Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trayvon Martin's family alleges racial profiling before Congress

Trayvon Martin's parents visited lawmakers in Washington. NBC's Jay Gray reports.

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET: As a special prosecutor weighs seemingly contradictory witness accounts about the death of Trayvon Martin, his parents told members of Congress on Tuesday afternoon that they believed their son was a victim of racial profiling and hoped national attention focused on the case means he did not "die in vain."

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., organized the briefing on racial profiling and hate crimes in response to the slaying of Martin, 17, an African American who was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, who hasn't been arrested, claims it was self-defense.
Wilson said Tuesday that she had a sign placed outside her office counting "the number of days that Trayvon Martin's killer is at large." She also briefly took it to the House floor.

The briefing, which isn't as formal as a congressional hearing, marks the first time Congress has waded into the controversy.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin's parents, told the panel that the family was convinced  Martin was targeted for special attention because of his race, arguing that tougher laws against profiling might have averted the shooting.
Martin's father, Tracy Martin, urged lawmakers to make "sure that he did not indeed die in vain.”

The briefing came as details of the police report made at the scene of the Feb. 26 shooting were emerging.
ABC News, citing "multiple sources" whose affiliations it didn't identify, reported Tuesday that the lead homicide investigator in the case recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter but was overruled because the state attorney's office decided there wasn't enough evidence.
The investigator, Chris Serino, filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting stating he was unconvinced by Zimmerman's account, according to ABC, which said the state's attorney's office had no comment.
At least one witness, a 13-year-old boy, told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description on the ground moaning before a shot was fired. In the original police report on the incident, a Sanford officer wrote that Zimmerman's "back appeared to be wet and was covered with grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground," and that he was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head.

Read the Feb. 26 incident report (below)

Zimmerman has said he shot in self-defense, and his attorney says he suffered a broken nose and other injuries when attacked by Martin.
A neighbor told Dateline NBC that she heard what she thought was the moaning of a young person followed by a gunshot. She said that she and her roommate saw Zimmerman straddling Martin's body and that he didn't appear to be trying to help him.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey called for patience Monday as her team of investigators continues looking into Martin's killing. She didn't say when officials would decide whether there was enough evidence  to prosecute.
NBC News' Luke Russert contributed to this report.


How one man helped spark online protest in Trayvon Martin case

Courtesy of Kevin Cunningham
Kevin Cunningham started a petition on calling for the prosecution of the man who shot Florida teen Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.
When Kevin Cunningham read about the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin early this month, he turned to a platform he was just starting to experiment with – social media – to add his voice to the few that were expressing outrage about a Florida police department’s handling of the case.
Little did he know when he started an online petition demanding that authorities prosecute the shooter, that it would garner more than 2 million signatures and help draw international attention to the 17-year-old’s shooting death on Feb. 26.

“I decided to take the skills that I’ve been working on … and apply them to the situation and see how well it would work out, and it just went crazy on me,” said Cunningham, 31, of Washington, D.C., who created the petition on the website on March 8.
“What I’ve learned is that in social media, you don’t have to go through institutions anymore. … Any individual with any idea can make it work if they have (a) connection to the Internet,”  he added.

Cunningham, a red-head who describes himself as the “super Irish” son of activist parents, said he learned about the Martin case when he read a story posted on a listserv for Men of Howard, an informal, secretive fraternity that he joined while attending the historically black Howard University as a law student.

When he suggested starting an online appeal calling for prosecution of the shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the proposal was met with both support and skepticism from other subscribers.
“At Howard, they tell us as soon as we get there, ‘If you’re going to be a lawyer, you’re either a social engineer or a parasite on society.’ … that’s how I think about life, is to be a social engineer, and that’s what my parents always were trying to be," he said.
When Cunningham launched the appeal, others in the fraternity posted it to their social networks. Later, current students and other alumni shared it, too.
Does surveillance video of George Zimmerman in police custody on the night of Trayvon Martin's death contradict claims that he was beaten and bloodied during an altercation with the Florida teen? NBC's Ron Allen reports.
'Made me feel very good'
On the first day, Cunningham believes the petition got 100 signatures. Then it quickly reached the 1,000 mark as it spread to Florida, California and beyond. Cunningham said he noticed that some of the signers identified themselves as family members or friends of Martin.
“You could tell there ... was a lot of people who knew him and liked him,” he said. “It definitely had an impact on me … it made me feel very good about what I had done, what we had done.”
Zimmerman has admitted to shooting Martin. His representatives have asserted he acted in self-defense, but the incident has sparked outrage in many quarters because Martin was unarmed and, according to critics of police handling of the case, may have been targeted because he was black.
When the number of signatures on Cunningham’s petition crested 10,000 after a few days, contacted him about transferring it to Martin’s parents, who had begun making media appearances to speak on behalf of their slain son.
Cunningham said he was happy to do so, noting several times in an interview with that he had wanted to remain behind the scenes.
He also played down his role in the petition’s explosive growth, saying the number of signers when he transferred it to Martin’s parents was “not even a rounding error” compared to where the number stands now.
“At the same time, I feel like I did kick the stone that turned into the snowball that caused the avalanche,” he said.
Grateful for a stranger's gesture
 Martin's parents expressed gratitude.
"When we heard about the petition, we were overwhelmed that someone we didn't know would take the time and effort to raise awareness about our son," said his mother, Sybrina Fulton.
"From the beginning, our only goal has been getting simple justice for our son," added his father, Tracy Martin. "The fact that more than 2 million people have signed this petition shows there are still a lot of good people in this world."
Transferring a petition on is extremely rare, said Megan Lubin, a spokeswoman for the website, where nearly 100,000 petitions have been posted since it began operations in 2007.
“Trayvon’s parents were very quickly becoming the face of the national story. It was really their story that was speaking to folks … and I think the decision was made to reach out and see if they would be interested in leading the campaign,” she said.

Lubin noted that an average of 15,000 petitions are started on the site every month, “so for a petition to climb this fast and to grow to this size is truly remarkable.” She attributed the growth in part to “celebrities who have made it their sole mission over their social media pages …to call for folks to sign this petition.”
“It goes directly to the story and Trayvon’s parents,” she added, “but it also demonstrates … the incredible power of the platform and social media in general.”
Website's largest petition ever
The petition became the largest in the website’s history last week, surpassing the number of signatures on one launched last year calling for a law to make it a felony for a guardian not to notify authorities of a child disappearance within 24 hours, in the wake of the Casey Anthony case.
Cunningham’s effort was one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of efforts to publicize the case online that helped to keep the conversation going about Martin “even though there (weren't) a lot of big developments in the case” prior to the release of the 911 tapes, said Kelly McBride, senior faculty for ethics at The Poynter Institute.

