Review Category : National News

Black UPenn Students Put on ‘Racist’ Messaging Account: School Officials

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — The University of Pennsylvania is launching an investigation after several black students were added to a “violent” and “racist” messaging account, according to university officials.

The freshman students were added to a “repugnant” account on the popular messaging app GroupMe that contained “violent, racist and thoroughly disgusting images and messages,” according to a joint statement released Friday by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli. Security has been increased on campus as a result, officials said.

The GroupMe account appears to have based in Oklahoma, school officials said, adding that they are taking steps find the people responsible for the account as well as address the impact it has had on black students.

“This is absolutely vile material and completely offensive to everyone on our campus,” the statement read. “We are both angry and saddened that it was directed to our students or to anyone.”

Officials said they will “take every step possible” to counteract the “appalling bias” represented by the GroupMe account.

“We must reiterate how absolutely essential it is to the core values of our community, and also to the well-being of our society and world, that all persons be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” the statement said. “… And we all stand together in solidarity with our [b]lack students who have been so terribly targeted.”

In a statement, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney condemned the incident and urged the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to investigate and “hold all responsible parties accountable for this disgusting behavior.”

“Everyone is welcome in Philadelphia regardless of whether they are a freshman at one of our universities or if they’ve always called Philadelphia home,” Kenney said. “It is heartbreaking to see this type of activity here in the birthplace of our democracy and the city of brotherly love.”

New York University also issued a statement Friday after a door to a room used for prayer by its Muslim community was found defaced on Wednesday morning.

“Our university is extremely diverse, and ensuring that every last person feels welcome and safe is essential to our principles and our mission,” NYU said in the statement. “The dean has written to the school to reiterate our expectations for tolerance, civility, and respect.”

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Probe Underway in Police Shooting Caught on Dashcam in NJ

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Authorities in New Jersey say they are still investigating a police shooting captured on dashcam in which an officer fired his gun, injuring a man, as they tussled during a traffic stop.

In a news release, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said the unidentified Haddon Township police officer pulled over Edmond Brown Jr., 38, of Camden, in a traffic stop Oct. 29 around 9:41 a.m. for allegedly driving with a hanging handicap placard.

According to police, the sign must be taken down when a person is driving.

“While the officer attempted to identify the driver, the driver fled in his car and crashed into a parked vehicle. A brief struggle between the officer and driver ensued and the driver of the vehicle was shot once in the lower extremity,” prosecutors said in a statement.

In footage from the patrol car’s dashcam that was obtained by Philly.com, the officer draws his gun and tells Brown to get on the ground. But, Brown tries to run. As the two scuffle, the officer’s gun fires.

“You shot me,” Brown can be heard saying.

“No, I didn’t,” the officer says, seemingly unaware that his weapon had gone off.

Brown was eventually arrested, treated at a hospital and released. The prosecutor’s office said the officer was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

The prosecutor’s office said that police found a “fully loaded Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver along with additional ammunition” in the vehicle that Brown was driving.

Brown now faces charges including aggravated assault and weapons possession. Bail was set at $100,000.

Kenneth D. Aita, Brown’s lawyer, told ABC News: “The matter is in the very preliminary stages. My firm is conducting our own investigation regarding the facts and circumstances. I ask that no one rush to judgment based on a short video clip only.”

Aita said Brown has not made a court appearance yet.

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10-Year-Old Muslim Girl Writes Letter to Donald Trump, Begs Him to ‘Be Good’

Aamina Ali Ahmed(NEW YORK) — During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump proposed a total ban on the immigration of Muslims to the United States, a plan that sparked backlash along with claims of racism and xenophobia.

It’s one of the reasons why Sakeena Ahmed, a 10-year-old Muslim girl, wrote a letter to Trump, begging him to “be good.”

Ahmed’s mother, Aamina Ali Ahmed, told ABC News she encouraged her daughter to write to the president-elect after she questioned about his proposed policies.

“She was just like, ‘Why does Donald Trump not want to allow Muslims to come to this country? Why is he being so mean? Doesn’t he know who we are and we’re not bad people?'” Ali Ahmed recalled. “And I said, ‘You know what Sakeena? Why don’t you write him a letter.'”

