By Valerie Victor
The CEO and founder of Monster Brand Products, Noel Lee, is about to release his latest invention, the “Monster Blaster.” His newly released Boom-box has the same patented technology found in Monster Brand headphones, only now, this new speaker will provide high quality sound on a larger scale. “We have a legacy. Monster really knows sound,” said Lee.
Lee has put all his focus on Monster and designed a number of products. Because of his hard work and dedication to designing innovative technology, he was awarded the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Lifetime Achievement Award, which is the highest honor from the organization.
Lee’s dedication to providing musicians, DJs, engineers and producers high quality equipment they can use everyday stems from his love for hip-hop music. In hip-hop, people tend to have a relationship to drums and bass, so Lee wanted to assure there was that extra kick for people to enjoy their music.
“My association with Dre and Jimmy was really rewarding, it got me into Hip-Hop music, and they wanted Base, so I designed headphones the way kids want to hear it,” said Lee.
The speakers Lee designed revolutionize the electric industry and break boundaries. Lee described one of his newly released speakers and said, “It floats, that’s why the product is called the Back Float.”
Like the Back Float, this batch of Monster headphones have a lot of updated features. His headphones now have touch sensitive controls for volume, a stylish appeal, and the ability to be folded and compacted into small carry spaces. Also, the new bluetooth and wireless capabilities have eliminated the hassle of wires and tangling.
Over the course of the next two months, Lee will be working collectively with Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine to organize a giveaway of a brand new Monster Blaster. Lee will also coordinate a few break dancing events and more to introduce his latest designs to consumers. For more details on Monster brand products, visit Noel Lee’s website here.
This article was published on Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine.
By Valerie Victor
This article was also Published on Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine
Creating opportunity, economic growth and opportunity within the African-American community is a mission the Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit aims to achieve continuously. With the close of the 19th economic summit, involved parties and attendees better understood the necessities in economic advancement for minorities. Each year, Jackson’s project aims to advance minority owned businesses and entrepreneurship by creating equal opportunities and pushing for the economic play field to be more inclusive of varying backgrounds.
The pre-event to the Annual economic summit was hosted at Jordan Heads Sneaker store in Brooklyn, NY, an African American owned business. Together, Jineea Butler of the Hip Hop Union, and Mocca Styles of Mocca Brand Media hosted the event. As Jackson spoke about his experiences and the coming of his entrepreneurial mindset, actor Malik Yoba accompanied him sharing thoughts and experiences of his own in regards to becoming an entrepreneur and attaining more capital. The two discussed in detail the mission of the annual event and ways in which people can advance and create more opportunities more minority businesses to thrive in today’s economy.
Jineea Butler, president of the Hip Hop union said, “This is a great event. It’s almost like it is bridging worlds. It’s about getting benefits, rights, and respects. We teamed up with Jordan Heads because of the entrepreneurship. We need to continue to connect and continue to bridge these gaps.”
Following the pre-event was the three day annual summit at the Sheraton New York, Times Square. Between February 16 and 18, a number of entrepreneurs and influencers joined together as keynote speakers explaining how the new generation can bridge the gap. More specifically, the third day featured a panel titled, “The Business of Hip Hop.” The panel discussed opportunities to engage, empower and utilize the Hip Hop culture in ways beyond entertainment.
After the panel, listeners left with a detailed insight on how the Hip Hop industry and the community could not only impact the 2016 presidential election but how it could also help create more inclusion for minorities globally. Some keynote speakers for the Hip Hop panel including Shawn Perez, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Spin Awards, Bad Boy Ent., and Cynthia Horner, Writer and Editor in Chief of Hip Hop Weekly Magazine to name a few.
Nikki Luke’s Treats & Bou’Jae Vodka
Mocca Styles – Mocca Brand Media
Retired detective Fiorello, who worked in Queens, said the district attorney, Richard A. Brown, wanted confessions.
“Confessions are what the DA wants in Queens, and if you didn’t get a confession, it was tough to bring the case in. They didn’t even want to hear it” he said. “The NYPD is pretty much honest, but this happens. It happens too often.”
