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Facebook / Noëlle Santos

This Boricua Is Plotting To Open The Bronx's First Independent Bookstore

The Lit Bar is about to be… well, LIT. 

After winning a second place prize of $7,500 at the New York Public Library's New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition, one woman is planning to take her earnings and turn it into something The Bronx needs and can enjoy. Noëlle Santos, an HR manager of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, is preparing to soon open an independent bookstore, The Lit Bar, in her native South Bronx.

Santos' Lit Bar will reportedly offer a selection of wines and comfortable seating. There will also be a children's area called Kiddie Liter. "I have a love for literature, and I want to put that message out there that [the Bronx is] not burning anymore. This is my contribution," she told DNAinfo.

Santos' business plan follows news of the closure of the Barnes & Noble in Co-Op City, which was the only major bookstore left standing in the borough. "Bay Plaza’s Barnes & Noble was there for our Bronx readers, authors, and children when we needed them," Santos commented on her blog about the bookstore closing. "They invested in us as we were—not in the promise of what luxury condos and the likes could bring."

Barnes & Noble Vice President of Development David Deason noted the company attempted to extend its lease, but was unable to reach an agreement with the owner. After the bookstore's closure in 2017, a Saks will be built in its place.

But Santos says her ambitious plan is not a responsibility that she must bare alone, but one that all Bronx residents must hold. She feels that if residents join in to help out with her business plan, it will most definitely be successful.

Justine Manzano, a Bronx-bred writer says she thinks Santos' business plan is spot-on in addressing the need of Bronxites. "Noëlle's entire business idea is built on that — she wants to bring other services to the bookstore for this reason," Manzano told DNAinfo. "Bronxites feel a connection through our pride for where we live, and she is one of us. She gets us."

Manzano also noted literature and other forms of art are such a vital part of the borough's culture, yet often overlooked. "Reading and writing are such a huge part of what it takes to elevate people as a whole, and the Bronx is largely cut off from access," she added.

Despite having limited access to libraries nearby, attendance at Bronx libraries has increased by 225 percent between 2002 and 2014, according to a study conducted by the Center for an Urban Future. If Santos' business plan succeeds, she will have established the only independent bookstore in The Bronx. She is currently working with development groups to find spaces for the store in the borough: "I want to tell other Bronxites that we don't have to run away from where we're from, we can make this a better place."

 

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Gang Member May Testify Against Defendants In 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz' Murder Trial

A member of the Trinitarios gang who witnessed the fatal stabbing of Bronx teenager Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz may take the stand against five defendants this week.

The first of two murder trials for the killing of Junior Guzman-Feliz began earlier this month, NBC4 New York reports. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago (24), Jonaiki Martinez Estrella (24), Jose Muniz (21) and Manuel Rivera (18) and Elvin Garcia (23) were given second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, gang assault and criminal possession of weapon charges for the June 2018 stabbing of the 15-year-old.

It was previously reported that the leader of the Trinitarios gang assisted the police with information about the defendant but it isn't known if he is the same witness who will testify this week.

A total of eleven women and one man make up the jury. During the first few days of the trial, the courtroom watched three clips from the harrowing incident that showed Guzman-Feliz before and after the attack. The teen was reportedly stabbed by the defendants in a case of mistaken identity.

One of the clips was never seen by the public and showed the attackers dragging Junior out of the grocery story with the teen fighting back as the gang yielded machete and knives. Later in the trial, jurors were shown 13 different angles and the six locations of the group looking for the teen.

As family members sobbed in the court, prosecutors claimed that Junior's murder was premeditated given the weapons used. But defense attorneys deemed most of Junior's wounds as "superficial" and noted how the cut to his throat was the cause of his death. They also claimed four of the defendants did not intend to kill Junior. The defense rilled up the court, including Junior's family.

"Why would they need those weapons if they're not trying to kill someone?" sister-in-law Ione Guierrez told ABC7. "I need somebody to explain that to me." Junior's father was later escorted out of the courtroom for using profanity as the defendants reportedly laughed during the trial. "These guys are sitting there, just looking at us, just literally laughing," supporter Ilene Mariez told reporters. "The family got really really upset, and the father, towards the end, he was so upset he was using profanity," Mariez added. "So they pulled him from the courtroom."

Defense attorneys cross-examined witnesses like a woman who saw what happened from her apartment window. The witness said Junior motioned for her to call the police. After heading outside to help the teen, she said in disturbing detail his last word was "water."

A total of 14 people are facing jail time for Junior's death. The other nine suspects who are accused of taking part in other aspects of the assault will have a pretrial hearing dated for June 17.

Junior's passing sent waves around the country as clips were seen on social media. A number of celebrities took part in the #JusticeforJunior movement like Carmelo Anthony, Cardi B, Lala Anthony, Rihanna and Wesley Snipes. The street where Junior died was changed from Bathgate Avenue to Lesandro Junior Guzman Way. He was also honored by the NYPD with a scholarship created in his name. The teen was a member of the NYPD's Explores Program and had an interest in becoming a police officer.

"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said at the time of his death. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time."

If found guilty, the five defendants will face life in prison.

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Cardi B attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City
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Cardi B's Fans Are Creeping Her Out With Comments About Her Family

Cardi B loves her fans, but she's making one thing clear to them: her family is off limits. During one of her popular Instagram live sessions, Cardi revealed that she frequently talks to her fan pages but that recently they've been crossing a few lines and talking "hella crazy" about her family, especially her sister Hennessy Carolina.

Before getting into it, the "Please Me" artist made it clear that she's incredibly thankful for her fans and that she goes out of her way to respond to their comments and like their pictures, they just have to leave her family alone.

"I am so thankful that I have people who love me, that follow up with my life, always supporting me, always supporting my music, my looks and everything," she said during the live.

"But it's like bro, no, you cannot talk about my sister. I would go to jail for my sister, I would die for my sister, I would take a bullet for my sister. So nobody could talk about my sister. I could be best friends with somebody for 100 years. Once they say something slick about my sister, you’re getting cut the f*** off, period.”

Cardi warned the Bardi Gang that hands would be thrown, regardless of whether they're a fan of hers or not, over her sister.

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Cardi B Awarded Crossover Artist Of The Year At 2019 Billboard Latin Music Awards

2019 has been a pretty successful year for Cardi B. In February, Cardi won a Grammy Award for "Best Rap Album," and as of Thursday (April 26), the Bronx native was awarded Crossover Artist of the year at the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The 26-year-old won over  Demi Lovato, DJ Snake and Drake in the category. Cardi's been featured on some of the hottest Latin records that have ruled both 2018 and 2019. She has her hit song "I Like It" with Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, and she's featured in the tracks "Taki Taki" and "La Modelo" as well.

Cardi's win makes her the first female rapper to ever win a Billboard Latin Music Award. The MC took to her Instagram stories to thank the publication for the award, a move that comes after a recent squabble she had with gossip page "The Shade Room."

On Wednesday, in a series of now-deleted Instagram videos, Cardi slammed the gossip page for posts she felt harmed her husband Offset's image. In the video, Cardi called out TSR for allegedly only sharing negative news about her label mates at Quality Management, rather than uplifting them and the rest of the black community.

“Everybody that they know that I’m cool with, they always try to get them set up for people to talk sh*t,” she said. "Offset donated 25K to the Ellen foundation for the kids in Africa. Did The Shade Room post it? No… are they posting any positive sh*t and investment talk that he’s been talking about in his interviews? No. But they sure post the way he had drama with his baby mom. They sure posting about his court cases, right?"

Congrats to Cardi on her win. See the complete winners list over on Billboard.com.

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