The Black Snob

Politics. Pop Culture. Pretentiousness.

Archive for the ‘crime’ Category

Dying For Dollars

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There are jobs that people take on, like becoming a police officer, firefighter or soldier, where you know there’s a good chance you could die while at work. You know this. Everyone knows this.

That’s why there are fund raisers for the families of those who have lost husbands and wives in shootings, fires fights or in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were doing dangerous work that saves and protects people. You could say you can never pay someone enough for that.

Then there are the jobs that aren’t worth dying over — for anyone. Your minimum wage, “not my problem” jobs. Horrible, sometimes hard, sometimes mundane jobs that happen to many people at some point in their lives. There are no benefits. The hours can be brutal. But you need the cash for yourself or your families, so you put up with it. And if someone ever put a gun in your face for the register you give them the cash because — seriously — you’re not dying for $7 an hour.

But the reality is many people working low paying service jobs do find themselves, unwillingly, in the line of fire and some do wind up dying for simply showing up at work that day. And it is in these tales of ordinary people who get killed working mundane jobs where you learn why and how corporations, and people serviced by them, get their reputations as being cold, soulless entities.

Take the case of Taneka Talley.

In March of 2006 she was stocking shelves at a Dollar Tree in Fairfield, Calif. when a man came into the store and shot and killed her. According to California law, businesses have to pay death benefits to the families of people who lose their lives while on the job, with an exception for employees killed by individuals they have a “personal” relationship with, i.e. spouses who kill their husbands or wives at work. But Dollar Tree contested paying Talley’s 11-year-old son death benefits because Talley is black and was killed by a white man who said he was looking to kill a black person that day.

He just happened to choose Talley.

In the eyes of the lawyers for Dollar Tree and their insurance company, that counted as a “personal relationship.” That act of extreme racism that lead to murder was tantamount to an abusive spouse executing their not-so-loved one. Now facing a boycott, a court case that they stand a good chance at losing and some extremely ugly press, Dollar Tree is offering to pay the full benefits.

Of course they are. It only took them two years.

In a statement Monday, Dollar Tree said it was acting voluntarily because “we feel this is the right thing to do.” But a lawyer for Talley’s mother and guardian of her 11-year-old son said the company was clearly responding to the public anger that followed news coverage of the case.

“I think they would like this to be done with,” attorney Moira Stagliano said. “The media helped settle this claim.”

Stagliano said she’s optimistic about resolving the case but isn’t there yet. “What they have offered is not quite the full value,” and negotiations are continuing, she said. (San Franscico Chronicle)

Then we have the more recent tragedy of Jdimytai Damour, the temporary worker trampled to death on “Black Friday” at a Long Island Wal-Mart.

The store was set to open early at 5 a.m. but not early enough for the shoppers who smashed the glass doors and ran right over Damour to get their discounted Nintendo Wiis and digital cameras.

His death was so profound for Wal-Mart that they had to close for a few hours, but somehow were able to put the grief aside and … those brave little soldiers … reopen the store when Damour’s body wasn’t even cold earlier that same afternoon. Who knows if the other employees working that day even got to grieve in those few hours the store was closed. Never mind the fact that some shoppers refused to stop shopping as Damour’s body remained on the floor. Even when the cops asked them to leave they were indignant. They’d been waiting outside all night, after all, and needed to buy their cheap crap. Who cares if someone died in their pursuit of manufactured bliss? He was just a temporary worker with family and friends who loved him and affectionately called him “Jimbo” for short.

Obviously not human.

Or at least not deserving of any dignity and humanity in death. Not when the game of death for dollars is being played in America. Four other shoppers, including a pregnant woman, were also injured in the melee.

Damour’s family is now suing Wal-Mart because … well, who can blame them? They obviously weren’t prepared to handle the 2,000 person mob that spelled Damour’s demise. Many believe he was placed at the door because he was so big and tall (Damour was 6-foot-5 and weighed 270 pounds), and that his death was a combination of “mob mentality,” poor crowd control and Wal-Mart’s low, low prices.

