Friday, July 29, 2016

Hundreds meet at South Park in Lawrence, Ks for Black Lives Matter vigil

Written by:Mikhael Sublett      






           In the wake of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, hundreds from all races congregated at South Park in Lawrence, Ks for a candle light vigil hosted by LFK and Black Lives Matter. The vigil was promoted to be an event to honor the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as to provide a safe place for people of color, as well as gay and trans to congregate and mourn and to be heard.The event started at about 8 pm and lasted past 10 pm.  The speakers each shared stories of fear and persecution at the hands of police officers, subtle racist remarks from white friends, and pleas for justice and conversation.

       
Caleb Stephens
  Event coordinator and inter-sectional clinician, Caleb Stephens, spoke passionately to the audience about love and justice. He said: ":The love you are sending to us is good, but it is not good enough. Because love without action is nothing." He also stated, "Justice lives and is active. Justice is not 'I will pray for you' it is ' I will walk and fight with you.'" and, he went on to say, "We have a right to safety, but not to comfort."




Jameelah Jones
           When Jameelah Jones took the mic, she began by reminding the white audience members that, "nice is not the opposite of racism." She then shared her 'stream of consciousness' Facebook posts surrounding the shootings.  Her statements ranged from "Holy God, #altonsterling" to "What happens when you realize the police officer shot Alton Sterling, then probably went home to make a left over plate from that BBQ they just had to celebrate freedom in America #heartbroken" She was interrupted midway through her speech when a white male took the mic, and began to quote the bible concerning unity, and how they are doing it wrong. The man was promptly escorted from the area and Jameelah continued.

   


    Of all the speakers, the two most profound for me were a man named Patrick, and a child named Quincy. Patrick's speech resonated Martin Luther King Jr. with his requests for conversation and communication. After telling his story, the trials he faced in his life and ultimately conquered, he left the mic with a single request. He said, "You know what I look like, come up and start a conversation."

          Little Quincy simply stated, "I matter."

          Of the 20 or so speakers, the theme seemed constant. Conversation, fear, anger, and demands for justice. I thought I got it. I had a few questions for Caleb, the coordinator and one of the key speakers. I approached him and started to ask him one. He put his hand up to me and simply said,

" I am speaking with people of color right now."

          I jokingly responded with, "I am Jewish! Does that count?" I don't think he heard me, as he was walking away. What I do know is I was shut out. I turned to my production assistant and asked him what just happened. He shrugged his shoulders in disbelief. Normally, when a journalist is shut out it is due to the interviewee being offended, busy, or just doesn't want to talk. I was shut out, at that moment, because people of color had priority. As my PA and I were walking back to the car, I finally got it. I finally understood. Caleb educated me. He showed me what it was like to be him. Educated, with something to say, but shut down because I did not resemble him. Because I was the wrong color. That lesson stuck with me. Determined, I was going to get my interview of three questions from him.

          The next day I reached out to him by phone. We agreed to have a phone interview that afternoon. However, from the morning to the interview I reevaluated everything I have seen and heard concerning the claims of BLM. Hell, the claims of every person of color I ever knew. I realized that something was, in fact, very broken, and excuses were no longer acceptable. It was time to acknowledge there is a problem in our country regarding race. That the end was not desegregation. The marches did not end when our parents came home from Selma. That the issue of race continues to rear its head, smirking at each one of us in our arrogance and ignorance of the issues of Black America. I thanked him for the incident. He taught me what it was like to be like him. He was glad that is what I took from it.


Caleb said, "Liberation is not the responsibility of the oppressed but of the privileged" Indeed.




Editor note: There were several speakers at this rally. All were inspiring and heartbreaking and they deserves to be heard. In an event of this size, I have my PA video the event for note taking purposes. I will be working on the video to post in the coming weeks, despite the picture quality, the sound quality is fantastic. Also, this event was much too large to cover in one article, so expect a few more after this,. Lots of exciting things coming up from the Lawrence BLM chapter. Stay tuned!.

