04-21-2021  7:00 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Housing Advocates Push to Free Public Funds for Housing from ‘Discriminatory,’ ‘Antiquated’ State System

Currently, organizations must apply for funds through one of 18 regional agencies. Even state officials decry the system.

Blumenauer Introduces Legislation to Reinstate Superfund Taxes; End 25-Year Polluter Tax Holiday That Slowed Toxic Cleanup

President Biden identified restoring payments from polluters into the Superfund Trust Fund as a top priority as part of a major infrastructure plan.

Lents Park Scene of Police Shooting During Protests

Amid protests across Portland against police brutality a man was shot and killed in Lents Park after reports he had a gun. Some protesters described by Mayor Ted Wheeler as a small group of "violent agitators" lit dumpster fires at the ICE and Multnomah County Sheriff's buildings and smashed windows downtown including at the Nike store building and the Oregon History Centre

Lawsuit Describes Night of Fear for Wall of Moms Protester

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Portland, Jennifer Kristiansen also accused a federal agent of groping her as he trapped her against a wall, leading her to fear she would be raped

NEWS BRIEFS

Five Lucky Oregonians Won a Second Chance at Holiday Winnings

Prizes ranged from jumi,500 to 0,000 depending on the value of the original Scratch-it top prize. ...

Girls on the Run of Portland Metro Awarded Campbell Soup Foundation COVID-19 Recovery Grant

Supporting the Campbell Soup Foundation’s focus on encouraging healthy living, Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful,...

Ageless Awards Honor Older Oregonians Who Redefine Age

Four Oregonians will be honored for their inspiring contributions later in life during a free, public, virtual celebration on April...

Legislators Introduce Bill to Create a Statue of Shirley Chisholm Inside the U.S Capitol

Rep. Yvette D. Clark introduced the bill as part of a larger effort to increase the representation of Black women within the Capitol. ...

Grants Available For Portland Area Black-Led and Serving Organizations

To become a more equitable and just organization, the Providence Portland Service Area Advisory Council seeks to fund community...

Officials: Fire at Portland textile manufacturer was arson

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A large fire that gutted a Southeast Portland textile manufacturing facility early Monday was arson, according to fire officials. Portland Fire & Rescue said in a statement that a security camera recorded someone starting the fire in a nearby...

Guilty verdicts in Floyd's death bring joy — and wariness

London Williams stood in Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., moments before the verdict was read in George Floyd's murder trial Tuesday, wondering how he would cope if the white police officer who killed the Black man was acquitted. “I feel very nervous. It’s...

OPINION

Letter to the Editor: Portland Police Union Response to Chauvin Trial Verdict

The Portland Police Association union says in the coming days, their officers will work hard to preserve our community’s right to peacefully protest ...

Portland Commissioners Release Statement on Recent Protests

The murder of Daunte Wright is a reminder that the call for justice for Black lives, accountability, and systemic community safety reform never stops. ...

An Open Letter To the Community From Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese

Sheriff Reese outlines Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office's strategic plan and goals to reinforce equity now and in the future. ...

Candace Avalos On The Right Track With Public Housing

Our unhoused neighbors deserve a safe and clean place to sleep ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Jury's swift verdict for Chauvin in Floyd death: Guilty

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After three weeks of testimony, the trial of the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd ended swiftly: barely over a day of jury deliberations, then just minutes for the verdicts to be read — guilty, guilty and guilty — and Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and...

Floyd's hometown exalts in verdict but tempers expectations

HOUSTON (AP) — The streets of Houston’s Third Ward, a historically Black neighborhood where George Floyd grew up, echoed with screams filled with the word “justice” in the moments after white former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder. “We...

'Sliver of hope.' Relief, caution as Floyd verdict absorbed

NEW YORK (AP) — When the verdicts came in — guilty, guilty and guilty — Lucia Edmonds let out the breath she hadn't even realized she'd been holding. The relief that the 91-year-old Black woman felt flooding over her when white former Minneapolis police Officer Derek...

ENTERTAINMENT

Webby Award nominations for LeBron, Corden and Garner

NEW YORK (AP) — An eclectic group of people — including LeBron James, James Corden, Jennifer Garner and Sir David Attenborough — have nabbed nominations for this year's Webby Awards, recognizing the best internet content and creators. The International Academy of Digital...

Searchlight Pictures chairs Nancy Utley, Steve Gilula retire

Veteran film executives Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula who in their two decades at Searchlight Pictures oversaw the releases of major hits including “Juno,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are retiring. Disney Studios...

Scott Rudin says he will 'step back' from film projects also

NEW YORK (AP) — Scott Rudin says he's “stepping back” from film and streaming projects, along with his Broadway productions, as the fallout continued for one of the entertainment industry's most powerful and prolific producers following renewed accusations of bullying. In...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'No place for you': Indian hospitals buckle amid virus surge

NEW DELHI (AP) — Seema Gandotra, sick with the coronavirus, gasped for breath in an ambulance for 10 hours as it...

