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Black youth have most complaints against NYC police, including 8-year-old arrested for playing with sticks

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iStock/ChiccoDodiFCBy: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Amid a series of nationwide protests over police treatment of African Americans, a report released Monday shows that 64% of civilian complaints against New York City police officers were filed by or on behalf of young black people ages 8 to 18 who claimed to have been mistreated after being stopped for innocuous activities like high-fiving and carrying backpacks.

The report by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), a police watchdog agency, analyzed 112 completed investigations between Jan. 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, showing an overwhelming number (nearly 90%) of grievances involved children of color (black and Hispanic youth).

The report also found that the number of complaints by youth of color was significantly larger than in the overall population (69.1%) and that nearly half of the complaints (46.3%) came from or were made on behalf of black male youth.

“Sadly, after years of witnessing news about police misconduct and possibly experiencing it themselves, even the youngest among us have an awareness of the tension that too often exists between the police and civilians,” CCRB Chairman Fred Davie said in a statement. “As young New Yorkers lead the way in calling for change in our city following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, it’s time for the NYPD to re-consider how officers police our youth, address disparities in law enforcement, and commit to swift discipline when officers engage in misconduct.”

Among the complaints probed was a March 2018 incident in which a group of black and Hispanic boys was stopped by multiple police officers simply for talking, laughing and playing with sticks picked up off the ground as they walked home, according to the report. A lieutenant had two of the boys, an 8-year-old and a 14-year-old, whom officers saw running with sticks in their hands handcuffed and taken to a police station in tears, according to the report.

Two of the officers testified that they were looking for “a group of Hispanic men in their 20s with a machete and a stick chasing and fighting other individuals” but their stories were inconsistent.

“The mother of the 8-year-old complained that her son was not treated properly and that his dreams of being a police officer were over,” the report reads, adding that the complaint was substantiated and two of the officers and a lieutenant are facing a trial on administrative charges brought against them.

Other complaints substantiated by the board, include:

— An 11-year-old black boy who was stopped and frisked by an undercover officer after they saw him shaking hands with and high-fiving a group of adults he knew in a housing project. “One of the bystanders told the officer that he should not be searching the victim as he was under the age of 13, but an officer replied that drugs can be given to younger children,” the report reads. “The officers then got back into their vehicle and drove away.”

— A 16-year-old Hispanic boy stopped for jaywalking by an officer and a sergeant in plainclothes and searched without probable cause, according to the report. The officers discovered a small pocket knife on the boy. While the teenager was not arrested or issued a summons, the board “determined by a preponderance of the evidence” that the officers wrongfully invoked their authority because the boy’s behavior did not amount to founded suspicion of criminality allowing the officer to question him.

— A 15-year-old black boy was holding a deli bag and walking to a homeless shelter when a plainclothes detective and sergeant in an unmarked vehicle ordered him to stop without announcing they were police. The teenager ran but was tackled and handcuffed, suffering minor injuries. The bag the boy was holding contained a cheese roll and a piece of cake, according to the report.

In response to the report, NYPD officials said just one case of substantiated police misconduct is unacceptable.

“A top priority Commissioner (Dermot) Shea has set for the NYPD is to reimagine doing all we can to protect and serve New York City’s kids,” the police department said in a statement. “After careful review, we accept each of the CCRB’s thoughtful and constructive recommendations — some of which are already in the process of being implemented and all of which will strengthen our new Youth Strategy.”

The report showed that 407 total complaints were filed against New York City police by or on behalf of youth between Jan. 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Of the 112 fully-investigated complaints analyzed, 72% were filed by young people ages 10 to 18.

The report says that 42% of the fully-investigated complaints were unsubstantiated and 29% were substantiated. About 93% of the fully-investigated complaints involved young people ages 10 to 18 that were filed on their behalf by adults.

The CCRB also noted that between Jan. 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the NYPD reported 15,279 interventions with children ages 10 to 18. Of those interventions, 88% were with black or Hispanic children while just 6% were with white children.

The report was released along with a public service announcement encouraging young New Yorkers who experience police misconduct to call the CCRB.

The CCRB recommended that the NYPD use the report in taking steps to avoid the “over-policing” of New York City youths of color and make public its use-of-force data, including breaking it down by age and race.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NYC sees 1st signs of post-COVID-19 metropolis as it enters phase 1 reopening

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iStock/Juliana Vilas BoasBy: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The city that never sleeps was finally able to unpause.

