Posts tagged with "Emmet McGeown"

DIY illustration

DIY

By Vaughn Lowery × Armon Hayes × Emmet McGeown

“Environment is your incubator to flourish; nurture growth and manifest success.” – 360 Magazine

The design story of interior designer Justin Lowery proves that the environment you’re in is as important as the company you keep. His latest renovation of a Bronx live workspace demonstrates both balance and practicality. According to Lowery, these are necessary components to any multi-functional space that exists to entertain and foster productivity. As working from home becomes more commonplace, many are motivated to effectively utilize the space of their residence. Yet doing so, especially when dealing with limited room sizes and budgets, can be challenging. Thus, many are turning to interior designers or technicians, usually found on AngelList, to inject an aura of panache and pragmatism into their homes.

You ought to begin with a purge; creating a clean slate and space enabling you to establish a clear direction and plan for your environment’s layout and purpose. This spatial cleanse is, perhaps, the most difficult part. But, it is necessary to confront your inner hoarder and to permit the creation of a new space. We all hold on to things that we no longer need which results in clutter that can weigh heavily on the energetic composition of a room.

Following this, liven your environment by making subtle yet effective changes such as swapping out dresser hardware for $5 champagne brass handles for a soft and polished finish. Continue this innovative spirit by purchasing some elegant glass bowls, plates, and wine glasses from Amazon as well as new silverware and a glossy copper pot set.

Accent pillows can be the finishing touch that tie the look of a room together. They offer comfort while incorporating different hues or a fun pattern. Throw pillows like Pillow Pops by Shani Moran serve as an easy way to change the style of your space without breaking the bank. The Pillow Pops come in a variety of designs, shades and textures, so there are options to fit anyone’s taste. These pillows are also versatile, with a hidden zip enclosure to change the pillow cover based on the occasion or season. 

When attempting to promote the entertainment aspects of a space, consider the Roku soundbar. It’s dynamic bass and crisp audio allows sound to permeate through a room. This exceptional reverberation is accentuated by the cinematic presence of a Roku 50” Westinghouse TV whose built-in voice assistant allows for an obedient and malleable audio environment. When eager to intensify the sound quality, you ought to contemplate the Altice Amplify speaker by Optimum whose curved and sleek characteristics offer a 360° immersive experience. The addition of a Roku Express streaming player attached to a versatile BENQ 32” monitor will create a smooth and versatile mood available for both entertainment and work. 

Another great addition is the Ninja Air Fryer. Getting another appliance may seem unnecessary; however, the Ninja Air Fryer is a must to make meals easier. Whether you’re air frying, air roasting, reheating or dehydrating the Ninja has got you covered.

Additionally, consider practical changes like a new coat of paint or a fresh pop of color on focal areas within your space. Benjamin Moore offers a plethora of ways to refresh things and create the illusion of larger space, making your home office inviting and open. In order to add an exciting new dimension to the room, use contrasting colors. “Black excellence” is a contrasting option to consider if protecting the natural molding details are a concern such as the outline of doors and base boards. If you have pets and young children, then this option is a no brainer.

Adding a tasteful artistic piece or a floral arrangement freshens the décor and will positively impact any space. Consider updating light fixtures and window treatments to bring your full vision to life. If your budget permits, then adding texture with a tile backsplash to your kitchen might facilitate a lighter atmosphere. Repositioning is one of the cheapest manner to renovate your space; finding new areas to move existing furniture will allow new perspectives to manifest. Make this renovation process fun – it’s a great time for bonding with friends, family, or maybe an expert. 

DIY, 360 Magazine, Pillow PopsDIY, 360 Magazine
Guillen illustration

The Murder of Fort Hood Soldier, Vanessa Guillen

By Emmet McGeown


“How can this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty? How can this just happen and then let it go under the rug like it was nothing?” These were the words of Mayra Guillen, sister of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who has been missing for months and is now confirmed dead.  

On April 22nd, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Hispanic Small Arms and Artillery Repairer, went missing. She was last seen alive at a parking lot at squadron headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. For months, Pfc. Guillen’s family held out hope that their beloved was still alive, yet the discovery of remains near the Leon River, north of Austin, has vanquished that hope. While the FBI is still awaiting a positive DNA analysis, the family believes that the remains belong to Vanessa.  

