Things That Matter

A Police Officer Mistook A Black Man For A Suspect, Slammed Him To The Ground And Broke His Wrist

A federal lawsuit has been filed against a group of police officers who used excessive force on a Black man mistaken for a suspect. Antonio Arnelo Smith filed the lawsuit on Friday against the city of Valdosta, Georgia. In his suit, Smith is seeking compensation against Valdosta and its police department for a February incident which he says violated his constitutional rights.

Smith says that during the incident he was unlawfully detained and falsy arrested, among other offenses.

Smith is accusing Police Sgt. Billy Wheeler’s of “unnecessary and illegal” actions after he put him in “bear hug” despite the fact that there “was no reason to believe Mr. Smith had committed or was about to commit a crime, was armed or presented any kind of danger or threat to anyone.”

The lawsuit is also accusing three patrol officers of helping Wheeler detain Smith. The suit is also including the chief of police, the mayor of Valdosta, and six city council members as defendants.

The city released a statement in reaction to the lawsuit along with body camera footage taken from one of the officers who threw Smith to the ground.

“The City of Valdosta is fully committed to transparency,” the city said in the statement. “The City of Valdosta and the Valdosta Police Department takes any report of any injury to a citizen seriously.”

According to Buzzfeed “The city said that while no complaint was filed with the police department, the incident was reviewed internally. However, no action was taken against the officers involved after the review was completed.”

In reports about the Feb. 8 incident, two police officers involved in the incident responded to a report of a man harassing customers outside of a Walgreens and asking them for money. After one of the two officers encountered a Black man in the Walgreens parking lot and learned from dispatchers that he had active felony arrest warrants against him, the officer took the man into custody without questioning. The responding officer, Dominic Henry, left to check another part of the Walgreens building for the man in the 911 report of a man panhandling at Walgreens. When a customer pointed the officer in the direction of the alleged panhandling suspect, he approached Smith and told him that he was investigating “suspicious activity.” At the time, Smith said that he was waiting to receive money from his sister at a nearby Western Union.

He also told the officer that security cameras would back his claims. The footage and lawsuit claims that after Henry asked Smith for his identification he immediately complied. While their conversation took place, Wheeler came to the scene and mistook Smith as the suspect with outstanding arrest warrants. Wheeler walked up behind Smith as he was speaking with Henry, took hold of Smith’s arm, and put him in a “bear hug.” Ultimately the encounter resulted in Smith’s wrist being fractured.

The city claims that Wheeler asked Smith to place his hands behind his back and that he resisted the attack.

Watch the video and you’ll see Wheeler raise Smith up in the air and slam him to the ground.

In the video, Smith can be seen crying out in pain and asking “What are you doing?” According to BuzzFeed News, Smith’s lawyer said that he did not have the financial resources to seek treatment for his broken wrist. While Smith’s lawyer has said that Smith is not seeking to get the officers fired he is wanting to “help with this movement around the world to rectify police brutality… and for police reform and accountability.”

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America


Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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