(Terry) Hemeyer, who also teaches marketing, public relations and advertising at the University of Texas at Austin, places the onus on retailers to prevent such accidents. He said that throughout history, consumers have been attacking each other to get sale items that are in short supply, even when people are lined up waiting for the doors to open.

Hemeyer, who made a point not to attack Wal-Mart, said if store managers don’t understand the “herd mentality,” then they are not doing their jobs.

“In other words,” he said, “if you do something that the doors open at 8 and that’s when the sales start and it’s a limited supply, I think that’s a formula for a problem because everybody has to be there at the same time.” (Houston Chronicle)

Pictures of Damour, a 34-year-old Jamaican, were rarely seen as this story was reported on in the press. Even online it’s hard to find an article about him. Most stories focus on Wal-Mart or whether our society is decaying because people are dying for cheap Chinese-made goods at big box retailers. But people have always died working retail. It doesn’t happen often, but ask anyone who works at a gas station, liquor store, late night diner or fast food restaurant or 7-11 how they feel about their safety and you’ll know that you don’t have to be a police officer to face death at work.

I just hope Wal-Mart, which doesn’t have the best record on this, does the right thing in Damour’s case. If not out of the goodness of the heart I know Wal-Mart doesn’t have, out of the the good PR they would get in a time where Wal-Mart is blamed for pretty much ever evil in our society. It’s true he was a temporary worker, but he died for their dollars.

Let them know why they should care.

To contact Dollar Tree, click here.
To contact Wal-Mart, click here.


Written by blacksnob

December 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

He Makes Your Crappy Governor Look Good

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Gov. Hot Rod goes down! … And on the way out manages to poop on an otherwise wondrous Obama-riffic election.

CHICAGO — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday morning on corruption charges, including an allegation that he conspired to effectively sell President-elect Barack Obama’s seat in the United States Senate to the highest bidder.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, called his sole authority to name Mr. Obama’s successor “golden,” and he sought to parlay it into a job as an ambassador or secretary of health and human services, or a high-paying position at a nonprofit or an organization connected to labor unions, prosecutors said in a 76-page affidavit by the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.

He also suggested, the affidavit said, that in exchange for the Senate appointment, his wife could be placed on corporate boards where she might earn as much as $150,000 a year, and he tried to gain promises of money for his campaign fund.

If Mr. Blagojevich could not secure a deal to his liking, prosecutors said, he was willing to appoint himself.

“If I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself,” the governor said in recorded conversation, prosecutors said. (Source: New York Times)


Our bi-state neighbor Illinois has always been the City Mouse to Missouri’s Country Mouse. Largely because Illinois is home to Chicago, the third largest city in the United States. We in St. Louis could have been Chicago about 100 years ago when we were the fourth largest city in the US, but we got all protectionist about some damn ferry boat traffic and the railroads expanded rapidly and the rest is history.

It’s not that we don’t have corruption in Missouri. Heavens to Murgatroid, we do! It’s just, our drama always looks so hokey by comparison. For instance, our dorkwad, asshat, boy wonder governor, Matt “Little Boy” Blunt, cut state medical benefits for thousands of Missourians and got caught up in a very Bush-lite email records scandal. He chose not to run for re-election this year, realizing he was going to get owned by the Democratic competitor, former attorney general Jay Nixon. Either that, or there was another scandal under his bed. He wasn’t very specific when he declared that he accomplished all he set out to do in a turbulent, effed up three years. 

I don’t know. It didn’t matter. Nixon won anyway, calling his competition Nanny-Nanny-Blunt-Bush over and over.

Over in City Mouse country, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has a 76 page indictment that includes everything from shaking down the friggin’ Chicago Tribune in a pay-for-play scheme/fire-your-reporters-because-I-hate-their-faces gambit with a little quid pro quo on the state helping out with the media company’s sale of the Cubs … to demanding between half-million to a million dollars in cash, plus an appointment or ambassadorship for President-Elect Barack Obama’s vacated senate seat. You know? Because if he couldn’t get some scratch he might as well appoint himself. Hint, hint. Wink, wink!