Top Navalny associates detained ahead of protests in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Two close associates of Alexei Navalny were detained Wednesday ahead of protests planned to...

AP PHOTOS: Joy, tears, calls for change after Floyd verdict

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of...

Top Navalny associates detained ahead of protests in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Two close associates of Alexei Navalny were detained Wednesday ahead of protests planned to...

Myanmar refugee crisis brewing as turmoil hits economy

BANGKOK (AP) — Aid workers and activists are warning Myanmar’s political upheavals risk causing a regional...

Majority of nations approve suspending Syria's OPCW rights

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — In an unprecedented vote Wednesday, member states of the global chemical weapons...

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CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Florida A&M University says it is not responsible for the death of a drum major last year, and that he broke the law and school policies when he willingly took part in the hazing that left him dead.

In court papers filed Monday night, the school asked a judge to drop a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of 26-year-old Robert Champion.



"Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators," the court documents say. "Under these circumstances, Florida's taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr. Champion's Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death."

The student's family lambasted the school Tuesday for denying responsibility.

"The Champion family is shocked at the defense FAMU has chosen in the brutal hazing death of Robert Champion," family attorney Christopher Chestnut said. "We simply cannot ignore the audacity of an institution that blames students for their own deaths, yet for decades ignored the hazing epidemic occurring within its own walls."

In a message to CNN, school attorney Richard E. Mitchell said FAMU is not "blaming the victim," but is saying "that his voluntary participation in felony hazing, as a 26 year old grown man and band leader, bars his estate's alleged claim for taxpayer dollars as a matter of law."

FAMU is publicly funded.

Champion died in November 2011 following his beating on a bus in Orlando, Florida, after a football game at which the school's famed marching band performed.

The ritual, called "Crossing Bus C," was an initiation in which pledges try to run down a bus's center aisle while being assaulted by senior members, according to some university band members.

Fourteen people since have been charged in the case. They include 11 facing one count apiece of third-degree felony hazing resulting in death and two counts each of first-degree misdemeanor hazing. Three others each face a single count of first-degree misdemeanor hazing.

In July, Champion's parents filed a lawsuit against the school's board of trustees, the company that owns the bus in which the abuse occurred, and the driver of the bus.

The school, in its response filed Monday night, said Champion watched or at least heard two other students -- one female, one male -- undergoing hazing on the bus before he did, and there is "no allegation or evidence" that he attempted to stop the process before being hazed himself.

"Instead, Mr. Champion allowed himself to be subjected to an act of hazing known as a 'hot seat,' during which he allowed his adult body to be deprived of oxygen, punched, kicked and hit with objects," the court documents say.

Champion's injuries "arose from his participation in unlawful acts of hazing," so the school cannot be held legally liable, it argued.

FAMU noted that many of Champion's "co-conspirators are now under criminal prosecution for felony hazing, yet Plaintiff has not asserted any civil claims against any of Mr. Champion's identified hazers."

The family's lawsuit said FAMU "has a long history of knowledge of and tolerance for hazing within the" band, including incidents that led to hospitalizations over the years.

In November, shortly before the incident involving Champion, the school's Dean Henry Kirby "proposed imposing an immediate long-term suspension of the FAMU Band to combat the egregious hazing," but the school did not implement the proposal after opposition from the band director, the lawsuit alleges.

It also argues that band members "were under the control of FAMU at all times" during the weekend when Champion died.

The bus was operated "pursuant to a valid Florida contract" between the bus company, Fabulous Coach, and FAMU, the lawsuit says.

The count accusing FAMU of wrongful death says the FAMU Board of Trustees owed Champion "a duty of care" and knew, or should have known, that the band engaged in conduct that violated laws and school policies.

The board either "negligently failed to have any policies or procedures governing, monitoring, or disciplining FAMU Band members for facilitation, participation or encouragement of hazing activities" or failed to adequately implement such policies.

While an amount of money was not specified, the lawsuit sought damages for wrongful death as well as for the pain and suffering of the dead man's parents, Robert and Pamela Champion.

FAMU trustees and school officials have taken numerous steps to strengthen rules against hazing since Champion's death, including setting up an independent panel of experts to investigate hazing allegations.

FAMU is creating two jobs: a special assistant to the president on hazing and a music compliance officer. About 60 people have applied for each position.

The band was suspended through the 2012-13 school year. The band's longtime director retired, and the university's president stepped down.

The school also launched a new website, StopHazingatFAMU.com.

But accusations of hazing at the school haven't ended.

Last week, the Torque Dance Team was suspended after a parent anonymously reported that hazing had occurred at an off-campus event over Labor Day weekend, the school said in a statement.

The all-female dance team allegedly conducted hazing involving alcohol consumption and "running up hills," university spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said.

CNN's Josh Levs, Greg Botelho and George Howell contributed to this report.

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