05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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The Urban League of Portland is gearing up to release, “The State of Black Oregon,” the highly anticipated follow-up to its 2009 report, at 10 a.m., May 5 at the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College.

The document details the status of African and African American communities as they relate to the barriers of poverty, gentrification, educational achievement and entrepreneurship holding back the communities’ economic development throughout the state.

Journalist Bruce Poinsette and photographer Intisar Abioto traveled the four corners of Oregon collecting stories featured in the report.

In this interview with The Skanner News, the two media-makers share their reflections on the trip, insight into what “community” looks like now, and what it could look like in the future for the – roughly --  two percent of Oregon’s community that comprises our state’s Black population today.

*Editor’s Note: text edited for clarity and brevity

The Skanner News: I was reading your report back on the State of Black Oregon and you said that you felt like this project is “necessary.” Why?( http://stateofblackoregon.org/ )

Abioto: It’s reaching into the past, present, and the future of Black people and people of African descent in Oregon. It feels like a multi-model survey of Black life in a way that can be of service to us here. It feels necessary to see what the thing is so that we can affect the thing.

Poinsette: When you look at the narrative of Black people in Oregon, I think the larger story is very Portland-centric, and that’s for obvious reasons because Portland has the largest concentration.

I don’t travel a lot so getting the opportunity to drive out and really get to see how big Oregon was also important.

TSN: Did you feel like there were thriving Black communities outside of Portland in any of the places you went?

Poinsette: Klamath Falls was probably the biggest of them. They have their own Black church, their own Black community. It’s not like a gigantic Black community obviously, but it’s a significantly sized and – even more than Portland -- everyone knows each other. Even if they don’t get along, everyone is still kind of connected.

The other thing is that we talked to more church people and they have a connection to Portland through that, so they’ll make the drive up for revivals and whatnot.

TSN: What was the strongest moment for you during this trip that connected the past of Black Oregon to the present of Black Oregon?

Abioto: I guess being able to go out to La Grande and seeing one of the first Black churches that was built in the state, and it’s still standing and there’s still a community of people that go there.  It’s not all a Black community that attends it, but it’s still there.

There was a Black man that came into Klamath Falls -- maybe from Arkansas in the 40s -- and he was an army vet and passed away there. They did not allow him to be buried in the city cemetery; there was an exclusion law about that. 

But what’s inside of “The State of Black Oregon” that’s coming out is not so much those kinds of stories of historical sites and things. It’s more about the state of things now, so -- statistics, and case studies and interviews and things like that.

TSN: What were some of the things you were looking for in terms of case studies?

Poinsette: Everything: incarceration, religious stories, youth.

One was in Eugene -- there was a “rites of passage” program that, quite honestly is something people in Portland need to be looking at. We need to model some things we’re doing for youth after it.

It’s been there for 18 or 19 years. You have these dynamics in a lot of places like Eugene, where a lot of people are mixed-race. So, to see so many shades and perspectives of these kids -- but coming together around history, around culture, doing Tai Chi in the morning was great.

Abioto: They were doing critical theory, and critical reading. Teachers just teaching them about themselves. Allowing them to read stuff about things like the LA riots, all kinds of things.

Poinsette: When I was younger I was a part of a rites of passage program in Portland called Bridge Builders, which is now defunct. When I go down to Eugene and see this thing, it really reminds me of that and to see it working so effectively -- that’s probably one of my favorite stories.

TSN: After touching all these cities, what’s your sense of the State of Black Oregon right now?

Poinsette: There’s a lot of things we talk about wanting to see more of. We don’t have to go to Atlanta to do this stuff, these people are actually here all throughout Oregon and many of them in one way or another want to connect with more people.

I think it gets overstated that Portland had this really tight community and that’s not entirely true.

The community wasn’t unified, and that’s part of the reason for gentrification. Obviously it’s not the entire reason -- because of political power and capital in general-- but that’s a big reason.

Asian and Latino communities are everywhere. You can’t go anywhere in Oregon and not find a Thai restaurant.

People aren’t playing the game and waiting for people that don’t love them to accept them in these other places. They have more visible unity than you see with us a lot throughout Portland. I know that’s not the most popular thing to say but it’s real.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

TSN: There are a lot of things we could be talking about, but I’ve got to wrap it. Is there anything else you want to add?

Abioto: I want people to use the document, to see it, to be inspired from it. There’s a lot of information, there are a lot of experiences, there are a lot of stats, there’s a lot of recommendations. I want people to debate it, to question what’s in it as well, to come up with their own ideas. To continue to make what Oregon is, what Black Oregon is, what the different presence of a Black Oregon is.

We don’t all have to be the same, or like the same things, or even want to be around each other all the time but we can craft our future as Black people in the state as and as human beings with all the rights and dreams that we can have.

Poinsette: All these great things that people are doing when they’re in these tough situations, they’re not just surviving. They’re actively doing stuff about it. They’re not just doing things to do it. They’re doing things effectively and getting things done.

I want people to see that and be inspired to be active and not just think because we’re Black in Oregon it’s hopeless, or we that can’t do anything because we’re in the Aryan homeland.

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