Hincapie said he was coerced by law enforcement officers into giving a false confession, which ultimately led to his conviction for murder. According to Hughes, Johnny went down into the subway to retrieve his wallet from his friend, and when he went down toward the platform, he heard loud noises and screaming, then ran back up the to the street level while the mugging and murder was taking place.
Luis Montero, one of the alleged assailants was the only one of the eight teens originally charge who was not coerced into giving a confession. “I want you young people to remember these four words, I want a lawyer. If you’re ever taken into police custody, don’t say anything and ask for a lawyer” said Hughes. “Luis knew the system and didn’t say anything to them during his interrogation. If Johnny had a Lawyer with him at the time, things would’ve turned out differently for him.”
The Watkins murder changed New York because it created an example out of all the involved teens including Hincapie. There was a strong desire to convict and sentence all of the teens in the Watkins murder trials because of all the media coverage. Murder and homicide were highlighted by the press as the leading issue in New York City during that time.
“The crime rate was so high [...] there was no way they wanted me to have a fair trial in my opinion,” said Hincapie. “They definitely wanted to make an example with my case, they definitely wanted to clean up the streets of New York with my case, and they did that. And if it involved putting an innocent man in prison like myself, they didn’t care.”
Hughes article article published in City Limits Magazine in 2010 was the first that looked into this case with attention to specific details that proved Hincapie was telling the truth. Hughes reviewed confession tapes that were omitted from Hincapie’s original trial declaring that Johnny was not on the platform when Brian Watkins was killed.
“I flew to Utah and interviewed the victim's parents and I made it very clear to them the reason I was there. It was because I had met one of the codefendants who is maintaining that he is innocent 20 years after the fact” said Hughes.
Murphy explained that the original article Hughes wrote didn’t spark any mainstream media attention when first published. The story only sparked resistance from the Watkins family. Murphy handled the resistance by reviewing Hughes’ notes and trusting he did an accurate job in reporting. Murphy further explained that Mrs. Watkins deserved sympathy after watching her son die especially if people are questioning a process she was a part of. “To not only loose a son, but put someone in prison who doesn’t belong there, that is a terrible thing that required human empathy,” said Murphy.
High profile cases with lots of notoriety like Hincapie’s are classified in prison as CMC, a Central Monitoring Case. Cases with high notoriety are handled differently in prison systems according to Robert Dennison and Johnny Hincapie. Lists of all types of cases and different levels of notoriety are given to parole boards prior to them meeting the inmates. Johnny even recounts instances where he was assaulted or targeted by corrections officers because of the label placed on him by the attention his case received from the media. “It plants a seed in your head that if you make a favorable decision on this case be expected to get some blow-back in the newspapers. Even though they are not saying don’t let the person out, in a way just by mentioning it to you they let you know you better be careful,” said Dennison.
Hincapie, after being targeted in prison and incarcerated for 25 years because of a wrongful conviction, talked about his desires to give up. He tried to appeal his conviction time and time again, but Hincapie was not successful. When a New York Post article about Hincapie’s legal challenge caught the attention of Mariluz Santana she decided to “finally speak up after all these years,” said Hughes.
He explained that Santana was afraid of getting involved in the case or testifying especially when her mother told her it had nothing to do with her and that she shouldn’t say anything. However, after reading the article and seeing Hincapie was still incarcerated she decided to come forth and testify.
Hughes spent nearly 10 years investigating and working on the Hincapie case and had a list of people he wanted to speak to. With the assistance of Dennison, both men went looking for sources by "knocking on doors" said Hughes. They later got the legal assistance of Ronald Kuby, a criminal defense attorney.
"I was guilty from the time I was arrested according to the media," said Hincapie. "Literally, when I read Bill's article I cried. Everything that I was saying and everything Bill discovered was in that article. It was a new light of hope for me." Hincapie lost hope and considered suicide because he didn’t think anyone would believe him. When he was ready to give up, he leaned on his faith to keep him motivated explained Hincapie. “I literally got down on my knees in my cell and I prayed to God,” he said. After that, things took a turn for Hincapie.
Hincapie thanked everyone for their hard work and helping the truth come to light. Crying, Hincapie spoke about how being wrongfully convicted affected him and his family. “I was 18, and the look that I remember my mother had on her face when the detectives took me, away from me, I will never forget that. It keeps lingering in my mind,” said Hincapie.