New York City began phase one of its reopening plan on Monday, allowing nonessential businesses, manufacturing, construction and select other industries to continue their work, with special precautions issued to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Throughout the day, subways had more riders commuting to their workplaces, albeit with face coverings and distanced seating, factories and wholesalers allowed their workers into their facilities and stores allowed customers to pick up goods either curbside or by in-person appointments. Mayor Bill de Blasio said between 200,000 and 400,000 New Yorkers would be going back to work this week, and credited the city’s strict stay-at-home order, social distancing and other health precautions for the June start date.

“We got here by hard work and discipline,” he said during a news conference in Brooklyn.

Despite the progress, de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers to remain vigilant, especially since the city has been the epicenter for COVID-19 cases and deaths.

New York City has 204,253 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17,169 confirmed deaths as of June 8, according to the city’s health department. Although those numbers are among the top listed in the country, the city has shown improvements over the last few weeks.

There were 59 new hospitalizations reported on June 6, compared to 850 on March 31, the city’s health department said. The number of new deaths reported in one day peaked at 590 on April 7, but they have been under 60 since May 22, according to the data.

Cuomo said COVID-19 testing has gone up over the last few weeks and the results have shown progress. Over the last four days alone, over 262,000 New Yorkers were tested and the percent who were positive was under 1.6%, Cuomo’s office said.

Nine weeks ago, 59% of New Yorkers who were tested had a positive result, according to Cuomo.

“These numbers say we can open,” the governor said during a news conference in Manhattan on Monday.

The reopening came amid major changes to the Big Apple norm.

Subways resumed their normal rush-hour service with more trains; however, they would still not run overnight due to cleaning procedures. New signs were put up in stations and on trains showing riders the correct space to socially distance, and all commuters were required to wear a face covering.

Commuter Manny Tejeva took the train from Jackson Heights, Queens, in the morning for the first time in three months and told ABC New York station WABC-TV that he was impressed with the sanitary conditions.

“I finally feel safe,” he said.

Both Cuomo and de Blasio took the trains to ensure they were safe and clean. The mayor said that the city would be deploying 800 officers to subways to encourage social distancing and hand out face coverings to those who need it.

“They are not there to do enforcement,” de Blasio said of the officers.

The mayor added that the city would be keeping an eye on businesses and factories that have reopened to ensure they too are adhering to the phase one guidelines. All employees and customers of the reopened businesses must wear face coverings and stay six feet apart; items must be picked up either curbside or in-store pickup.

Cuomo reiterated that these rules must be followed, and noted that other states, such as Texas and Florida, saw increases in their COVID-19 cases after they reopened because they didn’t have strict measures in place.

“These guidelines work. They have been enacted in every other region in the state,” the governor said. “There has been no spike, we know it works.”

When asked about New Yorkers who still may be hesitant to go to work, de Blasio said they should use their own discretion and do what’s best for their own health.

“I think New Yorkers are very pragmatic and resilient and they are going to watch. If they see things are working, they will come out,” he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mysterious decade-long treasure hunt finally turns up gold

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iStock/ChoochartSansongBy: CLAYTON SANDELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Forrest Fenn isn’t ready to solve every mystery surrounding his infamous hidden treasure, which he says was finally found after more than a decade of intense searching.

“I’m not talking about that,” he told ABC News when asked if he’s planning to reveal the treasure’s secret, now-former location. “But it will eventually come out.”

Nor is he saying who found it. “I don’t know the man. I’ve never met him, but I know it is a man,” Fenn says. “Actually I was a little bit shocked because I hid it in a pretty good place and lots of people over the years couldn’t find it.”

Some 10 years ago, the wealthy and cryptic New Mexico art dealer hid a treasure chest with gold and gems, estimated to be worth millions of dollars, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. His clues were in a poem he wrote: “Begin it where warm waters halt / And take it in the canyon down / Not far, but too far to walk / Put in below the home of Brown,” the poem begins.

The lucky treasure hunter beat out perhaps hundreds of thousands who Fenn believes have tried to solve nine clues he says he wove into a poem he wrote back in 2010.

Fenn says the goal was to get people off their couches and away from their screens to take on an adventure. “We were going into a recession, and lots of people were losing their jobs; despair was written all over the headlines. And I just wanted to give some people hope and, and we, we did that,” he said.

Fenn says he placed the treasure in a bronze box full of valuable items from his collection somewhere in the vast Rocky Mountain west.

“This man followed the clues in my poem and they took him right to the treasure and, and that was what it was all about,” Fenn told ABC Denver affiliate Denver7.

