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Entries in Race (12)

Friday
Oct192012

Judge Bans 8-mile NYC Skateboard Race

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It may conjure images of bad musical numbers, but the "Broadway Bomb" is anything but an innocent day at the theater. So says New York Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright, who granted the City of New York's request for an injunction against the 8-mile skateboarding event slated to take place Saturday.

Comprised mostly of longboard-type skateboarders, the race began with 14 skaters 10 years ago and grew to 1,000 participants from across the U.S. by 2011. The race stretches down Broadway, from 116th Street all the way to Wall Street, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

This year's attendance was expected to double. The size of the race and the participants' behavior in years past, the city said in a statement, "such as failing to stop for red lights, cutting off and weaving through moving vehicles...and instructing vehicles which have the right of way to stop so they can pass through intersections" are what led the New York City Law Department to seek the injunction. The office said organizers have never "sought or were granted a city parade permit" in the decade since the race has been held.

Though too late to secure permits for this year, Ian Nichols, co-founder of the Broadway Bomb, says the show must go on. Next year, anyway.

"I plan to take steps to get permits for next year," Nichols told ABC News. Nichols, 43, attributes the ballooning nationwide popularity of longboarding to his event's success. "Otherwise, if it gets any bigger, they might call in the national guard next time."

Nichols said he will not participate in or attend the race and that the race has been officially canceled. However, a note on the event's Facebook page insists the tenth anniversary Broadway Bomb will still take place.

"We are going to flash mob 116th Street and Broadway at 11:50AM and Start the Race at 12:00PM exactly," the note reads, "please don't show up until 11:50AM because there may be a police presence. Please share this post with everyone in order to keep us all safe. See you there."

The city's Law Department told ABC News they are aware of the note and said "participants will be reminded that there is a restraining order, and the event cannot proceed. Those who do not listen will be subject to police intervention, including possible arrest."

Nichols denied any association with the Facebook page and said the only related work he'll being doing from now on will be toward ensuring the event, with all the proper paperwork, goes on unimpeded next year.

"It has to happen," Nichols said. "This event means a lot to people who don't live in the most exciting city in the world."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

Ethnic Profiling by TSA? 'Fly Rights' App Made for Complaints

FlyRights.org(NEW YORK) -- Thanks to smartphones, airline passengers have been able to pay for baggage, check in for flights and pull up boarding passes all with the swipe of a touch screen. Now, with the tap of an app, they can also fire off complaints about airport security screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration.

The Sikh Coalition, which released the Fly Rights app Monday, claims that the 11 TSA screening complaints investigated during the first half of 2011 were woefully unrepresentative of how many fliers were actually being pulled aside for their race, religion or ethnicity.

"I would say that some of our board members have more than 11 complaints in a quarter," said Sikh Coalition program director Amardeep Singh. "With the app, what we are trying to do is say, 'No, there are more people out there that have issues with the screening procedures than you think.'"

"I'm feeling optimistic that we are going to put them [TSA] at their paces and that it will significantly, perhaps even exponentially, increase the number of complaints filed," Singh told ABC News.

The number of complaints has nearly tripled from the first half of 2011 to 2012, according to the Department of Transportation's April Air Travel Consumer Report. The complaints were investigated by Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which oversees TSA's civil rights complaints.

About 30 airport passengers called or emailed the TSA to complain about screening procedures in February, fewer than the 36 complaints recorded in January and the 31 filed in December.

While Singh said the TSA "never opposed" the Fly Rights smartphone app, the agency said in statement Monday that it encourages travelers to "contact TSA directly" with any complaints.

"TSA does not profile passengers on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion," the agency said in the statement. "We continually engage with community organizations, including the Sikh Coalition, and individuals to help us understand unique passenger concerns and we support efforts to gather passenger feedback about the screening process."

In the hours following Fly Rights' launch on Monday, two complaints had already been filed through the mobile app, Singh said.

And while the app began after members of the Sikh religion said they were singled out because of the turbans they wear, the first actual complaint sent through the app was from a non-Sikh woman who said she was unfairly profiled for traveling with breast milk.