Yet, this story does not begin with her disappearance nor does it end with her death. Prior to her vanishing, Pfc. Guillen, according to her sisters, was having difficulties with sexual harassment while stationed at Fort Hood, outside Killeen, Texas. The attorney representing the family in the case revealed that Guillen had confided to her sisters and several other soldiers that a superior had walked in on her while taking a shower and that he proceeded to sit down and watch her. Other relatives and Pfc. Guillen’s boyfriend have noted on social media that something is “not right” and that Vanessa felt unsafe at the military base.  

However, during a press conference on Thursday, July 2nd, senior special agent for the Fort Hood Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), Damon Phelps, reported that there was no evidence backing the claim that she had been sexually harassed. He affirmed that “there has been no information — and we have interviewed hundreds of people… There is no credible information about that.” Despite this rebut by CID, family attorney, Natalie Khawam said, in an interview with PEOPLE, that she believes Pfc. Guillens was sexually harassed by Spc. Aaron David Robinson.

Spc. Robinson was the leading suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, and as authorities caught up with him on Tuesday evening, he shot himself. It has since been revealed that Robinson was, in fact, responsible for the murder of Pfc. Guillen’s. Guillen’s was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the armory where she worked, according to the family’s attorney. They made this discovery through an extensive investigation, in which witnesses divulged that they saw Robinson transporting a large box labelled “very heavy in weight.”

Then, after consenting to an examination of his cellphone records, court documents reveal, it was discovered that Robinson made several phone-calls to his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar on the night of Apri 22nd and into the early hours of the April 23rd. After being interviewed multiple times, Aguilar finally told investigators that her boyfriend had murdered Guillen. She also revealed how she and her boyfriend had met up and dismembered Guillen’s body together with a “hatchet or machete type knife” and, after attempting to set her corpse on fire, buried Guillen’s body parts in three different holes. Texas Rangers have since arrested Aguilar and she now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  

The issue of sexual harassment within the Army remains a problem in this case, given that Guillen’s family, according to their attorney, claimed that Vanessa was planning on reporting Robinson the day after she was murdered, and had delayed over fear of reprisal and inaction. Yet the Army says there exists no credible evidence that she was sexually harassed before her disappearance, and in a statement from the Fort Hood Press Center, officials said that the criminal investigation “has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.” They plan to continue their investigation in light of new revelations. 

Lupe Guillen, another sister of Vanessa’s, told NPR that her sister wanted to be in the military since she was a little girl, “she wanted to be a fighter. She wanted to be a hero. She wanted to be someone in life. … The military failed her.

The family is now pushing for legislation to create an independent agency for soldiers who are victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Don't Abandon the Mask

Texas and California Slow Reopening 

By Emmet McGewon

On March 27, a shadow, growing for weeks, reached monstrous proportions as Italy reached a grim milestone: 917 people passed away due to the novel coronavirus. The gloom pervaded for many more weeks as Italian streets emptied and hospitals overflowed. On the same day there were 5,906 new cases in the country. Yet, 2 months later dawn has broken the blackness and on Saturday, June 27, Italy reported only 8 new deaths and 175 new cases; the first time since the start of the outbreak that deaths were in single digits.Contrast this rapid recuperation with America’s two largest states: California and Texas. 

On the same day that Italy reported 175 new cases, California reported 27 times that number while Texas reported a case increase 33 times higher (4,810 and 5,747 respectively). Both states are betraying their namesake as California has not been golden in its response to the pandemic nor has Texas been a star. So why is it that Italy, the former epicenter of the outbreak, where shortages resulted in ventilators only being given to those under the age of 60, is in a recovery stage while the US suffocates under the weight of its caseload? 

“We are tired of not being able to buy the things that we need, go to the hairdressers, get our hair done. It’s time to open up.” These were the words of a middle-aged woman, sitting in her car, holding a makeshift American flag and pointing to the gray roots atop her head at a Michigan protest in mid-April. For many, this lady has become the embodiment of the entitled American who values her hairstyle over the potential loss of life that could occur from a rapid reopening. However, the uncomfortable reality is that she is not alone and that most, if not all Americans, are fatigued by the lockdown and eager to return to normality.

Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, home to a vibrant Russian, Ukrainian, and LGBTQ+ scene was abuzz on Friday evening. Long lines traversed the hectic sidewalks as eager patrons queued to enter bustling bars. The thin trees, boasting splashes of purple among the leafy foliage, watched over the strip like solemn sentries as droves of people enjoyed Los Angeles’s convalescent club scene. The looseness of restrictions was matched only by the looseness of partygoers’ flimsy floral shirts which billowed softly in the California evening breeze. Nonchalance came to mind. It appeared, despite the scattered mask-wearing, that the pandemic was over. 

We feel guilty for wishing to return to regular life given that such a return could result in a spike of hospitalizations and deaths. Thus, we stifle our impatience and seek scapegoats. Indeed, many are under the illusion that the persistent nature of the virus in the US is due to conservatives like those who armed themselves and entered the Michigan State Capitol. Yet, the reality is that a wide and diverse cross-section of US society has ceased caring about the virus. Whether you’re a patriotic Michigander or a bored frequenter of the Hollywood Hills, the suspension of day-to-day life is disconcerting and infuriating. 

The combination of over 400 protests in all 50 states after the horrific murder of George Floyd has no doubt led to an increase in coronavirus cases, yet this is not the only reason. Bar reopening’s have acted as a catalyst for the spread of Covid-19. Indeed, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an order on Sunday to close the bars in 7 California counties including LA county which has seen approximately 90,000 cases. His office also recommended, but did not order, they close in 8 others. Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages without serving food at the same time will no longer be allowed to open. Largely due to the nature of bars, it is close to impossible to maintain social distancing as well as contact tracing. People remove masks frequently to take drinks, talk louder (spreading more airborne particles), and mix with a large number of people meaning that were a case to be identified it would be very difficult to track and contain. “It is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus,” said Newsom.

In addition, in response to the surge of cases in Los Angeles, the LA County Board of Supervisors has decided to close all LA county beaches from July 3rd to July 6th. Those caught trespassing by local patrols could receive a $1000 fine. Furthermore, LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti, has placed a “hard pause” on movie theater reopening’s and has banned Fourth of July firework displays in an attempt to prevent the formation of crowds. 

Meanwhile, Texas has ordered the state’s four largest cities to stop offering elective surgeries in order to free up hospital space. Just a few days before Governor Abbott’s ban on elective surgeries, restrictions were eased on amusement parks and restaurants. The Lone Star state has, arguably, had the most aggressive reopening strategy with phase one commencing as early as May 1st – a month later allowing almost all businesses to operate at a 50% capacity. Abbott also issued an order to close bars on Friday, June 26th, also scaling back dine-in restaurants to 50% capacity. Previously, bars were allowed to operate at a 50% capacity and restaurants at a 75% capacity. More so, outdoor gatherings of over 100 people are now prohibited unless given explicit approval by local officials. 

Peter Hotez, a professor of virology at the Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, said that the pause in the reopening will be enough to maintain the status quo but that “the status quo is unacceptable,” and the Governor will soon have no choice but to “dial things back.” In San Antonio, ventilator availability dipped below 70% for the first time and in Houston, one hospital’s ICU reportedly was at 120% capacity, while another one was at 88%. On top of this, the Texas Medical Center in Houston said Tuesday that 97% of its ICU beds were occupied. These numbers are undoubtedly worrisome and only time will tell if more restrictions will be enacted.

Obviously, the crisis is not over, but from an outside perspective one is left wondering: does America even care? Our European counterparts appear to be coming out the other end of the pandemic while for the United States, there is no end in sight. 

Tulsa Race Massacre

By Emmet McGeown

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there is a strip of land known as Greenwood. In the early 20th century, it was renowned as a bustling business district with a prosperous and self-sufficient economy. Such a pre-Depression boomtown, still thriving off the discovery of oil in 1901 and still harnessing the energetic drive of frontierism, was not uncommon. Yet, Greenwood was exclusively Black prompting Booker T. Washington to dub it “Black Wall Street.” 

Due to staunch segregationist sentiments, African Americans constructed “Black Wall Street” as an oasis of social and economic mobility amidst the sand dunes of bigotry. The vibrant and animated nature of the business district was a testament to the American dream; despite crippling adversity, these business owners and professionals had created an innovative community dedicated to serving their own people’s needs. Black attorneys, doctors, and businessmen formed the nucleus of Greenwood around whom a middle-class utopia was established. Black-owned newspapers and movie theaters catered to the residents’ social perspectives and colloquialisms while Black schools and real-estate agents educated and housed their fellow man. 

