- Two black FedEx drivers claim they were racially profiled by a customer in Georgia on Tuesday.
- Those drivers claim they were dropping off a package at a house when the owner of that house ran out, yelling he would “whoop” their “black asses.”
- In a now viral video, one of the drivers can be seen yelling at the customer following that incident.
- After one of the workers posted the video to social media, he said he and his coworker were then fired by FexEx.
- FedEx responded, saying the workers were employed by an independent provider but promised to hire them while it conducts an investigation.
FedEx Employee Shares Video
FedEx has responded to reports that it fired two black drivers in Georgia on Wednesday after one posted video of a heated exchange they had with a customer who they say racially profiled them.
The incident happened Tuesday when the two workers, identified as Antonio Braswell and Felinzay (last name unverified), were delivering packages in the small town of Leesburg.
According to Braswell, the confrontation began when they approached a house to deliver a package. In a tweet, Braswell said a white male ran out of the house, threatening and cursing at them.
“He kept escalating the situation then kept saying he would whoop [our] black asses,” Braswell added.
Braswell went on to say that the man told his wife to call the police. That man then allegedly followed the two workers and pulled out his phone to record them. Though Braswell said, at first, he and Felinzay drove away, Felinzay stopped the truck when the man allegedly yelled, “fuck y’all.”
Felinzay then got out of the truck and Braswell began recording the now-viral incident, which has attracted more than 6 million views on Twitter alone.
“But you didn’t have to come out there cussing me like that, like I’m some child,” Felinzay says in the video. “I ain’t no little boy. I ain’t no little boy. I’ll wait till the police come.”
“Where you going?” the man asks several second later as Felinzay steps back into the truck.
“Man, I ain’t fixing to waste my time with you,” Felinzay responds. “You got my information. You got my information. They’ll find me. They’ll find me. You need to get your glasses back on.”
“I thought you were waiting for cops?” the man asks.
“Yeah I thought you were going to whoop my ass, too?” Felinzay says as he drives away from the man.
Notably, the video does not show the customer actually yelling at or definitively racially profiling the two workers. It also does not show what happened following the incident, but according to Braswell, police arrived soon afterward. Both sides then gave their testimonies.
Also according to Braswell, the man who allegedly confronted them told police that the two employees “look like they would’ve broke into my house while my wife was there.” To note, that statement has not been confirmed by the Leesburg Police Department.
With such accusations, Braswell noted that this is certainly not the first time he’s experienced racial profiling.
“Mind y’all, we go through this all the time,” he tweeted. “He was the first to actually come at us crazy and all we doing is our job. We work 6 days out the week to deliver these packages during this coronavirus going on.”
To be clear, this is Braswell’s version of the events that happened. Neither Felinzay nor the unidentified customer have publicly given their side of the story.
FedEx Denies Firing Workers
After the incident, Braswell posted the incident online, where support for him and Felinzay skyrocketed, especially after he announced on Wednesday that FedEx had fired them both.
“Update,” he said, “FedEx called and told me to take down this video and fired both of us Today .. I’m reposting this video because people like him doesn’t matter white or any race should never disrespect essential workers putting their lives in jeopardy especially with this covid-19.”
Following that, #boycottFedEx began to trend on Twitter, with many people calling for both men to be reinstated.
Other noted how they believed the video and testimony from Braswell seemed to bare marked similarity to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder case.
On Wednesday, a GoFundMe page was also created for the two workers. It has currently raised more than $64,000, which will reportedly be split between the two men once the fund caps out at $75,000.
FedEx later clarified the situation regarding Braswell and Felinzay’s firing late Wednesday night, saying on Twitter that the two men were not actually FedEx employees.
“We are aware of the incident in [Georgia] that led to the release of two drivers employed by a service provider,” the company said. “We’re offering employment while investigating to ensure an appropriate outcome. We take seriously allegations of discrimination, retaliation, or improper employment actions.”
So far, Braswell has not publicly responded to that offer nor has he answered media requests for an interview.
See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Newsweek) (Atlanta-Journal Constitution)
Miami Man Gets 6 Years in Prison After Using COVID Relief Funds To Buy Lamborghini
- A Florida man was sentenced to more than six years in prison after fraudulently obtaining $3.9 million in COVID-19 relief funds and using that money for personal purchases.
- Authorities said David Tyler Hines falsified federal applications to secure loans from the Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were meant to help small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
- After receiving the funds, Hines began blowing it on jewelry, resort stays, dating websites, and even a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracan.
Hines Defrauds Government
A man in Miami, Florida, has been sentenced to more than six years in prison this week for fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds and using that money for personal expenses.
David Tyler Hines, 29, is accused of falsifying federal applications to secure $3.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were meant to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
The Justice Department claims he actually requested $13.5 million in paycheck protection loans for various companies using false and fraudulent IRS forms last year. At the time, he stated the money would ensure his employees would continue to get paid throughout the state-mandated lockdowns.
According to a federal complaint, however, those employees either never existed or earned only a fraction of what he claimed to pay them.
“Collectively, Hines falsely claimed his companies paid millions of dollars in payroll the first quarter of 2020. State and bank records, however, show little to no payroll expense during this period,” the complaint adds.