"That goes to show if you create a platform for people that's easy and accessible, they'll use it," Singh said.

The app has already gotten support from Capitol Hill, where Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., commended the app as a way for passengers to "fight profiling."

"The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their jobs honorably and courageously," Durban said in a statement released by the Sikh Coalition. "Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of the few who engage in racial profiling create mistrust and suspicion that hurts all law enforcement officers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr142012

Tulsa Shooting Spree Suspect Says Killings Weren't About Race

Tulsa Police Department (NEW YORK) -- One of two white Oklahoma men accused of hate crimes in a shooting spree that left three black people dead in Tulsa says in a jailhouse interview that race had nothing to do with the shootings.

Jake England's attorney Clark Brewster, released a seven-minute tape of the interview with his client today, in which the 19-year-old says he has friends who are black. The video was posted by Tulsa TV station KOTV.

"The line of work that I was in and the place I worked, we always got along with everybody," England says in the video. "It didn't matter what color you were."

England and Alvin Watts, 32, have reportedly confessed to carrying out the rampage on April 6 that left three people dead and two others seriously wounded.

The two men were charged Friday with three counts each of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious intimidation or harassment.

In the video posted by KOTV, England seems stoic, but his deep voice seems to catch when the lawyer asks him about the violent deaths of his father and girlfriend.

Staring hard into the camera, England describes how his father was killed trying to defend his sister and her two young children from a man trying to break into their home.

He also discusses how his girlfriend, with whom he had a young son, shot herself in the head in front of him and the toddler in January.

Police have said their investigation of the killings included England's racially charged Facebook postings.

The shootings occurred nearly two years to the day after a black man shot England's father, Carl England, to death on April 5, 2010, according to a post from his Facebook. Authorities believe Watts was a friend of England's father.

On April 5 at 4:04 p.m., England wrote, "Today is two years that my dad has been gone shot by a f------ n----- it's hard not to go off between that and sheran I'm gone in the head."

In the interview with his lawyer, England said that statement was directed at the man who killed his father, and not at black people in general.

"It was just to express the way I was upset about the guy who shot my dad," England said. "That's the only time I ever express anything like that about somebody."

According to England's Facebook page, his girlfriend, Sheran Hart Wilde, recently died.

The five victims were shot early April 6 in four separate incidents during a span of less than two hours on the same side of town and not far from one another, police said.

Police identified the deceased victims as Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31, and Dannaer Fields, 49, the only woman among the victims. There was no connection between the suspects and victims, police said at a news conference on April 8.

Two males were critically wounded in the shooting spree. All of the victims were targeted while they were out walking, and apparently did not know each other.

"We have not been able to find any commonality between the victims other than they were walking on the street," Sgt. Dave Walker of the Tulsa Police Department said.

On the night of April 6, England posted on Facebook, "Chilling at that house people talking s--- on me for some s--- I didn't do ... it just mite be the time to call it quits I I hate to say it like that but I'm done if something does happen tonite be ready for another funeral later."

A series of tips led to the arrests of both men at a house north of Tulsa around 2 a.m. on April 8.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb212012

Supreme Court to Take Up Controversial Affirmative Action Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court has announced it will take up another hot button social issue on its docket: affirmative action.

On Tuesday, the Court agreed to hear a case brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who says she was denied admission to the University of Texas based only on the color of her skin.

The case has been closely monitored because supporters of affirmative action fear the Court might now be willing to curtail or further restrict "race conscious admissions programs" at public universities.

Critics claim such policies stress skin pigment over school performance when student applications are considered.

The Court will most likely hear the case next fall -- around the time of the election -- as it has already filled its final April argument calendar.  Justice Elena Kagan will not participate in the case because she dealt with the issue in her previous job as Solicitor General.

"This case presents the Court with an opportunity to clarify the boundaries of race preferences in higher education, or even reconsider whether race should be permitted at all under the Constitution’s  guarantee of equal protection," says Edward Blum, the Director of the Project on Fair Representation , a non-profit legal defense foundation that has provided legal counsel for Fisher.

