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Two Tulsa brothers are speaking out after being wrongly convicted of separate crimes

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Tulsa, Oklahoma, site of one of essentially the most heinous acts of domestic terrorism this country has ever seen, continues to be a spot where miscarriages of justice occur too often. Friday’s NBC Dateline special follows the story of Corey Atchison and Malcolm Scott, two Tulsa brothers wrongly convicted of two different murders who were serving life sentences for crimes they imagine they didn’t commit.

Atchison and Scott’s story, part of NBC News’ “Inequality in America” ​​series, takes place at a time when racial tensions within the United States are reaching a boiling point. In addition to condemning the police brutality that resulted within the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, protesters, activists, and abolitionists are saying enough is enough that African Americans are not being given equal opportunities for a just future on this country.

Corey Atchison was 48 years old when he walked out of a Tulsa courtroom in 2019 a free man. He spent 28 years in prison for shooting James Lane during a robbery in 1990. His brother, Malcolm Scott, was released from a Tulsa prison in 2017 with a 20-year-to-life sentence for the shooting death of a 19-year-old black woman named Karen Summers. Together, these two men spent nearly half a century locked up, praying day-after-day for release from the American nightmare.

Although Scott and Atchison’s stories featured prominently in , ABC News and native newspapers, the Dateline special marks the primary time North Tulsa residents are speaking out on national television. Episode titled is an emotional tackle a story centering on two siblings who make a pact to offer the opposite the chance to live outside of a jail cell. But at its core, that is one other example of how the criminal justice system is just not fair to all involved.

So far Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Bryan Stevenson in Montgomery, Alabama, says greater than 25,000 people have been exonerated since 1989. Most wrongful convictions are attributed to forensic errors, inadequate lawyers, and unreliable eyewitnesses. But they are saying that for black people, the presumption of guilt based simply on the colour of our skin plays an enormous role within the legal process. Unfortunately, for Atchison and Scott, all of these aspects worked against them.

Photo courtesy of Dateline

In this Dateline special, we take a look at how their stories were even possible by talking to the lawyers and investigators who worked on the brothers’ cases. Craig Melvin, reporter for this special hour, also interviews former Tulsa District Attorney Tim Harris, who defends his prosecution of Atchison. Lawyers say his attitude means the Oklahoma Innocence Project receives a whole lot of requests annually from men and girls who claim they are innocent.

“The system doesn’t want to admit that it made a mistake,” says a lawyer from Oklahoma Innocence Project talks about cases. And the authorities’ denial of their failure to bring justice to those men is comparable to America continuing to place its foot on the necks of African Americans.

In Tulsa alone, lawyers working to free wrongly convicted men and girls say there are greater than 100 cases that resemble Atchison and Scott. As long because the police arrest you Black teenagers for offenses so simple as jaywalkingthere’ll probably be many more.

Watch the Dateline special tonight at on NBC.

This article was originally published on : www.essence.com
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Crime

‘American Crime’ Star Regina King on On-Screen Chemistry with Andre 3000

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'American Crime' Star Regina King on On-Screen Chemistry with Andre 3000

ABC

To know Terri LaCroix on “ABC” is to dislike her – and that is the point.

This is considered one of the the reason why Regina King has a lot fun with her. Terri is nothing like Aliyah, the militant Muslim character King played within the show’s first season, which earned the actress her well-deserved first Emmy Award. Terri, an upper-class elitist, is meaner, but additionally much easier to discover.

“Everybody knows Terri,” King, 45, said in a recent telephone interview. “Terri enjoys power and likes to be in control. He’s so far from Aliyah and so far from me. She’s stuck and I really enjoy playing her.”

18 of Regina King’s fiercest roles

This time, produced and created by John Ridley, the series tackles racism, classism and homophobia through the prism of the alleged sexual assault of a working-class teenage boy. Terri’s son, Kevin (Trevor Jackson), is a handsome highschool basketball star who can also be considered one of those accused of assault. When the accusations begin to flow and threaten all the pieces Terri and her husband Michael LaCroix (Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000) have worked so hard to realize, Terri wastes no time on a lawyer and goes on the defensive.

“She’s unlikeable, but most Black people I’ve talked to understand her position and where her thoughts go in that space,” King said. “They may not like her and she may not be their friend, but most upper-middle-class Black people understand why Terri is the way she is. Getting to where Terri is is no easy feat. So why would you ever want to leave? That’s how she looks at it.”

In the primary season, many of the African-American characters were from middle and dealing class backgrounds. But this season we’re dealing with a black family that’s wealthy, well-connected and downright snobbish.

