Black Men Awarded for Wrongful Conviction
Three men from Cleveland, Ohio — 63-year old Rickey Jackson, 65-year old Wiley Bridgeman, and 62-year old Kwame Ajamu — have been awarded a settlement for $18 million nearly 45 years after their wrongful conviction and imprisonment in connection to a robbery and murder case in 1975.
Jackson, Bridgeman, and his brother Ajamu, formerly known as Ronnie Bridgeman, were then aged 18, 20, 17 when they were accused and convicted for the deadly robbery of Harold Franks.
They were convicted based solely on a testimony of a 12-year old boy, which eventually turned out to be false testimony. The boy admitted that he was coerced by Cleveland police to provide wrongful testimony during the trial.
The three men were all exonerated and freed in 2014.
“For 45 years, our clients never gave up hope that someday their nightmare would be over,” said their attorney, Terry Gilbert. “That time has come with this final resolution providing some measure of justice and closure. But the physical and emotional trauma our clients were forced to endure is an example of the deep flaws of a racist criminal legal system focused on results rather than truth and justice.”
The three have reached an $18 million settlement following a lawsuit against the city of Cleveland for police misconduct, falsifying evidence, and coercing a witness. It is reportedly the largest settlement ever made in the history of the state of Ohio.
Black Life Texas
The Truth about Jordan Neely
By Caleb Alexander
America killed Jordan Neely. There, I said the quiet part out loud. And not only is America responsible for Jordan Neely’s death, but so is Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rand Paul, Ron Desantis, Gregg Abbott, and everyone else who has led the assault on Critical Race Theory or tried to suppress the truth about America’s ugly past. America has never dealt with its ugly racist history; it has instead chosen to go the way of the ostrich and stick its head in the sand. History tells us how American plantation owners would take the drums away from their slaves and bury them to keep the slaves from communicating from plantation to plantation. The drums were a means of communication, a way to keep traditions and cultural connections alive. America has chosen to bury its own drums. It wants to bury its connection to its historical and cultural ties to the abhorrently brutal practice of race-based chattel slavery.
Jordan Neely died because of the color of his skin. After Emancipation, to be clothed in Black skin not only had no value to the white power structure, it became a symbol of sin. Sin for losing a war they based their entire being on, a war about whiteness, what it was, what it meant, and what losing meant for their place in the world and society. Black skin served as a reminder of the inhumane of their humanness. The idea was that they were no better and that they would have to live in a world where they would have to survive and compete on merit and not some fallacy of a God-ordained race-based hierarchy.
Jordan Neely died because a mediocre white power structure can’t let go. The subjugation and policing of Blackness is embedded in their genetic code. Social media tells them who they are, what they should have, and where they should be in life, yet they are not there. They want to return to a bygone era where whiteness gave them access to women, to status, to privilege not earned. Whiteness made them supervisors; they were the unskilled and unqualified brutes overseeing the labor of the skilled. And now Jordan is dead. And so is Ahmaud Arbery.
We live in a country where the criminalization of Black skin means to simply exist in a public space is a death sentence. Black skin means that you cannot be a 12-year-old child playing with a water gun in a public park, you cannot wear a jogging hoody and go the local store and buy a pack of Skittles, you cannot bird watch in Central Park, you can’t be a child doing a scientific study on trees, or go jogging in Georgia, play your music at a gas station in Florida. You just can’t. We are born with a death sentence covering us, a birth cloth that white folks see as a hunting license.
Jordan Neely was the perfect example of intersectionality at its worst. He lived in a space where he didn’t exist in society because of his mental illness, but due to his Black skin, he loomed larger than life. In the words of Hillary Clinton, he was a super-predator. To exist alternately at the nexus of the forgotten and the dangerous would cause any human being to cry out, “I’m hungry, and I’m tired of living!” To be Black in America is to be perpetually exhausted. To have your mother murdered, hacked to pieces, stuffed in a suitcase, and then discarded on the side of the highway would traumatize anyone. New York failed Jordan. The people around him failed him. Our mental health system failed him. And America’s legacy finished him off.
The truth about Jordan Neely is that he should be alive today. He should be alive and in a hospital receiving treatment. The truth is that Jordan Neely’s mother should be alive today because society also failed her. America’s trauma on the Black family, how we’re viewed and treated should all be on trial today. The reality is the tragedy of Jordan Neely happened in 1619. Until America reconciles with its racial past, the tragedy of Jordan Neely will continue to be perpetuated for generations.
Black Life Texas
Missing: Lost and Not Found
Say their names: Marshae Ivey, Selah Davis, Ethel Atwell, Tamika Huston, and Relisha Rudd. Who are they? The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person and Unidentified Person database indicates that since 2022, there have been 89,020 Black women and girls of all ages recorded as missing.
While more than 1.5 million people were recorded missing in 2021, there were 93,718 active cases entered into NCIC. At the end of 2021, there were 14,323 active missing cases involving Black females out of the 93,718 open files. And at least 119,519 of the missing were “juvenile” Black girls and boys. So, why are these cases not getting the attention of authorities and media coverage compared to white victims such as Gabby Petito in 2021?
, , , they believed they would receive less jail time for trafficking Black women as opposed to their white counterparts.