In 1997, the Texas legislature passed the "Top Ten Percent Law" which mandates that Texas high school seniors in the top 10 percent of their class be automatically admitted to any Texas state university.  In addition to that program, the school considers race along with several other factors for admission.

Fisher did not qualify for automatic admission.  Instead, she competed with other non-top 10 state applicants, some of whom were entitled to racial preferences. She was denied admission and argues it was because of her race. 

In court papers, her lawyers argue, "Whether a public university can layer racial preferences over a non-racial admissions plan that ensures very substantial levels of minority enrollment is a question which itself warrants review by this Court."

It was only in 2003 that the Supreme Court took up a similar affirmative action case and narrowly upheld the limited use of race as a factor in law school admissions.  Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the 5-4 decision -- Grutter v. Bollinger -- and held that the government has a compelling interest in diversity in public universities.

But a lot has changed since then.  Most importantly in this instance, Justice Samuel Alito replaced Justice O’Connor on the bench.

"The addition of Justice Alito to this Court adds an element to the case that would not likely have been there with Justice O’Connor.  The difference is that Justice Alito has shown himself in other cases to be more skeptical of racial classifications and preferences than did Justice O’Connor," says Blum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb172012

Teacher Sues for Right to Say 'N-----' in Class

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A white Chicago school teacher who was suspended for leading a class discussion about the "N-word," race relations and racism has sued the school district for what he sees as unjust punishment.

Lincoln Brown, 48, a sixth-grade writing and social studies teacher at Murray Language Academy, said he turned a bad classroom situation -- in which one student wrote a rap calling another student a n***** -- into "a teachable moment."

"I looked at it and it had some words in it that were very offensive to me and that's when we came into this discussion of the N-word," Brown said of the October incident. "And I used the curriculum from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and followed their advice on how to tackle these kinds of problems, not to avoid them. The whole lesson basically was about racial profiling, racism and also being very careful about how you use words in public."

His principal, Greg Mason, who is black, heard the discussion and came into the room to listen further, Brown said. Mason stayed for 10 minutes, and then left and came back 10 minutes later, as the discussion had turned to racial stereotypes in movies.

"I brought up Spike Lee's comments about rap music and racial profiling in movies and, ironically, I thought I was being fully supported [by Mason]," Brown said.

The students were engaged in the discussion, and later told Brown how much they enjoyed it, he said. And he never heard a word about it from the principal.

Two weeks later, however, Mason called Brown into his office and accused him of misconduct, specifically abuse of language in front of students and other charges, Brown said. Later, he was told he was receiving a five-day suspension.

Brown, shocked by the allegations and punishment, appealed to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education, which denied his appeal.

"It's something I can't accept and can't have on my record and more importantly it's not who I am," said Brown, who grew up in the neighborhood, attended schools where he was in the white minority and grew up to teach in predominantly African-American schools for more than 25 years.

Brown said he has taught many lessons, albeit more structured ones, on the use of the "N-Word" and other contentious race issues over the years, including teaching the book "Huckleberry Finn."

He said he always used the advice given by the Southern Poverty Law Center to help guide the discussions about the word, and drew on those guidelines when the discussion arose in October.

"I have no regret over the way I handled it, but not everybody agrees. It's a hot-button issue," he said, noting that he wished Mason had told him during or immediately after the lesson that he was unhappy with the discussion.

Brown's attorney, William Spielberger, said his client's First and Fifth Amendment rights were breached, as his rights to free speech and due process were not respected by the school district.

He noted that Brown's family was deeply involved in civil rights causes, and his parents named him Lincoln in honor of the president, Abraham Lincoln.

"These type of accusations can ruin a person's career," Spielberger said.

Neither Mason nor the school district returned calls for comment about the lawsuit.

The suit was filed Thursday and Brown began serving his first day of suspension Friday, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov072011

Supreme Court Denies Appeal on Race Tainted Death Penalty Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S Supreme Court declined Monday to grant the appeal of a Texas death row inmate who claims race was improperly taken into consideration during the sentencing phase of his trial.

Duane Buck’s guilt for the death of his former girlfriend was never at issue, but Buck sought a new sentencing hearing because of testimony that contended that he posed a greater danger because he is black.