Prosecutors also alleged Blagojevich expressed feeling “stuck” as a sitting governor and spent a large amount of time weighing whether he should appoint himself to the vacancy–possibly to avoid impeachment and help remake his image for a potential 2016 run for the presidency. A recent Tribune poll found Blagojevich with a record low 13 percent job approval rating. (Chicago Tribune)

CNN (among others) are speculating that potential senate appointee who may have balked and tattled on the already embattled Blagojevich was none other than Obama adviser and long-time family friend, Valerie Jarrett. She withdrew her name from consideration and took a job in the White House. And considering the fact the FBI has been working on Blagojevich’s brand of Chicago-land politics for some time, this must have been the turd cherry on the shit sundae the federal government has been making in hopes will take down (another) Illinois governor.

But who’s surprised that Blagojevich is being accused of this? Illinois has a hit streak going of douchy governors not matter what party they come from, with one presently serving a six year prison sentence. So far Obama is not getting beat up over this. And I’d actually consider him among the “victims” if the tale about Blagojevich trying to get Jarrett to cough up cash for the seat is true. But this will certainly be entertaining. Perhaps Blagojevich didn’t want the Republican governor to be in prison alone … or, this may explain why he was lobbying on former Gov. Ryan’s behalf to get a pardon from President George W. Bush. Perhaps Hot Rod knew what was coming down the pike and needed some karma on his side.

Hot Rod’s karma came up all kinds of fail though. All kinds.

Written by blacksnob

December 9, 2008 at 9:51 pm

No Jail for Woman Who Cried Big, Black Obama Supporter Attacked Her

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Black people, don’t hold your breath waiting for explanations or apologies!

From Associated Press:

PITTSBURGH – A McCain campaign volunteer accused of making up a story about being robbed and assaulted in Pittsburgh by a man who disliked her McCain bumper sticker will enter a program for first-time offenders.

Under the deal announced in court Thursday, 20-year-old Ashley Todd will be released from jail and required to undergo mental health treatment. Her record eventually will be expunged as long as she goes to treatment, stays out of trouble and keeps authorities apprised of her whereabouts.

Todd, of College Station, Texas, has been jailed since Oct. 24, when police say she admitted making up a story about being robbed near a Pittsburgh bank and then assaulted by a man who scraped a backward letter “B” into her cheek.

Once again, none of this is funny — even if for the first time since never no black men were corralled off the street and roughed up in an effort to find Ms. Todd’s phantom attacker. Anyone who is familiar with American history or just recent history knows Todd is not the first white woman to cry wolf and claim a black man assaulted her leading to the harassment, arrests and in many cases imprisonment or deaths of black men. And I’m not even going to get into the times when one false cry lead to black settlements and towns being burnt to the ground causing the murders of men, women and children. So if black people seem a little chippy about this and just can’t find the funny anywhere go Google Susan Smith or check out a copy of 100 Years of Lynching and tell us where you find the funny. (Originally found via Gawker)

Written by blacksnob

October 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Posted in 2008 election, crime, racism

Hudson Family Tragedy Takes Another Dark Turn

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A domestic violence attack so familiar and so depressing continues to play itself out in Chicago as police have found what maybe singer/actress Jennifer Hudson’s brother’s missing white SUV with the body of a young black boy inside. It’s likely that this is the body of Hudson’s 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, who disappeared after the murders of Hudson’s mother and brother Friday.

From The Associated Press:

Police searching for Jennifer Hudson‘s missing 7-year-old nephew found the body of a young black boy in an SUV Monday. There was no confirmation on the identity of the body.

Hudson’s nephew, Julian King, hasn’t been seen since Friday, when Hudson’s mother and brother were found shot to death in their home. Police issued an Amber Alert for Julian, who lived in the home, and were looking for a 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban.

The body was found in a white SUV on the city’s West Side Monday. It was towed away with the body still inside. Police refused to comment.