Hincapie stressed the importance of people uniting to prevent what has happened to him from happening any further. “To stop false confessions, stop prosecuting innocent people, and really prosecuting individuals that do wrong, to change the law for district attorneys to be prosecuted, we definitely need to come together.”
Currently Hincapie awaits the ruling in the appeal of his overturned conviction. He is also fighting a federal deportation order. Hincapie’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2016.
This article was originally published by the TimesLedger newspaper. This is the extended version to the article I wrote for their newspaper.
the BY VALERIE VICTOR
York College, an educational institution in Jamaica, sponsored a Breast Cancer team to walk for a cure. The Women’s Center on campus teamed up with the American Cancer Society by joining the “Making strides Against Breast Cancer” event. The team consisted of both students and faculty that came together and walked in Central Park Sunday. The school’s objective was to raise awareness among students while raising money for breast cancer research.
“It lets our students know that we genuinely care about women's issues and everyone that this disease may affect,” said graduate level York College assistant, Cassita Charles. “We care about students and bringing everyone together. It lets them know that their college supports them, and that we are here for them.”
Since 2012, the Women’s Center at York college has organized the breast cancer event.
The manager of the Women’s Center, Ebonie Jackson said last week, “This year our team goal is to raise $2,500. So far we haven’t reached the goal yet, and the numbers are low, but there’s still time for people to join and contribute.”
Contributions for this year are still being accepted, and will close at the end of October. Donations will still be accepted after October and will be added towards next year’s goal. “I plan to walk next year. Hopefully next year we raise more money and recruit more people to add to the group,” Charles said.
The college has raised 18 percent — $460 — toward the team goal. The American Cancer Society has raised a total of $1,909,101.75 for breast cancer research, including the college’s contribution.
The York College team is one out of 2,200 total teams from across the country that have joined together with the American Cancer Society. According to Jackson, approximately 45 people have signed up online and on campus to join the York College team Sunday. Altogether 17,796 participants will take part in the walk, including York students and faculty members.
“It’s been great putting it together. A lot of students show interest, and many people can relate to the cause,” said Jackson. “Every year it gets bigger and bigger. There are so many students, and it’s team-oriented. I look forward to a lot of participants and all the great conversations.”
This year the college has received a lot of support from within its ranks, especially from the cheerleaders and honor society, Chi Alpha Epsilon. Because the York student body is composed of about 70 percent women, the Women’s Center is dedicated to increasing awareness and creating support groups for students. Jackson is focused on gaining a lot of participation in order to increase breast cancer awareness across the campus.
The York College team grouped together in the cold and began walking at approximately 9am Sunday morning. “It was amazing like it always is. It was freezing, but once we got going and saw tons of people with banners, and felt the energy it was great. I’m glad I got to be a part of it,” said Charles.
The York team walked amongst all the other teams nationwide. The college completed the four mile loop nearly two and a half hours after starting. “I enjoyed the comradery and cheering each other on. It was worth it,” said Charles.
In order to join the York College team or donate funds for breast cancer research, visit the Women’s Center at the York College Campus in room 3C01. Participants outside of the college body may sign up or donate online at www.main.acsevents.org and search York College Woman’s Center to contribute.
Also published in the TimesLedger Newspaper.
Watch a broadcast video I've created on the York College Breast Cancer Walk here.
Below is a slideshow of some of my best photos I took during the Breast Cancer Walk 2015.
Blackwell faced up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. However, after Moore passed away, the charges for Demetrius were upgraded to first-degree murder with no opportunity for bail. If convicted, the suspect now faces life in prison and no parole.
According to a report released from the office of the Queens District Attorney, Richard A. Brown states, “Last night’s shooting once again reminds us of the dangers that our police officers face each day as they carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities.”
He encouraged and supported peaceful protesting and continued to encourage the students to remain persistent, in order to assist all his efforts to bring justice to their concerns of excessive police force in local affairs.
His indictment has impacted many of the students at York College. Many students present at the “Die-in” speak about how his indictment affects them and the Queens community. York alumnus, Swatanter Polce is a Political Science graduate as well as a community activist. Polce was present at the “Die-in” during her last semester at York College where she rallied with other students and faculty members listening to Wills speak to the protestors.
