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Baltimore Residents Request Peace During Freddie Gray Trials

Less than six months ago, Baltimore erupted in protests and unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. The jury is currently deliberating on the fate of William Porter the first of six officers to stand trial over their negligent handling of Gray while in their custody. Baltimore’s police department are currently bracing their officers for backlash that may ensue if residents are unhappy with the verdict in the case. At city police headquarters, an emergency operations center has been set up so they can monitor what’s happening on the ground throughout this week. Barricades now surround city police headquarters.Commissioner Kevin Davis canceled leave for all officers this week, while bringing in additional officers from other departments. Davis said: “We refuse to surrender to the low expectations of those who wish to see us fail.” [CBS]

White House Holds Meeting With Muslims And Sikhs

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino as well as Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigration, America has been on a heighten since of alert. Recently, several members of the Obama administration including Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Munoz, and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes met with leaders of the Muslim and Sikhs community. (Note: Sikhs are not Muslims, but Sikh men wear distinctive turbans and have also been the target of bias attacks.) 12 influential Muslim leaders included Maya Berry of the Arab-American Institute and Imam Khalid Latif, a New York Police Department chaplain attended the meeting. Topics of discussion included ways in which to change the perception of Muslim and Sikhs in the media. The group also discussed how to deal with anti-Muslim hate crimes, especially amongst Muslim girls who are bullied for wearing their hijabs in school. Following the meeting, Jarrett showed her solidarity with the Muslim community with the tweet, “We believe that an attack on any faith is an attack on every faith.” [NBC News]

Nearly 6 Months Later Sandra Bland’s Family Is Still Searching For Answers

Earlier this year, Chicago native, Sandra Bland made headlines when dashcam footage showed her being pulled over for a traffic violation but following an argument with an officer, she was taken into custody and died in her cell three days later. “We’re not all right,” says Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal. “Any mother who has lost a child is not all right. We’re coping.” While reports speculate that Bland committed suicide, her family disagrees. The district attorney in Waller County, where Bland died, declared that his office would investigate her death as a murder and have yet to finish the grand jury investigation. The Texas Rangers and the FBI announced that they were looking into the case. However, law enforcement has already seemed to have moved on without any solid conclusions. An autopsy showed no signs of struggle and since Bland reported during intake that she previously had suicidal thoughts (following a miscarriage) no charges have been brought against the officers that interacted with Bland prior to her death. [Chicago Mag]

Baltimore School Officials Warn Students: Don’t Protest After Freddie Gray Verdict

After high school students were involved in a violent incident in April during the Freddie Gray protests, Baltimore school officials are concerned for their students safety as the trial against accused Gray assailant, William Porter is under way. School officials have sent a formal notice to parents that students who leave school to participate in the protests will face consequences. “Students need to understand that we support their right to express their emotions, and that we will facilitate opportunities for them to do so appropriately,” Baltimore City Schools chief executive Gregory E. Thornton wrote in a letter addressed to parents, families and community members. “However, we need to make it clear that student walkouts, vandalism, civil disorder, and any form of violence are not acceptable under any circumstances and that students who participate in such behaviors will face consequences.” [Washington Post]

Nonprofit Helps African Orphans Climb Kilimanjaro

Nationally renown rock climber, Ryan Shackles and his organization, Aiding Children’s Villages works with orphanages in Tanzania to provide kids an opportunity of a lifetime. Twice a year, Shackles will take at least 20 kids on a hiking expedition to  Mount Kilimanjaro. “They see [Kilimanjaro] every day and most of them, as poor as they are in poverty, they’d never get the chance to do it,” said Shackles. He says prior to the hike, he asks the kids what they want to be when they grow up and once the hike concludes, Shackles says the kids have found a new level of self confidence and they believe that they can accomplish anything. Shackles, who’s based in Southern California plans to extend his program to provide hiking expeditions to under privileged kids in San Diego [NBC]

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