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August 19, 2016

Naked statues of Donald Trump appear in various US cities

Naked statues of Donald Trump appear in various US cities

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Friday, August 19, 2016

A number of statues depicting US presidential candidate Donald Trump without his clothes on were erected in various US cities yesterday morning.

File photo of Donald Trump, 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

The statues were unveiled in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle. Titled “The Emperor Has No Balls”, the project was devised by the anarchist collective INDECLINE, presenting present Trump in an unflattering and humiliating way.

A spokesperson for INDECLINE told The Washington Post the project was inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” which depicts a vain and overconfident leader. The spokesperson also said the project is meant to poke fun at the tendency for those in authoritarian positions to raise monuments of themselves.

The statues are credited to a Las Vegas-based artist called Ginger, who said he was approached by INDECLINE because of his pervious work designing monsters for horror movies and haunted houses. A video of Ginger creating these statues went up on INDECLINE’s YouTube page.

The New York City statue became a busy tourist spot until the parks and recreation department took it down. A spokeswoman for the NYC parks and recreation centre stated: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”



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July 5, 2016

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dies aged 87

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dies aged 87

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

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File photo of the Dalai Lama, George W. Bush, and Wiesel in 2007.
Image: Chris Greenburg.

On Saturday, acclaimed writer Elie Wiesel died in New York City at age 87, his family said, following a lengthy illness.

Wiesel was born 1928 in the town of Sighet in Romania. Twelve years later, in 1940, his town was included in an annexation by Hungary. In 1944, Wiesel, fifteen at the time, and his family, along with the entire Jewish population in Sighet, were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. He was freed in 1945, only to realize his mother and sister died in death chambers and his father from disease and starvation. Elie Weisel, on the advice of an older Jew, had lied to the Nazis about his age, as an eighteen-year-old would be useful to them as a worker.

Ten years after his freedom, he wrote the famous book Night — written in Yiddish, first published in French translation — detailing his experience in the camp and his regret of survival. His book sold only about a thousand copies in the first year it was published, however today the book has been translated into 30 different languages with more than ten million copies sold. In 2006 TV personality Oprah Winfrey added it to her book club, prompting the swift selling of three million copies.

Wiesel wrote around 60 books, two plays, and two cantatas.

Wiesel first started a career in journalism in 1948 for the French newspaper L’Arche, which sent him as a correspondent to Israel. He also became a Paris correspondent for Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot and he was encouraged by an interviewee to write about his experience in the camp.

Photo of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Image: Alexandre Lepage.

In 1972, Wiesel was a professor of Judaic Studies at the City College of New York for four years until he became a professor of Humanities at Boston University, where he remained.

Wiesel then became an activist and advocate during many conflicts, such as the Bosnian genocide of the 1990s. He advised the actions of several U.S. presidents, including then-President Ronald Reagan. During his acceptance of the Congressional Gold Medal, he advised Reagan not to visit a Bitburg military cemetery containing Waffen-SS graves. Reagan, however, continued with his trip, which created much controversy. Former President Jimmy Carter also appointed Wiesel as Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust.

In 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize as an advocate for racial and religious groups and a spiritual leader.

Wiesel also helped in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He was the chairman of the organization that collected funds from other survivors of the Holocaust to create the museum.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him “a ray of light and an example of humanity that believes in the goodness of man”. U.S. President Barack Obama called him a “living memorial”. French President Francois Hollande called him a “grand humanist” and a “tireless defender of peace”.

He is survived by his wife Marion and his son Elisha.



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December 23, 2015

Suicide bombing in Afghanistan kills six US NATO members

Suicide bombing in Afghanistan kills six US NATO members

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

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On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a motorcycle in Bagram District, Afghanistan. The bombing killed six US NATO service members and injured several others.

According to NATO and Afghan officials, the bombing occurred at 1:30pm local time in a village near Bagram Airfield. Bagram Airfield is located about 40 km (25 mi) north of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The bombing killed six US NATO soldiers. The US Department of Defense delayed officially releasing their names, following policy, but all the victims have been identified.

One of them is Joseph Lemm, aged 45. Lemm served fifteen years as an officer of the New York City Police Department and has a wife and two children.

Another is Adrianna Vorderbruggen, an openly lesbian US Air Force major. Vorderbruggen advocated repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and is now married to her same-sex partner. The couple has a son.

