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St. Petersburg McDonald’s Assault Prompts Boycott

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At a St. Petersburg, Florida McDonald’s, an older White male attacked a young Black female employee. Grabbing her by her collar and attempting to pull her over the counter, the young woman bravely fought off the assailant.

Unprotected

What a horrible way to step into 2019! Imagine going in to work on New Years Day just to be assaulted. After you free yourself, you’re forced to stand by as management attempts to placate the unruly customer. They don’t escort him off the property or call the police, but they attempt to take his order. That’s exactly what happened to the unnamed woman who was set upon by Daniel Willis Taylor, 40, of Clearwater, FL.

Dangerous Times

The video, now viral, has inspired more questions than answers. Why didn’t her coworkers come to her defense or call the police? Well, the answer is pretty simple. St. Petersburg is embroiled with racial tension and fear of retaliation by McDonald’s caused their inaction.

Riddled with drugs, crime, and high levels of poverty, St. Pete is seeing longtime residents pushed out of their homes and little to no investment in their infrastructure. Without the funds or attention, certain areas of the city have descended into darkness, becoming dangerous, crime-riddled areas. Those overarching issues coupled with a large transient population have seen events like this become more frequent in recent years.

Regardless of the issues that plague St. Pete, this woman was failed by her peers and management. Starting the year with images of Black women being assaulted without recompense proves, yet again, that they are the most disrespected group in America.

Justice?

After Daniel Taylor assaulted the McDonald’s employee, he left the property on his own and ventured into another business nearby. However, authorities were called and Daniel was arrested. While he could not be charged with assault, which is a felony, he was charged with misdemeanor battery and cannot revisit the establishment. Listed as a transient on his docket, it could mean that Daniel is not a permanent resident or just vacations in Florida.

As of now, no one is sure if the McDonald’s employee is facing any punishment for her actions. However, she has public support. While we wait for updates on what action the corporation will take, many suggest a settlement for the employee and termination for the idle manager.

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High School Students Stage Sit-In Protest Against Racism

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Students Protest

In response to how school faculty have handled a racist video, students of Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx have staged an overnight-sit-in protest. Dissatisfied with faculty’s response to demands to address racism on the school’s campus, students have rallied and locked staff out of the administration building until they reached an agreement.

Outrage Lead to Action

More than 200 high school students of the K-12 academy occupied the building to demand action. They were outraged by the response to a video which featured White students counting down before blurting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. The video gained attention after circulating Twitter and eventually being reported on by The New York Times. However, school administrative officials did the bare minimum by only condemning the video without stating a plan for disciplinary action. Knowing only one of the students involved had withdrawn from the exclusive academy, students developed a plan to hold staff accountable. Thus, Students of Color Matter was born.

The standoff between students and staff lasted for 72 hours before an agreement was met. Each day the students, who developed a Twitter, Instagram, and petition, posted demands to their accounts. March 11th, the students began with a statement on Instagram:

“We are here today in light of recent events imploring those who desire to see out institution more forward to stand in solidarity with the students of color and white allies of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Community. Today a lockout will take place in the administration building (the 200s) as a means to force our administration to acknowledge the concerns we’ve been bringing to their attention over the past several years”

After outlining the reason for their cause, Students of Color Matter organizers detailed updates as well as their demands.

All or Nothing

The administration was sent an email by students which resulted in the head of the school, Jessica Bagby, alerting parents and students that “Fieldston campus will operate on a normal schedule.” The students also integrated a hashtag, which added pressure due to its discovery by major media sources. Despite the non-violent protest, there were two physical altercations which involved a history teacher and a parent attempting to enter the closed facility. Jessica Bagby’s inadequate response to the students’ demands and inability to commit to change is what ultimately caused the 72-hour standoff.

As of March13th, the students had roughly 3,000 signatures on their petition. Housed on their Students of Color Matter website, the organization calls for the following:

The use of racist and bigoted language are symptoms of systemic and institutional racism that plague educational institutions across the country. For this reason, we command the implementation of structural reform, such as long term curriculum changes, the admittance of more students and faculty of color, and racial sensitivity training for all community members.”

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Jaden Smith Brings Mobile Water Filtration System to Flint

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Jaden Smith Water Box

Flint, Michigan has been ravaged by a bad city-wide deal that resulted in tainted water for nearly five years. Now, Jaden Smith’s startup may provide a solution to the city’s needs water needs.

Called “The Water Box”, Jaden’s mobile water filtration device was unveiled in Flint at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. Able to produce 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, the actor-rapper turned philanthropist hopes the invention will help the community. Housed within the church, which previously distributed over 5 million bottles of water to the community, residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with clean water. However, they are required to do so during distribution times.

After Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the free bottled water program initiated by the state, Jaden and crew stepped up through JUST Water. JUST Water is a company that Jaden Smith became a partner of at just 12 years old. The company, which “combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives,” began from a desire to develop a filtration system to benefit poorer areas and nations. Making clean water more accessible, the company first launched in August 2018 in the UK.

Speaking about his community effort, Jaded remarked, “This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally. He added,” Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and designing something to help them has been a journey I will never forget.” Jaden Smith plans to continue deploying more filtration systems across the city to benefit those in need and looks forward to aiding more places experiencing similar issues.

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Jussie Smollett | In The Middle

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