In her handwritten letter, the fourth grader told Trump, “Imagine if everybody hated your religion.”

“You said you want to make America great again. Can you show me?!” Ahmed continued. “Don’t we all have the same plan? We all just want to live in peace…and not war!”

Ahmed ended her note by writing, “My only wish for you [is to] be good. And I hope this letter does make you good.”

Ali Ahmed, 39, said she’s shared the letter on social media, but hasn’t received a response from Trump yet.

Right now, she’s trying to ease the fears of her husband and four children after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the country’s 45th president.

In fact, Ali Ahmed said that she and her family decided against going to the movies after the election results came in.

“I told my husband, ‘We can’t live our lives in fear. We can’t live our lives looking over our backs. That’s just not living.'”

She did, however, suggest that she and her eldest daughter, who also wears a hijab, would instead wear hats.

Earlier this month, a statement to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. temporarily disappeared from Trump’s website, but was restored Thursday. On the campaign trail, Trump appeared to alter his stance, saying that the ban should apply to countries with connections to terrorism and not Muslims specifically.

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Obama: When ‘World Makes You Cynical,’ Veterans Can Inspire

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Friday renewed his call for national unity in the wake of a divisive election, saying in a Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery that Americans must “find strength in our common creed.”

Speaking after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Obama noted that Veterans Day “often follows a hard-fought political campaign — an exercise in the free speech and self government that you fought for … [that] often lays bare disagreements across our nation.”

“But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners; it is to find strength in our common creed. To forge unity from our great diversity,” the president said.

“And when the election is over as we search for ways to come together, reconnect with one another, and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics, some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day,” he added.

Obama cited “the example of a military that meets every mission, one united team, all looking out for one another.”

“It’s the example of the single most diverse institution in our country,” he said. “Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who represent every corner of our country, every share of humanity, immigrants and native-born, Christian, Muslim, Jew and nonbeliever alike. All forged in the common service.”

“Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness and selflessness is possible, then stop and look to a veteran,” he said.

Obama acknowledged that work still needs to be done to honor veterans, such as by addressing wait times at veterans hospitals and veterans’ mental health issues.

But the president pushed against calls to privatize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as Trump called for during his campaign.

Honor guards representing veterans from various wars, veterans’ organizations and Gold Star families were among those participating in the event.

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Tribal Leader Calls on Obama to Halt Pipeline Construction

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has called on President Obama to “set a lasting and true legacy” by halting construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline before President-elect Donald Trump takes office next year.

The tribe is more concerned than ever about the future of its water and lands as public records show Trump has invested up to $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, the builder of the controversial pipeline.

The exact figures of how much Trump has invested in Energy Transfer remains unclear, as he has refused to release his tax returns.

Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement that results of the presidential election “indicate that we as a country have so much work to do,” and urged Obama to “set a lasting and true legacy” by halting the pipeline’s construction.

“We must strengthen our resolve to protect the water, pray together for understanding, and pour our hearts and minds into the future of our children,” Archambault said. “In this time of uncertainty, President Obama still has the power to give our children hope. We believe halting the Dakota Access pipeline presents a unique opportunity for President Obama to set a lasting and true legacy and respect the sovereignty and treaty rights of Standing Rock and tribal nations across America.”

The 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline has courted controversy for months from Native American groups and environmental activists. Hundreds of protesters have camped out near the tribe’s reservation in North Dakota, arguing that construction of the pipeline threatens the local water supply and traverses culturally sacred sites.

Tensions between local law enforcement and demonstrators have become more tense in recent weeks after heavily armed police unleashed rubber bullets and pepper spray in confrontations with protesters on private land.

At a hearing Thursday, a Department of Justice spokesperson said the agency will announce its decision on “next steps” and a “path forward” for the final easement needed in order to complete construction of the pipeline, “within a matter of days.”

Archambault said in a statement: “The only possible path forward for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is a decision that denies the easement or subjects it too a full environmental impact statement and tribal consultation.”

Three federal agencies, the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Deptartment of the Army, requested “that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe,” while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews permits.

