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Russell Simmons and Donald Trump during PLAYSTATION 2 and Russell Simmons Join HIP-HOP Summit Action Network 2004 at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Malcolm Ali/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
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Russell Simmons To Donald Trump: "Stop The Bulls--t"

In an open letter to the Republican presidential front-runner, Russell Simmons asks his old friend to stop with the divisive tactics he's using for his campaign.

Russell Simmons has never been one to hold his tongue, so it's no surprise the Def Jam founder, entrepreneur and philanthropist wrote an open letter to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, a man he describes as a friend, asking the GOP candidate to "stop the bullsh--t."

In the letter, Simmons, 58, thanks the real estate tycoon for his kindness, and the many times he's allowed his family to stay at his Florida home. The tone quickly shifts gears with Simmons reminding Trump of his role as the Chairman of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an organization aimed at ending bigotry. Simmons zeroes in on Trump's visit to the Islamic Cultural Center of New York on 96th Street, where he describes Trump's experience as feeling "all the love vibrating in that mosque."

Without mincing words, Simmons boldly says both his Muslim and Jewish friends compare his rhetoric to Adolph Hitler, but is asking the 69-year-old to tap into his shrewd negotiating skills that have helped everyone win in the past.

"My friends, both Muslims and Jews, are saying there are so many comparisons between your rap and Hitler’s, and I cannot disagree with them, Donald. You can’t possibly want your kids or your wife Melania (all of whom I know and respect) to live with that. You are a born leader, who is set to possibly win the nomination of your party, but don’t compromise what I know is in your heart to do it. You are a generous, kind man who has built a career on negotiating deals where everybody wins. Now, you seem like a one-man wrecking ball willing to destroy our nation’s foundation of freedom."

Since Trump's call to ban all Muslims to the United States, many have called Trump's request morally reprehensible. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump's comments "disqualify" him from running for president.

 

To read Simmons' full letter to Trump, click HERE

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Justin Sullivan

Man Leaves Marijuana In An Uber And Tries To Retrieve It From Cops

A 21-year-old Pennsylvania man is in police custody after attempting to retrieve two pounds of marijuana from a state trooper he believed was his Uber driver.

According to reports, the driver received an email Dec. 29 from Uber about the previous rider Malik Mollett, who left something in the backseat of the vehicle. In the email was Mollett's phone number.

On Jan. 9, a state trooper posed as an Uber driver and called Mollett. Police said Mollett answered the phone, explained he left something in the Uber. The trooper and Mollett then agreed to meet, Mollett said the bag he left was black, the trooper texted Mollett a picture of the black bag and he confirmed that it was indeed his.

TWO pounds of marijuana left behind in an Uber — police say Malik Mollett thought he was meeting up with the driver to get it back, but it was actually state troopers. I’ll have more on this story tonight on #WPXI pic.twitter.com/ZJGP7kU29Z

— Melanie Marsalko (@WPXIMelanie) January 11, 2019

The trooper than coordinated a time to meet with Mollett at a local McDonald's. It was there, the trooper gave Mollett the bag. Another trooper reportedly then entered the McDonalds and took Mollett into police custody.

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Florida Pardons Four Black Men Wrongfully Convicted Of Rape In 1949

The state of Florida is attempting to make amends.

Gov. Ron DeSantis posthumously pardoned Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin, Earnest Thomas and Charles Greenlee Friday (Jan. 11), decades after the court system destroyed their lives

On July 16, 1949, Shepherd, Irvin, Greenlee and Thomas, known as “The Groveland Four,” were convicted of gang raping a 17-year-old married white woman who claimed that she was attacked on the side of a road in Groveland, Fla.

“For seventy years, these four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“As I have said before, while that is a long time to wait, it is never too late to do the right thing,” he continued. “I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The Perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this.”

The accuser, Norma Padgett, and her husband, Willie, claimed that she had been gang raped after their car broke down. There was no evidence to prove that a sexual assault occurred, and prosecutors were accused of manipulating and withholding crucial information in the case.

