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Police Should Deploy More Resources And Be More Accountable, Demand Families Of Missing Black Men

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David Robinson engaged a private investigator and has been searching for his 24-year-old son, Daniel, a geologist, who went missing in late June. He has also attempted to find his son with the help of volunteers in the Arizona desert.

Rasheda Smith of Aurora, Colorado, claimed she didn’t hear from authorities for more than a week after reporting that her teen stepson, Xavion, had gone missing earlier this month.

Similar is the story of Robinson, Smith, and the family of Jelani “JJ” Day, an Illinois State University graduate student who has been missing since August.

Credit – cato.org

All the above cases have two things in common – they are all Black people and all are frustrated with the reaction of the authorities after appealing with them to do more to find their loved ones.

Their dissatisfaction with law enforcement among these families grew as tales about the disappearance of Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old white woman, dominated the national news cycle, allegedly as a consequence of “missing white woman syndrome.”

Gwen Ifill, the famous news anchor, used that phrase in 2004 to highlight the media’s preoccupation with missing white women.

 

At least six agencies, including the FBI, committed efforts to the hunt for Petito, whose remains were discovered Sunday at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest, near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“I’ve been pushing for three months to raise awareness because I’m not getting enough from the police department. I want the FBI involved,” Robinson, 51, a retired Army sergeant, said. “When you’re a person of color, you kind of get overlooked. You don’t want to believe that, but when it hits you head on, you can’t do nothing but see what’s going on.”

Robinson, Smith and the Day family have said that it has been painful for them to witness the disparities between the cases of their loved ones and Petito’s, which is now being investigated as a homicide.

 

“The same manpower they gave her, I want the same manpower for my brother,” D’Andre Day, 28, said.

“I understand what [Petito’s] family is going through because we are going through that right now. Jelani just didn’t disappear. Somebody knows what happened. Somebody needs to report what happened. We need everybody involved, the same way they were involved with Gabby.”

 

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, more than 182,000 — or almost a third — of the 543,018 persons reported missing in 2020 included Black Americans, who make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Despite these high numbers, according to Black and Missing, a national nonprofit organisation that offers services to families of missing individuals of colour, media coverage of missing people typically disproportionately focuses on white people.

 

According to the group, this racial discrepancy is due in part to authorities frequently identifying missing children of colour as runaways or criminals, which influences how news sources report their stories.

These frustrations were shared by Derrica Wilson, co-founder and CEO of the organization,.

“It’s a nightmare,” she said. “But we do have a lot of Gabby Petitos in the Black and brown community as well. We understand that not all cases get that level of attention and resources — there were multiple police jurisdictions involved — but we do have cases that want that additional assistance.”

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Florida

Florida Again Tops List Of Best Places To Retire in US for 2021-2022

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Retirees have once again selected Florida more than any other state in the U.S. as the best place to live in, according to a report in Fox Business.

The state has seven of the top 10 places in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best places to retire for 2021-2022.

Sarasota is on the top again, the second year in a row even as its scores dropped in categories of housing, health care and happiness, according to the report.

“People are fed up of living at home for a year now. Many are dreaming of retiring to the beaches in Florida,” said Emily Brandon, senior editor for retirement, U.S. News.

Sarasota increased its scores in retiree tax, desirability, and the job market.

Daytona Beach Enters Top 10

At No. 2 is Naples, while Daytona Beach jumped 12 places to reach No. 3.

Daytona’s climb can be attributed to a low crime rate and good air quality, both of which are factors in calculating the overall happiness score of a metropolitan area.

According to Brandon, when it comes to comparing places for retirement it is important to look out for proximity to health care services, affordable housing, and a robust economy, especially if you want to work part-time.

A representational image.

Pennsylvania and Michigan also entered the top 10 list this year. Lancaster and Ann Arbor were ranked 5 and 9, respectively.

Out of the top 25 places to retire, the Pennsylvania metro area occupied seven spots due to access to good-quality health care facilities.

To reach these conclusions, U.S. News examined 150 of the most populated metropolitan areas in the country to see how they lived up to people’s expectations for retirement by evaluating factors such as health care, affordable housing, and overall happiness.

In order to find out what was important for people who had retired, the survey was conducted across the US of individuals between the ages of 45 and 59 and those who were 60 and above.

