this point white people (myself included) underestimate the costs of being black it's either because (1) we have made a choice not to know, or (2) we know but can't face the consequences of that knowledge.

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    • Imagine that you could line white people up in front of a door and get them to really believe that if they walked into a "race-changing room" they would emerge on the other side with black skin and an accent associated with blacks from the South. Then ask whites to set their price -- the amount of money it would take them to agree to enter that room. Imagine there was an attendant there with stacks of cash, ready to hand money to the white folks. Just for fun, let's say the cash award would be tax free. In that setting, when white people really had to face the possibility of being black -- knowing all they know about the reality of life in white-supremacist America -- what would the price be?
    • My guess is that a significant percentage of whites would not become black for any amount of money. I also am fairly confident that the median price set by the whites who might be willing to go into the room would be considerably more than $1 million.
    • On a warm weekend in April, their lives collided.

      The night began with a party and ended with one teenager laying beaten, bleeding and close to death, the other splattered with blood and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

      One would emerge battered but resolved to retrieve his dreams for the future; the other would face a lifetime behind bars.

      "I've handled many, many bad cases, many, many important cases, but I don't think I've dealt with one where they tortured anyone quite as badly as this one," said Harris County prosecutor Mike Trent. "They violated him in the most brutal way possible."

    • Harris County sheriff's investigators arrived at a two-story house in Spring to find a barely conscious 17-year-old boy slumped at the kitchen table. His face and body were so swollen from repeated blows that he was unrecognizable.

      They also found Tuck, loitering at the scene, his clothes and boots stained with fresh blood.

      Gus Sons, the homeowner's son, told police that he and the victim met Tuck and another teenager, Keith Turner, at the town's annual Texas Crawfish and Music Festival the night before. Sons knew Turner and Tuck, but the other teenager did not.

      The four went to Sons's house to drink vodka, snort cocaine, smoke marijuana and take Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety drug. Then, Sons's 12-year-old sister, Danielle, told the boys that the Hispanic teenager had tried to kiss her.

      Her statement ignited Tuck. His first punch was so powerful, it broke the 17-year-old's cheekbone and knocked him unconscious, said James H. "Red" Duke Jr., the emergency physician who treated him.

      Tuck and Turner dragged the victim outside.

      For the next five hours, they tortured him: They stripped him naked, kicked him with steel-toed boots, burned him with cigarettes and choked him with a garden hose. Tuck shouted racial epithets and carved a swastika in the boy's chest with a knife.

      Turner grabbed a plastic patio umbrella pole and placed it near the victim's rectum. Tuck kicked the pole several inches in.

    • Shaquanda Cotton, the black teenager in the small east Texas town of Paris whose prison sentence of up to 7 years for shoving a teacher's aide sparked nationwide controversy, was released Saturday.
       
       Her release, ordered by a special conservator appointed to overhaul the state's scandal-ridden juvenile prison system, was the first of what could be hundreds as a panel of civil rights leaders begins reviewing the sentences of every youth incarcerated by the Texas Youth Commission to weed out those being held arbitrarily.
       
       "We have no confidence in the system that was in place," said Jim Hurley, spokesman for the conservator, Jay Kimbrough. "And this case is an example of what we expect to happen if something wrong has been done to youths being held inside that system."
       
       Cotton, who is 15, had no prior criminal record when she was incarcerated a year ago under an indeterminate sentence that could have lasted until her 21st birthday. Her case rose to national prominence and became the focus of ongoing civil rights protests after a March 12 Tribune story detailed how a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson was sentenced to probation by the same judge.
    • Cotton's case occurred against a backdrop of persistent allegations of racial discrimination inside the Paris public schools -- allegations that are the subject of a continuing probe by the U.S. Department of Education to determine whether black students in the district are disciplined more harshly than whites.
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