Polce says, "I believe it is despicable, it's also very disheartening as a member of the community to see people abusing the trust you put in them... It will make all students question him and what he has done for the community and question if the college should associate with him."
Now that the politician is facing substantial charges, some students feel like there is one less resource for York College and the community for social and political concerns. As a result of his indictment many students feel like they need to be more aware of the politicians they elect in office. "He seemed like a good one... We just have to elect trustworthy politicians that have our best interest at heart" says York college student present and the die in, Chereese sheen.
Members of the African American studies club expressed their concerns, especially in that Wills is a man of color representing the community and having involvement with the college.
While the president of he African American studies club said how he felt about wills involvement with the college and the die in, another student in the African American studies club said, "You have to understand the school reached out to him looking up to him not only as a leader, but a man in the community, a man of color, and that's the same man that let us down."
Many students feel like there aren't a lot of politicians York students can turn to for help and guidance in community affairs. According to a survey of 30 York students, Wills indictment is a poor reflection of various politicians and their relationships with the community.
Of the 30 surveyed students, 100 percent of the students said they would never have expected Wills given his involvement at York, and 87 percent stated that they don't feel like they can trust local politicians in the queens community anymore after Wills indictment.
"The rest of the district leaders will have to show that they are trustworthy, and people will have to be willing to trust again," says Swatanter Polce.
By Valerie Victor
On Tuesday April, 28 2015, President Barack Obama addressed the nation during a speech at the white house drawing attention to what many York students and faculty members now consider a “national crisis.” The president spoke of violent protests, otherwise known as the “Baltimore Riots,” that have dominated the news and social media. The riots have drawn the attention of many New Yorkers concerned with the “slow-rolling” issue, police brutality. Much of what President Obama states in his address to the nation raised concerns within the student body at York College.
It’s less about the Encounter, More about Minorities
Jared Ban-Sluytman, a Political science major at York College said, “It is a national issue. We have these issues in New York, we have these issues down South, we have these issues out West… it seems to be happening constantly throughout the country.” Ban-Sluytman expands on the prominence of instances where minorities are targeted, specifically African-Americans that are losing their lives as the result of civilian-police encounters. Occurrences in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and recently Baltimore, Maryland, leave many students like Jared concerned about what is to come when considering Americas past of slavery and racism. The deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and now Freddie Gray do not go unnoticed by York College students.
“I think it is a national crisis for sure, this country, they still have this perception towards minorities…” said Aroosa Adan, Pharmaceutical Science Major at York College. Adan, coming from a Pakistani decent speaks up about police officer’s tendencies to target minorities drawing connections between the treatment of “Blacks” in Baltimore, and the treatment of “Muslims” post nine-eleven. Adan states, “I remember as a freshman not knowing where the school is and I was asking for the address like where is York College, and he just kept telling me to back off and don’t be so close to me… I’m not interested in being close to you, I didn’t have a weapon, you are the one with a weapon that can hurt me… and it’s very insulting, after nine-eleven they had this stereotype of Muslims and it’s the same for blacks.”
The occurrences in Baltimore leave students feeling uneasy about potential police encounters. “I’m going to have this fear in my mind” said Aroosa Adan. Other students made it a point to discuss the underlying inequality present across the nation. One student defines the crisis as a matter of racial inequality. Ben Azinge, a Political Science Major and Pre-law minor at York College claims the issues in Baltimore stem from deeply rooted racial struggle. Azinge declares, “How does Michael Vick go to jail for killing a dog, but Treyvon Martin’s killer, who is not a cop, get off the hook for a technicality of the degree of what he was charged for in court…you’re trying to tell me dogs matter more than black people?” Azinge draws from the many instances of minorities dying from police encounters to support his claim. As the Political Science Major continues to talk about what is happening in Baltimore Azinge states, “It affects us emotionally… spiritually.”