The others are Peter Taub from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Michael Anthony Cinco from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, age 28; Chester McBride Jr., Statesboro, Georgia; and Louis Bonacasa, Coram, New York.

The bombing also injured others, including two US military personnel and, according to an Afghan official, three local police officers.

Via email and Twitter, the Taliban, whose regime the US overthrew after invading the country in 2001, claimed responsibility to the bombing.

Currently, about 10,000 US, and less than half as many NATO, military personnel remain in Afghanistan.



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October 28, 2015

Time magazine names Ahmed Mohamed to \’Most Influential Teens of 2015\’

Time magazine names Ahmed Mohamed to ‘Most Influential Teens of 2015’

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Time magazine named 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed yesterday to its list of “30 Most Influential Teens of 2015”. He was made famous after being taken into custody by police when a teacher thought a clock he brought to his Texas school looked like a bomb. Mohamed joins the ranks of influential teens including US President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia Obama, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Ahmed Mohamed at Ames Research Center in 2015
Image: Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Mike Honda.

Time said of Mohamed in announcing the news: “Not many people make national news by bringing a homemade clock to school. But the ninth-grader’s arrest, after teachers and authorities mistook said clock for a bomb, kicked off a national debate over racial profiling”.

Cquote1.svg The ninth-grader’s arrest […] kicked off a national debate over racial profiling Cquote2.svg

Time magazine

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed and NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew at the 2015 White House Astronomy Night.
Image: Harrison Jones, hjonesphotography.

Mohamed traveled to the White House last week where he met with US President Barack Obama. His family said last week that they would move from Texas to Qatar, where Mohamed was offered a full-scholarship to a well-respected school in the country.

The September 14 incident in Irving, Texas triggered a wider discussion about Islamophobia within the community. The Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed became part of a social movement in support of the youth. After news of the police response was reported, Mohamed received support online ranging from US President Barack Obama to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.

Mohamed brought the digital clock he made to school on September 14, and a teacher mistakenly thought it resembled a bomb. Police arrested and questioned the student. Images of the boy wearing a NASA T-shirt and handcuffed by the police were quickly posted and reposted online.

Cquote1.svg Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? Cquote2.svg

—US President Barack Obama

The Twitter attention led to outreach from Google and Mohamed was invited to their Google Science Fair. Mohamed was a VIP guest at the Google Science Fair, and met finalists at the event held at Google’s headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, personally met with Mohamed during his visit to Google.

US President Barack Obama tweeted using his @POTUS account: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” Twitter gave Mohamed the option to come to their company for an internship. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted to Mohamed and said the boy was welcome to come and tour the company.

Both the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department have asserted that the boy’s religion and name were not a factor in the manner in which they approached the situation.



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September 22, 2015

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed inspires social movement

Texas student Ahmed Mohamed inspires social movement

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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News of police response to a boy’s digital clock in Texas last week has inspired a global social movement in support of the youth. Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old boy from Irving, Texas, was arrested at his school by police after he brought a digital clock he had made to school. After news of the police response was reported, Mohamed received support online ranging from US President Barack Obama to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. Yesterday Mohamed received VIP attention at Google headquarters in California at the Google Science Fair — and tommorow he plans to meet international dignitaries at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

US President Barack Obama tweet to student Ahmed Mohamed
Image: Twitter/Barack Obama.

Mohamed brought the digital clock he made to school on September 14, and a teacher mistakenly thought it resembled a bomb. Police arrested and questioned the student. Images of the boy wearing a NASA T-shirt and handcuffed by the police were quickly posted and reposted online.

Cquote1.svg Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration. Cquote2.svg

Marc Lamont Hill

The Deseret News observed that the hashtag on Twitter, #IStandWithAhmed, had become an international phenomenon. The Straits Times noted what began as individual messages to Mohamed had grown into a “support movement”. American academic and professor Marc Lamont Hill commented, “Hoping that the #istandwithahmed movement translates into a substantive national conversation on race, punishment, and incarceration.”

The Twitter attention led to outreach from Google and Mohamed was invited to their Google Science Fair. Mohamed was a VIP guest at the Google Science Fair this weekend, and was able to meet finalists at the event held at Google’s headquarters located in Mountain View, California. Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, personally met with Mohamed during his visit to Google.

On Wednesday, Mohamed and his father are to travel to the United Nations. His father Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed said he was taking his entire family to the U.N. headquarters in New York, because international dignitaries wanted to meet with his son and express their support.

