Her fiancé was found dead in a dumpster. Police claim he hid there and was crushed, but she alleges a coverup
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I traveled to Minnesota to connect with community members across the Twin Cities who shared how the region has changed.
MAPLEWOOD, MN — Since losing her fiancé in 2009, Toshira Garraway Allen has dedicated her entire life to helping those affected by police violence. Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Allen has focused on amplifying the stories of those who can no longer speak for themselves.
“I believe in my heart that it's time for all of the stories of all of the people who have been killed by racially motivated murders to stand up and come forward,” Allen told Yahoo News in a sitdown interview in her home. “That's why I fight.”
As the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Allen helps families who have lost loved ones to police violence heal their “mind, body and soul,” according to their website. Personally, Allen is no stranger to death. Her fiancé, Justin Teigen, was found dead in a dumpster on August 19, 2009 after being chased by police following a traffic stop. Allen contends a coverup, while police say there was no foul play involved.
According to Allen, police chased and caught Teigen, beat him up, had canine dogs viciously bite Teigen and then left his body to be crushed in the dumpster.
“When we walked into the mortuary, that's where we saw that it was a clear beating that took place,” Allen said. “Justin had dog bites all over his body. His skull was cracked in half. His wrists were detached from his arms. And you could see where you had the handcuff marks.”
“It was literally a 2009 Emmitt Till,” she added.
But St. Paul Police refute these allegations altogether. Instead, they claim they did everything in their power to “keep the community safe.”
“Unfortunately, the combination of acute alcohol intoxication, a head injury sustained after crashing a vehicle while fleeing police, and asphyxia due to mechanical compression in a recycling truck proved tragic,” St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders told Yahoo News in an email. “We wish he hadn’t hid from officers and that we could have located him so that we could have gotten him the help he needed.”
The differences between the police report and the marks on Teigen’s body don’t add up for Allen. She draws particular connection with what happened to George Floyd on video versus what police said in their initial report, which noted that Floyd died from a "medical incident during police interaction". Allen believes the same kind of coverup is at play with her fiancé.
“I've prayed for 11 years for the truth to come out,” she said. “Once they murdered Justin, I got out as a young girl, I was only 23 years old. I was being followed. I was being harassed. I was being stalked by the police because I wanted answers and I was seeking those answers like anybody would do that loves somebody. I did it for my son.”
“When I saw them kill George Floyd in broad daylight … I felt that the truth would one day come out and it finally did -- the truth of what they have been doing to Black men,” she added. “They couldn't cover it up because he did it in broad daylight.”
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I traveled to Minnesota to connect with community members across the Twin Cities who shared how the region has changed.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — In 2015, 24-year-old Marcus Golden was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of an apartment building. Police maintain that Golden put the responding officers in a compromising position that required the use of lethal force, but Golden’s family believes the story of his death doesn’t add up. One year removed from George Floyd’s murder in nearby Minneapolis, Golden’s aunt and local Black Lives Matter leader, Monique Cullars-Doty, says the coverup officers tried in Floyd’s death feels reminiscent of the same thing that happened to her nephew over half a decade ago.
“There was no actual video tape of the incident that we're aware of,” Cullars-Doty told Yahoo News in a sitdown interview in the East University Avenue apartment building parking lot that her nephew was killed. “And so if you look up Marcus Golden, pretty much everything you're going to find has been manipulated or just complete lies by the St. Paul Police Department.”
The details surrounding Golden’s death remain unclear.
On Jan. 14, 2015, police were called to the apartment building of Golden’s ex-girlfriend, where Golden had allegedly been making threats through text messages. Upon arriving at the scene, two officers observed Golden in his car and then varying accounts began to differ.
Golden’s aunt, Cullars-Doty, says that an eye-witness claimed that one officer slipped on snow and ice on the ground at the scene and his gun went off and the second officer shot at Golden, thinking a shootout was ensuing. St. Paul police, however, claim that they shot at Golden after he drove his car at them at a high speed.
Golden was shot in the back of the head and arm by police, but was never taken to the hospital, despite the Trauma Center at Regions Hospital sitting just a few hundred yards away. Four months after the shooting, a grand jury declined to charge the officers, saying the shooting was justified.
The St. Paul Police Department believe that they did everything they could to save Golden’s life and say if he made a different decision that night then he “may still be here today.”
“Every loss of life is a tragedy, and we understand the families’ anguish over the death of their loved ones,” St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders told Yahoo News in an email.
“Mr. Golden’s case is no less tragic. The thorough investigation showed that he recklessly placed officers’ lives in danger by driving at them. It also demonstrates that officers do not choose these situations; the situations choose them. We respect the grand jury's decision in this case and continue to keep everyone whose life was changed by this incident—Mr. Golden’s loved ones, our officers and their families—in our prayers.”