“There’s 265 American gold eagles and double eagles. There’s ancient Middle Eastern gold coins. Hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets, two of them as big as a hen’s egg. And there’s a couple of beautiful little antique Chinese carved jade figures and necklaces,” Fenn said during a tour of his home in 2017.

Fenn said he isn’t even sure what the treasure is worth. “You know I have never tried to appraise that,” he said in 2017. “I don’t even want to think in those terms. Writers have appraised it between $1 million and $5 million.”

Fenn’s treasure hunt launched countless blogs, websites, forums and Facebook pages all dedicated to obsessively picking apart every phrase of the poem, and even Fenn’s own words for clues.

Over the years, however, authorities say five people have died trying to find the treasure. New Mexico’s state police chief asked Fenn to call off the hunt because of the risk.

In March, authorities say treasure hunter Michael Wayne Sexton was found dead in Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, along with a companion who later recovered in a hospital.

Colorado man Randy Bilyeu was found dead in July 2016.

“I knew when it happened that my brother was not the first one and that he would not be the last,” his sister Kathy Liebold told ABC News.

BIlyeu’s wife, along with many others, have argued that Fenn’s treasure was an elaborate hoax.

After Colorado pastor Paris Wallace died in 2017, Fenn made a public statement saying the treasure was not located anywhere that presented a risk, noting he was nearly 80 years old when he hiked from his car to hide it.

“Nobody should have risked their lives, but certainly there were some losses and tragic losses and I’m very sorry for that. But generally speaking, it’s been a good thing. A lot of people have really enjoyed the mountains,” Fenn told Denver7 on Sunday.

In 2017, Fenn said his hope was that someone would find the treasure before he died.

Treasure hunter Dal Nietzel, a friend of Fenn, hoped he would be that someone. Despite several tries, he came up empty.

“It’s the thrill of the chase. Not the thrill of the find,” Nietzel said in 2017. “It’s an adventure to go looking.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'The Big Bang Theory' star Mayim Bialik to host new competition series, 'Celebrity Show-Off'

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Amanda Edwards/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Forget about these reality competition shows where celebrities are asked to sing or dance.  A new talent show is now asking stars to put their previously unseen talents on display.

The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik will be hosting Celebrity Show-Off, a new TBS series from the executive producer of The Masked Singer, based on a Korean show called My Little Television. Stars will be judged on the compelling content they’re able to produce from their own homes.  The prize?  Money for their pet charities.

A TBS exec says in a statement, “From sharing never-before-seen talents, to performing crazy stunts or even bringing on special guests, the celebs’ shows are creatively ambitious with DIY charm — since our cast are all working with the limitations of what they’ve got available at home.”

In each episode, five stars will attempt to attract and engage the most online viewers with little digital “shows,” in an effort to remain “on the air,” and avoid “going dark.”  The shows will debut on TBS’s YouTube channel the day after the show premieres on June 23, and will then be scored based on views, time spent viewing and social engagement.

Each week, the lowest-performing star will be eliminated, and replaced by a “surprise celebrity newcomer.”  The star who sticks around the longest will raise the most money for their charity, and will receive an extra donation.

Celebrities participating include Tori Spelling, Nene Leakes, Bella Thorne, L.A. Laker Dwight Howard, director Kevin Smith, singer Jason Mraz, DJ/producer Diplo, rapper Ja Rule, and Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Willis, the three daughters of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.

Celebrity Show-Off premieres June 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TBS.

By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brad Paisley praises two friends who are bringing people together over beer

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ABC/Mark LevineBrad Paisley is raising a glass to a pair of friends who called on a simple and sweet method of bringing people together. 

Pittsford, New York friends Benjamin Smith and Marcus Ellis, who are of different races, went viral after posting a photo on social media of themselves sitting in lawn chairs and sharing a beer at the end of their driveway next to home made road side cardboard sign that reads “Black or white, relax and have a beer!”  

The photo caught Brad’s attention, who was so moved by their unifying gesture that he surprised them with a Zoom call during a neighborhood block party, in addition to sending several cases of beer for them to share with those who take them up on the offer. He also performed an acoustic version of his single, “No I in Beer.” 

“I’m thrilled to meet you face to face like this. I’m so inspired by you and we thought we should deliver more beer than you could possibly drink,” Brad praised in a video posted by ABC TV affiliate WJRT. “I’m trying to hear out my friends in the black community. That’s what you guys are doing, together, the same thing.” 

“It means the world and back,” Marcus raves about Brad’s surprise virtual visit.

“I feel like through the rioting and the protests, I kind of felt like I was being torn apart,” Benjamin emotionally adds. “And this is what builds it back up.”

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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