However, on May 30th, 1921, 19-year-old shoe shiner, Dick Rowland, shared an elevator from the 1st to the 3rd floor of the Drexel building with Sarah Page, a 17-year-old white elevator operator. Sarah Page accused Dick Rowland of assault; she later dropped the charges, but it was too late. Dick Rowland was arrested the following day. An angry white mob arrived at the courthouse and began demanding justice. Their anger was fueled by the prevalent dogma that white womanhood was a sanctimonious virtue that ought not to be violated by the savagery of the Black man.

As the mob gathered around the courthouse, a few Black men from Greenwood arrived to defend Dick Rowland, one of them being his father, a prominent Black businessman. As Black and white citizens faced off, there was a struggle over a gun and a shot rang out injuring a white man. The match was struck. The Black residents retreated and set up a barricade at the railroad tracks in an attempt to prevent the white mob from invading their district. The barricade did not hold, and violence engulfed “Black Wall Street.” 35 blocks of Black property was set aflame with “the fires becoming so hot that nearby trees and outbuildings also burst into flame.” – Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot.

Yet this massacre was not limited to flames. The white mob dropped nitroglycerine bombs from private airplanes, there were reports of decapitations and white children were armed and sent scavenging the neighborhood, told by their parents that they were at liberty to murder Black folk. The Greenwood District burned for 2 days as the Governor of Oklahoma and the federal government engaged in ambivalence. Eventually, the national guard was called in and martial law was declared but it was too little too late. The “Black” in “Black Wall Street” no longer stood for African Americans rather, proceeding the massacre, it alluded only to the dark ash that coated the wreckage left behind.

Every single insurance claim was denied as the Black community was prohibited by established financial forces from rebuilding their community. The claims totaled over $2.7 million. An opinion piece in the Tulsa Tribune Editorial condoned the violence and expressed no remorse over the barbarity unleashed upon Greenwood.

In a 2018 Vox documentary, when asked, “Do you think life is better for black folks in America?” Hazel Jones, the last living survivor of the massacre at the time replied, “Nah. Some places, it is some places it’s not.” The legacy of this horrific event lives on 99 years later. Whilst things have undoubtedly gotten better for African Americans in terms of civil rights legislation, employment opportunities, and education, why is it so that people like Ms. Jones believe that Black America is just as subjugated and abused as it was in 1921? The sentiments of Black individuals who concur with this feeling must be acknowledged and better investigated in order to begin attempting to rectify the injustices which have plagued the African American community since this nation’s inception. 

Rita Azar, 360 MAGAZINE

Defund the Police

Defund the Police: What does it mean?

By Emmet McGeown

In John Le Carré’s 1963 spy novel, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” the character Control, a prominent member of the British intelligence service, describes the duty of law enforcement as follows: “We do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night.” The role of policing is often depicted in this light. There exists a prevalent view that the police exist in order to do things that civilians have neither the ability nor stomach to do, whether this be subduing suspects or dispersing delinquents. Yet, what if this didn’t have to be the role of police? What if the police were viewed more as a public service as opposed to a pseudo-military presence?

This is the idea presented by the “defund police” movement. Over the past few weeks, since the unwarranted and horrifying murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been a significant push for police forces all around the country to receive less money in municipal budgets and federal grants. It’s a controversial plan.

Law enforcement is a sacred pillar of post-9/11 American society. To be a police officer is to be part of an institution, an illustrious and insular institution where prestige and eminence are vigorously upheld in the name of justice. The lionization of American police forces has coincided with their increasing militarization. To question the splendor of law enforcement is to express doubt in the American experiment; at least that’s how many would regard it. This is evident in the fact that even leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are eager to distance themselves from the potential consequences of defunding the police. Veteran Senator, Dianne Feinstein, when asked, expressed, “I just don’t believe in that as an answer.”

Furthermore, Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, anxious to appease moderates, released a plan last year that would actually add $300 million to the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) which, since 1994, has invested over $14 billion dollars in local police departments to hire and train local police officers. There is no reason to believe that he intends on revising this plan in the wake of nationwide protests.