Dakota Access has so far disregarded the government’s request to temporarily halt construction, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

In an effort to defuse tensions between law enforcement and demonstrators, “We asked Dakota Access Pipeline on November 4th to honor the Administration’s request for a voluntary shut down by stopping work for a 30 day period to allow for deescalation. Dakota Access did not agree to this request,” John W. Henderson of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Omaha District said in a statement on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Dakota Access also said in a statement on Monday, “To be clear, Dakota Access Pipeline has not voluntarily agreed to halt construction of the pipeline in North Dakota. Dakota Access has now completed construction of the pipeline on each side of Lake Oahe and is currently mobilizing horizontal drilling equipment to the drill box site in preparation for the tunneling under Lake Oahe.”

A spokesperson for Dakota Access did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for further comment Friday.

Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren has previously said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded,” and that “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

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Wildfires Blanket Southeast Skies, Burn Thousands of Acres as Extreme Drought Settles in the Region

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than 30 large wildfires are blanketing the skies in the Southeast, burning through thousands of acres, as an overwhelming drought settles in the region.

Most of the wildfires span from northeast Alabama to eastern Kentucky, across the hills and mountains of the Southern Appalachians between Tennessee and North Carolina. The fires come as the region is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

In Tennessee, a state of emergency was declared in response to the ongoing drought conditions and destructive fires. The fires have burned over 9,000 acres in the eastern part of Tennessee. Over 60 percent of the state’s water systems are experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, with three counties reporting that their wells are running completely dry.

In North Carolina, a state of emergency was issued in response to crippling drought conditions in the western part of the state. The wildfire surge has burned over 7,500 acres of land in the state.

In Georgia, the Rough Ridge fire grew rapidly in the past 24 hours, with 10,000 acres burning just south of the Georgia-Tennessee Line.

The drought has been crippling for the region and very dry conditions are expected to persist Friday; no precipitation is expected for the next week. Combined with increased wind gusts of 25 to 35 miles per hour, wildfires in the region have the potential to spread.

The southeast drought is expected to continue, and could become more severe as “La Nina” impacts global climate patterns. “La Nina” is expected to bring dry and warmer than average conditions to the area.

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Veterans Day by the Numbers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It has been 97 years since the United States first celebrated Veterans Day. On Nov. 11, 1919, the holiday, which originated as Armistice Day, marked the first anniversary since the end of World War I.

Congress passed a resolution in 1926 marking Armistice Day as an annual observance. Twelve years later, Nov. 11 was officially a national holiday.

But it wasn’t until President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 that the name was changed to Veterans Day as a way to honor all people who had served in any U.S. war.

ABC News looks at the U.S. veteran population by the numbers, using 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

18.8 million

The number of military veterans. Of those 18.8 million, 1.6 million are women.

9.3 million

The number of veterans age 65 or older. About 1.6 million are younger than 35.

930,000

The number of living veterans who served in World War II. There are 1.8 million who served in the Korean War, 6.8 million who served in Vietnam and 5.6 million who served during the Gulf War (counted as 1990 to the present). About 4.3 million served only in peacetime.

11.6 Percent

The percentage of veterans who are black. About 6.4 percent are Hispanic, while 78.3 percent are white.

3

The number of states with a million or more veterans: California, Texas, and Florida.

27.7 Percent

The percentage of veterans 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 31 percent of non-veterans have one.

$32,446

The annual median income of female veterans. Compare that number to $22,505 for female non-veterans. The annual media income for male veterans is higher at $38,978, also higher than the number for male non-veterans at $34,168.

7.2 million

The number of veterans 18 to 64 years old in the labor force. Of those, 6.8 million are employed.

11.5 million

The number of veterans who voted in the 2014 congressional election. That means 54 percent of the veteran population cast a ballot, compared with 41 percent of non-veterans.

3.9 million

The number of veterans with a service-connected disability rating.

405,235

The number of all U.S. businesses that are majority owned by veterans. Veteran-owned firms comprised 7.5 percent of the nation’s 5.4 million employer businesses.