The parents of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old student fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated Florida community, defend their son's reputation amid new reports that portray him as a teen often in trouble. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

“It gave all of those people who were motivated a place to point to and say, ‘Here do something, you know, sign this,’ and it also … became like a central blog for who was making interesting comments on the case,” said McBride, who spoke with Cunningham for a column tracing how the story evolved on social media.
Lubin said it’s up to Trayvon Martin’s parents to decide what to do with the petition.
“The point of is so that people feel empowered and able to start something at any time and it has to be their campaign,” she said. “ Our role is very much … helping people achieve that goal.”
Cunningham, who works as a social media coordinator for a Palestine children’s charity, KinderUSA, said he “fell in love” with social media during the Egyptian revolution and was inspired by the activists he encountered in the virtual world.
He was particularly moved by the story of Khaled Said, whose death at the hands of police was credited with helping trigger the Egyptian uprising that toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak.
“I thought that this could be a similar situation where the death of the one person could be the thing that triggers us to re-look at our society,” Cunningham said. “I think we need to revolutionize the justice system, for sure, and maybe our culture as well.”
Asked whether he thought people might be surprised to learn that a white man was responsible for the petition demanding justice for a black teenager he had never met, Cunningham said he didn’t “believe in black and white.”
“The only race I believe in is the human race,” he said.

Thousands march in protest to Florida hearing on Trayvon Martin slaying

George Zimmerman's defenders say there was a life-and-death struggle the night Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin while patrolling his gated Florida community, and a published report confirmed by police says Zimmerman told investigators he was returning to his vehicle when Martin struck him from behind. NBC's Ron Allen reports.
Updated at 9:47 p.m. ET: Thousands of people streamed through the streets of Sanford, Fla., on Monday to demand that authorities prosecute the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin one month ago.

The protesters were on their way to a special meeting of the City Commission at the town's Civic Center that began at 5 p.m. ET, where members were to hold a hearing on the killing of Martin, who was unarmed, by George Zimmerman, 28, a self-described neighborhood watch volunteer.
The shooting of Martin, who was black, by Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, has led to similar rallies across the country. Martin's family has made multiple media appearances pushing for Zimmerman's arrest.
Tracy Martin, the young man's father, addressed the hearing Monday, accusing police of trying to "sweep another dead black male under the rug."

To loud cheers and applause, Tracy Martin said Zimmerman "needs to be arrested. He needs to be put on trial. He needs to be given a sentence by a jury of his peers."
Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, said her heart was broken.
“I’m not asking for anything," she said. "I know I cannot bring my baby back. But I’m sure going to make changes so that does not happen to another family.”
The speakers included Rev. Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC-TV's "PoliticsNation," Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.
Rep. Jackson Lee gave a legal case for the city or for the state of Florida to arrest George Zimmerman. Rev. Sharpton fierily demanded an arrest, while Rev. Jackson drew parallels between Martin’s death and that of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teen who was beaten and murdered in Mississippi in 1955.

As thousands of people gathered in Sanford, Fla., demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, his parents maintained he was trying to get away from George Zimmerman, despite claims that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense. NBC's Ron Allen reports.
Ben Crump, the attorney for Martin’s parents asked, “Who made the decision for whatever reason to not do a background check on George Zimmerman who had just shot and killed Trayvon Benjamin Martin? But yet saw fit to do a background check on this dead child on the ground.
Crump continued: “Number two, who was the officer who made the determination not to do a drug and alcohol analysis on George Zimmerman who had just shot an unarmed teenager with a bag of Skittles but yet found it appropriate to order drug alcohol analysis of Sabryna and Tracy’s son?”
Tracy Martin said he was anguished at "the slander of my son," referring to leaked details of Zimmerman's account of the shooting to police, which suggested that Trayvon Martin initiated the incident, and news reports revealing that the younger Martin had been suspended from his high school for possessing an empty marijuana bag.
"We consider ourselves strong black parents and we take pride in our kids," Tracy Martin said, pounding his fist in the air for emphasis. "We're not asking for an eye for an eye. We're asking for justice, justice, justice!"
Although toxicology tests on Martin's body are pending, a spokesman for his family confirmed to NBC News that Martin was suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami for possession of an empty marijuana baggie.

Shooter's account
Zimmerman's account emerged for the first time Monday in a report by The Orlando Sentinel. Quoting unidentified "law enforcement authorities," the Sentinel reported that Zimmerman told police that Trayvon Martin knocked him down with a single punch and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times before the shooting — an account that police said witnesses have corroborated.

EPA/Brian Blanco

Accompanied by their attorney, Ben Crump, right, Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, passionately addressed the Sanford, Fla., City Commission on Monday.

Zimmerman said he was walking back to his SUV when Martin approached him from behind, according to the Sentinel's report, which Sanford police confirmed Monday afternoon.
The two exchanged words before Martin decked him with a punch to the nose and began beating him, Zimmerman told police. He said he then shot Martin in self-defense.
Witnesses said they heard someone cry out in distress, some of them telling NBC News and other news organizations that it was Martin. But police sources told the Sentinel their evidence indicated it was Zimmerman.

Dateline NBC interviews woman who saw aftermath

One witness told police he saw Martin pounding Zimmerman on the ground. This witness was certain it was Zimmerman who was crying for help, the Sentinel reported.
When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and had a swollen lip and bloody lacerations to the back of his head, the newspaper reported. Police said Zimmerman wasn't badly injured and didn't seek treatment until the next day.
ABC News reported separately that Zimmerman told police that Martin also tried to take his gun.
In a statement, Sanford police said the Sentinel's report was "consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the police department." It did not address the ABC report.
Zimmerman's attorney, Craig Sonner, has said he could invoke Florida's "stand-your-ground" law, which provides significant leeway for people to use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger.

Meanwhile, Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, told ABC News that means "the state must go forward and be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. ... So it makes the case in general more difficult than a normal criminal case."
The information about Martin's three suspensions from high school also appeared to complicate the case.
Crump, the family lawyer, called the disclosures an attempt to assassinate Martin's character.
"Very clearly, whatever Trayvon Martin was suspended for had absolutely no bearing on what happened on the night of February 26," he said, adding that Martin "wasn't suspended for anything violent or criminal."
"If he and his friends experimented with marijuana, it's still completely irrelevant," Crump said.
As the City Commission hearing approached, there were these other developments:
  • The Smoking Gun, a website that tracks criminal cases and document filings, reported Monday afternoon that Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, filed two applications last week for trademarks on her late son's name.
Fulton is seeking marks for the phrases "I Am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon," according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In both instances, Fulton is seeking the trademarks for use on "digital materials," namely, CDs and DVDs featuring Trayvon Martin," and other products.
  • Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte announced that Capt. Darren Scott would serve as interim police chief during the investigation, NBC station WESH of Orlando, Fla., reported. Police Chief Bill Lee stepped aside last week as criticism over the lack of an arrest mounted across the country.