The Pain in Protesting
A recent report from the office of the Attorney General in Baltimore, Brian E. Frosh states, “Violence, fires and looting will not get us there. The line from peaceful protest to looting and violence has, sadly, been crossed. The events in Baltimore are putting first responders and many in our community at risk… the situation has deteriorated to the point where we need a state of emergency.” The acts of violence in attempts to protest leave Baltimore in deplorable conditions. The Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie- Rawlings-Blake, implemented a curfew for Baltimore in attempts to restore order.
Many York College students feel the protests are both helpful and hurtful to the issue at hand. “Protesting violently is a good way to get their attention… The more the media, the more press, the more people that are involved, the stronger the movement and the stronger your case is going to be…of course understanding that with that comes sacrifices. I personally can’t think of a peaceful way of changing something like this” said Ban-Sluytman. Without drawing enough attention to the issue nationally, many York students feel that the crisis will not be resolved. Although many students at York do not feel violence is productive, a majority of students support the underlying objective in protesting aggressively, which is to draw enough attention to push for a change.
The lack of enough government action to intervene and put an end to the continuous casualties by police officers leaves York students disappointed. Although students don't agree with the violence they understand why Baltimore residents are rioting. Arose Adan said, “But who’s going to decide what’s wrong if the government doesn’t take any action… people are going to rise against it and form these unions to fight for a cause, and that cause is very major, the lives of everybody. But you need to show you’re different from that person, it’s not always blood with blood.” Similarly, Ben Azinge declares, “It’s both. I don't believe that what they’re doing is right, but when your hurt, your hurt… Every revolution is bloody, when people want change and they can’t see that government is helping them, this is how they lash out.”
“We know it’s happening we see it happening” said, Jared Ban-Sluytman. Many of the students at York know about what has happened in each of these police-civilian encounters because of videos leaked on social networks. “Now that social media and the media are so involved, I think it has brought light to an issue that’s been around for a while which is good, because now you know that something’s going on...but it also has a way of roweling people up when they don’t now the situation fully” said Ban-Sluytman. Although social media assists in getting the attention of the nation, some students argue it can be somewhat counterproductive in that they don’t provide people with the full story or scenario.
“What happened last year, what’s happening now, I just have no words… I saw the video, my brother saw the video, and he was speechless. What happened to Eric Garner, it was just ridiculous” said York student Aroosa Adan. The speed of the internet and the large body of individuals that have access to these types of media and technology spread the stories of casualties by police brutality nationwide. Most York students feel the media have helped bring awareness to the crisis. These issues have dominated social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other news outlets.
“I think social media does help, but it depends on what you believe; do you believe ignorance is bliss? Sometimes it better to be unaware, but in this case I definitely think social media has helped. Its helping these issues come up” said student Aroosa Adan. Without social media students feel like the issues would not get as much attention and would thereby not push for change. York students consider media outlets to be the “eye-opener” to the issues in the nation. “Technology is the outlet, things are always going on in the world” said student, Ben Azinge.
It Affects Police Too
Although many York students are bothered by the issues for civilians and the nation, many students acknowledge that the crisis also affects Police officers negatively too. “For the officers that do their job properly, assuming that they are not reacting negatively just because someone is African-American, it does put them in a more uncomfortable situation because now nobody seems to trust them” states Jared Ban-Sluytman. York students speak on the issues police officers face now that people may not trust or feel comfortable with their presence.
“There are two sides to it, every coin has two sides” said Aroosa Adan. Not only are civilians feeling targeted, police officers feel targeted as well. Adan added, “A lot of people are angry and there is no telling how you will be received in any encounter. The job to protect and serve while people are so angry, and in some cases have developed this hatred towards police officers is tough.”
During Obama’s speech, the president mentions the union of the “Task Force” composed of law enforcement officers and community activists coming together and making proposals in order to make a difference. The president also mentioned plans for Police reform outlining announcements from the Department of Justice regarding grants set out to fund re-training cops and placing cameras on cops. York students do not feel like cameras are a sufficient solution to the issue and question the issue in funding such police reform. “Most squad cars have cameras, and we have already been able to see video, but these issues still come about, cameras on these officers could help, but financially that’s a big investment” states Ban-Sluytman.