Black actresses on Primetime needs to be the norm

“Elitism is not the domain of Black people,” King said. “It’s just an elitist thing. I know a lot of people like that, not just black people. But isn’t it great that this time the elite family is a Black family? You don’t see Black people like that on TV.”

But do not be fooled by elitism. As with King and most of us, family comes first to Terri.

“She becomes vulnerable. “Family is the most important thing to her,” said King, who has been within the industry for 31 years. “For the first time in a long time, she is one of those little people. Meryl Streep said – I know I’m twisting this quote – one of the greatest things about being an actor is that you get a role that is nothing like you. But part of your job as an actor is to find a bit of yourself in the character, because that makes it real to people. It’s always fun and that’s why I love this art form so much.”

Unlike Aliyah, Terri is married and has an undeniable physical and emotional bond with her husband. Let’s talk in regards to the power couple. When asked in regards to the on-screen chemistry between her and Benjamin, 40, King chuckled.

Have you seen Andre 3000 on ABC’s “American Crime”?

“He’s wonderful,” King said of her TV spouse. “He’s an exquisite man. He really is. It was a simple ride. We have great chemistry. We are each parents of boys. My son (Ian Alexander Jr., 20) is a yr older than his son Seven. We are each single parents of only children and we each like to smile.

We smile too, Regina. We smile too.

airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. If you missed the primary three episodes, you may catch up on ABC.com.

This article was originally published on : www.essence.com
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Crime

Maryland Governor Wes Moore intends to issue over 175,000 pardons for marijuana convictions

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is predicted to sign an executive order on Monday authorizing clemency for greater than 175,000 people convicted of marijuana charges, the governor’s office said.

Authorities describe these pardons as the most important within the history of state pardons to date. His office said the governor’s actions on paraphernalia cases make Maryland the primary state to take such motion.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the order on Sunday evening, the pardons will clear charges of possession of small amounts of marijuana for about 100,000 people.

Moore plans to sign the manager order Monday morning on the state Capitol in Annapolis within the presence of Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2023 after voters approved a 2022 constitutional amendment with a 67% vote. Maryland decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use on January 1, 2023. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.

“The Moore-Miller Administration is committed to promoting social equity and ensuring the fair and equitable administration of justice,” the governor’s office said. “Because the use and possession of cannabis is no longer illegal in this state, Marylanders should not continue to face barriers to housing, employment or educational opportunities based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal.”

Brown, a Democrat, called the pardons “certainly overdue as a nation” and “an issue of racial equality.”

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“While the pardon will apply to anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, it unequivocally, without any doubt or qualification, has a disproportionate impact – in a good way – on Black and Brown Marylanders,” Brown said “The Post”.

According to a summary from the governor’s office, the manager order will impact greater than 150,000 convictions for easy possession of cannabis, which may also include greater than 18,000 convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.

Pardons reflect the variety of convictions. For some people, multiple conviction could have been pardoned in the course of the trial.

A pardon won’t end in anyone being released from prison.

The governor’s office said that after Moore signs the pardon, the Maryland court will make sure that each individual electronic record is accomplished with an entry indicating that the governor has pardoned the sentence. This process should take roughly two weeks.

The governor’s order also directs the state Department of Corrections to develop a process for entering an individual’s criminal record when pardons are entered, a process expected to take roughly 10 months to complete.

A pardon absolves people of guilt for a criminal offense and so they wouldn’t have to take any motion to receive a pardon.

A pardon is different from an expungement. Although the court will note within the case file that the offense has been pardoned, it’ll still appear on the case file. Expungement is the method by which a conviction is destroyed and completely faraway from the general public record, requiring a further step.

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Ozy The media went from screaming to outrage. Its founder, Carlos Watson, appeared in court

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NEW YORK (AP) – For nearly a decade, Ozy Media has projected a picture of recent media success.

The company boasted big-name interviews, an Emmy-winning television show, a vibrant festival of music and concepts, and impressive numbers to exhibit to potential investors – until it collapsed in 2021 amid doubts about its audience size, profitability and fundamental integrity .

These doubts at the moment are at the middle of the federal criminal trial. Founder Carlos Watson and Ozy are fighting charges of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Even after many other public and court hearings for Silicon Valley corporations that went from screaming to damage, it’s hard to forget the moment of Ozy’s downfall, when co-founder Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive to talk concerning the company to potential investors.

Lawyers for Watson and Ozy blame any false statements solely on Rao, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and identity theft. The defense also argued that prosecutors would criminalize common entrepreneurial bloat and single out Watson, a black founder in a tech world where there are disproportionately few African-American executives.

“I am not now and never have been a ‘fraudster,'” he said last 12 months when the costs were brought against him.