Following is the full text of the statement Monday confirming The Orlando Sentinel's report by the Sanford, Fla., Police Department:
The information in the article is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney's office by the police department.
"We do not condone these unauthorized leaks of information," said City Manager, Norton Bonaparte, Jr. "Acting Chief Scott will be doing an internal investigation within the Sanford Police Department as this type of action compromises the integrity of the law enforcement agency which has pledged to uphold the law".
Mr. Bonaparte stated that disciplinary action including possible termination will be taken against anyone found to have leaked the information.
Roxanne Garcia, Lauren Selsky,Tom Winter and Edgar Zuniga Jr. of NBC News contributed to this report by M. Alex Johnson of Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Mary's Statement on Anna Brown


We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Anna Brown. Although we are bound by federal patient privacy laws and can’t share the specifics of this situation, it’s important for our community to know key facts. We want to assure the public that we did provide care for Ms. Brown.  We followed established medical guidelines and performed appropriate tests. Unfortunately, even with appropriate testing using sophisticated technology, blood clots can still be undetected in a small number of cases.
The staff at St. Mary’s has heard the outrage being expressed about this tragic event.  As a mission-driven organization, we strive every day to serve people who come to us with needs that we as a community have too long neglected. Like you, we search for answers. The sad reality is that emergency departments across the country are often a place of last resort for many people in our society who suffer from complex social problems that become medical issues when they are not addressed. It is unfortunate that it takes a tragic event like this to call attention to a crisis in our midst.
St. Mary’s is absolutely committed to providing every person we serve with high quality, compassionate care.  It’s what has driven our heritage of healing and outreach to all for nearly a century.  Beyond the clinical care we provide in the hospital, we work diligently with many dedicated community organizations to piece together resources for patients with ongoing health and social needs.  But often we know that once they leave the hospital, they have no stable environment to which they can return.  Much more needs to be done.
We at St. Mary’s are committed to intensify efforts to work with organizations like the Regional Health Commission, the local health departments, the Integrated and Behavioral Health Networks and others to come up with solutions to address issues that every day threaten the lives of the people of our community.

Mitt Romney Confirms Secret Meeting With Newt Gingrich Last Week

Mar 29, 2012 5:58pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney confirmed reports Thursday that he and Newt Gingrich met secretly in New Orleans the day before the Louisiana primary.
But Romney played down the importance of the meeting between the himself and Gingrich, who earlier this week scaled back his campaign and laid off staffers.
“We’re pretty much in regular communication between the different campaigns and I said hello to Newt,” Romney told Sean Hannity in a radio interview. “Nothing new, nothing exciting except we keep a friendly discourse open.”
A source close to the Gingrich campaign confirmed the meeting happened early on Friday morning at around 6:30 a.m. at Romney’s hotel in the French Quarter district of New Orleans. Gingrich was staying at a hotel about 30 minutes away from Romney’s hotel and met with him before heading to the southern part of Louisiana to campaign in Port Fourchon.
“We do meet from time to time and I’m sure that the Speaker meets with Rick Santorum as well but we don’t go off and report the discussions,” Romney said. “But they are friendly and we discuss the issues, we discuss the way forward but we don’t reveal our secret campaign strategies.”
Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told ABC News that he was not the source of other reports that the two candidates had met, however, “Newt does speak Santorum and Romney on a regular basis.”
Romney is the clear front-runner in the Republican race and holds a commanding delegate lead. Gingrich has stayed in the race even though he could never maintain spurts of momentum heading into the Iowa Caucus and after a big win in South Carolina. Any sort of agreement between the men would be a turn of events. Gingrich has blamed negative advertising both from the Romney campaign and a superPAC that supports Romney for hurting his candidacy. Still, Gingrich has pledged to take his candidacy to the Republican candidacy in Tampa, Florida, later this year. Gingrich has finished fourth in 13 of the last 27 Republican primary contests.
A financial backer of Gingrich, Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, recently said he still supports Gingrich, but thinks the former House Speaker has reached the “end of his line.”

Woman unhappy with care at St. Mary's hospital is arrested for trespassing, dies in jail

ALERT: Video is very disturbing

Surveillance footage depicts the final moments of Anna Brown's life. The 29-year-old died on the floor of a jail cell in Richmond Heights after police arrested the homeless woman at St. Mary's Medical Center for trespassing.

Hospital: Mom booted from ER to die in jail was treated appropriately

Photo provided by the Jennings Police Department Mug shows Anna Brown.
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Officials at a St. Louis hospital on Thursday defended their actions in the case of a homeless woman who sought treatment for a sprained ankle and died in police custody after being arrested for refusing to leave the emergency room.
An autopsy determined that Anna Brown's death in a jail cell in September was caused by blood clots that formed in her legs and migrated to her lungs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The newspaper also obtained surveillance footage of the woman's final moments. In the video, officers are seen carrying Brown into a jail cell. The cell door closes and Brown is heard moaning and crying.
Brown's family says authorities treated the 29-year-old mother of two unfairly and have hired a St. Louis-based lawyer, Keith Link. Link did not respond to telephone messages from on Thursday.

Anna Brown sits on the floor and does not want to leave St. Mary's Health Center
buy this photo

RICHMOND HEIGHTS • Anna Brown wasn't leaving the emergency room quietly.
She yelled from a wheelchair at St. Mary's Health Center security personnel and Richmond Heights police officers that her legs hurt so badly she couldn't stand.
She had already been to two other hospitals that week in September, complaining of leg pain after spraining her ankle.
This time, she refused to leave.
A police officer arrested Brown for trespassing. He wheeled her out in handcuffs after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be locked up.
Brown was 29. A mother who had lost custody of two children. Homeless. On Medicaid. And, an autopsy later revealed, dying from blood clots that started in her legs, then lodged in her lungs.
She told officers she couldn't get out of the police car, so they dragged her by her arms into the station. They left her lying on the concrete floor of a jail cell, moaning and struggling to breathe. Just 15 minutes later, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.
Officers suspected Brown was using drugs. Autopsy results showed she had no drugs in her system.
Six months later, family members still wonder how Brown's sprained ankle led to her death in police custody, and whether anyone — including themselves — is to blame.
There seems to be no simple answer.
St. Mary's officials say they did all they were supposed to do for Brown. Richmond Heights police said they trusted a doctor who said she was fit for jail.
Brown's mother, Dorothy Davis, isn't sure what to think.
"If the police killed my daughter, I want to know," she said. "If the hospital is at fault, I want to know. I want to be able to tell her children why their mother isn't here."
Davis also faults the St. Louis County Family Court, which she said forced her into a heartbreaking dilemma after the state took away Brown's children on a claim of neglect. Davis could take in her grandchildren or her daughter, a judge said, but not both.
"I'm mad at myself because if I hadn't listened to the courts, she would still be here," Davis said. "If she had been here at this house, she would be here today."


Anna Brown was one of 10 children. She graduated from Kirkwood High School. At 18, she had her first child, a boy. She had a daughter nine years later. Brown was raising them alone when a tornado destroyed her north St. Louis home on New Year's Eve 2010. She moved to Berkeley.
Shortly after, she lost her job at a sandwich shop. Bills lapsed. The electricity was turned off. So was the gas. And the water.
Family members say Brown and her children appeared fine during visits at Davis' home in Normandy.
They weren't.
In April, a state Children's Division representative found Brown's toilet filled with feces. Burn marks scarred the floors and sinks where Brown had used small fires to stay warm. One refrigerator could not be opened. Insects and rotting food filled another, according to state reports given to the Post-Dispatch by Brown's family.
Brown was not lucid and seemed confused as Berkeley police arrested her for parental neglect. The courts awarded legal custody of the kids to the Children's Division. Davis could have physical custody, as long as Brown didn't live with her.
Brown's home was condemned. She ended up on the streets. She lived in four homeless shelters from May to September 2011.
At first, she visited her children at her mother's home. That ended in June, when Brown started telling the children they didn't have to listen to their grandparents and called the police to report they were being abused. Police found no evidence of abuse.
After that, Brown had supervised visits with her children at the Children's Division. She also called her mother daily to check on them.


Brown struggled with officials' requirements for reuniting with her children. She passed two drug tests but balked at others. "She felt that she had passed them, so there was no point in doing them again," Davis said.
A court-ordered psychological evaluation to determine whether Brown had cognitive, developmental, behavioral or mental illnesses came back inconclusive. So the courts ordered a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Brown needed medication or a doctor's treatment.
But Brown resisted, not understanding the difference between the two evaluations, according to her caseworker's notes.
Still, she may have known something was wrong. She joined the St. Louis Empowerment Center, a drop-in center for the mentally ill.
"It was like a light bulb went on when she heard others tell their stories," said Kevin Dean, a peer specialist at the center. "She was just starting to make progress."
Brown's witty comments often broke the ice during group meetings, said Warren Brown, another peer specialist and no relation to Anna.
Anna Brown one day said she hurt her ankle while walking near a ditch, Dean and Warren Brown recalled.
The last time they remember seeing her was in August 2011; she said she couldn't walk up the stairs.
Brown told her caseworker on Sept. 14 that she had been admitted to St. Louis University Hospital for a sprained ankle.
Bills her mother received show Brown stayed at that hospital from Sept. 13-15 and underwent an EKG, some radiology services, lab work and cardiovascular services.
"She wasn't very eager to go home, but we do all we can to take care of the whole patient, and we want to make sure that we do not push someone out the door as soon as she came here," said SLU spokeswoman Laura Keller. She said there was no indication of a blood clot in Brown's leg.
Krystle Brown said she saw her sister for the last time after she was discharged from SLU. She dropped Anna off on Market Street downtown, where Anna said she wanted to be.
Davis didn't want her daughter out in the rain and ordered Krystle to bring her home — regardless of the court order. It was too late. Krystle couldn't find her sister.
Four days later, Brown had her last supervised visit with her children. She was on crutches.


State inspectors working for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — a federal agency that regulates hospitals — interviewed St. Mary's staff and reviewed medical records after the Post-Dispatch asked about Brown's case in January.
They found that on Sept. 20, Brown returned to SLU Hospital for knee and ankle pain. X-rays of her knees were negative and she was given a prescription for a painkiller.
She refused to leave. Hospital security called St. Louis police, who responded about 5 a.m. Brown told them she wanted to go to a better hospital but refused to go in an ambulance, police said.
She then wheeled herself next door to Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, where doctors found tenderness in her legs. They told her she was at a pediatric hospital. She said she wasn't leaving unless someone took her to an adult hospital, according to the inspectors.
An ambulance then took her to St. Mary's, inspectors found. She arrived at 11:45 a.m. Her left ankle was swollen. She was there for about seven hours, during which ultrasounds on both of her legs were negative for blood clots. A nurse said she saw her stand up. A social worker gave her a list of shelters and a phone number for transportation.
She returned eight hours later by ambulance complaining of abdominal pain only, inspectors said. She refused to sign discharge papers but was discharged at 7 a.m.
Richmond Heights Officer Jason Tharp was at St. Mary's on another call about 10 a.m. when a security officer, Steve Schaffer, told him a woman was claiming she "did not receive adequate medical attention and did not have to leave."
She was sitting in a wheelchair and told officers she was waiting for a ride. Tharp told her to wait outside or face arrest for trespassing.
"You can't arrest me. I know my rights, I can't even stand up!" she yelled, according to police.
Officer Scott Stebelman said he waited for about three hours for a doctor to examine Brown before taking her to jail. At 12:30 p.m., a doctor issued a "Fit for Confinement" report, according to the state inspectors.
The inspectors' report, however, contains some differences from reports written by Richmond Heights police and the county medical examiner's office:
• Police and medical examiner reports, based on interviews from that day, quote St. Mary's staff as saying Brown did complain of leg pain on her return visit, not just abdominal pain.
• A St. Mary's nurse told the medical examiner that Brown was still complaining of leg and abdominal pain at 12:40 p.m.: "She was advised that she had already been treated and needed to leave the hospital."
• Police said the doctor's "fit for confinement" decision was made at 1:20 p.m., not 12:30 p.m. Police also said Brown yelled "My legs don't work!" as they wheeled her out after the exam.