As a newspaper reporter I covered a lot of crime but none bothered me more than the murderers that happened at the hands of spouses and relatives taking out their aggression on innocent friends and family members. I once worked on a homicide story regarding a former Bakersfield middle school vice principal, Vincent Brothers. Several years ago his wife Joanie, her mother — a local civil rights activist — and Joanie and Vincent’s three children, ages two, four and 6 months, were found shot to death in their home. Brothers was charged with and tried for their murders and now sits on death row in California.

The case made me angry because if the prosecution, the police and my paper’s own sleuthing is to be believed, Brothers was a self-involved, selfish, arrogant man, who cheated on his wife, lead a secret life from her and resented playing child support to a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. He was vain and wanted to leave his wife, but had no real desire to be held responsible for any of his children. He’d been a well-liked member of the community until the murderers happened. They were so violent and malicious and unnecessary. It just made me angry.

What right did he have to take away someone’s life just because he didn’t want to own up to his responsibilities?

It was the same with Scott Peterson, who killed his pregnant wife Lacey over one Christmas, the countless “boyfriends” who shook their girlfriends’ babies to death because they “wouldn’t stop crying,” the foster parents who treated their displaced children like slaves making them work a horse farm with little water or affection (that was an especially messed up crime to come out of Bakersfield).

I used to joke with my friend, the police reporter, that they should start printing up T-shirts for babies in Bakersfield that said their age and “still alive!” underneath them. But the joke was based on the sad truth that our paper did cover a lot of dead women and children, all murdered at the hands of people who claimed to love them.

Why didn’t they just walk away, I always find myself asking? Why didn’t the alleged murder just kill themselves rather than take out their whole family first? Why did the more cunning ones go on for months playing coy like they didn’t know her body was floating in the Bay? Why didn’t those boyfriends ever leave the house rather than shake a child, who often wasn’t theirs, to death?

But what has bothered me the most is that in domestic violence, women get mad, women organize, but many men still stand on the sidelines as if these acts of violence don’t affect them. Much like the fight against rape, there seems to be a reluctance to join the fight in issues that adversely impact women and children. I’ve never understood this because in the end, we women can scream until we’re blue in the face, but rape and domestic violence will never be taken seriously unless everyone, men and women, take it seriously.

A rape counselor once told me something that surprised me at the time, but made perfect sense as I got older, only men can stop rape. A crime often perpetrated by men, tried and prosecuted by men, there are so many levels of obfuscation that exist to keep women who have been sexually assaulted or who are victims of domestic violence silent. Things are better and more resources are available, but many of the same old thinking still exists, left over from centuries of when women and children were considered, by law and religion, to be mere property.

These issues affect mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, co-workers — how can someone sit on the fence and not speak out when they see something wrong? How is it that the national attitude towards domestic and sexual violence is set by the fence sitters who still want to shrug it off as an aberration or justifiable?

And with black people it seems doubly worse. We’re reluctant to deal with these issues because we want to protect our own, not realizing that in protecting abusers were are simply allowing ourselves to be victims. We should celebrate men who do the right things, who go above and beyond the call of duty. Cherish them. Don’t cover for the rapists, child molesters, violent lovers and perverse family members who lurk among us. The ones who we are often told to cover for no matter what horrors they’ve committed.

Vincent Brothers, the murderer I covered, didn’t exist in a vacuum. He didn’t merely sit around for thirty years then suddenly “went off.” He’d been violent towards his college girlfriend, he’d had a turbulent previous marriage, most people he worked with didn’t even know he was married as he kept no pictures of his wife and kids and wore no ring. His wife tried to leave him a few times, but they remained together. He went decades without seeing his family back east, but they all had alibis for him when the murderers happened. They all made excuses. No one ever questioned him because he was supposed to be one of the good ones. A success story. No one wanted to “bring a good brother down.”

Then he murdered his family.

