Louisiana Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Armed Robbery Freed After 17 Years In Prison

A Louisiana man was released from prison Thursday (June 27) after spending over 17 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit. Royal Clark Jr.'s road to exoneration began after the New Orleans Innocence Project convinced the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office to re-examine fingerprint evidence in his case, reports.

The IPNO filed a motion to throw out Clark's conviction after he was proven innocent. Judicial District Court Judge Donald Rowan vacated the conviction following a short hearing Thursday.

Clark walked out of Louisiana’s Angola prison one day after his 42nd birthday. He was greeted by his mother, father, sister, and teenage son.

Clark was wrongfully convicted on the strength of an eyewitness who falsely identified him as the suspect in a Burger King robbery in 2001. The guilty verdict was handed down on Clark's 25th birthday.

Although Clark always maintained innocence, it wasn’t until the INPO began representing him last year that he finally had a chance at being released. The organization requested that the D.A. take another look at a fingerprint found on a cup used by the suspect prior to the robbery. Authorities ran the fingerprint through a state database and it matched that of Jessie Perry, a 54-year-old man serving 30 years in prison for a string of similar robberies.

Authorities said that the advancement in technology used to exonerate Clark wasn’t around at the time of the crime.

"There is currently no clear law that gives prisoners a right to ask for these forensic database searches in cases not involving DNA," the IPNO pointed out in a news release according to The Advocate. "If the [D.A.'s Office] had refused to re-examine and run the prints, Mr. Clark would likely have stayed in prison until he was 74 years old for a crime he did not commit.”

The IPNO is advocating for the Louisiana Legislature, or the Louisiana Supreme Court, to “create a clear legal right for prisoners to access forensic databases in appropriate cases so that truth can prevail.”


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In response to Clark's exoneration Jefferson Parish D.A. Paul Connick said in a statement that his “obligation to seek justice does not end upon conviction.”

“When the evidence reveals an individual was wrongfully convicted, my office will take action to correct that injustice,” Connick said.

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Father And Son Who Brutally Murdered Ahmaud Arbery Denied Bail

Travis and Gregory McMichael, the father-son duo charged for the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery, were denied bail and must remain behind bars, a judge ruled on Friday (Nov. 13). Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, urged the judge to keep Travis, 34, and Gregory, 64, in custody.

“These men are proud of what they've done,” she said according to NBC News. “In their selfish minds, they think they're good guys.”

William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor to the McMichales', was denied bail over the summer.

Bryan recorded Arbery’s murder. All three men have been indicted on suspicion of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Investigators found racist text messages and social media posts from Travis McMichael,  Cobb County prosecutors noted in court on Thursday. Bryan also told authorities that he heard Travis use the n-word after fatally shooting Arbery.

Arbery, 25, was out for a jog in late February when the men, approached, cornered, and shot him to death. The incident was recorded on Bryan’s cell phone.

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Activist Cori Bush Becomes Missouri’s First Black Congresswoman

Ferguson activist Cori Bush is making history as the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress. Bush, a Democrat, beat out Republican Anthony Rogers and Libertarian Alex Furman in Tuesday’s (Nov. 3) election.

“Mike Brown was murdered 2,278 days ago. We took to the streets for more than 400 days in protest,” Bush tweeted on election night. “Today, we take this fight for Black Lives from the streets of Ferguson to the halls of Congress. We will get justice.”

The historic victory came 52 years after Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress. “I shouldn’t be the first,” noted Bush in another tweet. “But I am honored to carry this responsibility.”

The First.

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) November 4, 2020

A nurse, pastor, single mother and “lifelong St. Louisan,” 44-year-old Bush, who will be sworn in at the top of the year, previously ran for a Senate seat in 2016 and 2018. Her Congressional journey was chronicled in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House.

And she's not alone in making political history during this year's election. Aside from Baltimore electing its youngest mayor ever, a record 298 women ran for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of the nearly 300 candidates, 115 identified as Black, Latina, or Native American.

Other pioneering political wins included Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones becoming the first openly gay and openly gay Afro-Latino members of Congress, and Sarah McBride, who became the first trans U.S. Senator.

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Former Minneapolis Officers Who Killed George Floyd Will Be Tried Together, Judge Rules

Four former Minneapolis officers on trial for killing George Floyd, will not be allowed to move the case out of state and will be tried together, a judge ruled on Thursday (Nov. 5).

Attorneys for the officers argued that their safety would be jeopardized and they would not receive a fair trial if the case moved forward in Minneapolis, but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill rejected the notion citing that all four of the former officers will be tried together to “allow this community, this State, and the nation to absorb the verdicts for the four defendants at once.”

Floyd, 46, was killed in May after being arrested outside of a Minneapolis grocery store over an alleged fraudulent $20 bill. The fatal arrest was captured on cell phone footage and showed former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin with his knee in Floyd’s neck while three other cops held him down.

Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, and second-degree murder. Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng are charged with aiding an abetting intentional homicide, and second-degree murder. All four men were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, and are currently free on bail.

In his decision, Judge Cahill ruled that the trial can be televised and live streamed online. He agreed to revisit the idea of moving the trial if necessary but noted, “No corner of the State of Minnesota has been shielded from pretrial publicity regarding the death of George Floyd. Because of that pervasive media coverage, a change of venue is unlikely to cure the taint of potential prejudicial pretrial publicity.”

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