   




       
         

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Kansas City Area Couple's Date Night Ended By Violent Homophobic Attack



     Many couples have a date night they look forward to all week long. Especially, in today’s modern world where many couples have conflicting schedules. For instance, my wife and I go out to our favorite place once a week, to order our regular dishes and visit with our favorite staff members. On the evening of July 13th, 26 year-old Jessica and her girlfriend, Kay, went out for one last special date night. Their schedules had recently changed and this would be their final night for dancing to the live DJ at their regular Wednesday spot, Beaver Tap, in Lenexa, KS. The happy couple had no idea the night would leave them traumatized.

      The couple was excited to get to their spot, and took their regular place at a table near the DJ booth.  Jessica was dancing with friends and went to their table to coax Kay to come dance with her. Jessica and Kay noticed some remarks coming from a nearby four top table, occupied by two men and two women. The couple ignored the comments and thought nothing of it until they danced “too close” to the four top, according to its occupants.  

     One of the two women seated at the four top stood up and confronted Jessica, saying that they were dancing too close to their table. Before Jessica could diffuse the situation, one of the men, described as 6’ 2’, 260lb, white male in his early thirties, ripped off Jessica’s glasses, struck her in the face, all while calling her. “a fat dike,” and a “faggot.” The physical assault, and homophobic slurs continued until a server took Jessica to security, who then escorted the two assailants, and the rest of their party, out of the establishment.

     Jessica and Kay were horribly shaken, and sat down at their table. Kay checked Jessica’s injuries.
And before they could process what had just happened, they noticed the two assailants, and their party, had been allowed back into the bar. The on duty manager approached Jessica and Kay with one question. “Are we good?”
Jessica said, “Of course we aren’t good. They assaulted me, and you let them back in!”
The manager’s response was, “I didn’t see them hit you, so I can’t legally throw them out.”
The manager then walked away from Jessica’s table, despite protests from Jessica’s friends.

     Jessica, a bartender herself, knew this incorrect. Jessica told Massev Productions, “I was most shaken on a personal level. I have never been treated so carelessly. On a professional level, Kansas is a ‘Right to Serve’ State. We have thrown people out before for way less. I was very shocked.”
Kay told Massev productions, “I didn’t feel safe because the manager let the group back in.”

    Jessica went to the bathroom to pull herself together, and Kay noticed the two men get up and also head toward the restrooms. She became alarmed when the two women also got up and went toward the restrooms.

    When Jessica saw the women, they were going in as she was coming out. As Jessica came out, one of the girls threw her drink on her and attacked her. Jessica tried to yet again defend herself against their attack.  Kay had now arrived and tried to break it up, but one of the female attackers held her down.

    When the men came out of restrooms, the same male assailant grabbed the glasses off of Jessica’s face and broke them. He then proceeded to once again strike Jessica in the face, while one of the women held onto her by her hair.

     Security finally arrived, but instead of coming to Jessica’s aid, they placed her in an arm lock, and told her that she was, “going to jail.” Security then also escorted Kay out, meanwhile all their possessions were still inside. The 4 assailants were also escorted out, but were not separated from Kay and Jessica. The manager then came outside, and Kay asked her to call the police, as her and Jessica wanted to press charges. The Manager responded that she didn't want to do that because the attacker also had injuries. The Manager said if she did call the police, that she would point out that Kay had been drinking, and therefore Kay would be arrested for DUI.  Even though, Kay was not intoxicated, nor currently driving.

    Jessica and Kay helplessly watched as their attackers drove away in a black, GMC Yukon, with tinted windows and a chrome grill. The injured couple, traumatized, decided to go home and file a police report the next day. When they got home they assessed and photographed Jessica’s injuries. The following photographs document not only her physical injuries, but her emotional trauma as well.
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Jessica After the Incident

Jessica a few months before the incident
    
Jessica After the Incident
When their families and friends heard of the attack, and the way Beaver Tap staff handled the situation, they took to social media to call for justice. They posted several negative reviews of the business on Facebook, Yelp, and the company’s Google Business page. The negative reviews became so numerous, Beaver Tap suspended their own Facebook page. Jessica said, “My dad is a calm man, normally, but both of our families are livid.”

    When Jessica and Kay called Beaver Tap the next day for information needed to file their police report, and to report to Beaver Tap that a young, African-American waitress had been very helpful, Beaver Tap staff stated they would not help them because of the, “bad social media rap.”