Immediately following the shooting, no gun was recovered at the scene, according to initial police reports obtained by Yahoo News. But almost 12 hours later, police said they had discovered a gun that was legally registered to Golden. Cullars-Doty alleges foul play on behalf of the police.
“The police got a search warrant for my parents’ house where Marcus had been staying and also for Marcus's vehicle, but they didn't search Marcus's vehicle until after they left my parents' house because they retrieved a gun that Marcus legally owned,” Cullars-Doty said, adding that police built a false narrative for Golden in an attempt to damage his character to the public.
“[Police] really worked hard to try and bury Marcus in lies, but we buried him in love and we continue to stand up for him and to tell his truth,” she added.
The murder of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis has reignited Cullars-Doty’s pursuit for justice.
In January, Cullars-Doty, along with Golden’s mother and grandmother, filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Paul Police Department before the statute of limitations was set to expire. The lawsuit alleges that officers Jeremy Doverspike and Dan Peck used excessive force in violation of Golden's constitutional rights.
“George Floyd wraps into everyone just as Marcus wraps into everyone before him because it was these people that died before [Floyd], that Black Lives Matter had been created for,” Cullars-Doty said.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary, Collars-Doty believes that Floyd’s death has shown the world the ugly truth about police brutality.
“George Floyd has energized the entire world and the country,” she said. “He’s caused people to move who would not move and pushed people who said, ‘I don't get it’ all of a sudden began to get it. But it also still showed us that there's a lot of ignorant people still in the world.”
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I traveled to Minnesota to connect with community members across the Twin Cities who shared how the region has changed.
MINNEAPOLIS — Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was 11 years old when he and his family immigrated to the state from Somalia in 1994. Nearly 30 years later, and on the precipice of the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, Hussein reflected on how he and tens of thousands of other Somalians have, despite their efforts to fit in, often felt pushed aside.
“The Somali community in Minnesota is the poorest community with the lowest home ownership,” Hussein told Yahoo News in an interview in his Minneapolis office. “But it's a community that also is giving this state its economic prosperity because all of those low-skilled jobs in the state of Minnesota are all from immigrants, Somalis and Latinos. The net gain for Minnesota in the last decade has been from immigrant families who have called this place home.”
Hussein’s family, like thousands of other Somalians in the early 90s, came to the Twin Cities (the neighboring communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul) to escape persecution as a civil war raged in their homeland. Despite finding a safe haven, the cultural transition has not always been easy.
“Minnesota was one of the whitest states in the union in the 90s, and so therefore really a place that was a little bit of an oddity,” Hussein said. “It was also a very cold place … but really Minnesota started to become home for many of us because of the opportunities that it presented.”
Minnesota is now home to the country’s largest Somali-American population, and 75percent of the 80,000 Somali immigrants in the state live in the Twin Cities. While Somalian refugees were sent all over the U.S. in the early 90s and 2000s through refugee programs, those who settled in Minnesota began to tell others about the opportunities for jobs, proximity to family and support from local agencies. Soon, more came. But the initial prosperity many immigrants found has had limits. Sixty-five percent of Somali-American households in Minnesota have an income less than $35,000 a year.
As CAIR’s executive director, Hussein is one of the most prominent advocates for the Muslim and Somali communities in the Twin Cities. In his role he works to enhance the community’s understanding of Islam, the religion the majority of the Somali population practice, in addition to “empowering the community for a more just society.”
Hussein says that Somali-Americans, who are by and large Black, Muslim and poor, face discrimination on a number of fronts. Over the last year, with the high-profile killings over the past year of Floyd and 20-year-old Duante Wright, Hussein has spent the bulk of his time focussing on police brutality and the killings of Black men by law enforcement in the area.
“George Floyd gave many Americans, who have ignored us for so long, [an opportunity] to finally see a glimpse of the injustice that is happening in this country,” Hussein said. “And I just hope and pray that they did not compartmentalize that and did not see the system that continues to recreate that.”
“In the most ironic and painful way Duante Wright was killed as this [former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s] was ending,” he added. “I feel like it's a sign to say that the work was never over.”
In 2021, it’s nearly impossible to talk about Black humanity, Black pride and Black resilience without positioning the Black Lives Matter movement — a Black-centered movement to combat violence and systemic racism — at the foundation of the conversation.
But the perception has never been a unilateral one — even as recent as just a couple months back.
The Black Lives Matter movement in late 2020 was labeled a terrorist organization by a prominent law enforcement training group with inaccurate claims that the movement “aims to overthrow the U.S. government.”
Republicans have also done their best to compare the Black Lives Matter movement to the violent mob of President Trump supporters and white supremacists who stormed the Capitol building on January 6.
“Riots should be rejected by everyone, every single time,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said. “Now, are the left hypocrites? Absolutely. I remember what they now are calling ‘insurrection,’ they were justifying just this summer.”