Once in custody, Brown initially cursed at Tharp inside his patrol car during the ride to jail and asked for a wheelchair after officers ordered her out of the car, according to surveillance tapes.
"I can't put any pressure on my legs," she told them.
Two officers then pulled her into the station by her arms. Police listed "suspected drug use" as Brown's physical state and "unknown leg pain" under medical notes.
While at the police station, Brown's condition worsened. Officers carried her by her arms and legs into a cell and left her on her back on the floor. She moaned and moved her head back and forth. She's last seen moving on the tapes at 2 p.m.
A dispatcher with East Central Dispatch zoomed a surveillance camera in and out on Brown because "it was difficult to determine if the prisoner was still breathing later due to the pixilation grain on his monitor," police reported.
Fifteen minutes later, a jail worker readying meals found Brown unresponsive. Several responders shocked her with a defibrillator and started CPR. Paramedics rushed Brown back to St. Mary's.
Within hours of being declaring fit for confinement, Brown was pronounced dead.
Back in the jail cell, Richmond Heights Fire Chief Kerry Hogan was putting away the jail's defibrillator when, according to a recording of the conversation, a Richmond Heights officer told him: "We got a 'fit (for confinement') on her a half hour ago. I mean, literally, a half hour ago we brought her in here."
"Where at?" Hogan asked.
"St. Mary's."
"What was, uh. Any problems at all?"
"No, they thought she was a drug seeker."
"Well, that could very well be ... And that's a shame."
Acting Police Chief Maj. Roy Wright refused to identify the officer on the tape. He also wouldn't let the Post-Dispatch interview Stebelman, who sat with Brown for three hours waiting for a doctor's exam. Wright said his officers had no way of knowing Brown's dire condition.
"A lot of times people don't want to stay in jail and will claim to be sick," he said. "We depend on medical officials to tell us they're OK."
Likewise, the dispatcher monitoring Brown as she died had no way of knowing she wasn't just sleeping, said Mark Dougherty, general manager of East Central Dispatch.
"It's not unusual to have someone lay there lethargic," he said. "If he felt it was more severe, he would have called."


All nine of Brown's siblings went to St. Mary's after learning she was gravely ill. Confusion and frustration took over as they waited 45 minutes for a doctor to tell them their sister was dead.
"They told us she came in from the jail unresponsive and, 'We don't know what happened,'" Krystle Brown recalled.
Davis said she did not receive a bill from St. Mary's, as she had from SLU Hospital. She said she has been told she cannot see the medical records without proving a legal right to them.
She vowed to not give up.
"When you lose a child, it's like a part of you you will never, ever get back," Davis said. "It's like a part of your soul, a part of you is totally gone. And when you don't know why, you keep wondering, you keep guessing."
Brown's cause of death puzzles Davis because immobility is a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis, the medical term for clots in the legs. "My daughter was homeless. She had to move around constantly."
But trauma, such as a sprained ankle, also is a risk factor. So is obesity, said Dr. Samuel Goldhaber, a Harvard Medical School professor and director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Venous Thromboembolism Research Group. At autopsy, Brown was 5 feet tall and weighed 189 pounds.
"The body responds to trauma by revving up the coagulation system to prevent the individual from bleeding to death from the trauma," Goldhaber said. "But half the time, DVT is silent and there are no symptoms whatsoever."
In most cases, diagnosed patients take blood thinners and walk out of the hospital, said Dr. Elliott Haut, an emergency medicine expert for Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"Relatively small periods of immobility can potentially cause DVT," Haut said. "Not every test is 100 percent, but if you do the test and see the veins you are supposed to, you shouldn't miss it."
St. Mary's staff leaned heavily on the state's investigation in defending its actions.
"Our records show that, in this case, everything that should have been done medically was done properly. We found nothing that would have changed this tragic outcome," according to a statement.
Hospital spokesman Neil Keisel said, without providing specifics, that the medical examiner's report had inaccuracies and, "If that information was true, we would've been cited by the" state inspectors.


Brown's family hired an attorney, but a lawsuit hasn't been filed.
Should the matter make it to court, it will rest on whether St. Mary's violated state medical malpractice laws, said Sean Fosmire, a Michigan attorney with more than 30 years of experience representing hospitals and physicians.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "must have seen there was enough … medical testing to satisfy the federal law," Fosmire said. Federal law does not require accurate treatment, he noted.
If St. Mary's doctors "went through an exam, did testing and determined that the diagnosis was something else like a leg cramp, they may have been wrong, but that doesn't mean they're in violation of the federal law," he said.
The family's success in court also would depend upon how much a jury finds her life was worth — in dollars, said Tom Keefe, a Belleville-based personal injury attorney.
"If you kill a homeless man with no job, he's not worth very much. But if you wipe out (Cardinals star) Matt Holliday, who is making $20 million a year, it's worth a lot of money," Keefe said. "Even though they are both human beings and both victims, the truth is, death cases are evaluated by the losses you can prove the survivors have suffered."
Davis said she still has trouble sleeping and eating, and constantly questions whether she should have taken in her daughter. She said she wants permanent custody of her grandchildren, now 11 and 2.
Brown's son is in counseling to deal with his mother's death but is earning A's and B's. The girl kisses a picture of her mother whenever her grandmother wears a T-shirt bearing her image.
The family wore the shirts to Brown's burial on Oct. 8. Krystle Brown still wears hers to bed.
"She was not a drug dealer or a hooker or doing other things that she could've ended up dead for," the sister said. "People assume things because of they way they talk or the way they live or the things they do.
"My sister is not here today because people passed judgement."
Blythe Bernhard and Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Trayvon Martin's Last Phone Call Triggers Demand for Arrest 'Right Now'

A phone call from slain black teenager Trayvon Martin to his girlfriend seconds before he was shot dead by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain "blows ... out of the water" the shooter's self-defense claim and he should be arrested "right now," a lawyer for Martin's family said today.

Attorney Benjamin Crump spoke after ABC News reported exclusively the existence of a phone call between Martin and his girlfriend, which detailed the last terrifying moments of Martin's life as he was pursued, accosted and shot dead by George Zimmerman.

Police accepted Zimmerman's claim of self-defense and have charged him with no crime.

"This young lady connects the dots," said Crump. "Arrest George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin in cold blood, today.

 "We don't understand how he's not arrested. The family worries that the more time passes it will be swept under the rug," the lawyer said.

Martin's death Feb. 26 has stirred national outrage and protests, partly prompting the U.S. Justice 
Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI to open an investigation into the case.

Florida State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced today that he had ordered an "expeditious review" of the investigation conducted by the Sanford Police Department, and that he would be "utilizing the investigative resources of the Seminole County Grand Jury, which will be called to session" next month.

ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager's life. Martin had been talking to his girlfriend all the way to the store where he bought Skittles and a tea. The phone was in his pocket and the earphone in his ear, Crump said.

"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said.

"I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run."
Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

"Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone."

The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

Trayvon's phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on the scene. Crump said the girl's identity was being withheld because "her parents are gravely concerned about her health and her safety." Her parents asked that only an attorney be allowed to ask her questions.

