Things That Matter

Hate Crime Filed Against Iowa Woman Who Ran Over Latina Girl On Her Way To Middle School

She doesn’t remember the impact, thankfully. The 14-year-old victim doesn’t remember a lot about that fateful night in which a white woman violently ran her over with her car. She does remember the moment right before, in which a car was coming toward her, the next thing she can recall is waking up in pain, laying in the snow wondering what happened. What happened to her was an attack on her just because of her heritage and existence. 

Police have charged Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, a 42-year-old Iowa woman, on multiple counts related to crimes she allegedly committed on Dec. 9. One of those crimes was against a Latina teen. 

Credit: @MenendezRand / Twitter

Police report that Franklin will be tried on multiple charges that stem from horrific crimes, all of which occurred on the same day. The one crime she has confessed to is running over a 14-year-old Latina who was walking to school on her way to an event there. 

On Dec. 20, the Clive Police Department in Iowa reported that the “vehicle left the roadway and ran the girl over. She suffered numerous injuries. The driver and vehicle left the scene without rendering aid to the girl. Earlier, the Clive Police Department requested the public’s help in locating the driver. At that time, it appeared to be a hit and run accident.” 

When police finally identified the driver, the alleged assailant told police she ran her over because “she looked Mexican.” 

Credit: @incendiarynews / Twitter

“During the interview, Franklin not only admitted to being the driver of the car that struck this girl but also that she had done so intentionally,” the police stated. “Franklin told investigators that she ran the girl over because she was, in her words, ‘a Mexican.’ She went on to make a number of derogatory statements about Latinos to the investigators.”

Franklin was charged with attempted murder in that case, along with “assault, theft, consumption, intoxication, and possession of illegal substances,” NBC News reports

Police report that the woman also allegedly ran over a 12-year-old black boy on the same day.

Credit: @ArtDalvik / Twitter

On Monday, police added charges to Franklin related to a hit-and-run of a boy who was left with minor injuries. She was also charged with attempted murder in that case as well. 

The Washinton Post reports that “Franklin struck the 12-year-old boy with an SUV as he walked on a sidewalk within the apartment complex where Franklin lives. Witnesses said the car accelerated as Franklin jumped the curb and hit the child’s leg, then fled the scene, according to police and an incident report.”

Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department told the Post that there’s a surveillance video of Franklin hitting the boy and not stopping. 

“She doesn’t even hit the brake,” Parizek told The Post. “Lot of times with a hit-and-run crash, the first thing the person does is stop — like ‘oh, my God, what did I do.’… This one, none of that.”

He also added that the crime against the black boy is possibly motivated by hate as well. Officials also say that the first crime Franklin allegedly committed that day was when she stopped at a convenience store. The Des Moines Register reports that Franklin “threw items at a clerk and directed racial epithets at him and customers.” 

On Christmas Eve, Franklin was finally charged with a hate crime even though initially the District Attorney said that she already had two attempted murder charges against her, and those charges could lead to a longer prison sentence than if they added hate crime to her offenses.

Credit: Clive Police Department / Facebook

Just a few days ago, Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told the Des Moines Register that adding a hate crime charge “wouldn’t necessarily achieve the justice the community is demanding.”

“I can’t specifically talk about her case,” Sarcone told the paper. “All I can say is attempted murder is a Class B felony. That’s a 25-year sentence — 17 1/2 are mandatory. It’s five times any sentence you would get on a hate crime.”

He added, “It may sound nice, but it doesn’t help anything. When it’s appropriate to enhance, we’ll do it.”

Thanks to the demands of advocates of the victims, those new charges will be added to the slew of crimes against Franklin. Advocates said that it was crucial to include the hate crime charges because if they didn’t it would send the wrong message to future assailants. 

Credit: @domingotexas / Twitter

Joe Henry, president of the Des Moines branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the Washinton Post that not charging Franklin with a hate crime “would give the green light to anybody to do this type of terrible thing.”

Click here to sign a petition that demands justice for the Latina victim. 

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After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

James Gourley / Flickr

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

Things That Matter

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

@ValericaCollazo / Twitter

There is sad news out of Vieques, Puerto Rico where a young teenage girl has passed away after suffering flu-like symptoms. Jaideliz Moreno Ventura, 13, died on Sunday after her condition worsened she began convulsing. Now, her family is pointing the blame on the island’s inadequate medical facilities. 

Vieques, a Caribbean island off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, hasn’t had a working hospital in over two years. That’s because its old primary hospital, Family Health Center Susana Centeno, was closed due to damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island more than two years ago.

What started out as just flu-like symptoms turned into a tragedy within the span of three days. 

It all started last Friday when Jaideliz told family members that she was experiencing flu-like symptoms. According to local media, her uncle, Carlos “Prieto” Ventura, said that she had “a fever, a sore throat, and a headache.” She was then taken to a hospital in Puerto Rico for a checkup and to be tested for influenza. While the results of the test came back negative and she returned back home to Vieques, things got worse over the weekend. 

By Sunday, Jaideliz’s symptoms only got worse as she began to have spasms and severe head pain. After the family took notice of her increasingly worse conditions, she was taken to the only health facility on the island, the Center for Diagnostics and Treatment, which was due to Hurricane Maria destroying its old hospital. According to NBC News, the clinic lacked proper medical equipment to help Jaideliz. Her cousin, José Ventura, told the news outlet that the facility didn’t have a working mechanical ventilator for oxygen, only an older manual air pump. 

By 11:30 a.m. local time Jaideliz was pronounced dead as she was being transported to Puerto Rico on an air ambulance. 

For those living on Vieques, receiving medical attention isn’t easy. Many have to take a boat to receive medical attention in Puerto Rico where trip times vary from 30 minutes to multiple hours. 

There is growing anger and blame about the teen’s death with many people pointing blame at the inadequate assistance that Puerto Rico and nearby islands have received since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. The situation in Vieques is a perfect example of that as residents lack nearby health services and aid. 

“If we had more resources, she would be with us right now,” her cousin told NBC News. “They have forgotten about us.”

Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, says that he has ordered an immediate investigation into the death of Jaideliz and which circumstances could have caused this tragedy. Back in December, Democratic lawmakers requested an investigation into why FEMA hadn’t done anything to help rebuild Vieques’ only hospital. But lawmakers alerted FEMA about this issue in May but there was never any response. 

“In Puerto Rico, we talk a lot about how we are treated as second class citizens, but the people of Vieques and Culebra [another island off the coast of Puerto Rico] are being treated as third-class citizens,” Edgardo Román Espada, president of Puerto Rico’s Bar Association, told NBC News last May. 

Jaideliz’s family is using this tragedy as a wakeup call for health officials to do something about the deteriorating situation on the island. They are hoping for more medical supplies and equipment so this situation doesn’t happen again.

On Wednesday, a vigil was held in the girl’s honor as her family called for help. They say that they “don’t want Jai’s death to be in vain” and made the plea for more medical assistance. Her mother says the island needs to “have a dignified hospital, with medical equipment and supplies —so that no other mother will have to go through what I am dealing with now.” 

“Up to a point, the people feel abandoned, that politicians come and go, and there are no bonds of affection and our feelings are obvious. We live this problem and that is why our pain here. All this adds more regret and anguish to our people,” her uncle told local media. “This is what you live every moment on our island. We need more sensitivity. ”

This tragedy followed what has already been a tough start of the year for Puerto Rico as a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island back on Jan.7, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark. There has been an estimated $110 million in damages caused by the quake. 

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