“They’re not interested in Black lives, they’re interested in props,” former Attorney General William Barr said last summer as Black Lives Matter protests took place nationwide. “A small number of Blacks were killed by police during conflict with police -- usually less than a dozen a year -- who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.”
Trump as a presidential nominee in 2016. called the phrase “inherently racist.”
“It’s a very divisive term, because all lives matter,” he said. “It’s a very, very divisive term.”
Despite the vitriol from opponents, Black Lives Matter has outlasted fear-mongering and willful ignorance to become a mainstream identity for some, and a purposeful lifestyle for others. A network of individuals and chapters who center Black livelihood for a better world for all have acquiesced a global movement.
Protests, spurred by the police and white supremacists killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, have taken place in more than 60 countries and six continents. Then last month, the Black Lives Matter movement was nominated for one of the most highly coveted awards in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize, marking an evolution eight years in the making.
"BLM's call for systemic change have spread around the world, forcing other countries to grapple with racism within their own societies," Petter Eide, a Socialist Left member of the Storting, Norway's parliament said in his nomination letter.
For Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of the movement, Black Lives Matter means something “different every single day.”
“I believe Black Lives Matter is an imaginative freedom portal,” Cullors told Yahoo News. “It allows us to dream our biggest dreams for not just Black people in this country, but Black people around the world.”
Today, the message of Black empowerment is spreading in waves. The momentum is building. But none of this came easy. To assume that the movement was made overnight would discount the sweat equity and blood that so many activists and forward thinking Black nationalists sacrificed for years before 2021.
On February 26 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a Black teen, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman after a brief altercation.
The next year, following Zimmerman’s acquittal, and three radical Black female organizers — Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Cullors — created a movement to “support the development of new Black leaders, as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine our destinies in our communities,” called Black Lives Matter.
The phrase "black lives matter" was first used in a Facebook post by Garza after the acquittal; and later, Cullors recognized the power of Garza's words and created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Thus the campaign was born.
“We have created the possibility for this country to finally reinvest into Black people and our neighborhoods and the communities that we come from,” Cullors said. “We must live in a world that really does center abolition. [One that] centers the care and dignity of human beings.”
In the subsequent years from the movement’s inception, hundreds of Black lives were taken by police officers and white supremacists and thousands of demonstrations evolved from social media resistance to resistance in the streets.
In 2014, protests and marches followed the police killings of several Black Americans, including John Crawford III, Ezell Ford, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice, among others. But no two deaths captured the attention of the country, and world, more than those of Eric Garner and Michael Brown Jr., both killed by police officers.
In July, Garner was put in an illegal chokehold by a New York City police officer and died after the officer attempted to arrest Garner for selling loose cigarettes. The following month, in August 2014, Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson after Wilson was allegedly responding to reports of a robbery and assault at a nearby convenience store.
Several months of nationwide unrest and protests followed both deaths as Black Lives Matter activists called on the officers involved to be held accountable. Bush attended demonstrations for Brown on the second night and continued showing up for more than 400 straight days.
Founded in December of 2014, the Movement for Black Lives, or M4BL, a coalition of more than 50 groups representing the interests of Black communities across the U.S., sprang up as another vehicle to transform the Black Lives Matter movement in a systematic and unified way.
“The Movement for Black Lives means that Black people actually have a right and a responsibility to demand what we've always deserved, not just what we concede to,” Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, a M4BL Activist, Highlander Research & Education Center Co-Executive Director and a leader with The Frontline told Yahoo News. “It gives us a place to dream together about what a world, that is good to Black people, would look like in actual practice and hope.”
In tandem with that hope came the reality of violence against Black lives that continued.
In July of 2015, nine Black church worshippers were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., by 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Later that month, Sandra Bland, a Black woman, was found hanging in her jail cell; just three days earlier she was stopped and arrested following a traffic stop. There were more questions than answers in Bland’s death. BLM organized throughout the year, and more specifically for Black women and Black transgender women, who were increasingly becoming victims of deadly violence. By the end of the year, 21 transgender people had been killed in 2015 in the U.S., a record number at the time, and 13 of the victims were Black.
In July 2016, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two Black men, were shot at point blank range by officers in separate incidents. Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, La., by two white officers as they pinned him down. Castile, a licensed gun owner, was killed by an officer in a suburb outside of St. Paul, Minn., as he raised his hands after the officer allegedly told him not to move.
More than 100 protests around the country followed these killings. Professional sports athletes also began to speak out more prominently. NBA superstars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony during the ESPY Awards in July 2016, said, “Enough is enough.” Then in August, Colin Kaepernick became the first NFL athlete to protest systemic racism and police brutality during the national anthem by taking a knee. Other NFL athletes would later follow.