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Florida

Families Of Florida School Massacre Victims Settle Suit With School District

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Families of the 17 people who were killed when a lone gunman rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 have reached a settlement amounting to $25 million with Broward County school district, US News reported.

Most of the injured and others who were traumatized by the incident are also part of the settlement, the report said, adding that the lawsuit was filed by the victims’ families, who accused the school district of negligence.

52 Families Part Of Settlement

Attorney David Brill, who represented the families, said Monday that 52 families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland will be part of the settlement. He didn’t say how much each of the families will get but the largest share of the settlement will be given to families of 14 students and three staff who were killed. The share each family gets will be equal.

This development comes after the state Supreme Court decided in favor of the school district in a ruling which would have put a $300,000 limit on total damages without approval from the Legislature.

‘Painful Money’

“The settlement is painful money. It’s hard to talk about money when our daughter was murdered. How could we be happy about the money?” said Andrew Pollack, father of 18-year-old Meadow, who died in the shooting.

Of the 17 injured, 16 will get the money as the family of one seriously wounded student, Anthony Borges, have filed their own lawsuit, contending that his injuries require a lifetime of treatment and larger payment. Borges received serious gunshot wounds on his lungs, abdomen, and legs.

Some of the victims of the massacre.

“Anthony’s physical wounds were healing, but the post-traumatic stress disorder is now manifesting itself and is more troubling,” said their attorney, Alex Arreaza, who expects that a settlement will be reached soon.

Money will also be paid to 19 people who suffered severe trauma because of the incident.

Families of other students have lawsuits pending against the local Sheriff’s Office and former Deputy Scot Peterson.

Pearson, who is also facing criminal charges, was the school’s armed resource officer and has been blamed for his failure to enter the school building and stop the shooter.

He said he didn’t know at that time where the shots were coming from.

The families are also suing two security guards who they say were unable to respond when the gunman reached the campus.

The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

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Florida: Freed Murder Convict Charged With Killing Single Mother

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A convicted murderer who was released from jail last year has been charged with killing a South Florida resident whose body was found in a canal, three weeks after she went missing, authorities said.

Sunrise Police charged Eric Pierson, 54, on Oct. 16 with first-degree murder for killing Erika Verdecia, 33, who leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter, hours after her body was fished out of the canal near Fort Lauderdale, ABC News reported.

According to a statement issued by police, Pierson confessed that he stabbed her multiple times with a screwdriver on Sept. 25.

He had served 27 years of a 40-year jail term, before walking out of prison last year, for beating and strangulating to death Kristina Whitaker (17) in 1993. Her death spurred the push for longer sentences.

After her killing, the state of Florida banished parole and made it compulsory for convicts to serve at least 85% of their jail term. But the change couldn’t be applied retroactively leading to Pierson, who was eligible, to be released.

A mugshot of Erika Verdecia.

Back in 1985, he broke into a home and slit a woman’s throat, serving just four years of an 18-year sentence for first-degree attempted murder before getting out on parole.

Speaking to South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Verdecia’s mother Carmen said she fails to understand why such a dangerous criminal was out on the streets and free to attack her daughter.

“Why is he on the streets? Why?” she said. “We will not stop this time. We will ensure that he goes straight to the electric chair.”

A video grab of Erika’s mother Carmen Verdecia speaking to the media.

The slain woman’s family reported her mission on Sept. 27, three days after she left home and didn’t come back.
Carmen then contacted Erika’s friends on social media and was told that she was seen with a man who said his name was Eric Pearson.

When Carmen searched the name on the internet, she was shocked and horrified to see stories of his past crimes.

She went to the police and informed that her daughter was last seen with a murderer but it was too late.

Girlfriend Nails Killer

According to court documents, police said they had stopped Pierson’s truck on Sept. 25 with Erika by his side but she didn’t appear in distress. It was the day when detectives say he killed the woman.

On Oct. 4 when police contacted him again, he told them Erika had walked away when he stopped for gas shortly after the traffic stop on Sept. 25.

He claimed he never saw her again after that though surveillance video showed that the gas stop happened before the traffic stop and she was with him in the vehicle at the gas station.

On Friday, police again questioned him and when he let them search the truck, they found blood stains inside.

Later, on Friday, his girlfriend called police and told them that Pierson stared at the canal behind their house saying, “Damn that bitch stinks.” She also told police that he said, “If they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”

Erika’s body was fished out of the canal a few hours later.

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