Prosecutors and Rao, their star witness, say Ozy straddled the road between hopeful hype and brazen fraud.

“We told so many lies to so many different people,” Rao testified after the struggling company produced rosy financial results in a desperate attempt to lure investors and stay afloat.

The hope was to enable “a diverse audience to consume hopefully a different, more meaningful type of content,” he said. But “survival within the bounds of decency, honesty and truth has evolved into survival at all costs and by any means necessary.”

“New and Next”

Ozy was founded in 2012 on the Millennial-friendly premise of providing a fresh, sophisticated but not cookie-cutter approach to politics, culture and more – what it calls “new and next” – while amplifying minority and marginalized voices.

The son of two South Florida teachers, Watson graduated from Harvard and Stanford, worked on Wall Street, founded and sold a test preparation company and anchored MSNBC. According to Rao, he fathered Ozy after which recruited Rao, a former colleague from the world of finance, after a probability meeting at a Chipotle restaurant in Silicon Valley.

Ozy debuted a web site, newsletters, and with a bang: former President Bill Clinton was one in all the primary interviewees. The company has expanded into podcasts, events and tv programming, winning a 2020 Emmy for Watson’s “Black Women OWN the Conversation” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The annual Ozy Fest in New York’s Central Park has attracted big names, from John Legend to pre-presidential Joe Biden.

Testimony shows that the corporate acquired many major advertisers, clients and grants. But behind the scenes, prosecutors say, Ozy began to bleed in 2018 and resorted to lies.

“I don’t know where his numbers came from.”

The company told a possible investor that it “ended 2017 with approximately $12 million in revenue,” but gave its accountants a figure of lower than $7 million. The disparities widened through the years, reaching as much as $53 million compared to $11 million in 2020, according to testimony and documents presented throughout the trial.

Meanwhile, Ozy steadily delayed paying suppliers and rent, borrowed against future receipts to obtain expensive advances, and had difficulty paying salaries, former vp of finance Janeen Poutre testified.

The defense portrayed the scramble for money as a growing problem for a successful startup.

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“Ozy Media did not defraud its investors or anyone else,” said company attorney Shannon Frison.

Watson lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Ronald Sullivan Jr. he said his client “believed every number he gave to every investor.” Sullivan suggested that revenue figures may vary depending on whether or not they represent “in-kind” income, equivalent to promoting trading at one other outlet.

Poutre testified that auditors rarely agree to count such revenues and she or he didn’t think Watson was all the time honest.

“I don’t know where his numbers came from. I know where my numbers came from,” she said.

Fake emails and voice masking

The alleged programs went beyond questionable numbers.

In an attempt to get Ozy a bank loan in 2020, Rao falsified the deal by saying that Winfrey’s OWN network had renewed “Black Women OWN The Conversation” for a second season. When the bank needed information directly from the net, Rao arrange a fake email account for the actual OWN executive and used it to provide the bank with “transaction background.”

Rao told jurors that Watson verbally approved the charade. Jurors saw a text message from Watson urging Rao to “be brave and do this,” but “that” was not specified. Ultimately, witnesses said, there was no loan or extension of this system.

Rao’s infamous phone rang the next 12 months when Ozy was searching for an investment from Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. He falsely claimed that YouTube was paying for Watson’s eponymous talk show. When Goldman’s bankers wanted confirmation, he downloaded a voice-modifying app and talked to them while posing as a YouTube executive.

But the bankers were wary, as the actual YouTube executive soon discovered, and Watson told the board of Goldman Sachs and Ozy that his co-founder had suffered a mental breakdown.

The investment fell through, but Goldman Sachs continued to advertise with Ozy after the episode, Rao said.

Rao told jurors he was taking antidepressants but was not having a mental health crisis when he called. Rao said Watson was present and gave him instructions via text messages.

“I’m a huge fan of Carlos, Samir and the show,” reads one in all the texts, which Rao explained when Watson prompted him with a line for his fake persona to say. Watson then urged, “use the right pronouns. You are NOT OZY” – amongst other messages.

– You’re a liar, aren’t you?

Watson’s lawyer said the Ozy founder stumbled upon Rao’s scam, was outraged and signaled him to hang up.

The defense emphasized that Rao drafted a 2021 letter – ultimately unsent – in which he stated that the phone ruse was entirely his doing. Rao told jurors he wrote it to protect the corporate.

Defense attorneys labeled him an incompetent executive, a confessed fabricator and a confessed criminal who falsely implicated Watson in hopes of avoiding prison for his own crimes.

“So, Mr. Rao, you are a liar, aren’t you?” Sullivan asked during last Friday’s hearing.

“Unfortunately,” Rao replied, “I told many lies during my time at Ozy.”

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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