Over the next five years, more Black lives were taken by the hands of police and more protests in the name of Black Lives Matter took place in the streets.
A Pew study published in 2018 found that by May, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter had been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter since the first instance in 2013.
In 2020, Black Lives Matter became a household phrase globally following the killings of Arbery in Georgia, Floyd in Minnesota and Taylor in Kentucky.
Arbery was shot and killed by three white men while jogging in Brunswick, Ga. Floyd was pinned to the ground and had a knee pressed into his neck for more than seven minutes by a Minneapolis police officer for allegedly attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill. Taylor, an EMT, was killed after officers, serving a no-knock warrant, broke into the apartment she shared with her boyfriend and opened fire.
The culmination of each of these deaths sparked international Black Lives Matter marches from the U.K. to New Zealand. Corporations and elected officials alike, many for the first time, began to understand why the term “Black Lives Matter” is necessary, and Black Lives Matter murals began popping up in all corners of the globe.
Bush also ran for Congress in 2020. Bush’s father, Errol Bush, is an alderman and a former mayor of Northwoods, a small city in St. Louis County. Bush watched him run for office every couple of years and running for office was something she had sworn off early in her life, but after Ferguson, something changed.
“When I was asked by an activist, who has just been murdered, to run for office, initially, I said, no,” Bush recalls. “But then when I thought about it, how did we get the heart of the people that were out there on the ground for more than 400 days in rain, sleet, hail, snow, hell no, we won't go? How do we get that heart after they were beat up, beat unconscious, arrested and then made it back out there to the street? How do we get that heart that love for the community into federal office? The only way to do it is to run.”
Cullors believes the power of the movement is in it’s duality.
“The power of Black Lives Matter has really been about being able to both be a protest movement and a movement that's deeply involved in politics,” Cullors said. “We have used protest for the last seven years to challenge the status quo and now it’s our time to get people in office that we believe will stand up for Black lives when they take their seats.”
“Rep. Cori Bush exemplifies what it means to be a leader, a protest leader, an organizer, and taking the seat and not stripping away where she came from,” Cullors added. “She continues to show up over and over again, reminding everybody, that not only is she a proud Black woman, but that she is from St. Louis and she represents the most marginalized people of St. Louis.”
On January 3, Bush was sworn in as the first Black congresswoman of Missouri. Three days later Trump supporters and white supremacists, under the false pretense that the 2020 general election was rigged, stormed the Capitol building in an attempted coup. Bush feels like that could have happened at any time, but it happened during her time — and it took her right back to Ferguson. It’s something she doesn’t take lightly.
“My team and I were locked down in our office,” Bush said. “I never felt like I was about to die or that I could die in that situation. What I felt like was I'm ready like this. This is what we've been doing out there on the ground. ... I'm thinking to myself, I'm ready.”
“It was like, where are my boots? And my bandana,” she said. “You hit these doors, we'll do our best to keep you out. But if you hit these doors, I'm banging until the end. That was my thought process. Like you're not just taking me out, I'm banging to the end because they took me right back to Ferguson until the streets.”
In many ways Bush epitomizes the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2014, she protested in the streets on behalf of Black lives and in 2021 she continues to fight for Black lives in Congress.
“This is work and relationships and infrastructure that's been built for generations,” Henderson, of the Highlander Center, said. “[With Bush in office], it makes it possible that we actually can demand again, what we deserve. Which is to expel the members of this treasonous caucus that were working and colluding with white supremacists to stop this transition of power.”
Black Lives Matter isn’t slowing down, but neither is radical white supremacy and other wild conspiracy theories. This year in addition to Bush coming into office, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon-aligned candidate from Georgia, was elected to office.
Bush had a well-publicized confrontation with Greene in January over the latter’s refusal to wear a mask in a public space in a House office building. “She targeted me & others on social media,” Bush tweeted. “I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety.”
A Greene spokesman later accused Bush of being the instigator and released a video of Greene on the phone without a mask and someone yelling at her to put a mask on.
But the Missouri Democrat’s larger concern is with Republicans who are attempting to put the horrifying violence of Jan. 6 behind them.
“If they choose not to love, respect, honor, and fight for humanity … they need to find another job,” Bush said.
As Black Lives Matter approaches its 8th anniversary, there will certainly be more demonstrations and undoubtedly there will be more hashtags, but there are also more elected leaders in Congress to hold the power structures steeped in white supremacy accountable.
“Even though I understand that it is not on me or the Black and brown community to dismantle white supremacy,” Bush said. “The white community, that's their work. But because we're here, we're going to fight it tooth and nail.”
For many Americans, the swearing in of Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock is just as important as President Joe Biden
The moment Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, a new era at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue also began to take shape — one that hinges upon unifying a country and culture that has been deeply divided over the last four years.
“Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause,” Biden said in his inauguration speech. “I know that speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy to some these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.”