Psychology major at University of Texas Arlington Amneh Jafari heard of the incident and wanted to issue her support to Mohamed. She chose the hastag #IStandWithAhmed and posted to Twitter. Jafari said she felt Mohamed had been subject to Islamophobia and her hashtag created greater awareness about this issue. The hashtag took on a life of its own, and was used in messages on Twitter over one million times by Thursday night.

NASA tweeted support of Ahmed Mohamed via its account International Space Station
Image: Twitter/NASA.

US President Barack Obama tweeted using his @POTUS account: “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Twitter gave Mohamed the option to come to their company for an internship. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tweeted to Mohamed and said the boy was welcome to come and tour the company.

Executive director of the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Alia Salem said Mohamed wishes to use his newfound fame and attention to spotlight social causes including the treatment of Muslims in the United States.

University of Texas Arlington Muslim Student Association president Sehar Memon said the large amount of positive feedback for Mohamed had helped make his situation much better. Memon also said she believed the social movement in reaction to Mohamed helped improve Muslim/non-Muslim.

Both the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department have asserted that the boy’s religion and name were not a factor in the manner in which they approached the situation.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Ahmed Mohamed clock incident
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September 16, 2015

Subway sandwich empire co-founder Fred DeLuca dies

Subway sandwich empire co-founder Fred DeLuca dies

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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Fifty years after starting his first sandwich shop as a teenager, Subway CEO and co-founder Fred DeLuca died on Monday. He was 67 and suffering from cancer.

A Subway restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Image: Ian Thomson.

Subway yesterday announced his death, but not the location. He had developed leukaemia, which the company announced in 2013. The business was founded with friend Peter Buck who lent DeLuca $1,000 to open Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The company remains based in the state.

By 1968 the business was renamed Subway and the two young entrepreneurs began looking at franchising as a method of expansion. It worked: With over 44,000 locations Subway is the world’s largest fast food franchise. The company has locations in 110 countries.

Subway brands itself as a healthy alternative on the fast food market. It has faced various controversies: ingredients, contracts with franchisees, and longtime advertiser Jared Fogle have all come under scrutiny. Fogle left the company this year after admitting underage sex and child pornography offences.

“I knew nothing about making sandwiches, nor the food industry,” DeLuca would later write of his 1965 startup. Growing up he lived in state-owned housing in The Bronx, New York City. Forbes estimated his 2015 wealth at around $3.5 billion.



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March 8, 2015

Delta Air Lines jetliner skids off New York airport\’s runway

Delta Air Lines jetliner skids off New York airport’s runway

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

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An emergency vehicle tends to the jet as passengers disembark.
Image: Leonard J. DeFrancisci.

A Delta Air Lines passenger jet skidded off the runway at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in snowy weather on Thursday, causing a shutdown of the airport, according to officials. The jetliner was carrying 127 passengers and five crew.

The MD-88, operating as flight 1086, was flying in from Atlanta when it lost control after landing. There were a few minor injuries while the passengers were evacuated. The plane was significantly damaged and the airport was shut down. One of the runways reopened around 2 p.m., although an earlier Federal Aviation Administration statement had put reopening at 6:59 p.m.

The city fire department said five out of at least 28 passengers with minor injuries were hospitalized.

Pat Foye, executive director of the port authority, said the plane was two thirds of the way along the 7,000-foot runway when it began a leftward skid that nearly sent it into the water.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent an investigator for the flight data recorders. Delta stated they would work with authorities to investigate.



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April 21, 2014

Wikinews interviews Paúl M. Velazco about new yellow-shouldered bat species

Wikinews interviews Paúl M. Velazco about new yellow-shouldered bat species

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Paul Velazco with a Vampyrum spectrum.
Image: Marco Tschapka.

Distribution range of species formerly ascribed to Sturnira lilium (gray tone) and the type localities (stars) of species in the S. lilium complex.
Image: Paúl M. Velazco.

Scientists at Chicago‘s Field Museum and New York‘s American Museum of Natural History have discovered three new species of yellow-shouldered bats, genus Sturnira, in the Neotropics. On Wednesday open-access journal ZooKeys published their paper on two of the new species, Sturnira bakeri and Sturnira burtonlimi. The two new species were previously confused with S. ludovici, and S. lilium and S. luisi, respectively. With the discovery, genus Sturnira now has the most species of any genus in family Phyllostomidae, the leaf-nosed bats.

