Top 5 Live-WURD Friday July 24
1. Gunman kills 2, then himself in Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater
As the previews ended and the lights dimmed for the screening of the comedy “Trainwreck,” a man stood up inside a Louisiana movie theater, pulled out a handgun and began firing indiscriminately.
The shooter, a 58-year-old white man, killed two people and wounded nine others at the Lafayette multiplex Thursday night before he turned his gun on himself and took his own life, police said.
Coming within days of the verdict in the Aurora theater massacre, and its saturation news coverage, there was some speculation whether the shooting was a copycat crime.
“There’s nothing to believe that there was any kind of motive,” said Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police.
Authorities have the gunman’s name but are withholding it as the investigation continues.
2. Ex-cop planned blackface fundraiser for officers in Freddie Gray case
A planned fundraiser for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray was canceled after the entertainment — a former Baltimore officer singing in blackface — drew sharp criticism.
Bobby Berger, 67, who was fired from the police force in the 1980s after his off-duty performances in blackface drew the ire of the NAACP, said he wanted to revive the act to help the families of the officers.
He said he had sold 600 tickets at $45 each to the bull roast scheduled for Nov. 1 at Michael’s Eighth Avenue, where he and several singers planned to perform as guests dined.
Berger’s plans drew criticism from the NAACP, the city police union and an attorney representing one of the officers charged in the Gray case.
3. Pew study: City Council’s ‘prerogative’ on land deals is ironclad
On matters of land use, Philadelphia City Council members have long deferred to the wishes of the member whose district is impacted, a practice known as “councilmanic prerogative.”
A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows just how firm that tradition’s footing really is.
In recent years, Council has never voted against a district member’s wishes. And of 730 land use decisions made over six years, all but four passed unanimously.
“The use of councilmanic prerogative, when invoked by a district council member, is unfailingly honored by the rest of Council, even in those cases when the project is widely considered to be of citywide import,” said Larry Eichel, director of Pew’s Philadelphia research initiatives.
4. Facebook loses appeal over access to user data
You think your Facebook profile is private? Think again.
In a decision that raises crucial issues in the digital age, a New York state appeals court ruled this week that Facebook cannot protect users against search warrants obtained by law enforcement officials to access users’ digital information.
The case pitted the social networking giant against the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The appellate court decided on Tuesday that Facebook does not have the right to challenge 381 search warrants, issued by Manhattan prosecutors, seeking access to users’ profile information in a massive social security fraud investigation.
Google, Pinterest, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yelp were among the tech companies that filed briefs in support of Facebook’s legal challenge.
5. Sandra Bland Death Ruled a Suicide by Hanging, Texas Prosecutor Says
Medical examiners ruled the death of Sandra Bland a suicide by hanging, and the autopsy uncovered no evidence of a violent struggle, a Texas prosecutor said Thursday.
Bland, 28, was found dead in her Texas jail cell on July 13, three days after she was stopped for failing to signal a lane change. Her family had expressed suspicion about the official account that she hanged herself with a plastic bag.
Waller County First District Attorney Warren Diepraam said the autopsy found no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands — only abrasions on her wrist consistent with a struggle while she was being handcuffed.
Bland’s encounter with a state trooper on July 10 escalated in minutes, with the trooper threatening to light her up with a Taser after Bland questioned why she was being told to put out her cigarette and get out of her car.
Diepraam said there were about 30 cuts on Bland’s wrists, and that the scarring suggests they were made weeks ago. The only injury to her neck or head was a “uniform and consistent” mark consistent with a suicide by hanging, he said.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon