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The Nation in Brief

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | January 19, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

NAACP fund's $40M to aid law students

ATLANTA -- The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund began a $40 million scholarship program on Monday to support a new generation of civil rights lawyers dedicated to pursuing racial justice across the South.

The New York-based fund chose Martin Luther King Day to announce the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, named for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and for Constance Baker Motley, who was a legal defense fund attorney just a few years out of Columbia University Law School when she wrote the initial complaint that led to the court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling outlawing racial segregation in public schools. She later became the first Black woman federal judge.

Supported by a gift from a single anonymous donor, the fund plans to put 50 students through law schools around the country. In return, they must commit to eight years of racial justice work in the South, starting with a two-year postgraduate fellowship in a civil rights organization.

"The donor came to us," said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "The donor very much wanted to support the development of civil rights lawyers in the South."

The legal defense fund has been backing civil rights lawyers ever since its founding by Marshall in 1940, during an era when Black people rarely had effective legal representation and Black students were turned away from southern universities. It also funded the creation of Black and interracial law firms in several Southern states in the 1960s and 1970s, and has built a network of lawyers since then.

The fund set an application deadline of Feb. 16 for this fall's incoming first-year law school students.

Twitter suspends lawmaker's account

Twitter temporarily suspended the account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican member of Congress from Georgia who has expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories online.

Greene's account was suspended for 12 hours beginning Sunday "without explanation," she said in a statement in which she also condemned big technology companies for "silencing" conservative views.

The 46-year-old businesswoman and political newcomer was elected to represent Georgia's 14th District in November. She has gained large followings on social media in part by posting incendiary videos and comments and has also embraced QAnon, a far-right U.S. conspiracy theory centered on the debunked belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the "deep state" and a child sex trafficking ring they say is linked to Democrats.

Before noon Sunday, Greene posted a clip from an interview with a local news outlet in which she condemned Georgia election officials and expressed support for unsubstantiated election fraud theories.

Twitter responded to the tweet, and others, with a message that called the election fraud claim "disputed," and saying it posed "a risk of violence."

Tennessee city mayor confronts vandal

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Police are investigating after the mayor of a Tennessee city caught a man vandalizing her home with spray paint over the weekend.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and a neighbor confronted the man after he scrawled the word "death" on a detached garage at her home Sunday evening, according to police.

The neighbor told investigators he was walking his dog with his family when he saw the man walk out from behind the mayor's detached garage, authorities said. Kincannon joined the neighbor and they approached the suspect, but he ran to his car and drove away.

The mayor spoke out against the act in a statement and also called for unity.

"Violence, vandalism and threats are never viable means to an end, under any circumstance," Kincannon said, adding: "Despite the fact that this was obviously quite personal and hurtful to my family, we will continue to urge unity in this divisive time."

Georgian released from Cayman prison

ATLANTA -- A Georgia student is back home after spending more than a month in a Cayman Islands prison for breaking covid-19 quarantine rules.

Skylar Mack, 18, of Loganville arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Friday, where she reunited with her mother, according to Channel 2 Action News.

Mack, a Mercer University pre-med student, and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, were charged after Mack broke the county's strict 14-day quarantine rules to watch Ramgeet, 24, participate in a water sports competition. She removed a location tracking device from her wrist in order to attend the November event.

The duo was initially sentenced to pay a $2,600 fine and complete 40 hours of community service after their violations, but an appeals judge issued a stricter sentence. Mack and Ramgeet, who both pleaded guilty, were sentenced to four months in prison, which was later reduced. Ramgeet, a Cayman resident, was also released from prison last week.

The Cayman Islands, a British territory, requires travelers to quarantine for 14 days due to the covid-19 pandemic.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

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