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Foul play suspected in death of Fort Hood soldier after remains found in Texas field: Army

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iStock/omersukrugoksuBy: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(KILLEEN, Texas) — Foul play is suspected in the death of a Fort Hood, Texas, soldier, whose remains were found 10 months after he went missing, military officials said.

A search for Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales ended on Friday with the discovery of his skeletal remains in a field in Killeen, Texas, after U.S. Army investigators received a tip directing them to the location of the body, officials said.

He is the second Fort Hood soldier to go missing in less than a year.

“Foul play is suspected at this point in the investigation,” reads a statement released on Sunday by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

The statement said dental records were used to positively identify the 23-year-old soldier, and that an autopsy is scheduled to be conducted to determine the cause and manner of death.

A $25,000 reward is being offered to anyone with credible information about the circumstances surrounding Wedel-Morales’ death.

Special agents from the Army Criminal Investigation Command are assisting the Killeen Police Department in the investigation.

Wedel-Morales was last heard from on Aug. 20, 2019, a day after he was seen driving off the Fort Hood base in his Kia Rio, according to Army officials. He was scheduled to be discharged from the Army within days of his disappearance, Army official said.

He vanished about eight months before Pfc. Vanessa Guillen went missing on April 22 of this year.

Guillen, 20, was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters at the military base and has not been heard from since.

“Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day. She was last seen in the parking lot wearing a black T-shirt and purple fitness-type pants,” officials said in a Facebook post on June 15.

Army officials said on Sunday that investigators have found no credible information linking Wedel-Morales’ death to Guillen’s disappearance.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information on the whereabouts of Guillen.

Guillen’s family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, said that Guillen complained to family members about being the victim of sexual harassment on the base, but never filed a formal complaint for fear of retaliation. Khawam told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston that Guillen once claimed that a superior walked in on her showering and another verbally assaulted her with vulgar remarks in Spanish.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Minority jail officers were barred from guarding ex-cop charged with George Floyd's murder: Complaint

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College professor demands student change her name to make it sound more English

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iStock/sshepardBy: JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A college professor been placed on administrative leave following a racist incident where he refused to call a student by her given name and instructed her — twice — to “anglicize” her name.

Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, a Vietnamese American freshman college student at Laney College in Oakland, California, was on her second day of classes and was looking forward to using her legal name after years of being called “May” when she received an abrupt email request from her trigonometry professor, Matthew Hubbard.

The request? Anglicize her name.

“I never heard that before,” said Nguyen in an interview with ABC News’ San Francisco station KGO-AM. “At that moment I was surprised, so I Googled the meaning — I didn’t know what it meant so I called my best friend to ask him what does that mean?”

Hubbard even allegedly referred to her as “P-Nguyen” later on during a Zoom class.

“I was shook because growing up, they were problems with how to pronounce my name, but they would ask me how to pronounce my name,” says Nguyen.

Nguyen informed him via email that she felt his request was discriminatory and insisted that he refer to her by her birth name.

Hubbard responded to her request saying that she should “change [her name] to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it … I understand you are offended, but you need to understand your name is an offensive sound in my language.” He also included a couple of expletives in the email message that has been shared on social media by one of Nguyen’s friends further explaining his reasoning.

Laney College issued a statement not long after the exchange between Hubbard and Nguyen that acknowledges allegations of “racist and xenophobic messages from a faculty member” who is now on “administrative leave,” but did not name Hubbard specifically.

“On the surface this incident is obviously disturbing and comes after decades of discussing and working to combat structural racism, xenophobia, and violence in both the Black and Asian Pacific Islander community,” said Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson, president of Laney College, in a statement posted on the college’s website. “While our mission has been bold and unrelenting, we also recognize that our college and its community is a reflection of broader society and we must actively fight ignorance with education. We do not tolerate racism, discrimination or oppression of any kind … We take these allegations seriously and immediately placed the faculty member on administrative leave pending an investigation.”

The uproar sparked Hubbard to post an apology on Twitter but, as of Sunday morning, he has taken his Twitter page down completely. Nguyen’s sister confirmed to KGO-AM that Hubbard sent Nguyen an apology email as well though that has not been made public.

Nguyen said she spent time on Friday speaking with the vice president of Laney College and feels satisfied with the school’s response in spite of the “ignorant person not trying to learn her name” and that she still plans to use her legal name going forward, which in Vietnamese means “happiness blessing,” according to Nguyen.

“People should not be embarrassed of their name and they should be proud of their name,” Nguyen told KGO-AM in an interview. “I hope they’ll feel more comfortable using their real name rather than using a whitewashed name.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

From the start, Black Lives Matter has been about LGBTQ lives

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iStock/Kameleon007By: SONY SALZMAN, ABC News 

(NEW YORK) — From the start, the founders of Black Lives Matter have always put LGBTQ voices at the center of the conversation. The movement was founded by three Black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of whom identify as queer.

By design, the movement they started in 2013 has remained organic, grassroots and diffuse. Since then, many of the largest Black Lives Matter protests have been fueled by the violence against Black men, including Mike Brown and Eric Garner in 2015, and now George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.

But it’s not only straight, cisgender Black men who are dying at the hands of police. Last month, a Black transgender man, Tony McDade, 38, was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee.

On June 9, two Black transgender women, Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, also were killed in separate acts of violence, their killings believed to be the 13th and 14th of transgender or gender-non-conforming people this year, according to the Human Rights Coalition.