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Detectives Who Rescued Woman from Suspected South Carolina Serial Killer Speak Out

iStock/Thinkstock(ANDERSON CITY, S.C.) — The two detectives who rescued Kala Brown from the property of suspected serial killer Todd Kohlhepp have spoken out for the first time about the harrowing moment they discovered her chained up inside a metal container.

“I was shocked and amazed,” Detective Bradley Whitfield, of the Anderson City Police Department, told ABC News.

Upon finding Brown, Detective Charlynn Ezell added, “She just looked at me and said thank you so much for finding me.”

Two months after she went missing, detectives discovered Brown on the 100-acre property in South Carolina when they heard “banging” coming from inside a metal container.

“I think we all saw a lot of things that day that are going to stay with us,” Detective Whitfield said in tears.

Initially, a cell phone ping led investigators to look for Brown and her missing boyfriend, Charles Carver. Carver’s body was found on the property and identified by officials on Saturday.

Carver’s family credited his disappearance for helping lead investigators to Kohlhepp, his brother Nathan told ABC News, “The story happened for a reason. David was put where he was for a reason.”

Kohlhepp, now in custody, is suspected in at least seven murders. Police say he confessed to four murders in 2003, in addition to the killings of Carver and a couple who went missing in 2015, whose bodies were also discovered on his property.

The couple was identified as 25-year-old Meagan Leigh McCraw Coxie and 29-year-old Johnny Joe Coxie, according to Spartanburg Coroner Rusty Clevenger. They were both killed by gunshot wounds. Their deaths were ruled homicides, Clevenger said.

Carver’s estranged wife, Nikki, has since been arrested and accused of pretending to be a police officer. She allegedly attempted to get authorities to ping his cell phone shortly after he went missing.

Authorities have added that this case has expanded to other states as they continue searching more properties owned by Kohlhepp.

Det. Ezell said that some of the details not yet available to the public would be “shocking” if they were released.

“It could be anybody’s child, anybody’s wife or husband,” Whitfield said crying. “I wish we could have done more,” he added.

Kohlhepp has been charged so far for the four murders from 2003, but investigators say more charges may follow. He has not yet entered a plea in any of these cases.

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Muslim Student Who Reported Trump-Inspired Attack Admits She Made It Up, Police Say

iStock/Thinkstock(LAFAYETTE, La.) — A Muslim woman in Louisiana who told police she was attacked with a metal object and robbed of her headscarf and wallet by two men wearing Donald Trump clothing just hours after Trump was elected president admitted to police Thursday that she made it up, Lafayette police told ABC News.

“She made up the entire story about being attacked, about her hijab being taken. There was no truth to any of it,” Lafayette Police Department spokesman Cpl. Karol Ratcliff said.

The 18-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, who police haven’t named, reported that two white men jumped out of a gray sedan and accosted her while she was walking near campus, striking her several times in the back with a metal object, and knocking her down. She also told police they shouted racial obscenities at her before fleeing. Police said they weren’t able to identify any suspects and that she declined medical treatment.

The report of the attack garnered national attention and elicited outrage today from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, which issued a firm rebuke of the attack, tying it to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Trump’s campaign.

“We condemn this rhetoric and this behavior. We call on all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Muslim Americans and residents have the same rights that we all do: to practice our religion freely and openly, to live and work without fear, and to participate equally in public life,” the ACLU of Louisiana said in a statement.

But by Thursday afternoon, the student had changed her story.

“She caused all this stir over nothing. I don’t know what her motivation was,” Ratcliff said.

“Getting people upset and afraid is not the way to express your discontent,” he said. “It’s just not the way to do it. And it’s not ok and that’s why there’s a consequence.”

The student will be charged with a misdemeanor for filing a false police report, but will likely not face any jail time, Ratcliff said.

“We’re moving on from it,” Ratcliff said. “She decided to tell the truth about not telling the truth.”

Despite this false report, other attacks on Muslim Americans have been reported since Tuesday. Authorities at San Diego State University said two suspects targeted a Muslim student on campus Wednesday because of her faith and made comments about Trump’s election. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election has civil rights advocates warning Muslim Americans to “be cautious” of their surroundings and to “pay extra attention to safety and security at mosques.”