To put this into context, Dr. Treva Lindsey, an associate professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University, noted that Black females represent 15% of the U.S. female population; however, they are 30% of the women and girls reported missing in the United States. In 2023, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) said that “40% of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are Black, despite Black people making up only 13.6% of the U.S. population. This significant statistic indicates a disturbing trend of disproportionate racial discrimination in sex trafficking.”
In a study by the Urban Institute, traffickers reported that they believed they would receive less jail time for trafficking Black women as opposed to their white counterparts.” The traffickers’ ideology mimics society’s view of Black women and historical slavery.
If the Black community and the rest of the population are unaware of these missing persons, the resources needed in these cases become limited. In today’s social media world, action does not appear to occur until a story goes viral, which in turn puts pressure on mainstream media and law enforcement to do something. It’s also said there’s a waiting period to report someone as missing, ranging from 24-72 hours. However, the lives of these individuals are at-risk each day they are not found. Many families galvanize their resources, move into action during this “waiting period,” and create grassroots search missions looking for missing loved ones by placing flyers around the community.
Too often, we hear Black girls and boys being described as Black men and women, thereby reducing the narrative on the urgency to address a concern, and their cases go ignored while not being viewed as victims. Often, when a child or young woman goes missing, they are considered to be runaways, thereby receiving no Amber Alert. Bias can also be a factor.
Natalie Wilson, the co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, reported on a case in Fort Worth, Texas, where a mother reported her daughter as missing; however, law enforcement asked: How do you know that your daughter is not laid up with some man?
There are organizations bringing awareness and resources to address this issue. The NAACP created a resolution encouraging “federal funding be allocated to agencies, groups, and organizations to research and locate missing women and children of color.”
The Black and Missing Foundation provides resources, tools, and advice to families with a missing loved one; and offers preventative measures for parents to keep their children safe. Our Black Girls is a website developed to tell the stories of the missing and murdered. HBO has a series called “Black and Missing.” This four-part series was developed to bring awareness to the cases of Black missing persons that have been marginalized by law enforcement and national media.
It is time for us to mobilize and stay alert. It is time to embrace the notion we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers.
The Impact of Drunk Driving
On Dec 9, Mothers Against Drunk Driving held its National Day of Remembrance, a day for victims and survivors to take a moment to acknowledge the impact drunk and drugged driving crimes have on hundreds of thousands of people every single year.
While people will be celebrating with friends and family this month, December also is the month to recognize National Impaired Driving Prevention. Over 10,000 American lives are lost to drunk and drug-impaired driving each year, accounting for nearly a third of all traffic deaths. In 2019, some 11 percent of Americans drove under the influence, including a staggering 19.6 percent of people aged 21-25 — and that number has only grown since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a recent proclamation from the Biden Administration.
The family of Tito Bradshaw will be remembered this month. Last year, the drunk driver who killed Tito Bradshaw in the spring of 2019 was sentenced to 20 days in jail and 10 years probation. Bradshaw left behind a young son and a cycling community shocked by his untimely death at age 35. He was well known in the cycling community because he led rides of up to 400 people throughout downtown to raise awareness about bike safety.
Harry Bradshaw, Tito’s father, said his “heart is forever broken,” and the punishment the driver received doesn’t fit the crime. He said while they both may have been at fault, a car does much more damage than a bike, and people need to be extra careful before getting in a car drunk.
“His punishment is life! Her punishment is to live,” said Harry Bradshaw, adding that the family is still healing from Tito’s death.
In the 1900 block of E. Houston, where Bradshaw was hit, a white bike hangs from a pole in a vacant lot. The ghost bike tribute honors the memory of fallen cyclists.
Bradshaw previously owned the Bottom Bracket Social Club, which closed in 2018 and was a hotspot for cyclists. Though he was pronounced brain dead soon after the accident, Bradshaw, a registered organ donor, helped to save a life since his heart was donated. The driver’s sentence was likely reduced because she had no criminal record and is the primary caregiver for two of her grandchildren, one of whom has special needs. News reports said both Bradshaw and the driver had blood alcohol concentration limits above the legal limit.
Tito Bradshaw’s bike safety message is still being felt in the community.
“As a friend of Tito, I can say there isn’t a day that goes by that I see his impact on our community from the bike lanes that have speed bumps to warn a driver they are in the bike lane, the bike trails like Salado Creek, and seeing all the cyclists meet on Tuesdays,” said Kasilo Choka. “I feel blessed to have crossed paths with Tito because now I ride the trails and spread the vision he shared with us.”
Just recently, a MADD-sponsored poll by Ipsos shows that 9 out of 10 Americans support technology integrated into a car’s electronics to prevent drunk driving. The new poll results come one year after the bipartisan HALT Act was signed into law as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) three years to establish an auto safety standard for all new cars that detects and prevents impaired driving.
Cost is the most common factor influencing support for impaired driving prevention technology in all new cars. 78% of respondents said they are much more or more likely to support the technology if it comes at no extra cost to consumers.
This technology could have saved Bradshaw’s life and the thousands of people killed by drunk drivers yearly. According to statistics from the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, there was a slight drop in DWI cases filed between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, there were 5,856 DWI cases filed. In 2020 there were 4,405 cases, and there was one less intoxication manslaughter case.
As people hit the streets after parties and gatherings, they should remember that just being slightly “buzzed” can take a life and ruin theirs forever.
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