Black man John Christopher Smith, enslaved by White manager, should receive more than $500,000 in restitution, court says – CBS News
A Black man who was enslaved by a restaurant manager from 2009 to 2014 should have been paid more money after his captor pleaded guilty, according to a South Carolina appeals court.
In 2019, John “Jack” Christopher Smith was awarded $272,952.96 in restitution, representing minimum wage and overtime he was not rightfully paid while working at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina.
Smith, who has intellectual disability and an IQ of 70, was forced to work more than 100 hours per week without pay by Bobby Edwards, who took over management of J&J Cafeteria in 2009.
Smith had worked at the restaurant as a dishwasher since 1990, but when Edwards took over, he began taking advantage of Smith, forcing him to work. “Edwards effected this forced labor by taking advantage of Jack’s intellectual disability and keeping Jack isolated from his family, threatening to have him arrested, and verbally abusing him,” according to court documents. “His control over Jack also involved physical abuse.”
In 2019, Edwards pleaded guilty one count of forced labor and the district court sentenced him to 120 months’ imprisonment. At the time, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon said Edwards “has earned every day of his sentence,” for stealing “his victim’s freedom and wages.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate forced or exploitative labor in South Carolina, and we are grateful to the watchful citizen and our partners in law enforcement who put a stop to this particularly cruel violence,” Lydon said.
Edwards was also ordered to pay nearly $273,000 in restitution to Smith, but government requested an additional $272,952.96 in the form of liquidated damages. However, the district court rejected that request.
Now, the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit says the previous restitution did not account for federal labor laws entitling Smith to $546,000 total.
The court said that when an employer fails to pay, the employee suffers losses, including “the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay.”
So, to fully compensate Smith for any additional losses, the amount of his restitution should be doubled, the court suggests. The appeals court has vacated the district court’s award of restitution and is asking for recalculation.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the City of Columbus and its police on Friday morning, banning excessive force against nonviolent protesters in a scathing 88-page opinion.
Algenon Marbley, chief judge for the Southern District of Ohio, accused Columbus police officers of running amok during police protests last summer.Mayor asks for federal review of Columbus police operations
Among other things, police are prohibited from infliction of pain to punish nonviolent protesters and may only enforce orders to disperse if it’s probable that a protestor has committed a violent violation or is blocking traffic.
The injunction says police are restrained from using:
- Tear gas
- Pepper spray
- Flash-bang grenades
- Rubber bullets
- Wooden pellets
- Body slams
- Kettling, a crowd-control method
“This case is the sad tale of police officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok,” Marbley wrote. The full order can be read here.
Mayor Andrew Ginther acknowledge that the ruling shows that the city “fells short” in its response.
“We have already implemented changes that address most, if not all, of the orders in the court’s decision so that residents can feel safe in expressing their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent way,” Ginther said in a statement. “The changes we made last summer have been evident in many protest events that followed, without confrontation or incident.”
And Sean Walton, an attorney representing one of the plaintiffs, called the order “necessary.”
“This is something that we believe was necessary to protect the rights of peaceful protesters here in Columbus, and people who are in the streets trying to actively change Columbus and move the city forward,” Walton said.
The order further says police body cameras must be in working order, identification must be worn, and police must recognize members of the media.
The injunction came in response to a federal lawsuit filed by 26 people who accuse police of using excessive force during protests against police violence.
The plaintiffs claimed they were protesting in a peaceful, nonviolent manner and following police orders when they were victims of excessive force. Some of the evidence in the case came from witnesses who took videos on their phones and from police body camera footage.
In one of the videos, a protestor wearing a full gas mask was shown appearing to comply with police orders when an officer ripped off the mask from behind. The protestor shoved the officer in response and then was thrown to the ground and arrested. Body camera footage showed the officers celebrating with fist bumps afterward.
The video exhibits in the case may be viewed through the links below:WATCH: Exhibit 101 — Woman maced, chased, and knocked down by officer WATCH: Exhibit 103 — Police fire upon protesters WATCH: Exhibit 123B — Bike officers spray protesters WATCH: Exhibit 128 — Officer rips off gas mask, sprays protester WATCH: Exhibit 138 — Officers celebrate spraying, knocking down protester WATCH: Exhibit 147 — Woman searches for her daughter, sprayed, chased by police
Ginther has he has made several moves recently in regards to the Division of Police. In January, chief Thomas Quinlan stepped down to return to his previous role as a deputy chief after a year on the job. A new chief has yet to be named.
Ginther and other city officials authorized an independent criminal investigation of police actions during the protests, with eight of the complaints found to be substantiated by evidence.
An independent review of the city’s and police’s response to the protests concluded that the city had been unprepared, found problems in communication among city officials, and found that rifts exist between city leaders and police and between police leaders and rank-and-file members.
Upon completion of the review, Ginther asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the police force.CONTINUE READING
As part of a resolution of the lawsuit announced on November 7, Trump was ordered to pay $2 million, or $250,000, a piece to eight different charities. Those charities are Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Additionally, Trump was forced to reimburse his namesake foundation $11,525 for sports paraphernalia and champagne purchased at a charity gala, which was added to $1,797,598.30 already in the Foundation’s bank account. The combined $1,809,123.30 was split evenly and recently transferred to the eight agreed upon charities. Each charity ended up receiving a total of $476,140.41.
James, L. (2019). Donald J. Trump Pays Court-Ordered $2 Million For Illegally Using Trump Foundation Funds. https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2019/donald-j-trump-pays-court-ordered-2-million-illegally-using-trump-foundation