Stories about gun violence within our country are becoming all too common. President Obama is utilizing the incidents as an avenue to open up the conversation about the need for stricter gun control laws. He recently released a statement about the killing of Zaevion Dobson, a high school football star from Knoxville, Tennessee who was fatally shot after protecting his friends from a hail of bullets. “Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot,” President Obama tweeted. “He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?” A memorial fund for Dobson has reached nearly $60,000 from 1,455 donors. According to police officials, the shooting was a random act of violence. Read more.


Obama Grants 95 Commutations 

President Obama has been very vocal about issues concerning our country’s prison system. This summer, after saying there are many men and women behind bars whose prison sentences are unjust for the crimes they committed, Obama ended up releasing 46 people who were convicted of drug offenses. Last week, President Obama furthered his mission for amnesty by commuting the prison sentences of 95 more inmates. Most of the inmates who had their sentences commuted were behind bars for drug-related non-violent crimes. “President Obama is committed to restoring the sense of fairness at the heart of our justice system,” read a blog post on the White House’s website. “In 2010, he signed the Fair Sentencing Act, a bill that reduced the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Most of the commutations the President has granted have been to non-violent offenders sentenced under those unjust — and now outdated — drug crime sentencing rules. If these individuals had been convicted for the exact same crime under today’s laws, nearly all of them would have already finished serving their time.” He penned a personal letter to each person, writing, “I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong, and change your life for the better.” President Obama has granted 184 pardons in total. Read more.


The Schomburg to Get a $22M Makeover

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, a notable cultural institution that encompasses extensive research about African-American history, will be getting a $22 million makeover. Last week, local community leaders gathered at the Schomburg for a groundbreaking ceremony. “Today we break ground on this $20 million project … We need the next generation to (come) into this great research center so that they can be inspired by their history so they can aspire to learn how to shape the future,” said New York Public Library President Tony Marx. “We are so thankful to those who made this possible, and are excited to get started.” The renovation project will include a revamp of the Schomburg’s second floor reading room, an upgrade of the interior of the Schomburg’s landmark building, a high-definition LED signage system, video displays, and an improved streetscape. Read more.


Miss Puerto Rico Suspended After Discriminatory Tweets about Muslims

Destiny Velez, who represented Puerto Rico in the Miss America competition, put her foot in her mouth after tweeting discriminatory statements about Muslims. Velez, 20, addressed a film director who held up a “We Are All Muslim” sign outside of Trump Tower. “Muslims use our constitution to terrorize USA & plant gas stations,” she tweeted. She also posted that Muslims “terrorize this country & many others.” Velez was suspended indefinitely due to her comments. “Miss Velez’s actions were in contradiction to the organization, and therefore as a consequence of her actions, she has been suspended indefinitely,” read a statement by the Miss Puerto Rico Organization. “The Miss Puerto Rico Organization will not tolerate any actions or behavior contrary to the Miss Puerto Rico Organization.” Velez later issued an apology, saying the last thing she wanted to do was bully anyone. Read more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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