So, besides defunding, as its moniker quite blatantly advocates, what else is the “defund police” movement aspiring to achieve? Well, a concomitant effect of defunding would be extra money to potentially invest in other community programs. San Francisco, Portland, Denver and Nashville are among the many cities that are already debating diverting police funds to other first responders, schools, and community initiatives. The movement is gaining traction. In America’s second most populous city, Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti shifted $150 million from police budgets to education, healthcare, and housing in communities of color. Fueling such actions is the belief that poverty is a catalyst for crime thus tackling impoverishment is a way to reduce instances of police brutality. This is an interesting concept. In fact, a report by the Bureau of Justice released in 2014 revealed that from the period 2008-2012 persons in households living at or below the federal poverty line had more than double the rate of violent victimization than those in high-income households. More so, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis conducted a study that revealed that areas with higher rates of unemployment and few social services also tend to have higher crime rates. In the city of St. Louis, according to the same study, firearm assault rates per 1,000 residents are more than six times higher in high-poverty neighborhoods than in low-poverty neighborhoods. Thus, alleviating poverty through allocating more money to social services, employment schemes, and public education may have a profound effect on crime rates therefore could minimize the need for heavy-handed police tactics.

This idea doesn’t seem so radical when elaborated upon. Indeed, a 2008 Yale study of the relationship between welfare and crime rates concluded that frequent welfare payments that are sufficiently large would be associated with lower levels of crime. Yet, the slogan “defund police” lacks the syllables to encapsulate sufficient nuance. Those advocating for defunding the police may want to sacrifice their snappy maxim for detailed proposals if they wish to create meaningful change.

The third aspect of the “defund police” movement is arguably the most agreeable. Many activists in the movement have outlined that police officers respond to an overwhelming number of situations for which they are not equipped nor qualified. These include dealing with people suffering from mental health issues, domestic disputes, disobedient school children and drug addiction. Activists argue that the police have become the remedy to every societal problem regardless of the magnitude. Even ancient Rome divided the role of the city’s police force into the Vigiles, Praetorian Guard, and Urban Cohorts, each being responsible for maintaining a certain type of public order. Yet, in modern-day America, 911 can be dialed in the event of a murder or because a birdwatcher asked someone to put their dog on a leash. This imprecise prophylactic policing trivializes policing as we now rely on officers to resolve even the most miniscule of disputes. This contributes, not only to wasting police time, but also to the perpetual escalation of the insubstantial into the inexcusable. After all, George Floyd was initially interacting with the police for using a counterfeit $20 bill, a crime hardly worth an arrest never mind public suffocation.

Even so, there are still many obstacles in the path of those aspiring to defund the police: “Sixty percent specifically oppose reducing the budget for police to reallocate it to other public health and social programs, while 39 percent support that move,” said ABC News.

For many Americans, the police are untouchable. This attitude is expressed eloquently, albeit brashly, by conservative political commentator Heather MacDonald in a City Journal article titled “Why We Need the Police.” Here, Ms. MacDonald decries the notion that better-funded social services would ameliorate crime rates in cities. She argues that New York City is a prime example because “No city spent more on welfare, yet crime continued to rise.” Ms. MacDonald outlines that “fewer cops and depleted NYPD funding mean longer response times and less training.”

One must concede that there is a logic to this argument. Indeed, research by Dr. June O’Neill and Anne Hill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that a 50 percent increase in the monthly value of combined AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) and food stamp benefits led to a 117 percent increase in the crime rate among young black men. So, one could argue that an increased reliance upon social services in impoverished neighborhoods will actually result in an increase of crime.

Lastly, many are weary to openly endorse defunding the police because it appears to be a tributary feeding a more radical river: abolition of the police. Abolishing the police, much like the movement to abolish ICE, is a policy idea expressed by the fringes of the left wing. The belief system undergirding this viewpoint is that the American police force is chronically racist. Its members, thus their actions, are discriminatory and perpetuate the racial inequality admonished by those calling for the abolition of the police. A NYT op-ed, written by Mariame Kaba, argues that since policing has roots in slave patrols and union busting the asphyxiation of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin is an expected and unsurprising corollary of an organization that has been marinating in a mélange of classism and racism since its genesis.

