Entertainment

This Woman Saw Her Former Yale Classmate’s Story Of Becoming Homeless On The News, Then She Swept Into Help

When CNN first reported about Shawn Pleasants, a former Yale graduate with an economics degree and previous experiencing working on Wall Street and in Hollywood, it generated mass sympathy. The Black businessman, who was a high school valedictorian and built a successful career for himself, shocked readers at the news of his decline. Pleasants, who had suffered a series of misfortunes, found himself out on the streets, addicted to methamphetamine and living in a tend in Los Angeles’s Koreatown for the past ten years. 

CNN’s coverage of California’s homeless crisis put a spotlight on Pleasants, a 52-year-old man who had been suffering for years. 

His life, it seems, has turned around thanks to the generosity of a former Yale classmate who saw his story.

Kim Hersmanis a Black attorney who studied at Yale around the same time that Pleasants did, came across the CNN profile and knew she had to help.”I started reading it — and just tears,” Hershman told CNN in a piece about Pleasants that was published today. In her interview with the news organization, Hershman admitted that she had not known Pleasants very well during their time at the Ivy League university. “When we were at Yale in the ’80s, there were very few Black students there,” Hershman told CNN. “Things are very different now. But I know that for whatever he achieved, something changed, and he didn’t have the support that, maybe, I had.”

When Hershman, who lives just miles from Pleasants’ encampment in Koreatown, first read his story she knew she wanted to help.

Hershman reached out to her network of Yale alumni on a Facebook page for former Black Yale students and asked for their advice and support so that she could help Pleasants.   According to CNN, the day after CNN featured their story about Pleasants, Hershman headed to Koreatown to find him with two other Yale alumni and her partner. “I was a little nervous because I was, like, ‘Where am I going? I’m a 5-foot-1 female,'” she told CNN. After asking around, Hershman was told by a homeless person that she could find him “around the corner.  

Wearing a Yale had, Hershman found Pleasants and took a seat beside him on a sidewalk and took his hand.

Pleasants told CNN that he knew who he was as soon as he saw her. “I had seen her, maybe, seven or eight times at school,” he told the news site. After speaking for some time, Hershman asked Pleasants how she could help. “My big thing was: ‘What do you want? And based on what you want, I’m going to do whatever I can to help you,'” she told CNN.

Pleasants told Hershman that his biggest desire was “to make a difference.” 

“I’m in this situation, and there has to be a reason for it all, and I want to help others,” Pleasants told CNN. That day, the two talked about Pleasants’ vision for a homeless resource center. There he hoped that he could help the homeless by offering them access to showers, mailboxes, and charging phones. Hershman told him that she wouldn’t make him processes but would do all she could to help him to get back onto his feet, as long as he went into a drug rehabilitation program. 

 Despite having rejected previous offers from family members in the past, Pleasants agreed under the condition that he could bring his husband  

“When she wants to do something, she does it, by golly. She’s an angel,” Pleasants told CNN. 

Hershman ultimately moved Pleasants into a guest house located on what CNN described as a “posh LA estate.” There, Pleasants has access to pools, basketball and his own kitchen that Hershman stocked with food. Since his move, Pleasants has been checked into a rehab facility in Los Angeles and his husband is scheduled to under go heart surgery.

 Hershman has paid $10,000 for Pleasants rehab stay and has said that she is ready to pay for more if he needs it. She has also helped set Pleastants up with a more permanent housing situation that will use a federally subsidized Section 8 voucher. 

“We’re people with a myriad of different circumstances. There are people from all cultures, countries, age groups and professions,” Pleasants told CNN of the homeless people he knows. “Not everyone can pay $2,000 a month for a studio,” he said. People who used to help homeless residents, he said, ended up sitting beside “us” on the streets. Pleasants also wants to call attention to the lack of facilities just to “clean your clothes.”  Here’s hoping Pleasants and his partner are able to recover fully and develop a new life together. There’s no doubt our world could use more generous people like Hershman.   

H/T: CNN

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

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A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

@LADAOffice / Twitter

In 2008, Ruben Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison for crimes he never committed. Nearly 13 years after his arrest, Martinez walked out of the Los Angeles Superior Court a free man, exonerated from his wrongful conviction. “I did not do this time by myself,” Martinez said on the court steps. “My family did time. My wife did time with me, did the 11 years with me. I couldn’t do it on my own, by my own strength. It was God’s strength that got me through this.” His wife, Maria Martinez, a secretary for the sheriff’s department, appealed the conviction five times only to be rejected each time.

Ruben may have never experienced freedom if Maria didn’t pull some strings to convince prosecutors to look at his case, a sobering detail for innocent inmates without connections.

Ruben and Maria were all smiles as their unjust chapter came to a close.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

“All my husband wanted was for the truth to be revealed. Well, the truth has been revealed, and he’s a free man,” Maria Martinez said. Ruben had never wavered in his innocence and even turned down a plea deal that would have given him a two and a half year prison sentence. “I am sorry for this injustice and I am so happy that you did not give up on us and allowed us to share this moment,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey, pictured in the blazer, told the Martinez family. 

“Mr. Martinez and his wife proved to be unstoppable in their pursuit of his freedom,” DA Lacey told reporters. “Throughout this terrible experience, the two were never deterred by setbacks and instead demonstrated remarkable strength and dignity through what I imagine must have been a dark time in their lives.”

Ruben Martinez Jr. was convicted, even though he was working when the crimes were committed.