Martin's father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call, along with ABC News, ashen-faced.

"He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him," Tracey Martin said. "And that's the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy, and the guy backtracked for him."

The girl was so distraught after the killing that she spent a night in the hospital, the lawyer said.

"She was really traumatized over this. They were dating. ... It's a situation where to know you were the last person to talk to the young man who was one of the most special persons in the world to you," Crump said.
The lawyer said he would give the details of the phone call to the federal investigation.

"We're going to turn this over to the Justice Department because the family does not trust the Sanford Police Department to have anything to do with the investigation," said Crump.

Zimmerman killed Martin as Martin walked back to his father's fiance's home after stepping out to buy snacks during the NBA All-Star Game. After weeks of relentless pressure, the Sanford Police Department at last released emergency and nonemergency calls placed during the attack.

"These a**holes always get away," Zimmerman said in a call to a nonemergency number.

Dispatcher: "Are you following him?"

Zimmerman: "Yeah."

Dispatcher: "We don't need you to do that."

An altercation soon ensued. A few moments later a torrent of 911 calls flooded in and Martin was killed by a single bullet. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has yet to be arrested, stoking outrage and claims of prejudice against the police department.

"When George Zimmerman is arrested, tried and convicted I will get a little rest," Tracey Martin said.

Phone records that indicate the time of the girl's call with Trayvon Martin before his death.
Nearly half a million people have signed an online petition on urging law enforcement officials to step in and arrest Zimmerman, who violated major parts of the Neighborhood Watch Manual, which states

"It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles."

There are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of Martin's killing, said Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch program.

Protests have played out in the Florida town all week with a large gathering expected Thursday.

Bowling on the Campaign Trail: The Politics of Tenpins

Ap rick santorum bowling thg 120329 wblog Bowling on the Campaign Trail: The Politics of Tenpins
Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

By Alexa Keyes
Mar 29, 2012 12:33pm

Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum bowls in La Crosse, Wis March 28, 2012

Republican candidate Rick Santorum has said that his bowling skills offer yet another example of a contrast between him and President Obama. So the former Pennsylvania senator displayed his talent for bowling this week in an effort to connect with Midwestern voters while campaigning in Wisconsin.
From Sheboygan to Fond du Lac to La Crosse, Santorum has visited three bowling allies in the past five days.
“You’re going to have someone who knows how to bowl,” he said while bowling at Lakeshore Lanes in Sheboygan Saturday. “Someone who grew up like you.”
Santorum, 53, began his bowling stint  Saturday  in Sheboygan with a “turkey,” or three strikes in a row,  but he lost his hot streak four days later in La Crosse, scoring only 88 points in seven frames. Despite the low score, Santorum challenged Mitt Romney to ditch the state’s primary Tuesday and let a bowling match be the deciding outcome.
“I think we should maybe decide Wisconsin in a [bowling] match,” he said. “What do you think? Just come here, we’ll say we’ll put it all on the line.”
The White House has been outfitted over the years with putting greens, swimming pools, a jogging track, a tennis court and, more recently, a basketball court. But one of the residence’s oldest recreational facilities is the West Wing’s legendary bowling alley. Bowling lanes have since become a site of campaign battles and primary challenges, from the Clinton years to 2012′s presidential race.
Bowling lanes were first built within walking distance of the Oval Office as a birthday gift for President Truman in 1947, but were later moved to the Executive Office Building in 1955. An avid bowler, President Richard Nixon later had his own bowling lane installed in the White House basement in 1969. The image of Nixon bowling alone in the White House’s North Portico has become iconic.
“I usually bowl at about 10 o’clock at night. When I’m here, I bowl alone,” Nixon once said.
His average was 152, he said, and his high score was 232, according to John Sayle Watterson, author of “The Games Presidents Play: Sports and the Presidency.”
During the 2004 presidential campaign against President George W. Bush, Democratic hopeful John Kerry visited the Rose Bowl bowling alley in Mason City, Iowa. In between rolling bowling balls, Kerry took a jab at his Republican rival: “George Bush went to a nice, fancy high school like I did, but I came out of my fancy high school asking the question, `Why can’t everybody have a school like this?’”
In a different primary race, Hillary Clinton made Obama’s infamous poor bowling skills the butt of an April Fool’s joke. “I’m challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off,” Clinton said on April Fools’ Day in 2008. “A bowling night, the winner take all. I’ll even spot him two frames. It’s time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all the pins to be counted.”
President Obama’s sport is basketball. As the Democratic presidential candidate, he famously bowled a measly 37 in seven frames while campaigning at the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center in Pennsylvania in March 2008, and made matters worse when he told Jay Leno in 2009 that his bowling was “like the Special Olympics or something.”
As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama vowed to tear down the White House bowling alley and replace it with a basketball court if elected. But four years later, the bowling lanes are still there and are getting plenty of use.

Mitt Romney raps to the tune of Eminem

Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up (feat. Eminem)

Uploaded by on Mar 19, 2012
T-shirts now available - "My Dog Is On The Roof", "I Love Lakes" and more.

Mitt Romney raps to the tune of Eminem. Hope you like it and share it.

By Hugh Atkin

Can I have your attention please.
Can I have your attention please.
Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up.
I repeat. Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up.
We're gonna have a problem here.
Y'all act like you haven't seen a Mormon before.
Jaws down on the floor.
I'm not concerned about the very poor.
Got it wrong. Sorry. That's not what I meant.
I want every American to be in the top one percent.
I'm really named Willard. That's my first name.
I'm not looking for a colony on the moon. Just for someone to blame.
I like being able to fire people.
"I'm Newt Gingrich." You're fired.
"I'm Rick Santorum and I'm...." Fired
Boom. Boom. Boom.
"Conservative women love Mitt Romney." And I love cars and I love lakes.
I'm running or office for Pete's sake.
With regards to abortion. Pro-life? Pro-choice?
I firmly believe in my own singing voice.

For purple mountains' majesty, above the fruited plain.
"Where were we at John?"

Uh... with regards to abortion... uh....
You can choose your own adventure.
It's a Republican dementia.
And I'm more concerned about the banks: they're unable to lend.
Corporations are people my friend.
My dog is on the roof. My dog is on the roof.
Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
Understand I'm an exception. The Obama contraception.
Not a vulture, I'm an eagle.
Look I'm gonna get my lawn cut by illegals.
There will be an influx. Hispanic voters in trucks.
Look, if you don't believe, I'll tell you what, ten thousand bucks?
Well, I made a lot of money matter of factually.
I drive a couple of Cadillacs actually.
I have emotion and passion. That's a joke for the record.
But if you want the soul of America restored,
Come on board. Take your fair share and every
Mormon wave your underwear.
Sing the chorus, papa bear.

