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Hannah Peters

New York May Become The First State To Decriminalize Sex Work

Two New York senators introduced a bill that would decriminalize sex work and remove prior charges related to prostitution from a sex worker's record. If passed, New York would become the first state to legalize it in the country.

Sen. Jessica Ramon and Sen. Julia Salazar along with the advocacy group Decrim NY introduced the progressive bill at the New York State Assembly this week. If passed, in New York it would be legal to buy and sell sex under certain circumstances. The bill would regulate where prostitution can take place, in hopes to make sex workers safer.

Under the new legislation, any misdemeanor charges related to prostitution would be removed, however, prostitution near a school would still remain a misdemeanor. The penal code won't change or outlaw sex trafficking as it relates to minors.

"We want to bring sex workers out of the shadows and ensure that they are protected," Ramos said. "We will finally make strides against trafficking by empowering sex workers to report violence against them. Sex work is work and everyone has an inherent right to a safe workplace."

Rebecca Zipkin and Alexi Meyers both members of a nonprofit group that advocate for sex trafficking victims supports protecting sex workers but says decriminalizing it doesn't make conditions safer.

"Most often it increases sex trafficking," Zipkin said."If you legalize, you are condoning brothels to become businesses and pimps to become business managers. That's what we've seen around the world. The argument about safety is false."

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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. pic.twitter.com/h3o0GxeFLR

— 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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