05-21-2018  9:42 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

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Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

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Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

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Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

The Latest: Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on the case of LGBTQ discrimination at an Oregon high school.6:30 p.m.:The principal of an Oregon high school will resign and its school district will commit to improving the climate for LGBTQ students as part of a settlement reached between the American Civil...

Paul Allen donates jumiM to Washington gun initiative

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Man accused of trying to kill woman with opioid spray

MUKILTEO, Wash. (AP) — An Everett man is accused of holding down his ex-girlfriend at a Mukilteo hotel, shoving Xanax down her throat and forcing a fentanyl spray up her nose in what police say was attempted murder.The Daily Herald reports the woman survived and was able to escape and alert...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

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Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

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Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

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The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Voters choose nominees in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas

ATLANTA (AP) — Four states cast ballots Tuesday as the 2018 midterm elections take shape. Voters in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky hold primaries, while Texans settle several primary runoffs after their first round of voting in March. Some noteworthy story lines:IN THIS #METOO MIDTERM, A BIG...

China sentences Tibetan activist to 5 years for separatism

BEIJING (AP) — China has sentenced a Tibetan language activist to five years in prison for inciting separatism after he appeared in a documentary video produced by The New York Times.Tashi Wangchuk's lawyer Liang Xiaojun told The Associated Press that a judge in Qinghai province passed down...

Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Actress who accused Weinstein needs money to finish film

NEW YORK (AP) — Actress Paz de la Huerta has started a crowdfunding campaign to finish a movie she began making years before she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape.The movie "Valley of Tears" is her take on the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Red Shoes," about a little girl with a...

Sony invests in image sensors, acquires more of EMI Music

TOKYO (AP) — Electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. said Tuesday it plans to invest 1 trillion yen ( billion) mostly in image sensors over the next three years, under a revamped strategy to strengthen both hardware and creative content.Sony also plans to buy for [scripts/homepage/home.php].3 billion a 60...

At Cannes, a #MeToo upheaval up and down the Croisette

CANNES, France (AP) — Fifty years after filmmakers shut down the Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious Cote d'Azur extravaganza was again shook by upheaval.From the start to the finish, the 71st Cannes was dominated by protest and petition for gender equality, culminating in the...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Miss Nebraska wins Miss USA competition

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Sarah Rose Summers from Nebraska beat out 50 other women Monday to win this year's...

Deadly Florida airport shooting results in plea deal for man

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What is lava haze? A look at Hawaii's latest volcanic hazard

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Congo Ebola vaccination campaign begins with health workers

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo began an Ebola vaccination campaign Monday in a northwest provincial capital...

Social media under microscope in emotive Irish abortion vote

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Aide: Palestinian leader making swift recovery in hospital

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is alert and making a swift recovery after being...

ADAM GELLER, AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — On an unusually cool night for summer, Mike Perry and his crew thread the sidewalks running through Staten Island's Stapleton Houses, tracked by police cameras bolted to the apartment blocks and positioned atop poles.

Perry's group, five black men and one Latino, all acknowledge past crimes or prison time. Perry, himself, used to deal drugs around another low-income housing complex, two miles away. Now, though, their Cure Violence team works to defuse arguments that can lead to shootings. Their goals are not so different from those of the police.

While Perry gives cops their due, he keeps his distance. Two years ago, within walking distance of this spot, a black man named Eric Garner died in a confrontation with police officers. Garner was suspected of selling loose cigarettes; an officer wrestled him to the ground by his neck. His last words — "I can't breathe" — were captured on cellphone video that rocketed across the internet.

"I know those officers did not mean to kill Eric," says Perry, a 37-year-old father of two who knew Garner.

But, "you need to look an officer in the eye who doesn't understand and go, 'Brother, I want to get home, too.' They're defending these communities that they don't know."

As Americans struggle with the deaths of black men in encounters with police across the country, and now the killing of five Dallas officers, Perry and his fellow Staten Islanders have the dubious distinction of being a step ahead. Since Garner's death in July 2014, they have confronted a measure of the anger and pain the nation now shares.

A nationwide poll last summer by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs found that 81 percent of black Americans said police are too quick to use deadly force, compared with 33 percent of whites. But the voices of Staten Islanders speak to attitudes and experiences that are often more complicated than poll numbers.

About 3,000 police officers live there, many in the heavily white neighborhoods on the southern two-thirds of the Island. In those neighborhoods, protests that followed Garner's death in July 2014 were met with "God Bless the NYPD" yard signs and pro-police rallies. The tensions intensified after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer for Garner's death. Two weeks later, a man claiming vengeance killed two officers in Brooklyn.

On an island of 475,000 that is 75 percent white and mostly suburban, the North Shore's comparatively dense neighborhoods are home to nearly all of the borough's African-Americans.

Leroy Downs, 41, has lived on Staten Island since he was 5 and works as a drug treatment counselor. But tonight he talks about, just maybe, becoming a cop, though as a black man he has been stopped repeatedly by police — without cause, he says.

Downs testified against the NYPD when a legal advocacy group sued and won a 2013 ruling that sweeping stop-and-frisks violate the constitutional rights of minority New Yorkers.

He sees little change in the relationship between cops and minorities despite the verdict. But he hasn't given up hoping.

"I can't imagine the world without police," he says. "It'd be anarchy."

The city says it has made some progress. Last year, it began assigning pairs of officers to specific neighborhoods, rather than having them rush from call to call across precincts. They are mandated to spend a third of their shift "off-radio," talking with residents to forge relationships.

Jessi D'Ambrosio, 32, and Mary Gillespie, 28, are the new "neighborhood coordinating officers" for the six-building Richmond Terrace project where Garner once lived. When the two officers, both white and longtime Staten Islanders, walk through the grounds, residents readily return their greetings.

"They're such homeboy, homegirl," tenants association president Eunice Love says of the two officers. "They know how to get along with people and relate and we love that."

D'Ambrosio measures progress in everyday experience. When one resident called to report a teen wanted for breaking into nearby houses, he took it as a sign of trust.

"It's small steps," he says. "You know you can't just wake up tomorrow and think the world is going to change. But they seem, still, to have accepted us."

Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother, wants more. She stands in the small park across the street from the spot where he fell and cringes as a man who appears to be homeless sprawls across a bench, asleep though it's not yet 1 p.m. And a young woman — "Alcohol Gives You Wings," tattooed down her left arm — sits on the edge of a dry fountain, trying to sell used shoes.

"How much good did they do?" Carr says of police. "Where are they when you need them?"

If her son's death means something, Carr says, officials can clean up this block where regulars say drinking and drugs have increased since Garner's death. She wants New York to turn the park into a playground, reserved for children and guardians.

Doug Brinson, who sells T-shirts from sidewalk tables, rails against police for Garner's death. But fighting and drinking on this block makes clear the need for police, he said.

"You've got to coexist with the guys on the beat. You've got to," he says. "It's only fair."

 

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This story is part of Divided America, AP's ongoing exploration of the economic, social and political divisions in American society.

Adam Geller can be reached at features@ap.org. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AdGeller

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