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.
Black Soldiers’ Convictions Overturned – A Century Later!
More than 100 years later, the U.S. Army recently overturned the convictions of the 110 Black soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Buffalo Soldiers), who were falsely found guilty following the World War I-era Houston Riots.
The records of these soldiers will be corrected, to the extent possible, to characterize their military service as honorable. Seventeen of these men are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a sign telling the story of these men to educate visitors about what happened.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said, “After a thorough review, the Board has found that these soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials. By setting aside their convictions and granting honorable discharges, the Army is acknowledging past mistakes and setting the record straight.”
The Houston Riots took place on Aug. 23, 1917, following months of racial provocations against members of the 24th — including the violent arrest and assault of two Black soldiers. Following the assaults and amid rumors of additional threats to soldiers, a group of more than 100 Black soldiers seized weapons and marched into the city, where clashes erupted. The violence left 19 people dead.
In the months that followed, the Army convicted 110 soldiers in a process that was, according to historians, characterized by numerous irregularities. Ultimately, 19 men were executed in the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army. The first set of executions occurred in secrecy and within a day of sentencing, leading the Army to implement an immediate regulatory change that prohibited future executions without review by the War Department and the President.
In 2020 and 2021, the South Texas College of Law petitioned the Army to review the convictions. Shortly after, the Army received petitions from retired general officers requesting clemency for all 110 soldiers.
“As a Texas native, I was grateful to participate in this process early in my tenure at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and I am proud that the Army has now formally restored honor to soldiers of the 3-24 and their families,” said Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo. “We cannot change the past; however, this decision provides the Army and the American people an opportunity to learn from this difficult moment in our history.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been deeply involved as this case has unfolded and is prepared to assist any family members upon receipt of the corrected records. Relatives of the soldiers may be entitled to benefits. Family members or other interested parties may request a copy of the corrected records from the National Archives and Records Administration, in accordance with NARA Archival Records Request procedures found at (archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records).
Texas Helping Domestic Violence Victims
Each October, domestic violence organizations coordinate and participate in local, state, and national events promoting advocacy and raising awareness.
Purple Thursday, or “Go Purple Day,” is a national day of action each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Everyone is encouraged to wear all things purple as a symbol of peace, courage, survival, honor, and personal dedication to domestic violence awareness.
On Thursday, October 19, 2023, put on your purple and stand up against family violence.
According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, the number of people seeking shelter to escape an abusive relationship went up 25 percent in 2022.
During the 2023 Texas Legislative Session, legislators passed a number of bills to fund and support family violence centers across the state.
The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) will receive a portion of the $88 million allocated to centers statewide over two years. The overall amount is up about $10 million from the last legislative session. CASFV provides shelter, counseling, job readiness, safety-oriented approaches to violence, prevention classes and behavior intervention plans for offenders.
Additionally, Senate Bill 578 allows people applying for a protective order to keep their county of residence private. This would help a domestic violence victim stay hidden from their batterer if they moved counties, especially to a lesser-populated area.
SB 1717 affects the prosecution of stalking behavior, allowing testimony into the court record to add context to how behavior by the stalker affects the victim. HB 1432 has reduced the scrutiny a judge must use to issue a protective order. Previously, the applicant had to prove family violence happened in the past and that it could happen in the future.
Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Honored with National Monuments
The legacies of Emmett Till, along with his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, will be honored with national monuments. This commemoration comes on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday, according to Ebony Entertainment.
Following his brutal murder, EBONY’s sister publication JET published photos of Till’s mutilated body, which shook the nation and brought much-needed attention to the plight of Black Americans in the United States. Last year, legislation was passed by Congress to award Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley with posthumous Congressional Gold Medals.
On July 25, President Joe Biden plans to sign a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in both Illinois and Mississippi across three separate sites.
As shared with EBONY, the sites will include Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, Chicago, Mississippi’s Graball Landing and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. Each of these locations hold deep significance in the understanding of Emmett Till’s story.
Thousands mourned Emmett’s murder in 1955 in Bronzeville, the historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Till’s mutilated body was pulled from Graball Landing’s Tallahatchie River. Lastly, the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi is the site where his murderers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.
A White House Official shared that the designation of these monuments “reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history.”
PBS’s Special: Murder of Emmett Till (April 2023)
In August 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy allegedly flirted with a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.
Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including their tale of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
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