On Sept. 15, the court had halted Buck’s scheduled execution in order to review his case. But Monday, over the dissent of at least two justices, the court declined to rule in Buck’s favor.

Several justices took the rare step of publishing their reasoning in the case.

Buck’s lawyers had argued in the lower court that he should not be executed because Texas relied on improper racial testimony that was a basis for his capital sentence. At trial, psychologist Dr. Walter Quijano testified that Buck was African American and his race increased the likelihood of his being dangerous in the future.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer released a statement Monday that said while the case concerns “bizarre and objectionable testimony” at the penalty phase of Buck’s capital trial, Quijano had been initially called to the stand as a defense expert by Buck’s lawyers.

The case was complicated by the fact that other inmates in other cases had been granted new sentencing hearings by the State of Texas because of similar testimony by Quijano. But Alito, Scalia and Breyer said, “The fact remains that this case is different from all the rest.”  The justices said, “This is the only case in which it can be said that the responsibility for eliciting the offensive testimony lay squarely with the defense.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, issued a written statement objecting to the court’s denial of Buck’s appeal. “Today the court denies review of a death sentenced marred by racial overtones,” Sotomayor wrote. She said that while the defense had called Quijano as a witness, the context of the prosecution's questions were “markedly different.”

On direct examination Sotomayor wrote, “Quijano referred to race as a part of his overall opinion that Buck would pose a low threat to society were he imprisoned.”

But the prosecutor revisited the issue, Sotomayor said, “in a question specifically designed to persuade the jury that Buck’s race made him more dangerous and that, in part on this basis, he should be sentenced to death.” Kate Black, and attorney for Duane Buck, who works for the Texas Defender Service released a statement after the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has for now declined to review Duane Buck’s case and will not be considering whether the reliance on Mr. Buck’s race as a basis for asking the jury to sentence him to death violated the Constitution,” she said. “It is now up to the State of Texas to ensure that Mr. Buck receives a sentencing hearing that is not impacted by the color of his skin.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct182011

Dan Wheldon Tragedy: Racetrack Officials Fire Back

Nick Laham/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Officials in charge of the Las Vegas racetrack where two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon died in a fiery crash are defending the speedway's conditions.

Las Vegas Speedway President Chris Powell spoke after comments were made by critics and drivers that the track was unsafe leading to Sunday's 15-car pileup.

"We as a speedway make sure we provide a venue that they come in and make an assessment when they're ready to race -- and they did that exact thing," Powell said late Monday.  "Our speedway conforms to every regulation that any sanctioning body has ever held it to, and we're very proud of that."

Now that the debris and mangled metal has been removed, there are questions about whether the track was too fast, too small, and too crowded.

The track where Sunday's tragic accident took place is relatively small -- a mile-and-a-half-long oval.  Because of its smaller size, drivers are constantly turning.  Comparatively, the Indianapolis 500 track is two-and-a-half miles long, giving significantly more room for drivers to spread out and to see in front of them.

Driver Scott Meadow says that he has raced the Las Vegas speedway countless times on the turn that claimed Wheldon's life at speeds of up to 220 miles an hour.  He described the conditions during competitive racing as very tight.

"It's more like 30 airplanes racing together than cars," Meadow said.

Still, it is that speed, that danger, that the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner craved.  Just days before his death, Wheldon told the television show Extra that he couldn't wait to take on this challenging track.

"I think it's going to be one of Indy Car's finest races outside of the Indianapolis 500," Wheldon said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct182011

Crowded Track, Young Drivers Factor in Fatal Indy Crash, Expert Says

Robert Laberge/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A factor contributing to the crash that killed two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was that the track had a crowded field of cars and that many of the drivers were not experienced with the steeply banked Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said Terry Blount, the senior writer of motor sports for ESPN.com.

Blount said the track’s layout -- a high-banked, 1.5 mile long oval -- meant that drivers never let off the gas at 220-plus mph while driving in a big pack.

“They just go flat out all the way around,” he said.  “They never let off the gas.”

Because of this, in addition to the lack of fenders on the cars, he said, “If you touch wheels, you’re more than likely going to have an accident.”