For many, the feelings of hope and change of 12 years past come to mind when Biden was first sworn into the White House on the precipice of the nation’s first Black president in Barack Obama. But this time is different.
Biden takes over from a president that did little to control a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans to date and crippled the country’s once thriving economy. Biden is also tasked with convincing over 75 million Americans who didn’t vote for him that he can lead the country in the right direction. And he’s not tasked with doing so alone, having the nation’s first female vice president, who is also a woman of Jamaican and South Asian descent in Kamala Harris alongside him.
But the next four years of Biden’s term will be measured less by historic moments and more by the differences in Americans’ lives that he’s able to change. For at least his first two years in office, Biden will be able to pass progressive legislation that could change the lives of the most vulnerable.
In addition to Biden taking office in the early afternoon on Wednesday, two Democrats from Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, were also sworn in to their official roles at U.S. Senators by Harris in one of her first official duties as vice president.
For many Americans, hopeful for individual improvements, Biden’s appointment alone would change little about their everyday lives. But Biden along with elected officials who work in their interests, lives can be transformed.
It was a full year of hitting the campaign trails across Georgia for both of the freshman senators that culminated into historic wins that cemented the Biden administration with the ability to pass progressive legislation that will define his first two years as president. The Senate’s two newest Democrats will give the chamber a 50-50 split, giving Harris the tie-breaking vote and effectively giving Democrats the majority.
The unity that Biden speaks of is that for some is prophetic and also attainable in one way or another. But without control of the Congress, Biden’s opportunity to bring about much change would be limited.
Ossoff has spent the last two weeks building relationships with his Republican and Democratic colleagues. During Biden’s inauguration, Ossoff admitted he was overcome with emotions.
“I really had to step back and reflect on what an extraordinary opportunity this is to do good -- and the obligation I have to make the most of it,” Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly before being sworn in. “That’s exactly what I was feeling up there. I can’t waste a minute that’s available to do good.”
Ossoff was sworn into office on Hebrew scripture that belonged to historic Atlanta Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, a civil rights activist and close ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church, where Dr. King once preached, said he’s “ready to get work in the Senate on behalf of Georgians and our country” shortly after he was sworn in.
“I’m ready to start working in earnest with President Biden and Vice President Harris, along with the rest of Georgia’s congressional delegation, to deliver fair, swift and equitable solutions for Georgia to get beyond this public health crisis—including strengthening vaccine distribution and testing efforts, delivering additional direct payments and assistance for Georgia families, workers and small businesses, and more,” Warnock said in a statement. “At this inflection point in our nation’s history, we must also act urgently to protect the dignity of work, expand access to affordable health care, and heal together to ensure Georgia’s hardworking families have what they need to thrive.”
During the oath ceremony, Warnock used the Bible given to him by the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church when he became Senior Pastor.
With no prior experience between the pair, Ossoff and Warnock fall to 99 and 100 on the Senate seniority ranking respectively. But the work they promised during their runs for Senate, if successful, would have the most drastic impact on the lives of Americans.
Ossoff, 33, beat out 6-year incumbent Republican David Perdue for his seat, becoming the youngest member of the Senate since then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden and the first Jewish person to serve the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
Ossoff also becomes the first Democrat sworn in to a full term in the U.S. Senate from Georgia since 1996.
Warnock, 51, also made history after defeating Republican Kelly Loeffler, and becoming Georgia’s first Black senator in the state’s history and only the 11th in the country ever.
But Ossoff and Warnock have promised so much respectively on coronavirus relief, access to healthcare, restoration of the Voting Rights Act and uniting Georgians, a historically conservative state, just as much as the country.
A vote late last week by Vice President Kamala Harris moves the needle closer to passing relief for millions of Americans in need.
“This vote moves Congress closer to passing much-needed COVID-19 relief, and it couldn’t come more quickly for Georgians who have been increasingly struggling due to this once-in-a-century pandemic and the economic crisis created in its wake,” Warnock said in a statement. “Passing this budget resolution is another step toward getting Georgians the federal aid they need to get through this challenging time—including direct relief for families and individuals, strengthened funding to help schools safely reopen, more assistance for small businesses and increased resources to get Georgia’s vaccine distribution efforts on track.”
Ossoff doubled down on this sentiment with a statement of his own.
“As I’ve spoken with mayors and local leaders across Georgia, it’s clear that Georgia’s smaller cities, counties, towns, and rural communities have not received the federal support they need and deserve,” Ossoff said in a statement. “I am fighting for funding to sustain local services and save jobs across Georgia, and will keep communities updated of progress as I fight for inclusion of funding for local communities in upcoming COVID relief legislation.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate’s new Majority Leader, has also laid out that passing additional COVID relief and picking up former President Trump’s impeachment trial are priorities of his.
Americans nationwide now want to be able to provide for their families.