Hines Makes Luxury Purchases With Funds
Authorities said that within days of securing the nearly $4 million from the federal government, Hines began blowing it on extravagant personal purchases, including jewelry, resort stays, and a $318,000 2020 Lamborghini Huracan. Two payments totaling $30,000 were also documented as going to “mom,” according to the criminal complaint, while some money also went to dating websites.
Investigators became aware of the scam after the Lamborgini was involved in a hit-and-run incident back in July. The vehicle was ultimately linked back to Hines, which kick-started the investigation.
In February, Hines pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with the scheme. As part of the sentencing, he was ordered to forfeit the $3.4 million, as well as the Lamborghini
See what others are saying: (Orlando Sentinel) (Complex) (HuffPost)
Trial for 3 Ex-Officers Charged in George Floyd Murder Pushed To March
- A Minnesota judge ruled Thursday that the August trial for three officers charged with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd will be postponed until March 2022 so a recently filed federal case can proceed first.
- Ex-officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao were indicted on federal civil rights charges shortly after Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter by a state jury last month.
- In Thursday’s announcement, the judge also argued the postponement was necessary to create “some distance from all the press that has occurred and is going to occur this summer” regarding Chavuin’s case and upcoming sentencing.
- No date has been scheduled for the federal trial yet, and experts have said it is unclear if it will happen before March 7, the new date set for the state case.
Judge Cahill Postpones Trial
The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged for their involvement in the murder of George Floyd will be pushed from August to March 2022, a judge ruled Thursday.
Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao were previously facing state charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder, but last week, they were indicted on additional federal civil rights charges.
The federal indictment charges Kueng and Thao with willfully failing to intervene in unreasonable use of force deployed by their fellow former colleague Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter last month for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
All four ex-officers face charges for failing to provide medical care to Floyd, “thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd,” according to the indictment.
In his decision, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he moved the Minnesota trial so the federal case could proceed first. Notably, Cahill also cited his desire to create more distance between the state trial and the widely publicized legal proceedings against Chauvin.
“What this trial needs is some distance from all the press that has occurred and is going to occur this summer,” he said in court on Thursday.
A date for the federal trial has not yet been scheduled, it is uncertain if it would happen before March 7, the new date set by Cahill for the state trial.
The decision to file the civil rights charges against Lane, Kueng, and Thao came as surprise to many legal experts as federal indictments are not usually brought until after state cases are concluded.
The move is also unusual because Chauvin had already been convicted of murder in Minnesota. By contrast, the federal government normally only files charges in cases where they believe justice was not served at the state level.
For example, the four officers who were accused of beating Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 were only indicted on federal charges after they were acquitted in California.
Uncertainty Around Sentencing
Defense attorneys for Kueng, Lane, and Thao agreed with the judge’s decision, but state prosecutors did not support the delay, a fact that experts said could mean the three former officers are seeking a plea deal.
“One can infer that the defense attorneys are hoping that the federal case will offer lower penalties for their clients and a dismissal of the state charges,” Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor told the Associated Press.
Under Minnesota law, aiding and abetting is treated the same as the underlying crime. If the ex-officers are convicted, the state’s sentencing guidelines for people without previous criminal histories would recommend prison sentences of 12 and a half years for the murder counts and four years for the manslaughter counts.
Cahill, however, has the flexibility to increase the sentences if he finds aggravating factors, as he did with Chauvin in a ruling Wednesday.
In the decision, Cahill agreed with prosecutors that Chauvin abused his power, acted “particularly cruel” to Floyd, and committed the crime in front of children with at least three other people.
Experts say the judge is likely to give Chauvin a 30-year sentence for the second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum of 40 years.
See what others are saying: (The Associated Press) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Ohio Will Give 5 People $1 Million for Getting Vaccinated
- Ohio is launching a lottery program that will give five people ages 18 or older $1 million each if they receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will win full four-year scholarships to one of the state’s public universities under a similar giveaway program.
- Some have criticized the move as a waste and misuse of federal coronavirus relief funds, but others applauded it as a strong effort to boost slumping vaccination rates.
- Gov. Mike DeWine (R) addressed critics on Twitter, writing, “The real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”
Ohio Announces Vaccine Lottery
Several states and cities across the country have been rolling out different incentives to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Some are offering $100 savings bonds, $50 prepaid cards, and even free alcohol, but Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine took it a step further Wednesday, saying that five people in his state will each win $1 million for getting vaccinated.
DeWine said that the lottery program, named “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” will be open to residents 18 and older who receive at least one dose. Drawings start May 26 and winners will be pulled from the state’s voter registration database.
The Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings, but the money will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.
Younger people will also have a chance to win something. That’s because DeWine said five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will be eligible to win a full four-year scholarship to one of the state’s public universities under a similar lottery program. The portal to sign up for that opens May 18.
DeWine Defends Lottery
Reactions to the giveaway have been mixed. Some echoed statements from State Rep. Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, who said, “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis.”
DeWine, however, seems to have anticipated pushback like this.
“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” he tweeted. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”
Despite some backlash, a ton of other people have applauded the plan as a smart way to encourage vaccinations across all age groups. So far, about 36%of Ohio’s population has been fully vaccinated — compared with 35% nationally.
Still, the number of people seeking vaccines has dropped in recent weeks, with an average of about 16,500 starting the process last week, which is down from figures above 80,000 in April.