IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Held New York City Rikers Island Prison
Spencer Platt

Rikers Island Inmate Dies From Complications Of COVID-19

An inmate at Rikers Island awaiting a parole hearing has died from COVID-19 complications, reports several news outlets, including New York Times.

Michael Tyson, 53, had been jailed on Rikers Island since Feb.28. On March 26, Tyson had been moved from the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island to Bellevue Hospital, where he died from COVID-19. Tyson’s name was among the 100 detainees from The Bronx held on parole violations for whom the Legal Aid Society has been seeking immediate release, via a lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on April 3.

“This tragedy would have been entirely avoidable if only Governor Cuomo had directed [the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)] to act decisively from the outset of this epidemic to release incarcerated New Yorkers who, like Mr. Tyson, were especially vulnerable to the virus,” Tina Luongo, the attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Legal Aid Society, said in a press statement.

Tyson was one the 100 inmates named in a lawsuit filed in the Bronx Supreme Court by the organization on April 3. The lawsuit claims that inmates are being held for non-criminal parole violations. Names of individuals in the lawsuit are either elders or have underlying health issues. Tyson was listed as among “the highest risk group” due to his age and unspecified health issues, according to a letter cited therein from Correctional Health Services.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the detainee’s family in their time of grief. The safety and well-being of those in our custody remains our number one priority,” Peter Thorne, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections (DOC) said in a statement sent to TIME.

TIME also reports that a 273 inmates on Rikers Island have tested positive for the virus. Also, 321 jailers and 53 health professionals within NYC's jail system have tested positive for COVID-19, and four jailers have died.

During a press conference, Mayor Bill De Blasio said that 900 inmates have been released from NYC's jail system, with more releases in the works.

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John Boyega Delivers Powerful Speech At Black Lives Matter Rally In London

John Boyega delivered a powerful and moving speech during a Black Lives Matter rally in London on Wednesday (June 3).

“I wanna’ thank every single one of you for coming out this is very important, this is very vital. Black lives have always mattered,” the 28-year-old Star Wars actor said to a cheering crowd. “We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless, and now is the time. I ain’t waiting.

Boyega called out detractors for trying to derail the peaceful protest before sharing his feelings on the recent incidents of police brutality and white supremacist violence that have fueled recent uprisings. “I need you guys to understand how painful this s**t is! How painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing, [but] that isn’t that case anymore. We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland, for Trayvon Martin, for Steven Lawrence, for Mark Dugan.”

In another emotional moment, Boyega addressed Black men. “We need to take care of our Black women. They are our hearts,” he said through tears. “They are our future. We cannot demonize our own. We are the pillars of the family. Imagine this: a nation that is set up with individual families that are thriving, that are healthy, that communicate, that raise their children in love, [that] have a better rate of becoming better human beings and that’s what we need to create. Black men, it starts with you.”

Watch the full speech below.

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Ferguson Elects Ella Jones As City’s First Black Mayor

Ella Jones became Ferguson’s first Black mayor following Tuesday’s (June 2) election. Winning 59.9% percent of the vote, Jones beat out opponent and fellow Ferguson City Councilwoman Heather Robinett. The victory also makes Jones the city’s first female mayor.

“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said in a post-election interview with the St. Louis Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”

Ferguson gained worldwide attention in 2014 after Ferguson police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, and the fight for justice hasn't stopped. Most recently, residents took to the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other police brutality victims.

“In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, our restaurants, our businesses were closed, and now they were trying to open up and we have the protests, so it set a lot of businesses back,” she told the St. Louis American. “So, I am just reaching out to various partners to see how we can best help these businesses recover from the protests and open. We don’t want to lose any of our businesses, because they are the cornerstone of our community, and when we lose one, it just hurts all. My goal is to work, talk to anyone that will listen, to help stabilize these businesses in Ferguson.”

Jones previously ran for mayor in 2017 but lost to incumbent James Knowles III, who served as mayor for three terms.

The former pastor has called Ferguson home for more than 40 years. A graduate from the University of Missouri at St. Louis with a degree in chemistry, Jones obtained a certification a high pressure liquid chromatographer and completed training as a pharmacy technician. Jones' background includes working in Washington University School of Medicine's biochemistry molecular bio-physics department, and as an analytical chemist for KV Pharmaceutical Company, as well as a Mary Kay, where she was a sales director for 30 years before quitting to work in the community full time.

Jones is also the founder and chairperson of the nonprofit community development organization, Community Forward, Inc., and a member of the Boards of the Emerson Family YMCA, and the St. Louis MetroMarket, the latter of which is a decommissioned bus that was retrofitted as a mobile farmers’ market that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities.

Hear more from Jones in the video below.

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Barack Obama Discusses Racism And Police Reform During Virtual Town Hall

Former President Barack Obama joined local and national leaders for a digital town hall on Wednesday (June 3). The 90-minute event put on by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance was centered around “reimagining policing in the wake of continued violence.”

“Let me start by just acknowledging that we have seen, in the last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I’ve seen in my life,” said Obama. “Although all of us have been feeling pain and certain disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others. Most of all the pain that’s been experienced by the families [of] George [Floyd], Breonna [Taylor], Ahmaud [Arbury], Tony [McDade], Sean [Reade], and too many others to mention.”

To the families directly affected by racial violence and police brutality Obama added, “Please know that Michelle and I, and the nation grieve with you, hold you in our prayers. We're committed to the fight of creating a more just nation in the memory of your sons and daughters.”

The ex-commander in chief went on to speak about institutional racism, and what he believes to be the bright side to the recent tragedies, namely in that young people have been galvanized and mobilized into taking action. “Historically so much of the progress that we’ve made in our society [have] been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man, Ceasar Chavez was a young man, Malcolm X was a young man. The leaders of the feminist movement, union movements, the environmentalist movements, and the movement to make sure that the LGBTQ community had a voice, were young people.”

Obama also addressed the “young men and women of color” around the country, who have witnessed too much violence and death. “I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter. That your dreams matter.”

Other town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.

Additional town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.

Watch the full event below.

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