Irvin and Shepherd, both 22, were friends and World War II veterans. They acknowledged asking the couple if they needed help after spotting them on the side of the road. Greenlee, a 16-year-old newlywed, was “being detained 20 miles away” from the location where the Padgetts claimed the rape occurred. He was at a train station waiting to go job hunting with Thomas when police arrested him. The teen denied that he and Thomas were involved in the alleged rape.

Nonetheless, Irvin, Shepherd and Greenlee were all charged with rape. Thomas, also a newlywed at the time, was “presumed guilty” but fled before police could arrest him. A violent posse of more than 1,000 men went out to search for him. They caught up with Thomas and killed him in a “hail of gunfire” as he slept next to a tree. His death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

The others were arrested and severely beaten by police, subsequently forcing them into false confessions, with the exception of Irvin who maintained his innocence. Another member of the group had his home burned down by an angry mob.

An all-white jury convicted the men of rape and sentenced Irvin and Shepherd to death. Greenlee was sentenced to life in prison because he was a minor.

Thurgood Marshall, then an Executive Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, appealed the ruling. A retrial was ordered in April of 1951. Seven months later, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall shot Shepherd and Irvin during a prison transfer. McCall claimed that he gunned them down because they were attempting to escape. Shepherd died instantly.

Irvin survived after being shot in the neck while laying on the ground, handcuffed to Shepherd.

Irvin was refused medical attention because of his race. He was later retried in court, reconvicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison. Irvin was paroled in 1969. He was found dead in his car a year after his release.

Greenlee, the last living member of the four, was paroled in 1960. He died in 2012, at age 78.

Norma Padgett, now 86 years old, opposed the men receiving pardons and maintains her story.

The pardons were approved nearly a year after state legislators issued a resolution urging the governor to move forward with the process. Lawmakers also offered a “heartfelt apology” to the families of Greenlee,  Irvin, Shepherd and Thomas “for the enduring sorrow caused by the criminal justice system’s failure to protect their basic constitutional rights.”

See more on the case below.

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Luke Sharret

Texas Mother Says School Wants Her To Cut Her Son's Dreadlocks

A Texas mother is outraged her son's school has asked him to cut his hair that he wears dreadlocked. The 6-year-old boy's mother, Tiffany Brown, said she received notification from Spring Valley Elementary School about the school dress code and what is expected of students returning after the holiday break.

According to the letter, "hair must not be lower than the bottom of the ears or collar in the back.” Brown, who's also an author, didn't like the directive and called it "racists & gendered" on Twitter.

Retweet, so this won't happen again!

This is the note the school sent home in my son's backpack. I will not cut his hair. He does not want it cut, so why should I cut it? How does his hair affect his ability to learn? #notmyhair pic.twitter.com/kv5e9EOSaY

— RogerBrownBooks (@books_roger) January 5, 2019

My 1st grader was asked to have his hair cut before returning back to school on Jan. 8th! #notmyhair pic.twitter.com/Qk2fhFy6jL

— RogerBrownBooks (@books_roger) January 5, 2019

In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, Brown said she hadn't received any warning about Jonathan's hair before the holiday break, and explained why the letter left her furious.

“Children of color have been targeted for many years, because of what others see as the norms in our society,” she said. “Because of these norms that are blinding people in our society, some people have stated that dreadlocks are a fashion statement and my child should conform and express himself when he’s older. Dreadlocks are part of my African culture, not a fashion statement.

Brown said he returned to school on Jan. 8 with his hair as is and was called to the school's office. She said her son was told the school staff wanted to speak with them about his time off. However, they proceeded to talk to him about his hair.

Jonathan's mother said she nearly "slammed on the breaks" when she learned the meeting, which supposedly referenced her appearance on local TV stations slamming the school for the notification, made her son rethink cutting his hair.

“My son Jonathan went from loving his hair yesterday to opting to cut his hair today, after this meeting,” she said. “Yesterday, he loved his hair and didn’t want it cut; today he’s frustrated and doesn’t, after speaking with a school official.”

Brown says she will take her issue with the school as far as she can.

“My plans are to go as far as needed to ensure the rights and liberties of every child are respected and protected,” she added. “Not only for children of color, but for every child.”

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