    Massev Productions reached out to Beaver Tap, first by contacting the Lenexa location. A woman identifying herself as a manager, but refusing to give her name, said,” I am not talking to you. You need to call during daytime business hours.” Massev Productions tried to reach Riley Drive, Inc , owners of Beaver Tap, Saints, and Tonic, by phone and by email. We have not yet received a response.

    Since the attack Jessica and Kay have both experienced the expected emotional fallout of their trauma.
    Jessica told Massev Productions.” It is literally just a feeling, that everywhere I go, I am looking at people and wondering if they are looking at me and trying to tell if they are acting a certain way. This happens everywhere I go. The other day I wanted to kiss Kay and I was looking around to see if people were looking at us.”
    She went on to say, she and Kay have both missed work, and have not been able to eat, or sleep much since the incident. We asked Jessica if Kay was nervous about leaving her alone. Jessica said “I think there is a certain protective factor there but Kay has also missed work and hasn’t been able to eat.”
    Massev Productions will continue to bring you updates on this story, including any public statements made by Riley Drive, Inc.

***UPDATE***

On the afternoon of July, 19th, Massev Productions was contacted by Kem Anderson, of Riley Drive, Inc, and owner of Beaver Tap. Below you will find her written statement.


"I am the owner of Beaver Tap and I am a woman. The General Manager and every assistant manager are women. We are likely one of the few bars in the Kansas City metro with an owner and an entire management staff that is female. The accusation that we are anti‐female or anti‐lesbian is offensive, without merit and made by people that do not know us.

I have spoken to my staff, read allegations by the couple and reviewed the video of the incident. The
video shows two females sitting at a table near the dance floor. The first female spends the majority of her time on the dance floor dancing with others, while the second female sits at the table alone most of the time. Periodically, the video shows the first female returning to the table where words are
exchanged with people at the adjacent table.

The video then shows the first female walk to the restroom hallway. Soon thereafter a scuffle breaks
out. As trained, security staff quickly arrived to break up the scuffle. The video then shows the two
women at issue walk out of the bar. I then observe security staff escort at least two other women out of the bar. Contrary to the allegations, our security staff reports that it was another female that hit this
woman, not a male.

The security video contradicts much of the story that has been circulating online. My staff also
contradicts much of what has been alleged by these two females.

Today a Lenexa police detective reviewed the video. While the matter is still under investigation, based on our conversations with the detective after his review of the video, we believe the detective will conclude that our statement of the facts is correct.

We treat all of our customers with respect. Unfortunately, we can’t control how our customers treat
each other.

Kem Anderson"

Per the Riley Drive, Inc. LinkedIn account.
"Riley Drive Inc. is a leading hospitality and management company. Founded by Marc Mundt and Scott Anderson in 2005, the company owns and operates numerous sports pubs and bars in the Des Moines, Omaha, and Kansas City metro areas. Riley Drive, Inc. also manages other investment interests."
    https://www.linkedin.com/company/riley-drive-entertainment
  


********************************UPDATE*********************************

Concerning the surveillance video, a spokesperson from Lenexa PD stated there were discrepancies between the video and story. Massev Productions should have a copy of the video incident within the next couple of days.

Also, in an email exchange between Scott Anderson, the owner of Riley Drive Inc and Beaver Tap and Massev Productions, Mr. Anderson offers a second possible series of events that leaves Jessica being assaulted in the parking lot, rather than inside the establishment. It was the first time anyone from Riley Drive Inc acknowledged the assault throughout the investigation. However, the setting of the assault was moved from inside of the bar to beyond its front door. When asked if he provided footage of the parking lot to the Police Mr. Anderson replied "There are no cameras in the parking lot."

An interesting twist in events.

Editor Note: One more thing, Guys. Mr. Anderson is also alleging his staff is receiving death threats. Massev Productions completely condemns this behavior. I completely condemn this behavior. If this is actually happening it needs to stop. That is not the way things are done, and that behavior makes you no better than the people who perpetrated the attack. Should Mr. Anderson wish to open an investigation and prosecute whoever are issuing those threats he has Massevs full support. Jessica maintains a group of patrons assaulted her, not the staff of the bar . Though the response of management was questionable through out the alleged  incident, it does not warrant that type of response. So...in other words...knock it off. 

Keep checking back for more updates!


 Editorial note: Last names withheld to protect the victims