For those advocating police abolition, “reform” is viewed as insufficient. It is seen as a bromide used by moderate politicians to avoid a tangible restructuring of policing thus immortalizing the status quo. Reform is a more palatable dish in suburban dining rooms. Abolition, derived from the Latin infinitive abolere literally meaning “destroy,” makes many middle-class voters twitch as they imagine a future in which the thin blue-line restraining mayhem is snapped, unleashing a cascade of crime. Yet, the push to abolish the police may have its merits…

“Why did you have to shoot? I mean that’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?” asked William Schultz, father of Scout Schultz who was a Georgia Tech student suffering from depression shot by Georgia Tech police in 2017. In the now infamous video, Scout can be seen holding a multi-purpose tool walking toward two police officers. After Scout’s death questions were asked as to why lethal force had to be used. Contrast this with an incident in Camden, NJ, where a knife-wielding individual threatened customers of a fried-chicken joint then walked down the street refusing to obey cops demands for him to put down the knife as he thrashed erratically. For 5 minutes, over a dozen police officers formed a loose semi-circle around the suspect, following him as he walked down the street. After repeated warnings, the man was tased, disarmed, and arrested. No death. What was the difference? Advocates of abolishing the police would argue that because the latter city had disbanded their police department and rebuilt a new, community-focused county force, violence was avoided.

In May 2013, the Camden City Council approved several resolutions that eliminated the city police department and established a new one under county control. The remaining city cops were all laid off and had to reapply to work with the county, under far less generous nonunion contracts. The Camden police was now bigger. By cutting salaries, the county was able to hire more officers, increasing the size of the department from 250 to 400. Plus, the officers were no longer rewarded for the number of tickets they had written, or how many arrests they had made. No longer would officers be the “arbitrary decider of what’s right and wrong,” Camden police chief, Scott Thomson, announced but rather consider themselves as “a facilitator and a convener.” A result of this structural innovation has been a 72% drop in violent crimes over 7 years.

It is clear that something has to change. However, this change should not be limited to the police. In order to prevent more George Floyd’s, one must approach the problem of policing as though it were a rock formation consisting of multiple compressed strata, preserved in time, now requiring excavation and examination. Such attempts have been made in the past, most notably by the presidentially appointed Kerner Commission set up to analyze the cause of the civil unrest in the late 1960’s. In the Commission’s landmark 1968 report it concluded: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal…White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” It’s time we stopped ignoring the inequality which persists in this nation. Poverty and policing are inextricably linked, defunding police might feel good for the Left and defunding welfare programs may feel good for the Right but what will work?
We still don’t know.

Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine, BLM, black lives matter, protests, marches, change

Los Angeles Protests

By Emmet McGeown

Los Angeles residents continue their demand for racial equality

Breonna Taylor, a Louisville EMT, would have turned 27 years old on June 5th. Instead, on March 13th, Ms. Taylor was shot 8 times while asleep after police officers entered her home without knocking. The young woman was not forgotten at Friday evening’s LA protest. The administrators of the march passionately expressed how this case of police brutality is emblematic of the chronic racial inequality which has defined the US criminal justice system since the nation’s conception.

The atmosphere of the march was boisterous. The Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child” played at the event and defined the hope for a better future omnipresent with lines like, “things are gonna get easier… things are gonna get brighter.”  Protestors fed off each others’ energies with chants of “No Justice, No Peace,” “Whose streets? Our streets,” mixed with an eclectic concoction of cheers. Indeed, the emphatic beeps of car horns, the banging of pots and pans from apartments above the street, and a sea of signs created a powerful spirit that, in the moment, felt indomitable.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the protest was the mélange of ethnicities in attendance. The multicolored faces of the crowds formed a microcosm of America – a new America. This diverse movement circled downtown Los Angeles, walking past boarded-up businesses that still bore the scars of previous nights. Much to the credit of the protest’s organizers, they were determined to reject the vandalism that had wounded the essence of the movement’s message earlier in the week. They wished to emulate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tactics of non-violence, aspiring to make progress in King’s fight that must still advocated for.

At several points throughout the protest attendees were asked to take a knee. The profound purpose of this act was revealed at the conclusion of the event. “It’s uncomfortable isn’t it?” asked one protest organizer stuttering on her own passion, “Well imagine what it felt like for George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds!” Her vehemence echoed throughout the crowd as applause ruptured the silence of intent listening.