“In times of crisis or in times of upheaval, often American Muslims and their institutions are targeted,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations national communications director Ibrahim Hooper. “We’re not saying it will happen in his [Trump’s] case, but we should be aware of that possibility.”

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Anti-Trump Protests Sweep the Nation for a Second Night, Trump Calls Them ‘Unfair’

william87/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thousands of protesters filled the streets of cities across the U.S. Thursday for a second night of anti-Donald Trump demonstrations, with police in Portland, Oregon, declaring protests there had escalated and were being “considered a riot.”

“Due to extensive criminal and dangerous behavior, protest is now considered a riot. Crowd has been advised,” tweeted the Portland Police Department, which pointed the finger at “anarchists.”

Although the protests in Portland began peacefully — when thousands of people gathered at the city’s Pioneer Courthouse Square and marched over the Hawthorne Bridge — they soon became marred by criminal activity, according to police.

According to police, bat-carrying protesters blocked traffic, attacked drivers, vandalized businesses, threw “projectiles” at officers.

According to ABC affiliate KATU, a driver on the Hawthorne Bridge apparently threw laundry detergent at some of the protesters, who then took her keys and threw them over the overpass. Her car was abandoned on the bridge.

The community group Don’t Shoot PDX has organized the protests over the last couple of nights. A spokesman for the group, Gregory McKelvey, told KATU they do not condone violence or vandalism and plan to lead with an “example of peace.”

According to KATU, at least three people were arrested, as of 11 p.m. local time, although Portland Police had yet to release a figure.

As protests kicked off across the country Thursday night, Trump took issue with the protests, tweeting, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016

From coast to coast, anti-Trump protesters made their disdain for the president-elect known. Below, a round-up:

NEW YORK

Trump Tower, where the president-elect’s offices are, was the site of demonstrations again.

Hundreds of angry protesters descended upon the midtown Manhattan skyscraper carrying signs that read “Not My President” and “Divided States of America.”

DALLAS, TEXAS

At a protest march in downtown Dallas, at three people were arrested, according to police

The Next Generation Action Network organized the rally, which started at AT&T Victory Park Plaza and made its way through the streets of downtown back to the plaza.

“As we wrap our minds around this failed attempt at democracy that we as a country have witnessed in this election, and brace ourselves as Americans for a new Republican commander-in-chief with a majority Republican House and Senate; we are even more strengthened in our resolve to fight,” read a statement from the Next Generation Action Network before the protest. “Most everything out of the Trump campaign has been divisive and contrary to those values written in the U.S. Constitution.”

Elsewhere in Texas, at least two protesters were arrested, one for shoving an officer, at an Austin protest, according to ABC affiliate KVUE.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

In the nation’s capital, protesters gathered outside the newly-opened Trump International Hotel around 6:30 p.m. They chanted and held signs that read “Not Our President” and “Trump is a racist.”

“People are out here because of the principle of love and the principle of compassion and we are sincerely worried that that is dying,” protester Nnamdi Akoli TOLD ABC affiliate WJLA.

THE BAY AREA (SAN FRANCISCO, OAKLAND, BERKELEY)

The San Francisco Bay area was also a hotbed of protests Thursday, as well.

Protesters returned to Oakland to protest the president-elect, descending upon city hall carrying signs that read “Liberation, Not Deportation.”

Earlier in the day there were also protests at high schools in Berkeley and Oakland, KGO reported. About 1,500 Berkeley High School students and some members of school staff staged a walkout around 8:20 a.m. and marched to the University of California at Berkeley, where a much larger demonstration was taking place. The protesters gathered peacefully as police officers looked on.

PHILADELPHIA

About 500 protesters gathered at the Municipal Services Building Thursday night for a vigil organized by GOP Hands Off Me, a multi-racial feminist coalition.

“We’re actually just creating the space for people to come together and say, ‘This isn’t our America, this isn’t what we thought it was,’ ” Emma Boorboor of GOP Hands Off Me told ABC affiliate WPVI. “We’re gonna give ourselves the space to mourn essentially that this is what happened in America.”

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