When the coronavirus first made waves in the U.S. back in March of this year, there were whispers that Black people, thanks to the melanin in their skin, were immune to COVID-19. It wasn’t long, however, until death toll statistics proved that rumor false.
A new study in the New York Times released this month found that Black and Latino people in the U.S. are three times more likely to get COVID-19 and twice as likely to die from the virus than whites.
“When the virus first came out in mid-March people started a rumor that it didn’t affect Black people,” recalls East Harlem District Leader Eddie Gibbs in an interview with Yahoo News. “We thought we were superheroes. … It turns out, it was the most false thing I have ever heard of. Black people are the most affected by it.”
Gibbs understands the impact of coronavirus all too well. As district leader in East Harlem for the Democratic Party, Gibbs oversees three heavily African American and Hispanic zip codes, two of which have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in all of Manhattan. But this hasn’t slowed him down from helping the most vulnerable population within his district, senior citizens.
“One of the main roles that I focused on since March was securing and distributing PPE, giving out masks and more importantly food,” Gibbs said. “We were on lockdown and people couldn’t get outside and stand on lines. … As a district leader we were responsible for doing the footwork here in the community.”
In his role, Gibbs is also tasked with understanding the concerns and issues of his constituents and being the liaison to more senior elected officials within the community to enact action and change. Having held the district leadership position for the past four years and serving as a community activist for the past 20 years, Gibbs has been building relationships within his East Harlem community for the better part of two decades. It’s these genuine connections that led him to discover that one of his own was in trouble.
During a visit to a senior center, one of the seniors voiced concern that she had not seen her neighbor in 3-4 days. “Joseph Jarvis is one of the vibrant seniors who would be in front of the building and say hello to everybody,” Gibbs said. “Greet strangers drinking coffee early in the morning. So it was odd he wasn’t out there.”
Gibbs went to Jarvis’ door to conduct a wellness check and there was no answer. He then brought in the NYPD to break down the seniors’ door. Jarvis was found dead in his bed. Gibbs did research to find out more about Jarvis and reach out to family and loved ones to notify them of Jarvis’ death, but it was to no avail. Jarvis had no next of kin and Gibbs had no access to paperwork.
“When a senior passes away and he or she has no next of kin it’s nearly impossible to get their information,” Gibbs said. “If you're not their proxy, the morgue, New York city, or management will give you pertinent information pertaining to their health or their financial status.”
Gibbs also had no idea whether Jarvis had life insurance. To date, Gibbs cannot access Jarvis’ apartment because it is now under the control of the NYPD. The only other way to get in the apartment is a court proceeding, but the courts are closed right now. Yet still, Gibbs believes that Jarvis should have the homegoing he deserves.
“We have to do something for this veteran,” he said. “He served our country. He served for us. We have to go out of our way to help him as well.”
By talking to neighbors Gibbs was able to find out that Jarvis was a 77-year-old veteran, born in 1943. Official discharge documents obtained by Yahoo News showed that Jarvis was a rifle sharpshooter in the Army’s 41st Infantry, fighting in the Vietnam War from November 1963 to November 1968. He served for a total of eight years before moving to East Harlem. During this time he was awarded a Vietnam Service Medal, a Vietnam Campaign Medal and a National Service Medal.
Jarvis’ East Harlem neighbors say he was a caring neighbor who greeted everyone on the floor before heading down on the elevator daily to sit outside his building. He drank his coffee each day and talked to people as they passed by.
Jarvis' cause of death is still not confirmed. While Gibbs has his own inclinations given his community’s COVID-19 case numbers, he has to wait at least two months for the morgue to give him their official findings. This didn’t stop Gibbs from raising funds to bury the veterain.\
“The clock is in fact ticking,” Gibbs said.
He does not want Jarvis to end up on potter’s field on Hart Island, where many of the unclaimed bodies have gone who have died during this coronavirus pandemic. Veterans Affairs will supply the plot and tombstone for a veteran, but they do not cover memorial service costs and caskets. Gibbs started a GoFundMe page to “give Joseph the memorial he deserves”.
The goal is to give Jarvis a worthy sendoff by July 15.
“I wish we could help everybody,” Gibbs said. “But this particular case landed in our lap and this man was a veteran. ... It’s the right thing to do. He sacrificed for us, let’s sacrifice for him.”
A 17-year-old from L.A. county, the first teen believed to die from Covid-19 in the U.S., was denied treatment at an urgent care clinic because he didn’t have health insurance, according to R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California. The teen went to cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and ultimately did not make it.
“The reason this boy delayed seeing the doctor is because he didn’t have insurance,” Parris said in a phone interview to Yahoo News. “ He didn’t want to burden the family. We need to suspend that [necessity]."
