- A black man says he was racially profiled by police and security officers while being treated at an Illinois hospital for double pneumonia.
- Shaquille Dukes says he asked doctors if he could go on a walk, then went outside with his boyfriend and brother while still attached to his IV drip.
- A guard then accused him of stealing medical equipment and called for police, who arrested the three men for disorderly conduct.
- The Freeport Police Department has defended its officers, but also appointed an independent investigator to look into the case.
Shaquille Dukes Speaks Out
A black hospital patient says he was racially profiled by police and security officers who accused him of trying to steal medical equipment from an Illinois hospital while on a walk with an IV drip still attached to his body.
Shaquille Dukes, 24, wrote about the incident on Facebook in a post dated June 17. In it, he said that while on vacation in Freeport, he became sick and was treated at a hospital for double pneumonia. On June 9, his second day at Freeport Health Network Memorial Hospital, he began feeling better and asked doctors if he could go for a walk, according to CNN.
He was accompanied by his boyfriend and brother, while still wearing his hospital gown and pushing a steroid and antibiotic IV drip, when a security guard approached. “After receiving orders to walk around, I was stopped by an overzealous, racist, security officer, who claimed that I ‘was trying to leave the hospital to sell the IV equipment on eBay,'” Dukes wrote in the post.
Dukes says his boyfriend began recording the incident and the security guard eventually called the police. In an interview with CNN, Dukes said the guard told the police, “I have three black males attempting to steal medical equipment from the hospital.”
A police sergeant that Dukes identified as Jeff Zalaznik arrived and allegedly told Dukes he was being arrested for “attempted theft” of the equipment that was still attached to his arm. All three men were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Two of them were also charged with resisting arrest, according to a Freeport Police Department press release.
After Dukes and his brother were arrested, he says that “Under the direction of Sgt Zalaznik, officers stood by and watched while my IV was removed on the sidewalk, and it was NOT by a doctor.”
When he told police he was being treated for pneumonia and asthma, Dukes said an officer told him, “I don’t care why you’re here, you’re going to jail.”
Dukes wrote that his inhaler was also confiscated and he was transported to the police department. “While in transit I began to have a seizure, and subsequently am[sic] asthma attack, I pleaded with officers for almost 4 minutes to retrieve my inhaler from the transporting officer, and finally, when I became unresponsive, it miraculously appeared.”
He told CNN that he was kept in the back of the police vehicle until paramedics arrived and then was transported back to the hospital in handcuffs.
On June 18, the Freeport Police Department issued a statement about the encounter. In it, they said they were called to the area by a Freeport Health Network (FHN) security employee who requested assistance.
They go on to dispute Dukes’ statement about having his IV removed by someone who has not a doctor, saying: “This statement is misleading, as the IV was removed at the request of the subject by FHN medical personnel (not security or police).”
In that same post, the department asked the public, “to reserve judgment while a complete review of the incident is performed.”
The incident then picked up widespread attention after ABC News aired a segment about what happened. The news report included an interview with Chief Todd Barkalow of the Freeport Police Department who said: “Our investigation revealed that at no time did any doctor or nurse give that patient or any patient permission to leave the hospital while still hooked to an IV machine.”
“It was determined that he was likely not trying to steal any of the property. But the charges were supported for disorderly conduct with their actions toward the security guard,” Barkalow continued.
Freeport police also released body camera footage of the incident, which Barkalow says shows that his officers “handled it in the best way they could … given the situation that they had in front of them.”
However, Dukes told ABC News that he tried to tell the officers that hospital staff members were aware that he was outside. “I said, ‘I explained to you that Dr. Murphy and Jennifer were aware that I came outside — if you would call and verify with them.’”
He said officers responded with: “Well I don’t care what they told you. As far as I’m concerned, this is hospital equipment and you’re attempting to steal it.”
The department told CNN that Dukes filed a complaint with the city, “alleging unfair and biased conduct by responding officers.”
The department also said it has obtained an outside, third-party investigator to “gather the facts, interview all parties involved, and determine whether officers conducted themselves in adherence to department policies and guidelines.”
That investigation will be lead by Mitch Davis, the chief of police in Hazel Crest, Illinois, who serves on the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Couple Slammed Over Slavery-Themed Pre-Wedding Photoshoot
Many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left completely dumbfounded by the entire ordeal.
Photoshoot Goes Viral
A couple has come under fire after sharing images on Instagram from their slavery-themed pre-wedding photoshoot.
The photos show a Black man in shackles looking deeply into his white fiancé’s eyes before she works to releases him.
“1842. Days passed and everything changed, our love got stronger and stronger, he was no longer a slave, he was part of the family,” the post’s caption reads.
To indicate his transition from “slave” to family, a fourth image shows him wearing a long coat and top hat with well-shined shoes, as opposed to the white shirt, trousers, and straw hat he wore in the previous images.
Social Media Users React
It’s not immediately clear who these people are since the social media handle is redacted in the images circulating online.