Species S. bakeri was named after Dr. Robert J. Baker, who “has made enormous contributions to our [Authors of the ZooKey paper] understanding of bats, particularly to the evolution of Neotropical phyllostomids”; and S. burtonlimi after Dr. Burton K. Lim, who “collected the type series of this species and has made many other important collections throughout the Neotropics and beyond”, the authors noted in the paper.

Within the New World tropics, the distribution range of the genus, the new species’ known living areas are in Costa Rica and Panama for S. burtonlimi, and Western Ecuador for S. bakeri. The researchers identified differences between different specimens, including those in their teeth, skull shapes, and DNA sequences.

Wikinews interviewed one of the chiropterologists, Paúl M. Velazco of the American Museum of Natural History, about the study.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png The Sturnira genus now has 22 species, over 1.5 times larger than it was a year ago (14 species). Who contributed to this change? Did you participate throughout the entire process, or only the discovery of the last 2 species?

Paúl M. Velazco: The last Mammal Species of the World (Simmons, 2005) recognized 14 species for Sturnira. Since then three new species have been described [S. sorianoi Sánchez-Hernández et al., 2005; S. koopmanhilli McCarthy et al., 2006; and S. perla Jarrín-V. and Kunz, 2011] and one subspecies was elevated to the species level (S. hondurensis) by Gardner (2008). This brought the number of species of Sturnira to 18 by 2011. Along with my coauthor Bruce Patterson, we generated the most comprehensive phylogeny of the genus. For this we sequenced two nuclear and three mitochondrial genes from the liver or muscle tissue that had been frozen or preserved from each bat specimen, isolating nearly 5,000 base pairs of DNA. These sequences were obtained from specimens we have collected in the past (38) and from tissues we borrowed from different natural history collections. We published this phylogeny last year in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Results of this study found that two subspecies of Sturnira lilium should be recognized as valid species (S. parvidens and S. paulsoni). Additionally we found three new species, two of them described in the ZooKeys paper. The third one hopefully will be published later this year.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The genus is called Sturnira Gray in the paper. I’ve not seen extra adjectives in genus names, before. What is the context for such name?

PMV: Usually in papers that deal with taxonomy and nomenclature, the first time that a genus or species is mentioned in text is accompanied by the authority that describes that taxon. In the case of Sturnira, it was Gray in 1842 that named the genus.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What caused your initial interest in the question in the genus? When did you become interested?

PMV: I have been studying bats for the past eighteen years and I am especially interested in the family Phyllostomidae that is endemic to the Neotropics. This family includes more than 160 species. It is the most diverse family of bats in the Neotropics, which together exhibits more variation in morphological features and feeding ecology than any other family-level group of mammals. Phyllostomid bats exploit an unusually diverse array of feeding habits including sanguivory, insectivory, carnivory, omnivory, nectarivory, pollennivory, and frugivory. Because of all mentioned before, phyllostomids are a really interesting group to work with. Sturnira and Platyrrhinus are members of this family.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The paper mentions that the genus is now the most speciose genus in the Neotropical family Phyllostomidae. What genus did it beat? How many species does it include?

PMV: The other genus with the most species in the family is Platyrrhinus. Currently, it has 20 species, but soon it will increase to 21. Along with another colleague, Burton Lim, we have a paper in press describing a new species based on molecular and morphological data from the Guianan Shield.

Dorsolateral views of the left mandibular toothrows in Sturnira bakeri (A, QCAZ 14635 ♀) and S. burtonlimi (B, ROM 104294 ♂), illustrating taxonomic differences in the shape of the metaconid and entoconid of m1 and m2.
Image: Paúl M. Velazco.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What equipment did you use?

PMV: For the ZooKeys paper, we examined several specimens under the stereoscope. The molecular phylogeny gave us the separation between species, from there our job was to focus on finding morphological differences between these groups.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Did you conduct field study to identify the species’ habits? If so, where and how did you do that?

PMV: I have done fieldwork in Belize and Peru, and my coauthor did field work in Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, where we collected several specimens of Sturnira (including the third species that has not been described yet). But the two species that were described in the ZooKeys paper are based on specimens collected by our colleagues Dr. Robert Baker from Texas Tech University and Dr. Burton Lim from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you isolate of the living area of the new species from the living area of the old species?

PMV: We used the phylogeny of Velazco and Patterson 2013 (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution) as a framework for this.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long did the study take? What has been the most time-consuming activity?

