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NFL Draft: Bengals take chance on RB Joe Mixon

PHILADELPHIA Running back Joe Mixon, suspended for the 2014 season after hitting a woman at a caf in Norman, Oklahoma, has repeatedly vowed he never will let something like this happen again and that he can be trusted to be a responsible member of the NFL. He ll get to show whether he truly is reformed after being drafted Friday by the Bengals in the second round, a team known to give chances to controversial players with questionable backgrounds. Mixon was arrested in July, 2014 and charged with misdemeanor assault for punching a woman in the face and breaking four bones. Video of the incident was made public in December, 2016. And while Mixon did not serve time in prison, he was barred from playing for a year by Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. Mixon was reinstated in 2015 and was the Sooners leading rusher in 2016 with 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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I don t know who isn t disgusted at what they saw, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Friday night about the video. But that s one day in the young man s life. Mixon was emotional about the chance to begin his NFL career.

I m still sitting here crying, he told reporters after being drafted. I can t believe it.

Mixon said the 2014 incident changed me a lot as a person. How you think. How you carry yourself. How you go about things. While many NFL teams didn t even have Mixon on their draft boards because of what happened, the Bengals didn t hide their interest in him. The Broncos also were reported to be interested in Mixon. The Bengals either have signed or drafted several players with off-field issues. Cornerback Pacman Jones, wide receiver Chris Henry, defensive tackle Tank Johnson and linebacker Vontaze Burfict have all served suspensions imposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Bengals owner Mike Brown, when asked about Jones arrest in January for disorderly conduct after he allegedly pushed a security guard and head-butted a police officer, offered a window into his thinking about players who break the law.

Maybe I am overly tolerant, he said. If so, so be it. Drafting Mixon will only reinforce that line of thinking. Another running back who previously has been arrested, Dalvin Cook of Florida State, also was taken in the second round. The Vikings moved up to select Cook, adding him to a backfield that recently signed free-agent Latavius Murray. The Vikings previously released former All Pro running back Adrian Peterson.

Cook was arrested as a juvenile for robbery in 2009, and was charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly punching a woman in 2015 outside a Tallahassee bar. A jury found Cook not guilty, and he has no convictions on his record.

The other big-name player drafted Friday was Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, who was taken in the second round by the Browns. Cleveland had shown interest in North Carolina s Mitchell Trubisky, and debated whether to take him first overall. But the team instead took Texas A & M pass-rusher Myles Garrett with the top choice before the Bears traded up to the second spot to take Trubisky. After highly rated quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Deshaun Watson (Texans) went later in the first round, the Browns settled on Kizer, who has a big arm and terrific running ability, but also has accuracy issues. He threw a combined 19 interceptions in his previous two seasons at Notre Dame, and completed only 58.7 percent of his passes last year.

Quebec: Uniting to fulfil mosque attack victim’s dream

Mamadou Tanou Barry once dreamt of bringing a permanent supply of fresh water to his native town in Guinea. But his dream was brutally cut short when a gunman opened fire on a mosque in Quebec City, killing Barry and five other Muslim men as they prayed.

The attack[1] at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on January 29 sent shockwaves across Canada, and prompted candlelit vigils, rallies, and an outpouring of support[2] for the victims families and the larger Muslim community. Now, three months after the killings, Barry’s family, their supporters, and the Guinean community in Quebec City have launched a campaign to commemorate all six victims – and turn Barry’s unrealised goal into reality.

Organisers hope to raise about $18,000 to establish two water wells in Central Guinea, which is where Barry, a father of two, and his friend, Ibrahima Barry, a father of four who was also killed in the attack, were originally from. The wells will be dug in their memory, and in the memory of the other victims: Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, and Azzedine Soufiane.

“We can t replace these fathers,” Souleymane Bah, president of the Guinean Association of Quebec, said. But the project will show the men’s families that the world has not forgotten about them, he told Al Jazeera.

“All we’re asking is for sensitivity, joy, and generosity from people, in the hopes of realising this dream.”

OPINION: Why the Quebec mosque shooting happened[3]

Organisers hope to build the wells in Guinea this summer in collaboration with a French NGO. Kim Vincent, another campaign volunteer, said the goal is “to create some sort of positive action as a result of such a horrible event”.

Security measures

The Muslim community across Canada, and in Quebec in particular, is still coming to terms with the deadly attack. Mohamed Labidi, interim president of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, said the first priority after the shooting was to re-open the mosque and bring some semblance of normality back to the Muslim community in the city. Quebec mosque shooting puts islamophobia in focus

“We spent one week cleaning and putting the space back in order,” Labidi said. “After we tried to re-launch all the activities we did before,” including prayer services, meetings, and Arabic lessons.

“Especially for those who lived through the tragedy, who were eye-witnesses, yes, they were quite traumatised by it, and we feel it daily. But it didn’t stop them from coming back to the mosque to pray.”

He said mosque officials have taken steps to provide greater security at the mosque, which prior to the attack was always open, especially during prayer times, giving anyone access to the building. The mosque is now locked, but about 1,000 electronic entry passes have been distributed to regular congregants, Labidi said, and plans to reinforce the building’s glass facade and build more emergency exits are under way. He said putting a better security system in place was a long-standing priority, but the attack created a sense of urgency.

“The hateful acts started with graffiti on the walls, continued with leaflets passed around to houses in the neighbourhood, and culminated with the pig’s head” that was left on the doorstep of the mosque in June 2016, Labidi said.

“All that put us on guard that something was being prepared. It was like a race against the clock.”

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard described it as “a terrorist act”. But the alleged shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, does not face explicit terrorism or hate crimes charges. The 27-year-old has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder, and five counts of attempted murder. Labidi said charging Bissonnette with terrorism is important because it would send a clear message to society at large “that hate can cause tragedies, [and] can cause audacious criminal acts”.

Anti-Islam rallies

In the months since the attack, anti-Muslim rhetoric has seen a rise in Canada. Far-right hate groups, spurned on by Conservative Party politicians, have recently become more vocal, rallying in several major Canadian cities against a federal parliamentary motion on Islamophobia.[4]

Passed in March, the federal motion condemns all forms of systemic racism, including Islamophobia, and tasks a parliamentary committee to study the issue, and track hate crimes. Opponents said the bill would lead to Islamic law in Canada, and stifle freedom of speech, and far-right groups held protests against it at city halls across the country, often shouting anti-Muslim slogans.

OPINION: Quebec mosque shooting – Beyond the official rhetoric[5]

Mosques have been vandalised in Montreal and Ottawa, and Montreal police recorded a spike in reported hate crimes in the city immediately after the attack in Quebec City. Elsewhere, anti-Muslim protesters calling for a ban on Islam picketed outside a Toronto mosque in February, and several incidents of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim graffiti have been reported. A poll released earlier this week found that 59 percent of Quebecers thought that racial discrimination is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” issue.

Still, Labidi said the Muslim community received a great show of solidarity and sympathy from people across Quebec and Canada following the attack, and that this openness and sense of inclusion is still being felt today.

“There are very positive signs,” he said.

“It continues, and we hope it doesn’t fade because I hope that everyone learnt the lesson from this, to have a better integration of Muslims and a better openness towards Muslims from their co-citizens in Quebec and Canada.”

Quebec: Uniting To Fulfil Mosque Attack Victim's Dream Six people were killed in the attack on January 29 [Mathieu Belanger/Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera

References

  1. ^ The attack (www.aljazeera.com)
  2. ^ outpouring of support (www.aljazeera.com)
  3. ^ OPINION: Why the Quebec mosque shooting happened (www.aljazeera.com)
  4. ^ motion on Islamophobia. (www.aljazeera.com)
  5. ^ OPINION: Quebec mosque shooting – Beyond the official rhetoric (www.aljazeera.com)

Private security firm fired after pepper spray incident at SC high school

The Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 on Friday fired the private security firm it had used to provide security at North High/Middle School after an incident involving pepper spray the day earlier.

Seven students were exposed to pepper spray by the security officer assigned to the school.

We were very clear that we did not agree with the actions of the security officer and determined that it is in our best interest to terminate the services of DTH, Bill Clark, spokesman for the school district, said in a news release. The unnamed security officer sprayed a student with pepper spray twice, once after observing an exchange between a school administrator and the student and again after following the student into the school s Career Center. Other students in the Career Center were also exposed to the pepper spray, the district said. According to reports on Thursday afternoon, the exchange between a school official and the student arose from music playing on a cell phone and some apparent difficulty in turning it off.

After the pepper spray was discharged, law enforcement and EMS services were called to the school and the school was locked down to prevent other students from being exposed to the pepper spray, the district said.

All students involved in the incident were able to return to school on Friday, the district said.

DTH Protective Services[1] is a private firm headquartered in Orangeburg.

References

  1. ^ DTH Protective Services (www.facebook.com)