Still, many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left just completely dumbfounded by this entire ordeal. Some also directed criticism at the photographer who agreed to the shoot, along with the hundreds of Instagram users who liked the original posts.
To see people romanticize this shit is infuriating – these people are too much. There is no such thing as slave consent and the sexual abuse of male slaves was real.— Nurse Elise 🌒 (@EliseRootedMind) July 21, 2021
There were three people there counting the photographer and not one thought should we? And over 1400 people hit the like button? And it’s part 2 like there’s more? I so want to be at the wedding when minister asks if anybody objects.— Randi Pro Democracy (@RandiKinman) July 21, 2021
See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Black Enterprise) (BET)
Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked CA Wildfire Hit With 30 Charges, Including Involuntary Manslaughter
The fire, which caused massive damage and took months to extinguish, also killed the head of an elite firefighting team.
Gender Reveal Sparks Deadly Wildfire
A couple whose gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California earlier this year has pleaded not guilty after they were hit with 30 charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez triggered the fire in Yucaipa on Sept. 5 with a smoke bomb that exploded in especially dry and hot conditions.
By the time the fire was extinguished in November, it had burned over 22,000 acres of land, injured more than a dozen people, forced hundreds of evacuations, and destroyed at least 10 structures.
The blaze also took the life of 39-year-old Charlie Morton, the leader of an elite firefighting team who worked as a firefighter for 18 years.
“He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference.
Charges Include Involuntary Manslaughter
Authorities have charged the couple responsible for the wildfire with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.
The charges were filed after a grand jury heard 34 witness interviews over four days. A total of 434 exhibits were ultimately presented to the grand jury, leading to the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.
After entering their not guilty pleas, the duo was released on their own recognizance until their next scheduled court date. CBS Los Angeles reported that they could face up to 20 years each if convicted as charged.
“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” Anderson explained at the press conference.
He also stressed that part of the reason the investigation and ultimate prosecution took so long was because authorities wanted to make sure justice was fully served.
“Given the scope and the impact of the El Dorado Fire on the land and lives of so many, particularly Charles Morton and his family, it was imperative that every investigation be completed within both federal and state agencies to provide a full, fair presentation to the members of our community,” he said.
Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Rising Cases
The renewed restrictions for the nation’s largest county come as coronavirus infections have been spiking across America, with new cases doubling in the last two weeks.
L.A. County Masks Up, Again
Starting Saturday, Los Angeles County will require people to wear face masks indoors again regardless of vaccination status as the nation’s most populous county grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
In a press conference Thursday, L.A. County health officials pointed to low vaccination rates, a steady climb in new infections, and the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant as driving factors behind the decision.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
Without providing full details, Davis said there would be some exceptions to the restrictions, including people being allowed to take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.
The move comes as community transmission in the county has skyrocketed since June 15, when California reopened its economy and ended capacity limits, along with social distancing guidelines.
For the week-long period ending on that date, L.A. County had averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day. Exactly one month later, those numbers have increased by nearly 580%, with the county reporting an average of 1,176 infections a day for the seven-day period ending July 15.
On Thursday, officials logged over 1,537 more cases — the highest figure since early March. Around 70% of COVID samples in the county from June 27 to July 3 were identified as delta variants.
Notably, the vast majority of those impacted have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to reports, between Dec. 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people made up 99.6% of L.A. County’s COVID cases, 98.7% of hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.
Only five million of the more than 10 million residents in the county have been inoculated against the virus.
Cases Surge Across U.S.
L.A. County is not the only locality that has seen a spike in COVID cases, though it is one of the few that has taken firm action.
New cases largely driven by the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now accounts for nearly 60% of all infections in the U.S., have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times tracker.
The 14-day average has risen dramatically from 12,799 on July 1 to 28,315 on July 15.
According to The Times, 49 states have seen at least a 15% increase over the past 14 days, and 19 of those states are reporting double or more the number of new infections. Full outbreaks, largely concentrated in the South, have emerged in a number of states with low vaccination rates.
In the last two weeks, Arkansas, which is currently reporting the highest per capita COVID cases in America, has seen increases of 120% for new cases and 77% for hospitalizations. Florida and Tennesee have seen the most significant 14-day spikes in terms of population percentage, reporting surges of 232% and 373% respectively.
Some states and counties have begun to make additional safety recommendations. Officials in Mississippi, where cases have risen over 70% since July 1, have urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated senior residents to avoid large indoor gatherings.
Health officials in California’s Sacramento and Yolo counties also issued voluntary warnings this week for all residents to wear masks while indoors.
However, it remains to be seen whether more localities will reimpose mandatory requirements or restrictions as cases continue to swell and the delta variant proliferates.
Rising cases in the U.S. and abroad also pose a more long-term threat to global efforts to fight the pandemic. On Thursday, the World Health Organization warned that the influx of new cases in many parts of the world will enhance the likelihood of more severe variants emerging that will be difficult to control with vaccinations.
The WHO also urged wealthier countries like the U.S. — where just over 50% of people are vaccinated despite the existence of supplies for all those eligible — to send more jabs overseas.