And the teen is not alone. More than 27 million Americans, or 8.5% of the population, don’t have insurance. Dr. Rob Gore, an emergency physician based in Brooklyn, New York believes that the way the country views healthcare should be adjusted.
“It's kind of scary to know that people don't don't feel comfortable paying for health care or just paying for coverage in the event that they may be sick with, with coronavirus,” said Gore. “We have to make sure that healthcare coverage is a lot more accessible and a lot more cost efficient for the people that we're trying to serve in the community.”
And yet still, Dr. Gore says no insurance should not equate to death.
“We don't want more people to lose their lives and we really don't know how long this pandemic is going to last,” he said. “We want to minimize the number of deaths.”
Yet for a lot of Americans, the high cost of medical care in the country factors into whether they will seek out a doctor or primary physician. A new poll reveals that 39% of Americans would think twice about seeking medical care for coronavirus due to cost, according to healthinsurance.com.
“That's really sort of a scary statistic in the sense that if you think someone really needs medical treatment, they need to go ahead and get into the doctor's office,” Jan Dubauskas, vice president and senior counsel at healthinsurance.com told Yahoo News. “But they're held back by the cost of treatment and the cost of care.”
Telehealth is an option that can fill the gap of affordable healthcare. Telehealth is the use of electronic information and technology to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration, according to HealthIT.gov. Last week, the Trump administration announced a “historic breakthrough” by expanding telehealth services for Americans 65 and older, the demographic most at risk of severe or fatal infection in the coronavirus pandemic. Under the expansion, Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians who give telehealth services to patients nationwide.
The $2.2T stimulus bill passed by the White House Friday includes a $200 million investment in telehealth. “People can go ahead and have those appointments over the phone,” said Dabauskas. “This is changing the face of healthcare so that people are really embracing digital options a lot more now.”
It’s a shift that in-person healthcare workers and doctors welcome as hospitals become overwhelmed with patients in this current pandemic. As of Sunday afternoon, the U.S. has more than 1025,000 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide.
“Telehealth is an important ally that we have in helping deal with the coronavirus situation because we're trying to dissuade people who aren't exceptionally sick to come to the hospital,” said Dr. Gore. “At least you can have a face to face evaluation with a physician or a healthcare provider just using a camera itself.”
The most vulnerable communities should not suffer because they don’t have health insurance, says Parris. He believes the country needs to get a handle on this in the midst of this pandemic before it’s too late.
“The time for democracy is not during a pandemic.” Parris said. “We only need one rule. Be a human being.”
The above results were gathered through an online poll of more than 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18-64. The poll was conducted from March 20, 2020 to March 23, 2020, gleaning representative samples from each state based on population.
Those simple, yet poignant five words were the culmination of my immediate reaction after watching the film “Queen & Slim."
It be your own people.
The tragic love story of "Queen & Slim", written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas, chronicled six days in the life of a young Black man and Black woman, who met over dinner for the first time after connecting on Tinder. The story escalates when a police stop goes awry when Slim, played by British actor Daniel Kaluuya, shoots and kills the officer after Queen, played Jodie Turner-Smith, was shot by the officer without cause. The two had a critical decision to make. Stay and see how the justice system plays out or run. They chose to run.
From here, a number of events transpired over the course of the 2+ hour film, but it all culminated in the couple reaching an airstrip to board a small plane to escape Cuba, which they saw as freedom. They had planned to live in asylum just as the famed civil rights leader Assata Shakur had done decades before. But Queen and Slim never made it.
The two were gunned down by police in a sad end to an exciting journey. Their deaths were thanks in large part to the Black Man, as he's known, played by actor Bertrand Boyd II (pictured above) and known on Twitter as "the most hated man right now."
Black Man had a chance to help Queen & Slim when he discovered them along the side of the road asleep and in need of assistance. Instead, he turned them over to the police and collected the reward of $250,000 each. It was a calming reminder of the age-old phrase that "all skinfolk ain't kinfolk". In other words, just because we all look the same does not mean we have the same values no moral compass. For no other group is this a thing, but for Black America, we have had this sense that we have to look out for one another. Such was not the case for Black Man however, as he was fine with seeing two people die for his own monetary gain. It begs the question, are Black people just collateral damage to America with a dollar sign attached to us in 2019?
The film showed so many examples of dependence. Time and time again Slim and Queen had to depend on others for help, especially other Black people. It got me thinking about how this theme and storyline plays into regular life in both positive and negative ways. For instance, I ride for all Black America and the betterment of our Black and Brown people. Yet, too often we are sometimes our own downfall. I watched the film and was so proud at moments. At other times I was hurt to see us not prevail.
When it comes to Black-owned businesses we need to support of one another, but as owners, we need to make sure we are also taking care of the business. When we make deals with others, we need to be sure to show up and follow through. When we say we can make something happen, we need to make it happen. I enjoyed "Queen & Slim" because for me, it was all about happiness, freedom, love, safety, honor, loyalty, legacy and pride. Ultimately, it was the lack of all these things that became the downfall of Queen and Slim.
