Waller County, Texas, where Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell three days after she was arrested at a traffic stop, is known for its watermelon festival – and its long history of racial tension.
That tension continues to the grave. As elsewhere in Texas, cemeteries in Waller County have long followed an unofficial pattern of segregation: whites are buried with whites, blacks are buried with blacks.
“This is the most racist county in the state of Texas which is probably one of the most racist states in the country,” said DeWayne Charleston, a former Waller County judge who in 2007 ordered a black funeral home to handle the burial of an unidentified white woman, sparking controversy when activists claimed that other officials intervened to stop a white person being buried next to black corpses.
A federal lawsuit alleging that the county seat of Hempstead neglected historically black cemeteries while maintaining white ones was settled in 2004, resulting in the city committing more resources to their upkeep.
“You’ve got racism from the cradle to the grave,” Charleston said.
In 2010, Charleston pleaded guilty to accepting bribes, following an FBI investigation into corruption which also ensnared other public officials in the county. Charleston, who in 2003 became the first black person to be elected a justice of the peace in the county, said he believed the prosecution was racially motivated.
With a population of about 45,000, located near Houston, Waller County is about 25% black, according to US census figures. It is attracting attention after the death in custody of Bland, a 28-year-old from Chicago who was stopped by police last Friday for failing to signal when changing lanes.
She was arrested for “assault of a public servant” after police said she became argumentative. Video shot by a bystander shows her being restrained by two officers.
She yells: “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear.”
One of the officers tells the man making the video to stop filming.
Royce West, a Democratic state senator from Dallas, wrote a letter on Thursday to the director of the Texas department of public safety, asking for more details about Bland’s arrest to be made public.
“My unconfirmed information is that Ms Bland … was followed some distance by a DPS trooper,” he wrote, adding that her death was “suspicious”.
Elton Mathis, the Waller County district attorney, told a news conference on Thursday the autopsy report found that Bland died from asphyxiation, that she hanged herself using a plastic bag and that video from the jail showed that no one went in or out of her cell until she was found unconscious on Monday morning.
But amid a nationwide climate of intense scrutiny on violent encounters between African Americans and law enforcement, family members have questioned the official version of events, saying she had no reason to kill herself.
“Based on the Sandy that I knew, that’s unfathomable to me,” Bland’s sister, Sharon Cooper, said at a press conference in Chicago on Thursday.
Another sister, Shante Needham, said Bland called her from jail on Saturday afternoon, to say she had been arrested but didn’t know why. She also said an officer had placed his knee in her back and she thought her arm had been broken.
“She was very aggravated,” Needham said. “She seemed to be in pain. She really felt that her arm had been fractured. I told her I would work on getting her out.”
An active social-media commentator on racial justice matters, Bland had just moved to Texas from Illinois and had been set to take up a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college in the county that was founded on the site of a former plantation.
It was the scene of a protest march in 2004, when thousands of students demanded the right to vote after Oliver Kitzman, then the county’s district attorney, questioned whether they should be allowed to cast ballots in local elections. His stance was perceived as an attempt to stop young black people who were likely to lean Democrat from voting. It prompted a civil rights lawsuit and a US Justice Department investigation.
“You have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s being black in Waller County,” said Herschel Smith, a black former community activist who is now a constable in the county, referring to a perception that African Americans were more likely to be stopped and investigated by police than white people. He said that despite the area’s ethnic diversity, its officials were overwhelmingly white.
“There has to be a culture of difference,” he said.
Smith described himself as a prime mover in efforts to oust Waller County’s sheriff, Glenn Smith, from his previous role as Hempstead’s police chief.
In 2007, Smith was suspended for two weeks without pay by the city council, ordered to take anger management classes and placed on probation for six months after residents made allegations of racist behaviour against him and four other white officers following an arrest in which he swore at and manhandled a black suspect.
The Houston Chronicle reported that he was fired in March 2008, after more accusations of inappropriate conduct against the police department including humiliating strip-searches of young black people. Yet later that year the Republican was elected as Waller County’s sheriff. He was re-elected in November 2012, the same month James Howell, a 29-year-old inmate, was found hanged in a cell at the Waller County jail in an apparent suicide.
Smith was previously chief sheriff’s deputy in another area notorious for racial divisions, Sabine County in east Texas, on the Louisiana border. It attracted national attention in 1988 when three white former police officers were found guilty of beating a black inmate to death in the county jail.
The sheriff told reporters on Thursday that he was not a racist and that the previous controversies were politically motivated.
“Black lives matter to Glenn Smith,” he said.
80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?
Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.
The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.
Payments will be made first to those earning the least.
The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.
The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.
The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.
The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.
Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.
“The quicker, the better,” she said.
Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.
A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.
Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.
The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.
Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.
According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.
“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.
In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.
Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.
From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.
Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.
First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.
Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!
According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.
Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!
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