I'm Mitt Romney. Yes, I'm the real Romney.
All the other Mitt Romneys are just mass debating.
So would the real Mitt Romney please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.

I'm Mitt Romney. Yes, I'm the real Romney.
All the other Mitt Romneys are just mass debating.
So would the real Mitt Romney please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.

Eminem parody takes jabs at Mitt Romney

By Adele Hampton - 03/20/12 09:36 AM ET
A video parody of Mitt Romney, set to the beat of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," is going viral.

The video, which splices together bits of Romney's interviews, speeches and debate performances, mocks the candidate's reputation for changing his stance on some issues.
Viral video impresario Hugh Atkin was behind the parody, which was uploaded to YouTube on Monday night and had over 12,000 views by early Tuesday.
The video opens with footage of President Obama cut to have Obama asking: "Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?" From there, footage of Romney takes over. In precise beat with Eminem's song, Romney statements are edited into a rap about his stance on abortion, the economy and even about the time he tied his dog's carrier the roof of his car.
"Uh ... with regards to abortion ... uh ... You can choose your own adventure. It's a Republican dementia," he says. "And I'm more concerned about the banks: They're unable to lend. Corporations are people, my friend. My dog is on the roof. My dog is on the roof. Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?"

Fullerton 2012 1st Place Musical: Book of Mormon

I have not seen the Broadway play,  i have heard as a satire it is funny, and maybe coming to film.
Uploaded by on Mar 18, 2012
Ramon C Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts presents; Their Fullerton festival Musical Scene: The Book of Mormon

Barackdubs has made some interesting videos

Barack Obama Singing Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO [OFFICIAL]

Uploaded by on Mar 26, 2012
Please subscribe! I'll be making more videos throughout the year.
If you like this video, please 'like' and favorite so I can make more!

Do you like liking Facebook pages or following Twitter profiles? Neither do I.

Video content from public domain.
Audio content is an instrumental of Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO.

Obama 'Sexy and I Know It' mashup takes Web by storm

By Adele Hampton - 03/29/12 10:41 AM ET
President Obama is sexy and he knows it.

At least, that's what a recent viral video mash up of Obama singing LMFAO's hit single "Sexy and I Know It" would suggest. "When I walk on by, girls be looking like, 'Damn, he fly.' I pimp to the beat, walking down the street in my new LA freak, yeah," the president raps.
"When I walk in the spot, this is what I see, everybody stops and they staring at me. I got passion in my pants and I ain't afraid to show it," he continues in the chorus. "I'm sexy and I know it."
Edited by University of Tennessee student Fadi Saleh, or baracksdubs, as he's known on YouTube, the video complies bits and pieces of the president's speeches and one particular dance number ultimately creating a viral hit that's garnered more than 1.2 million views.
Video mash ups of politicians have recently taken the Web by storm. Last week, viral video impresario Hugh Atkin put together a parody of Mitt Romney, set to the beat of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady." That video has gained an upwards of 2.7 million hits in the last week.

Barack Obama Singing Born This Way by Lady Gaga [OFFICIAL]

Uploaded by on Jan 10, 2012

Latinos Could Swing Election, But Turnout Might Disappoint

Mar 29, 2012 2:11pm

 Fred Martinez, right and alfonso Lozada vote in Republican presidential primary election at San Jose Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico March 18, 2012

Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc, are poised to play a potentially decisive role in this fall’s presidential election, but new data suggests that turnout might fall short of lofty projections, which could change the fate of the race for the White House.
The number of registered Latino voters has dropped significantly in recent years, from 11.6 million in 2008 to 10.9 million in 2010, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. While 2008 was a presidential election year and 2010 was only a midterm congressional election, that is still a sizable decline, especially given the increase in the Latino population nationwide.
In the past decade alone, the Latino population has increased by 43 percent. There are more than 50 million Latinos in this country, nearly one in six Americans. A record 12.2 million Latinos are set to vote in November, a 26 percent increase from 2008, according to projections released in the fall by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
But that was before the new Census numbers revealed the surprisingly steep decline in registered Hispanic voters.
The William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), a non-partisan organization focused on Latinos’ political and economic participation, crunched the Census numbers earlier this month and found that “a significant decline in national Latino voter registration in 2010 may diminish the size of Latino voter turnout in November 2012 by more than a million votes,” according to the organization’s president, Antonio Gonzalez.
The off-year decline in Latino voter registration is not unexpected: Registration fell by 4,000 voters after the 2004 presidential election. What is unexpected is that the drop in registration after the 2008 election was far bigger, a fall-off of 626,000 voters, down 5 percent. Nine states “experienced significant declines” in Latino voter registration in 2009-2010, WCVI found: California, Texas, Nevada, Florida, Washington, New Mexico, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Some possible reasons for this decline, the group stated, are “a spike in residential mobility” coupled with “intensive downward economic mobility due to the combined effect of significant (and disproportionate) unemployment and mortgage foreclosures” in these nine states in the past two years. In January, for instance, a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that a majority of Latinos believed that the country’s economic downturn had hit their ethnic group harder than other Americans.
The Velasquez Institute predicts now that national Latino turnout this fall will be “no higher than 10.5 million votes cast.”
While Latino voter turnout might not appear crucial at first glance, it could potentially determine the fate of November’s election, and who occupies the Oval Office for the next four years. Latinos cast 6.6 million votes in 2008 and, with more than two-thirds for President Obama, paving the way for the Illinois Democrat’s resounding win. Generally speaking, Latinos are liberals, tending to disagree with Republicans on key issues such as immigration reform and the government’s role in improving the economy. For Obama, Latino turnout could be the difference between winning and losing the White House.
The Obama campaign has made a concerted effort this year to replicate its success among Latinos four years ago. Campaign strategists frequently cite the growing Latino electorate as an advantage and they have taken aim at states with booming Latino populations such as Arizona and Colorado. To that end, the Obama campaign has pounced on some of the inflammatory rhetoric that Republican presidential hopefuls such as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have used toward Latinos in the past year’s GOP primary.
For instance, after Romney vowed to veto the DREAM Act – the Democrats’ measure to provide a path to citizenship for some children of undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the military – praised Arizona’s strict immigration law that ordered immigrants to carry their registration documents at all times and mandated that police question them if there was reason to suspect that they were in the country illegally, and touted the endorsement of the controversial law’s author Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Obama campaign surrogates dubbed Romney “the most extreme presidential candidate” ever on Latino issues.
Thus far, it appears, Chicago’s strategy of ripping Romney’s record with Latinos has worked. A late January poll conducted by Latino Decisions for ABC News and Univision found that 67 percent of Latinos would back Obama in a matchup against Romney, who only earned 25 percent of their support. Forty-one percent of Latinos nationwide said they had a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable view of Romney, while a whopping 72 percent of Latinos said the Republican candidates in the primary either didn’t care too much about Latinos or were being outright hostile toward them.
But in what might be an alarming sign of lower-than-expected turnout this year, four in 10 Latinos nationwide said they were either not following the GOP primary too closely or not following it at all. In addition, a Pew Hispanic Center study released in December showed that a majority of Latino voters – 56 percent – have not yet engaged in the presidential campaign, saying they have given little or no thought to the candidates in the race.
Perhaps wary of that fact, Hispanic groups have kicked off efforts to increase the number of Latino voters come November. The National Council of La Raza has launched a national “Mobilize to Vote” campaign focused on registering and mobilizing thousands of Latinos, especially in critical swing states such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
The race is a close one in Florida, with Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 42 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The Latino Decisions poll in January found a similar edge for Obama: 50 percent to 40 percent. But on the economy – the top issue for voters – Romney, who won the state’s January primary, holds the edge on who would do a better job improving the country’s fortunes: 48 percent for the former Massachusetts governor compared with 45 percent for the president, according to the Quinnipiac survey.
In battleground states such as Florida, both parties are well aware, Latino voters could swing the election one way or another, but only if they show up to vote. And that, it seems, is a real question at this point.
Matthew Jaffe is covering the 2012 campaign for ABC News and Univision.