PMV: It took almost a year. The most time consuming part was spending several hours behind the stereoscope looking for the diagnostic characters.

Sturnira tildae
Image: Burton K. Lim.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Who participated in the study? What were their roles?

PMV: Dr. Bruce Patterson from the [American] Museum of Natural History and I. I was the one in charge of finding the diagnostic characters and together we both worked on the manuscript.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Who do you collaborate with internationally about your study?

PMV: For this study I collaborated directly with Dr. Bruce Patterson from the Field Museum of Natural History, but studies like this cannot be completed without the contribution of scientific collections. We used specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Louisiana State University, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional de San Marcos, Museo de Zoología of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley, Royal Ontario Museum, Texas Tech University, and the National Museum of Natural History.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What future research do you plan?

PMV: To keep doing what I love, which is going to the field, working at collections, and collaborating with the wonderful collaborators I have, all of this is an effort to try to understand bat diversity and evolution in the Neotropics, especially why phyllostomid bats are so successful at this. There is still much to discover, and hopefully we could, in time, implement conservation actions for species that have small distributions.



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January 2, 2014

Early reports indicate massive blizzard to strike northeastern portions of US late Thursday

Early reports indicate massive blizzard to strike northeastern portions of US late Thursday

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

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File photo of a commuter train in Boston during a snow storm.

Early media reports today indicate experts are predicting a massive blizzard to hit the northeastern United States late this evening. Such storms, coloquially called “Nor’easters“, often wreak havoc across cities and smaller towns. The storm itself may ultimately stretch across 22 states, potentially effecting about one-third of the country’s population.

The city of New York came under a winter storm warning late yesterday evening, with nine inches of snow predicted to fall. Sources also indicate Long Island may experience wind chills as severe as 10 below zero Fahrenheit (about 23 below zero Celsius). Boston schools were reportedly closed for tomorrow, though the press secretary for Boston’s mayor had earlier, regarding braving cold weather, described New Englanders as “hardy”.

By 2pm today Chicago O’Hare airport had experienced 592 flight cancellations. Many homeless shelters across the Northeast region are expected to be filled to capacity or beyond. Weather officials have speculated that next week, parts of Wisconsin could experience the coldest temperatures in nearly seventeen years, since February 1996.



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August 24, 2013

Transgender woman dies after beating in Harlem, New York

Transgender woman dies after beating in Harlem, New York

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A transgender woman attacked in Harlem, New York last week died on Thursday after being declared brain dead and taken off life support. Police are treating the death of Islan Nettles, 21, as a hate crime.

Cquote1.svg They were called faggots, they were called he-shes, she-males, things of that nature Cquote2.svg

—Victim’s mother

Nettles was walking with transgender friends early on August 17 when they met a group of men opposite a local police building. Police say a fight ensued after the men discovered the group was transgender and local man Paris Wilson, 20, was arrested at the scene.

Wilson was charged by prosecutors in Manhattan with assault and harassment. Prosecutors say more serious charges could be brought after police received allegations homophobic language was used, with a hate crimes team now investigating. The death has been ruled a homicide and a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said Nettles was killed by “blunt impact head injuries”.

Islan Nettles in a self-portrait posted to her LinkedIn profile.
Image: Islan Nettles/LinkedIn.

The criminal complaint Wilson presently faces says a police officer found Nettles “unconscious on the ground with a swollen shut eye and blood on her face”. Wilson is accused of punching Nettles to the ground and then repeatedly hitting her while she lay there.

Cquote1.svg Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in high school Cquote2.svg

—Islan Nettles

Nettles was interested in a fashion career, working as an intern for local fashion firm Ay’Medici. “Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in highschool”, she wrote on LinkedIn, where she described herself as “anti-violence”. She has previously instructed fashion at Harlem Children’s Zone, undertaking studies at New York College of Technology and the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.

Her mother, Dolores Nettles, told press Nettles and her friends were subject to transphobic insults. “They were called faggots, they were called he-shes, she-males, things of that nature,” she said.

Daniel L. Squadron of the New York State Senate said yesterday in a statement “Islan was 21 years old — 21 years old. And her life and future were stolen from her. Let’s be clear: intolerance, discrimination and hate have no place in New York or anywhere.” He called for the passage of a related bill he supports, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

Wilson is presently free on bail, with a court hearing scheduled for October 4.



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