Although many students aren’t satisfied with cameras, the idea of re-training officers pleased mostly every student. “I think in terms of doing more training, that is by far the most important part, we need to do a better job at selecting who we allow to wear the badge and be armed and we need to train them more carefully…I don’t want to blame only the officers, I personally don’t want to blame the entire organization based on the actions of just a few.”
Some students feel like the issue surpasses the use of cameras. “What would stop these cops from doing what they do, is them not feeling like they can’t get away with it” said Political Science Major, Ben Azinge. Many believe that the problem is the mentality of police officers. If police officers have real consequences students believe that those consequences will reform police procedures.
Solving the Problem
What was common between Obama and York students was the idea of the need for community improvement to eliminate situations like the ones in Baltimore. “I have interned at the Department of Probation twice now, and education by far is the cure to most issues speaking solely on the kids involved. The things their doing or the people that they’re with, and what comes to certain people as common knowledge, like respecting an officer and respecting people in general is lacking” declares York Student, Jared Ban-Sluytman.
Ban-Sluytman continued to speak about the infrastructure of these more urban communities. “Gangs now days are limited to small areas like Hollis, Jamaica, bayside and more areas and it’s because of the lack of figures in their lives leaving them to interact with individuals taking part in criminal activity. If you live in an apartment building and every kid your age is a part of a gang, you don’t have a choice, you have to join, if you don’t join they’ll target you” said Jared Ban-Sluytman. The ways of the communities create an atmosphere for violence like the Riots to occur.
“Whatever happened in the protesting is a response to the passiveness of the government…It shouldn’t be to this level where you can be killing innocent people….even if they have the proof what else do they require, what else they want.” Students believe that the government is not holding officers accountable. Many students express their concern for the lack of real repercussions for individuals in positions of power like police officers that abuse that power. The lack of people being prosecuted in the presence of viable proof also concerns students.
Many students refer to the court ruling for Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Mike brown as examples and now anticipate that the court rulings in the case of Freddie Gray probably will not be any different. The court systems and rulings leave students feeling like the court systems are unreliable in attaining justice and students feel the need for reforming the “system” as a solution. “People need to be held accountable for their actions” said Ban-Sluytman. Another student adds by saying, “I wish there was a way I can say hey I don't like the way your policing, me i’m not paying you, and take that money and build a system that can protect us” said Ben Azinge. The lack of an appropriate response from officials in office and in positions of authority is a problem many York students feel needs to be resolved.
“Rosa Parks, what she did was very smart. Most black people stopped taking the trains and buses, and all Blacks rose together and said they would rather wake up 3 hours early just to avoid using the transportation system until they get respect as contributing members of society. When you do that you encroach the economy… and that’s when you'll get a response” states Ben Azinge. Azinge focused a lot on the lack of people’s knowledge in these communities on how to be successful in attaining change suggesting that the past civil leaders were more intellectual in how they protested.
“Look at what Kanye West said in his song, in my community the dope stars are the rock stars, they’re the Bon Jovi, they’re the Kiss… These kids just want to have something… Somebody said if you want to hide something from a black man put it in a book. Obama is right” said Azinge. Students feel like there needs to be a way for individuals in these communities to see a way out through getting an education and actually having the opportunity to obtain that education. “These people are products of the environment, they have no proper schooling, no real parental figures, and there aren’t many economic opportunities” declares Ben Azinge.
A focused Nation
America’s tendency to soon forget major issues concerns students. “Let’s just hope that we continue focusing on it, instead of just letting it fade to the background like we usually do with each issue” declares Jared Ban-Sluytman. Students hope that people continue to unite across the nation in hopes to spark real change. Although some students feel the short attention span of the nation is one problem, some students focus on the busy lifestyle of many people as a fact contributing to the duration of public participation.
“It’s not that people don't care about it, people are just trying to survive, and people still have responsibilities like rent and bills. It’s the way the system is built. You work for the system instead of the system working for you” said Ben Azinge. York students acknowledge that many people may not be able to spend all day demonstrating and protesting. “Civil participation has gone down, maybe because of entertainment, and maybe it’s made people a little more docile” states York Student, Ben Azinge. Many students at York College speak about the nation and its tendency to forget and be distracted in hopes that this time around people will remain loyal and focused on the issues to reach a point of resolution once and for all.