Andrew Gillum: Florida is the only state ‘that could deny Donald Trump single handedly a second term’
Just over a year ago Andrew Gillum was the darling of the national Democratic party, on the verge of becoming Florida’s first black governor. But that never came to fruition. The former Tallahassee mayor lost the gubernatorial race by .4 points in the poll to the eventual governor, Ron DeSantis. It was a crushing blow in a race that the entire country seemed to be tuned into.
But it’s something Gillum says he learned from. In a sit down interview with Yahoo News ahead of last week’s Democratic debate in Atlanta, Gillum admits there were areas he feels he could have done better. “I was attacked in a lot of ways, but one being a socialist,” he said. “And I think I didn't totally grasp the weight of that attack. Had I had it to do again, I would have taken that attack more serious and it, it would have been much more outright and forthcoming in pushing back on that.”
The defeat hasn’t stopped Gillum’s political career in the least. At the top of the year Gillum became one of CNN’s newest political commentators. In March, he also launched a massive voter registration campaign in an effort to turn Florida blue. And just last month, several reports said Gillum has been in talks with Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a potential vice presidential running mate. But Gillum laughed off these reports saying, “It's the one thing in life I definitely don't have a choice around.”
One thing Gillum does have a choice on is aiding the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee in winning his home state. He says Florida is “the only state on the map right now that could deny Donald Trump single handedly a second term.” Last month he tweeted many of his friends running have reached out and asked him how to win Florida.
“It's a state that you have to work,” he said. “We're an insanely close state and [for] a state like ours you can't just campaign to to people of color in my state as if they're a monolith. I don't care who the democratic nominee is. … My job, based off the work that we're trying to do in Florida right now, by registering and reengaging a million voters is to be able to create Florida to be the state that regardless of who our nominee is, we're able to produce a win for them.”
The race for Florida has come down to the wire in the last few elections on the national and federal level. “Barack Obama won Florida by one point, both times,” said Gillum. “Donald Trump won the state by one point. The last five nominees for governor of the state of Florida have lost the state by one point, and in my case by .4%, right?” But Gillum says it’s not enough to run on an anti-President Trump agenda. He believes that voters have already made their opinion on him.
“Elections are won on the future and not the past,” Gillum said. “I think we need a nominee and a vice presidential nominee who's going to be concentrated on painting that kind of a futuristic vision and now one about whether Donald Trump is bad or not. I've already made my decision about that, and have, frankly most voters have as well.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the new bullseye of the 2020 Democratic field and it’s because he’s doing well in Iowa. Buttigieg has been surging in Iowa polls since August, up more than 15 points in most major polls over that stretch. Currently, he outpaces his second closest competitor in Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 9 points in the latest Des Moines Register/CNN poll.
But not everyone is buying the success across the board. In fact, polls show the South Bend, Indiana mayor is doing poorly resonating with black Democratic voters. In South Carolina, Buttigieg is polling at zero percent with this group, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.
Yahoo News spoke to voters in Atlanta, ahead of last week’s Democratic debate and many agreed that Buttigieg’s sexuality was a big reason why black voters were not on board. “His personal life is overshadowing what he’s talking about policy wise,” said one voter. “People can’t see past his sexuality.”
Following the debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ top surrogate, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, told Yahoo News that there’s “obviously” a disconnect among Buttigieg and black voters. Adversely, Tuner said Sanders has been putting in the work in African-American communities for decades and travels to South Carolina often to show that he is committed to their issues. “Decade after decade he has proven himself, where there is injustice he is stepping up. … And he’s gone to South Carolina over 10 times because he wants the African-American community to know he wants to earn their vote.”
Other Democratic candidates also realize Buttigieg’s momentum and they’re doing everything they can to slow it down. In last week’s debate, the South Bend, Indiana mayor was called out seven times by his opponents, the most of any other candidate. During the debate, Sen. Kamala Harris laughed when she was asked about Buttigieg’s prediction that the Democratic primary is a two-person race between him and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Harris called his comments "naive."
An unlikely voice in Martin Luther King III sees promise in Buttigieg and what he can bring to the table. He doesn’t see his sexuality an issue. “I think it’s a matter of people getting to know him and I think the more that people get to know and hear and see, I think his numbers grow,” King III said. “And I think it’s only upside for him. I don’t see a down side.”
In an effort to show his seriousness to address concerns within the Black community, Buttigieg released the Frederick Douglass Plan, which he calls “A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America.” The plan lays out how Buttigieg would seek to take bold steps toward fulfilling long-broken promises of true equity through health care, criminal justice reform and more. It’s a start. But for many critics, Buttigieg presents more questions than answers.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.