As the California sun dipped below the horizon, thousands ascended upon City Hall where a vanguard of LAPD lined the entrance. The protestors were nourished by a plethora of free snacks provided by supportive local vendors. The march culminated with a moving tribute to Ms. Taylor on the steps of City Hall. Here, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to yet another martyr of the African American community in what appears to be an endless struggle for equality. Stories like Breonna Taylor’s tell a hauntingly familiar tale of racism in our country, and these injustices haven’t ceased during quarantine. The 360 Magazine “Minority Report” details all of the acts of racial inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crowd was rife with enthusiasm for change but there was also a portentous understanding that this is not the last march for justice. However, the prevailing attitude was one of passion in hope that, despite the brutality of US history, America has finally reached a social crescendo free of the injustice that has characterized the country’s nascence.

So, what does all this mean? Well, the protestors and organizers were eager to proclaim a sizeable achievement they have garnered thanks to this movement. One of which is LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s revision of the proposed city budget. In this revision, $150 million from the LAPD will be diverted towards healthcare, jobs, and education opportunities in communities of color. It is unclear whether stripping funds from the police will make the streets safer for people of color, yet protestors saw this as a victory for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The push to reduce police power will undoubtedly clash with President Trump’s call for “law and order.” Trump’s adoption of the infamous Nixonian verbiage and allusions to “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” has inflamed tensions in Los Angeles. In general, the president’s responses to BLM movements have done little to soothe California’s most populous city. A city, that only 28 years ago, was the epicenter of mayhem after a jury acquitted four police officers of using excessive force against black LA resident Rodney King. Thus, almost 30 years after the Rodney King riots and 50 years after the civil rights movement, one is still left wondering: do Americans trust law enforcement?

Toosii’s Platinum Heart (Deluxe) – New Album

Released on May 29th, the expanded edition features 7 new songs including “Club Houseand “5 stars” with “Love Cycle” official video available now too HERE.

Building off the mega success of the original Platinum Heart album, which surpassed 70 million song downloads and streams, Platinum Heart (Deluxe) rivals its predecessor in innovation and style. The new mixtape opens with seven new tracks, including the tour de force “Club House,” which lays Toosii’s lightning-speed wordplay over a boisterous base of bold, pensive synths. Toosii’s talent is further on display with the street-smart “5 stars.” All available HERE.

The 19-year-old North Carolina rapper continues to build momentum with his artistic prowess, making 2020 his breakout year. Toosii comments on his new release invoking his success and emphatically proclaiming “I put this together because I love my FANS!” HipHopDX characterised Toosii’s new music as a testament to his “melodic flow… driven by his hit ‘Red Lights.’”

Toosii’s music has not only been praised for its eclectic energy but also for its sincere substance and introspection with Complex acknowledging that his “5 star” track “sees Toosii contrast his aspirations against his roots.” This sense of meaning is pervasive throughout Platinum Heart (Deluxe) given the darkly atmospheric hits “Forever Paid” and “Pea Coat,” plus the heart-wrenching “Reminiscing” and freshly rhythmic “Got Her Own” and “Inside Out.”

As a compelling live performer, Toosii has supported such artists as DaBaby, Summer Walker, Polo G, Moneybagg Yo, Money Man, NBA Young Boy, Yung Bleu, City Girls and more. His hypnotic style has thrust him into the upper echelons of his industry where he will, no doubt, only rise higher and higher in fame and esteem. XXL observed, “Toosii has the ability to make turn-up music” and AllMusic praised his “melodic, autobiographical style,” – his autonomous approach is being noticed HERE.

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The Roots Jam Presents Solo Sessions

Fifth Installment of the Roots Jam Presents Solo Sessions released on May 28th and available at The Roots YouTube channel HERE

This recently released episode featuring performances by Lisa Ramey, Kacey Williams, and Mannywellz, hosted by CAPTAIN KIRK was published by The Roots as part of their custom content series. The band’s commitment to opening up its platform to handpicked music artists reveals themes of creativity and discovery which have been present in each of the previous Solo Sessions.

Such cleverly curated content demonstrates an innovative and expressive band eager to deliver original talent to its fans. Plus, each day, the lineup of content is anchored by Questlove’s impactful live DJ sets which have have not only reimagined the art of DJing but have incorporated a charitable component where donations can be made to The Food Hub NYC.

All the content mentioned is created by The Roots and produced by their production company, Two One Five Entertainment, in partnership with Live Urban Nation and available at their YouTube channel HERE. Future material will center on The Roots band members and will vary from short-form storytelling and conversations to performances and podcasts. Throughout the coming weeks this content will flourish into more imaginative productions highlighting other influential artists, authors, and creatives.

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