I’m a stand-by-your-man kind of girl if that man is worth standing for. With the high profile murders of Hudson’s family, possibly out of vengeance by her sister’s jailbird ex-husband, once again I’m left to wonder how many excuses were made for this individual before her sister finally realized she needed to get away from him? How many times will his family go on television to say he would never do such horrible things when he went to prison for attempted murder previously? Would everyone pretend like this happened in a vacuum? Like he never exhibited violent behavior before and like there aren’t others like him lurking in our communities?

Some will point out that Hudson’s sister Julia did a poor job in selecting a husband and that most assuredly she did. She picked a violent ex-con. I’m sure he had a great story to tell her. Many of them do. But that doesn’t change the fact that no one has the right to take another’s life. I hope people learn from this tragedy and it will go on to prevent new tragedies from occurring. I hope Hudson’s home church and other community groups will do more outreach to women and children-at-risk. Do more to educate men, young and old, that passivity is not acceptable and that they must help lead on this issues. That they must do more to prevent this violence and hold their brothers accountable.

I hope men and women come forward to stand up for their mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends and friends to get the point across to the more recalcitrant members of the community that this behavior is not acceptable. Women and children are people, not property you can simply dispose of when they no longer pose a selfish use.

Written by blacksnob

October 27, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Brother, mother of Jennifer Hudson found dead

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Found on Gawker and I heard about it on the CBS Evening News. Singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother Darnell and brother Jason were found shot dead in the mother’s Chicago home. This is beyond depressing. To finally make it in life, as an artist and an Oscar winner, and to lose your mother and brother. It’s incredibly tragic.

Darnell Hudson, mother to almost universally loved Oscar-winner and American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson, was murdered in Chicago today. “Investigators said two shooting victims were discovered inside a home belonging to Hudson’s mother just before 3:00 this afternoon,” local TV reports. The other victim: her brother Jason. Police are releasing no details except to say it was “domestic.”

From local TV reports:

An Amber Alert was also issued for a child who might also be related to the singer and Oscar-winning actress.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the deaths appeared to be the result of domestic abuse, but she declined to elaborate.

Authorities were looking for a 1994 white Chevrolet Suburban missing from the area around the home with 7-year-old Julian King inside, Bond said. The child was also possibly a relative of Hudson, she said.

For more, read here.

Written by blacksnob

October 24, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Better, Faster, Stupider: Kanye Goes Smashy-Smashy With A Ten Thousand Dollar Camera In LAX

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I love Kanye, but … yeah, that diva move did not help him any, but I stand by my earlier assertion. TMZ’s stalkerazzi probably had it coming.

Written by blacksnob

September 12, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Kanye West Gets Arrested

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And on Sept. 11 in an airport nonetheless.

From ConcreteLoop:

Say it ain’t so, my boy Kanye West got arrested at LAX Airport Thursday morning, reports say. Police confirm that he was arrested on charges of battery and vandalism. reports that West allegedly smashed a photographer’s camera in the American Airlines terminal. A TMZ photographer began filming the incident and when West’s road manager, Don C. grabbed the camera, a struggle followed and his manager threw the camera to the ground.

According to the police report (as reported on People Magazine’s Web site):

“Mr. West was arrested at 7:51 a.m. outside the passenger screening area by airport police on charges of vandalism,” said LAX spokesman Marshall Lowe. “Initial reports say this incident involved a paparazzo and a camera valued at more than $10,000.”

“In addition, Mr. West’s road manager was arrested for vandalism and battery,” Lowe said. “Several witnesses are being interviewed by police. West and his manager are being transported to an LAPD station where they’re expected to be booked.”

I officially pronounce that Kanye West is the Naomi Campbell of rappers. Although, he’d get more style points if he had done this entire beat down with a bedazzled iPhone. And while I feel the urge to mock Kanye because I find his diva antics hilarious, I actually like the man. And because the folks at TMZ are total douchebag trolls I’m gonna have to go Team Kanye on this one. They probably earned that camera slap fest. And they got a story out of it and Kanye will probably end up paying a fine and doing community service and then TMZ will stalk him again and then he will beat up a cameraman again and the circle of life will continue.

Written by blacksnob

September 11, 2008 at 7:59 pm