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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shot of demolition site

Nikki Williams said getting out of Portland was the best thing she could have done.

Williams relocated to Mesquite, Texas earlier this year after growing up in Northeast Portland and raising her daughter there. She was the subject of a 2002 documentary, Northeast Passage, about the push to gentrify her neighborhood. Filmmakers Cornelius Swart and Spencer Wolf just successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign for a followup movie, Priced Out, focusing on the aftermath in Williams’ life and in the surrounding community.

At the end of the first film, Williams is shown on screen saying, “As far as gentrification, let it come. Let it come.” The movie chronicles her efforts to rid her neighborhood of drugs and crime, and depcts her calling police on her neighbors and speaking against the construction of an affordable housing project she felt would bring in more crime. At the time, Williams, who lived in a home built by Habitat for Humanity, felt if more neighbors were homeowners, they would feel more invested in the community, take better care of their properties and work together to keep the neighborhood safe.

“Unfortunately, I think people did take my message from the first documentary and twist my words,” William said. “I never said, ‘Kick out all the Black folks, get rid of all the poor people.' I said make this a liveable community, period.”

Williams said since participating in the filming of the first movie, she’s continued her education and learned more about the social and historic factors that contribute to the makeup of neighborhoods.

“What North Portland was allowed to become should have never happened in the first place. It was allowed to become the hood, it was allowed to become a slum,” Williams said. Reinvesting in the neighborhood was not, in and of itself, a bad thing, she added, but officials and developers didn’t take an inclusive approach. “What shouldn’t have happened was the total exclusion of people of color and poor people.”

In the trailer for Priced Out, she describes her discomfort walking down Mississippi Avenue. It’s not just that the street’s businesses and patrons are now overwhelmingly white, she said, but that they seem uncomfortable with people of color, parting the sidewalk as she passes.

“Portland has not felt like home to me, I can honestly say since probably the early to mid 90s,” Williams told The Skanner. “In the last two to 10 years, it’s really felt foreign and alien to me.”

In Texas, she’s closer to family and has discovered a hub of Black people who used to live in Portland but have returned to Texas or other parts of the south – which makes the area feel like Portland used to feel to her. A longtime nonprofit worker, she’s currently caring for her grandson and working to start a culturally specific group for children who are part of the foster care system and the juvenile justice system.

She contacted Swart about a followup to the original movie because of the increased spotlight on racial politics in Oregon in particular, and because she sees what’s happening in Portland as indicative of a nationwide trend, with housing prices rising in major cities nationwide.

Swart told The Skanner he started working on the documentary in 1997, while living in Eugene. Spencer Wolf, a former classmate of Swart's from New York University, was volunteering at the Sabin Community Development Corporation and became a firsthand witness to changes underway in Northeast Portland.

“We both from the East Coast, and we both know how this stuff goes down,” Swart told The Skanner. “There’s just a tradition of neighborhoods turning over.” Cities like New York City and San Francisco have been dealing with a limited supply and high demand for housing for a long time, but other large cities are starting to see similar changes, with poor communities and communities of color being most dramatically affected by housing shortages, he said.

Swart and Wolf spent a year researching the neighborhood’s issues before making contact with Williams, who they decided to use as the anchor to tell the story.

Williams told The Skanner the relative size of communities of color in the Pacific Northwest is one of the reasons gentrification has cut so deeply.

“I think the reason gentrification in Portland hurt so bad is the Black community is just teeny tiny,” Williams said. “Here, I see so many people of color, brown-skinned. I don’t just mean Black, I mean no-White or non-obviously White people.”

“Twenty years ago or so when the documentary was made, I was still hopeful. This isn’t always about race, but about income level,” Williams said. “But I can’t sit here and pretend race is not part of it. Historically, we do things based on, ‘This is going to benefit White people.’”

Part of her is still hopeful that once more people are aware of the effects of policies that enable gentrification and displacement, they will work to put a stop to it. Another part feels there’s too much money to be made from gentrification, and too many powerful people who will benefit.

“I still stand behind my stance that a community has to be healthy in order to thrive,” Williams said. “Portland and other cities need to have an honest discussion about what ‘healthy’ means. For me, healthy does not mean exclusive.”

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