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Woman Who Could Have Been Released for $30 Dies After Spending 150 Days in Custody

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Janice Dotson-Stephens, a 61-year old Black woman, died while in custody five months after being arrested for misdemeanor charges, in which she could have been released on bond for only $30. Her family, who didn’t know that she had been in jail until she died, is suing the authorities involved, claiming that Dotson-Stephens could not have been jailed in the first place because she is mentally ill.

Dotson-Stephens was arrested on a criminal trespass charge after consistently telling the police that she wouldn’t leave the Mt. Zion elder community at San Antonio on July 17. According to a police report, she told the officers that the only place she would go is the jail. The officers did so and booked her into the Bexar County Jail.

Her bail was set to $300, and because most bail bond companies would only require at least 10 percent payment to be bailed out, she could have been released for just $30. But she died five months after her arrest. The medical examiner’s office stated that she died of natural causes.

“The question is, ‘What did you do to treat her?” said Les Sachanowicz, the attorney representing the family. “Did you give her the standard of health care that the community would have?”

Dotson-Stephens’ family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bexar County, Bexar County Pre-trial Services, and the University Health System.

“We’re convinced that their mom was ignored to death, and what I mean by that is there is a culture of deliberate indifference for her and other inmates in the pre-trial system and at the Bexar County Jail,” Sachanowicz said.

Brigette Lott, Dotson-Stephens daughter, said her mother suffered from a long history of mental illness including severe mood disorder and schizophrenia. She argued that her mother could have been brought to a mental health institution rather than the jail after the arrest.

“It was absolutely normal that my mom would just leave and we might not hear from her for a long time,” Lott told San Antonio Express-News. “That was normal for us. We were under the assumption that it was a regular cycle. She’ll get in trouble, then she’ll get better, then we’ll start the cycle all over again.”

Meanwhile, Bexar County officials claim that they weren’t informed of the mental health issues of Dotson-Stephens and said she was given proper care during her imprisonment.

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Black Teen Banned From Graduation Because of His Hair

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Mont Belvieu, TX — Deandre Arnold, a high school student from Texas, is reportedly being discriminated against because of his hair style of choice. His school, Barbers Hill High School in the city of Mont Belvieu, has suspended him and banned him from participating in his own graduation unless he cuts his locks to a shorter length.

School officials claim their decision is based on their long-standing policy wherein “no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair, our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” Superintendent Greg Poole told KHOU 11.

However, activists believe that it is yet again another case of racial discrimination.

“The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to Black bodies,” Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods said.

“This is a Black and white issue, Deandre (and) his family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity,” stated Gary Monroe, with the United Urban Alumni Association.

A number of activists supported Deandre and his family in their discussion with the Barbers Hill school board, hoping to come to a favorable resolution. They thought that the issue was an insignificant obstruction to the teen’s education that might also be experienced by others.

“We’re here for Deandre, but it’s about more than that, this is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill,” Sandy Arnold, Deandre’s mother said.

Moreover, Deandre’s family, together with their supporters, are planning to take the case to federal court if the school wouldn’t come up with a resolution 48 hours after their meeting.

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Continuing The Legacy

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CONTINUING KING’S LEGACY OF JUSTICE, PEACE AND EQUALITY!

The City of San Antonio’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission will continue its commemoration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1st March for Justice organized by the late Rev. Dr. Raymond “R.A.” Callies, Sr., a San Antonio teacher and pastor. Rev. Callies began the March in 1968 to call attention to the need for basic infrastructure on the east side. His efforts have resulted in what has become one of the largest commemorative marches for Dr. King in the United States and possibly the world. After the death of Dr. King, he worked tirelessly to have a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. erected in what is now MLK Plaza located at the heart of the eastside on New Braunfels Street. Since then, community members along with thousands of others who travel across the country to participate, have gathered each year in increasing numbers to reflect on their own Dream of Justice, Peace and Equality to all in America.

Improving the quality of life for all people was the dream of Dr. King and Rev. Callies. The MLK Commission seeks to continue their work and legacy by offering educational and empowering events throughout the month of January each year. If you would like to support the mission of the City of San Antonio, MLK Commission, please participate by attending the various events provided by the Commission. Your financial support is also needed to help in presenting Scholarships to deserving area students. Please contact the City of San Antonio’s MLK, Jr. Commission for more informtation.

The signature event, the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. March, is scheduled for Monday, January 20, 2020. The march will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the MLK Academy located at 3501 MLK Drive and end at Pittman-Sullivan Park, 1101 Iowa. 

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Black Worship IX – Clergy Hall of Fame Dinner & Presentation 2020

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Every year clergy members from San Antonio, TX are honored for their good deeds and shown appreciation for their service in the ministry.  This year’s event will be held on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 7PM at the Antioch Community Sports Complex, located at 314 Eross St., San Antonio, TX 78202. The 2020 honorees are Rev. Dr. Claudette A. Copeland of New Creation Christian Fellowship and the Very Rev., Father Kevin Fausz of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

Its been a tradition that the Black Worship Clergy Hall of Fame allows for fellow clergy to come together with no other agenda other than to fellowship and celebrate another year of service and commitment.

“The Academy” which consists of past Clergy Hall of Fame Honorees include the following: Rev. Thurman Walker, Antioch Missionary B.C.; Rev. Claude Black, Mount Zion First Baptist Church; Rev. Carlton Allen, New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church; Bishop Samuel Iglehart, Childress Memorial COGIC; Pastor Jerry Dailey, Macedonia Baptist Church; Rev. Kenneth R. Kemp, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church; Rev. Dr. L.A. Williams; O. Trevor Alexander, True Vine Church; Rev. Kevin Nelson, Calvary Baptist Church; Bishop David Copeland, New Creation Christian Fellowship; Rev. Ruben Archield, Friendship Baptist Church; Rev. Rander Draper, Maranatha Bible Church; Rev. Ray Brown, Resurrection Baptist Church; and Rev. Robert Forte, Mt. Gilead Baptist Church.

Black Worship IX is open to the public.  Event tickets and advertisements for the souvenir journal may be purchased by visiting www.blackworshipsa.com or calling (210) 226-1939.

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