And in 2019, Layleen Polanco, a trans Latina woman who was an active member of New York’s Ballroom community, died while in solitary confinement at Rikers Island jail.

“We are a prime target because of our Blackness, and our intersectionality of being trans adds an extra target on our backs,” said Jonovia Chase, co-lead organizer of House Lives Matter, a community organization composed of sexual- and gender-minority people of color.

Chase said that although Black Lives Matter was “created by queer folks, [cisgender] privilege has taken precedent over gay and transgender people.”

While Chase and other LGBTQ advocates of color clearly condemn the deaths of George Floyd, Amaud Arbuery and countless other cisgender Black men, they’re also quick to call attention to other acts of violence against Black LBGTQ people that garner less national media attention.

They often point to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color, who helped kickstart the LGBTQ rights movement following the Stonewall uprising of the 1960s only to watch as many hard-fought rights and privileges benefited white gay men and women but weren’t extended to people like them.

“It’s another example about how the Black queer community has been in the forefront leading, however, we’re not being seen or heard or valued,” Chase added.

However, organizers say there are clear signs times are changing, and that Black LGBTQ voices are increasingly taking center stage in nationwide conversations about race, discrimination and police violence.

In recent weeks, people have turned out in never-before-seen numbers to support the LGBQT community of color — and especially Black transgender people.

Last week in Brooklyn, an estimated 15,000 people turned out for a demonstration called The Black Trans Lives Matter rally, aka “Brooklyn Liberation,” making it one of the largest transgender-focused protests in history, according to the organizers.

In Los Angeles, tens of thousands more gathered in Hollywood for the All Black Lives Matter protest, intended to be inclusive and centered on LGBTQ members of BLM.

And on Juneteenth, to celebrate the day the last enslaved people were informed of their freedom, celebrations across the country sought “intersectional” celebrations of the Black experience in the United States

In Harlem, in New York City, hundreds gathered for a massive celebration of music and art intended to “lift up and center Black Queer and Trans folks” in an event co-organized by The Blacksmiths, Intersectional Voices Collective and the Wide Awakes.

“More people are also becoming educated and intentional at this moment,” said Niama Safia Sandy, who’s on the steering committee of The Blacksmiths, a coalition of artists, curators, culture producers and organizers committed to Black liberation and equality.

“It is just not possible to turn a blind eye away from these things anymore,” Sandy said.

Clad in face masks and handing out hand sanitizer, hundreds turned out to dance, sing and march along historic Black landmarks on a hot day Harlem.

Eventually, the parade-like crowd landed at St. Nicholas Park, where members of New York City’s ballroom community greeted protestors with elaborate voguing performances, a dancing style born in the queer ballroom scene that has since been popularized by Madonna, Rihanna and Ariana Grande.

“It’s rare that we get opportunities to come together as a Black community and specifically center the trans and queer community,” said Chase, who helped organize the Juneteenth celebration in Harlem.

During one performance, model and poet Linda LaBeija, a member of the House Ballroom community, read a spoken-word poem called, “Vogue, bitch,” to a thunderous crowd of more than 300 people.

“How many of those beacons of light must we lose along the way?” LaBeija asked the crowd, referring to the Black trans women who have been the victims of violence.

And as Black Lives Matter protesters continue to remember George Floyd and others killed at the hands of police, LaBeija asked, “Are you including Black trans women in that list of Black names?”

As a Black transgender woman, Deja Smith said she’s learned the hard way how difficult life can be for people like her in the United States.

“It has been a struggle most of the way here,” said Smith, a founding member of the Intersectional Voices Collective and director of makeup artistry for DDPRO.

“But over the last three to five years things have started to ease up, leading to this moment today where I just thought I would never see a crowd of Black, queer and trans people of like minds, getting along, and speaking to our ancestry.”

Smith credits the founders of Black Lives Matter for creating space for LGBTQ voices from the start.

“It has always been part of their cultural movement,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

11 people shot, 1 person dead in overnight shooting spree

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iStock/MattGushBy: JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(MINNEAPOLIS) — Eleven people have been shot and one person has been killed in an overnight shooting in Minneapolis.

The incident began on Sunday morning at 12:37 a.m. when multiple calls were made to emergency services regarding numerous people being shot on the 2900 block of Hennepin Avenue South.

The shooting was done by more than one person, according to the Minneapolis Police Department, and the suspects reportedly approached the crime scene on foot when they began to open fire.

“Police arrived and located several people suffering from gunshot wounds,” the Minneapolis Police Department said in a press release. “Multiple ambulances responded and transported victims to Hennepin County Medical Center. Others were transported to area hospitals in private vehicles.”

There were a total of 12 victims in the shooting. One adult male died at the hospital and the remaining 11 adult victims are all receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries suffered in the incident.

Authorities have not yet confirmed exactly how many shooters there were but say that the suspects involved all fled the scene and are currently on the run.

The Minneapolis Police Department is currently investigating the circumstances around the shooting and have not yet disclosed a possible motive for the attack.

Authorities said there is no reason to believe that this shooting was a reaction to George Floyd’s death or other recent events in Minneapolis.

Police say that the investigation is ongoing and interviews of witnesses in the area are being done along and videos of the crime scene are also being reviewed.

The identity of the adult male victim who died is expected to be released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office in the coming days.

No one is in custody at this time and authorities have not provided a description of the suspects yet.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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