Witness' mom says police told her Trayvon Martin shooting wasn't self-defense

Cheryl Brown, accompanied by her attorney, Alisia Adamson, describes the police interview of her 13-year-old son, a witness in the Trayvon Martin slaying.
The mother of a 13-year-old witness in the slaying of Trayvon Martin said Wednesday that police waited five days before seeking to question her son and then told her they didn't believe the shooting was self-defense.

Asked by host Al Sharpton on MSNBC TV's "PoliticsNation" whether the boy, who called 911 at the time of the incident Feb. 26, believed George Zimmerman, 28, shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, Cheryl Brown firmly replied, "Not at all."
( is not naming the boy because he is a minor. Sharpton has been active in protests and petitions seeking to have Zimmerman arrested.)

ABC News reported this week that Sanford, Fla., police sources told it that the boy saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description lying on the grass crying for help seconds before he heard the gunshot that killed Martin. Many news organizations, including, linked to and referred to the ABC News report. Advocates for Zimmerman have argued that the report supported his attorney's claim that he fired in self-defense.
Sanford police, who have previously said they wouldn't take questions about the case, didn't answer calls seeking comment from on Wednesday.
The shooting occurred Feb. 26, and Brown's son called 911 to report it at the time. But police didn't seek to question him until March 2, Brown said. She wasn't home, so they returned March 5, meaning eight days passed before police actually questioned a key eyewitness.
"I was waiting every day for someone to come knocking on the door," she said.
Once they did, Brown alleged, police tried to lead her son to agree to certain assertions, such as the race of the person on the ground and what he was wearing. But the boy stuck to his insistence that he couldn't make out either because it was too dark.
Brown alleged that the lead investigator "told me this was not self-defense," saying she should "read between the lines" because "this was racial stereotyping."
Martin was black; Zimmerman is Hispanic.
She said the investigator said he had children of his own "and seemed angered by it," saying, "I need to prove this was not self-defense."
Brown's son was walking the family dog when he saw the person lying on the ground, she said. He went to help, but the dog escaped from its leash, so he went chasing after it rather than rushing to the person, she said.
Police have confirmed that Zimmerman told them that Martin knocked him to the ground and began beating him. At no time did her son see anyone beating anyone, Brown said.
In the days since the shooting, the boy has reflected on whether he might have been able to help or even save Martin had he not tried to retrieve his dog, she said.
"Unfortunately, he has a lot of guilt about that," she said.

House Passes 90-Day Highway Extension; Pelosi Blasts Republicans

Mar 29, 2012 2:18pm

gty nancy pelosi john boehner nt 120301 wblog House Passes 90 Day Highway Extension; Pelosi Blasts Republicans
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 266-158 today to easily pass the GOP’s short-term 90-day extension of the highway bill, handing the political hot potato back to the Senate just days before current funding is set to run out.
Thirty-seven Democrats joined the Republican majority in approving the bill, while just 10 Republicans opposed the extension.
Without an extension, the existing highway legislation would run out of money on Saturday. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi blasted House Republicans for “kicking the can down the road” by passing a short-time fix instead of a two-year bill approved by a bipartisan majority in the Senate.
“The American people have a right to know why – why the Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate, the President of the United States, the House Democrats, all support this bipartisan bill, why the Republicans in the House are odd-man-out,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said on the House floor just before the vote. “This initiative, this ‘kick the can down the road,’ this ‘my or no highway bill’ attitude is costing jobs.”
But Speaker John Boehner maintained that a temporary extension is the “most responsible way forward” in order to buy Republicans more time to work out a long-term solution to mesh with the Senate’s two-year bill. Without a short-term bill, he warned, there could be a stoppage of construction.
After legislative business today, the House will go on Easter recess for two weeks, returning to session April 16.
“After this 90-day extension today, when we get back, we will move quickly to move a highway bill with our energy initiatives and ship it over to the United States Senate,” Boehner, R-Ohio, pledged. “We are working on putting together the final touches on that bill and it’ll be ready when we get back.”
Boehner said that among the GOP’s final touches on a long-term proposal, Republicans hope to “responsibly increase energy production on federal lands and freeze new regulations on refineries that will have a harmful impact on our economy.” Republicans could also win votes by tying a long-term highway bill to the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
As the GOP searches for a path forward, Pelosi chastised House Republicans for struggling to find the votes to pass their own long-term bill.
“The Republicans cannot even bring their own transportation bill to the floor and pass it,” Pelosi said. “Their own transportation bill is not a good bill, but at least it would take us to conference.  They can’t vote for their own bill. I don’t know how that happens, but they have a bill that they can’t support.”
The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill on March 14, with 74 votes in favor of the legislation, including 22 Republicans. But Boehner says he opposes some of the Senate’s payfors because they don’t meet the straight face test.
“You see some, what I’ll call ‘gimmicks,’ in terms of how it’s paid for,” the speaker said. “Secondly, they just run down the highway trust fund to virtually zero, which is going to – may get them through the next year and a half, but it’s going to cause a very big problem when this has to be addressed again.”