Besides the usual safety concerns, Blount told ABC News that Sunday’s race had involved 34 cars -- usually there are 20 to 25 for a track like this -- and that Indy had not raced since 2000 at Las Vegas, which had undergone a reconfiguration nearly four years ago.

“Obviously more cars presents more danger.  They wanted a whole lot of cars cause obviously this is their season finale and they wanted it to be a big deal.  Some of the people that were driving in this event yesterday had no business being in it.  Some of them had never driven on a track like this.  That was a mistake,” he said.

He said the race would likely not have that many drivers again and would likely have more requirements for younger, less experienced drivers they allow to race on a similar track.

IndyCar said via email that there were no representatives available for interviews at the time of posting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct162011

IndyCar Driver Dan Wheldon Dies in Multi-Car Crash

The car of Dan Wheldon bursts into flames in a 15-car pile up including the during the Las Vegas Indy 300 part of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships presented by Honda at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Robert Laberge/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A tragic crash at the IndyCar World Championships in Las Vegas Sunday left driver Dan Wheldon dead.  He was 33.

A fiery 15-car crash on turn two of lap 13 sent Wheldon's car airborne, causing fatal injuries for the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner during the season finale race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  

Wheldon was airlifted from the track Sunday afternoon and taken to a nearby hospital.  Just two hours after the the accident, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard announced the race would not continue, but drivers would honor Wheldon with a five lap salute at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Dan Wheldon is the first driver to die in an on-track crash since the 2006 death of Paul Dana, who was killed during a practice run at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Video of White Teens Killing Black Man Sparks Reports of More Assaults

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The white Mississippi teens caught on surveillance video beating a black man, then killing him by running him over with a pickup truck may be responsible for other attacks on homeless black men in the area, the head of the state's NAACP told ABC News.

James Anderson, an auto worker, was killed June 26 in Jackson, Miss. His murder received renewed attention when the grisly surveillance video surfaced this week.

The video allegedly shows Deryl Dedmon, 18, and several of his friends beating Anderson, and then driving over his body. Dedmon, who is accused of driving the pickup truck that lurched over Anderson's body in the video, is in jail on $800,000 bond awaiting a grand jury investigation into Anderson's homicide.

Dedmon's friend, John Rice, who was at the scene during the beating, had originally been charged with murder. But during a preliminary hearing detectives testified Rice, who is also 18, left the parking lot before Anderson got run over.

Rice's charge was lowered to simple assault and will be sent to the grand jury along with Dedmon's. In the meantime, Rice was released on $5,000 bail.

The teens charged have not yet entered a plea. Neither Dedmon nor Rice's lawyer returned a call from ABC News.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if the other teens involved in the incident should also be charged.

The attack on Anderson may have been the latest assault on blacks in the area, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, told ABC News. He said evidence indicates the white teenagers deliberately "set out to go and mess with African Americans."

Johnson said that sources who wished to remain anonymous said the teens "had, as a practice, targeted African Americans in the city of Jackson who were homeless." He's now working to verify the legitimacy of those claims.

Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green said detectives had received a call from "one person" saying that "white people" were beating up on homeless African Americans. They looked into it, she said, and couldn't substantiate the claims.

For now, she said, "it's hearsay," and the alleged incident reported to police happened "three or four years ago."

Some of the racial tension in the area stems from the racial disparity between Brandon, Miss., which is 90 percent white, and the town of Jackson in Hinds County, which is 70 percent African-American, according to Johnson.

Brandon, located in Rankin County, is often referred to as "the white flight county from Jackson," said Johnson.

There has been a "huge increase over last 20 years of working class or poor whites in Rankin County," he added. "With that created a lot of tensions because when you have individuals who are not neighbors, don't know each other, and carry the baggage of racism, you develop a culture of racial hatred."

Johnson says they've gotten a "slew of calls" asking if they will organize a demonstration. But they are being cautious.

"We decided to allow the investigation to mature and at that time respond based on the information that is released," Johnson said.

"It's really easy for people to come and sensationalize it, or for individuals to demagogue the issue. We're trying to make sure at the end of the day that justice is brought," Johnson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio