Portrait of Michael Corey Jenkins in a black baseball cap and black t-shirt looking off as he stands outside Taylor Hill Church in Braxton, Miss.
Michael Corey Jenkins stands outside Taylor Hill Church in Braxton, Miss., March 18, 2023. Jenkins says a deputy shoved a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger, leaving him with a mangled tongue and serious ongoing complications, including difficulty speaking and eating. Credit: AP Photo/HG Biggs

Deputies accused of shoving guns in mouths of 2 Black men

Police in Mississippi are under investigation after being accused of violating the civil rights of multiple Black men in at least four violent encounters since 2019. Multiple white police officers in Brandon, Mississippi falsely accused two Black men of selling drugs and “dating white women” before handcuffing and brutally torturing them, including shooting one of them in the mouth. Michael C. Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker were in a private residence in the village of Braxton on Jan. 24 when the location was raided by six white officers without a warrant, Black Lawyers for Justice said in a press release. After they were restrained, the officers allegedly “repeatedly” brutally beat and kicked the men while using a Taser on both and threatening to kill them. A witness even described the officers participating in something of a Taser contest with Jenkins and Parker being the targets, Jenkins’ mother said. They also forced the two men to lie on their backs while officers poured milk over their faces. One officer would eventually put a gun in Jenkins’ mouth pulling the trigger, leaving him with a broken jaw and with wounds that required parts of his tongue to be sewn back together.

Harris County to offer free legal counseling to residents facing eviction

Harris County will soon launch a program to provide free legal counseling to residents facing eviction. The Eviction Defense Program will give qualifying Harris County residents free legal counseling related to their eviction case and the opportunity to meet with an attorney or legal representative at the court where their eviction case is held. To qualify, a Harris County household’s income must be at or below 300% of the current Federal Poverty Guideline — for reference, that’s $90,000 for a family of four. Residents can also qualify if their household income is 65% of Harris County’s area median income. According to data from January Advisors, 167,842 eviction cases have been filed in Houston since January 2020. Residents can apply for assistance with Neighborhood Defender Services or Lone Star Legal Aid starting April 10. For program enrollment, contact Neighborhood Defender Services at (210) 952-9259 or Lone Star Legal Aid at (713) 652-0077.

Spring Branch ISD votes in favor of speeding up book banning process

Spring Branch ISD school board members have voted 4-3 to drop multiple points of review from its book review process. The vote removes the first two of three layers from the district’s review process, maintaining only the final checkpoint in which board members provide input on titles brought forth for consideration. The move, some claim, essentially fast-tracks book banning and takes much of the process out of the hands of school librarians and other interested parties. The district’s vote follows its decision last fall to ban “The Breakaways,” a graphic novel about a group of 8th-grade soccer players that features a transgender character. Across the state, school districts and public libraries continue to implement reviews of titles brought forward by parents and residents, many of which feature LGBTQ characters or themes concerning race.

Program helps adults earn high school diploma

The Houston Public Library is hosting a Career Online High School. It is dedicated to helping individuals 21 and older who have completed a minimum of eighth grade, earn a high school diploma and prepare for the workforce. The program is grant funded and applicants are supported at every turn, from enrollment to graduation. Participants can graduate faster with transfer credits from previous high schools/GED. They can also earn a career certificate with their diploma and take courses 100% online. Visit houston.careeronlinehs.org.