Credit: @oborraez / Twitter

All it took was one witness to identify Ruben as the armed robber who held up the same auto body shop five times. During the 2005 to 2007 sprees, Ruben was employed at a temporary employment agency and has proof that he was working during two of the robberies. In fact, Ruben had to endure two trials that failed to prove his innocence. The first trial ended as a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. During the second trial, two key witnesses to his innocence were not called by either the defense or the prosecution. He was convicted and sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison on nine counts of armed robbery.

But Maria was relentless in proving his innocence.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

After five rejected appeals, Maria leaned on close family friend and retired homicide detective, Catherine Wills. Wills and her husband were so close with the Martinez’s that Wills’s husband walked Maria down the aisle and gave her hand to Ruben. Wills and Maria compiled six months of research into a binder to give to DA Lacey. Wills’ credibility and persistence went a long way. “I told them, ‘Look, I’m 82 years old now, and I’m not going to die until Ruben Martinez is out of prison,'” Wills reportedly said.

In 2015, DA Lacey’s office created a unit dedicated to reviewing wrongful conviction claims, but Ruben’s case is only the third case supported in four years. Still, it was DA Lacey’s unit that “painstakingly tracked down witnesses and uncovered employment records and pay stubs that confirmed that Mr. Martinez could not have committed two of the crimes that were clearly the work of the same serial robber,” CNN reports Lacey to have said.

Ruben says that he has “no grudges.”

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

Ruben is the first person that DA Lacey exonerated without any legal representation. “Although the vast majority of convictions are correctly upheld, I knew that, at times, the pursuit of justice, which depends on human beings, is not perfect,” Lacey told reporters. “And Mr. Martinez’s case serves as a stark reminder to all of us: Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get it right.”

“The Lord Jesus Christ is a part of my life, and there’s no grudges.” Ruben told the crowd. “People are human people do make mistakes. But what touches me is when the DA got behind me and stamped me … and proved me innocent — so what grudge?” What’s next for Ruben? Right now, he’s just excited to get his driver’s license and get a job.

READ: Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence

Hillary Clinton’s Recent Comments About The Trans Community Highlight That She Was Never Woke As She Wanted To Be

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Hillary Clinton’s Recent Comments About The Trans Community Highlight That She Was Never Woke As She Wanted To Be

hillaryclinton / Twitter

In her decades-long political career, Hillary Clinton has proven to be slow on the pickup of her understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout her terms as First Lady, senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate, Clinton has jumped into the tepid waters of political conversation when the tides are low and the political risk factor had waned away.  While Clinton and her husband had at one time actively pursued the gay community in the 90s as an interest group during her husband’s political campaigns, she did little to stand beside the rainbow when it came to bigger civil rights issues such as same-sex marriage.

In a recent interview with the U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, Clinton proved that her lackluster approach to supporting and understanding the LGBTQ+ community prevails. 

Speaking to the Sunday Times about, Clinton described topics related to the trans community as something she is only “just learning about.”

In her interview with The Sunday Times, a media outlet that has often been slammed for its transphobic coverage and mistreatment of trans employees, Clinton claimed that she has only just learned about the concepts of being trans. 

“Errr,” Hillary said, according to the news piece “I’m just learning about this. It’s a very big generational discussion because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw.” She added, “It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently.”

The reporter interviewing Clinton drew upon the former presidential candidate’s response to ask more questions that had pretty leading statements. At one point the interviewer suggested that  “a lot of British feminists of Hillary’s generation have a problem with the idea that a lesbian who doesn’t want to sleep with someone who has a penis is transphobic,” and that these “British feminists” are “uncomfortable with people who are physically male” being in the same spaces as trans women in single-gender spaces.

In response, Clinton said that she “absolutely” felt as if “there is a legitimate concern about women’s lived experience and the importance of recognizing that, and also the importance of recognizing the self-identification [of transgender people]… This is all relatively new. People are still trying to find the language for it. I think in the right mindset this can be understood, but it’s going to take some time.”

She went onto further state she felt as if people need “to be sensitive to how difficult this is. There are women who’d say [to a trans woman], ‘You know what, you’ve never had the kind of life experiences that I’ve had. So I respect who you are, but don’t tell me you’re the same as me.’ I hear that conversation all the time.”

Clinton’s comments closely mirror her responses from last month, in which she said that trans rights are “very big generational discussion.” 

In a recent interview with The View, Clinton described her decision to remain married to Bill Clinton despite his humiliating affair in the 90s as one of the gustiest moves she’d ever made. She later expounded on this saying that other gutsy decisions she’d seen others make included being in interfaith and interracial marriages and raising trans children. “Sometimes when your child has an issue—I had a friend who, a few years ago, called up and said, ‘I don’t know who to talk to about this, but my little girl wants to be a boy. What do I do?'” She recalled. “Several of us—we didn’t know what to do, we’d never had a friend who faced that before—and several of us kind of read everything, talked to people, and gave her advice. And it was really gutsy of her to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to respect the feelings of my child, as hard as it is for me to understand this.’ So, I think when the question was asked personally—everyone faces a moment of decision. And you have to reach deep down inside and decide what’s right for you to do. Hopefully, it’s reached with love and understanding, but it’s gutsy.”

Clinton’s response underlines a misunderstanding about the trans community and parenting. Truly it is a reminder that being accepting of your child and their identity is just the most basic aspect of parenting. 

Now Conservative media outlets have capitalized on Clinton’s comments to justify attacking the trans community. 

This is particularly concerning how easily conservative outlets have spun news stories in their favor and the fact that Clinton continues to espouse transphobic beliefs.

Now Conservative media outlets have capitalized on Clinton’s comments to justify attacking the trans community. 

This is particularly concerning how easily conservative outlets have spun news stories in their favor and the fact that Clinton continues to espouse transphobic beliefs.