Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Jay-Z and the SEC: Should We Be Worried?


Jay-Z performs at President Barack Obama’s rally in Columbus Ohio, November 2012. 

Jay-Z, hip hop artist and entrepreneur, has drawn the attention, and, perhaps, the ire of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for his refusal to cooperate in a probe launched by the agency into the financial reporting of licensing and brand management company Iconix Brand Group.

After months of legal wrangling, including two subpoenas sent to Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, seeking his testimony in the SEC investigation, the hip-hop mogul and social activist was finally ordered by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe to answer questions at an undisclosed location on May 15 at Final Call press time.

Jay-Z is the latest in a string of Black male entertainers who have received negative attention in the media. However, being asked to participate in a federal investigation involving a company he no longer owns has raised fears of something more sinister.

Jay-Z also supported more open U.S. policies toward Cuba, supported the movement for police accountability and bailed out protestors, championed criminal justice reform and raised the specter of ugly racism in American life.

He has diversified and expanded a business empire from music to clothing to investments to innovative ways to make more money for artists.

He once owned a piece of the NBA Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise and helped bring the lucrative franchise and a stadium to the borough. He also owned a portion of the arena he sold for over $1 million. Part of his empire includes sports management. One of his clients is NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The rapper, in his latest album 4:44, spoke openly about astute Jewish businessmen and the way they do business, prompting a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League.

Jay-Z performing at O2 Wireless Festival in London, January 2008 “Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018. 

The children of Sean Bell, shot to death by New York police officers in 2006, will benefit from an educational fund Jay-Z set up. The night before his bachelor party, Mr. Bell and two friends were shot at 51 times by police officers. The three detectives doing the shooting were acquitted by a New York judge.

“Hova” has come a long way from rapping about riches, partying and the hazards of everyday urban life. His net worth is estimated at $810 million by Forbes magazine in 2018.

Jay-Z is also involved in a lawsuit with now bankrupt movie and TV production company Weinstein Company over unpaid pilot fees from two projects in the amount of $480,000. The dispute, and other legal woes, is holding up sale of the company. Jay-Z says the Weinstein Co. owes him for pilot fees for the “Kalief Browder Project,” and a “Trayvon Martin Project.” Kalief Browder is a young Black man who committed suicide after traumatic imprisonment and Black teenager Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman electrified the country. The production company in question was founded by prominent Jewish movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Then there are accusations from a Norwegian newspaper that Tidal faked numbers for plays of Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” and wife Beyonce’s album Lemonade to pump up its numbers for exclusive releases. Tidal, a music streaming service, was purchased by Jay-Z and other artists in 2015, promising more money for artists, better quality audio and artist exclusives. The company vehemently denied the charges of wrongdoing.

Could the questions be pushback from Jay-Z’s economic prowess, social stances, observations about Jewish power and general uneasiness with Black ownership and economic success?

From the bombing of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921, to the Rosewood massacre 1923 in Levy County, Fla., or the 1950s urban removal of the Hayti Community in Durham, N.C., Black independence, self-reliance and economic power have always been seen as a threat.

“This is White superiority and White supremacy, but in a different age and executed in a more sophisticated, boardroom kind of way,” Dr. George Fraser, noted author, and chairman and CEO FraserNet Inc., told The Final Call. “Jay-Z understands that ideas are wonderful, but systems are better. He bought Tidal; that’s a system for the distribution of music which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Black people can create rap music all we want, but we don’t control the system that generates the distribution and profiteering of rap music. Jay-Z understands how that works.”

Jay-Z’s music has tackled political subjects in recent years as has his personal life with calls for criminal justice reform, opening up U.S. relations with Cuba and the hip hop mogul and his wife were big supporters of Barack Obama early in his presidency. Jay-Z’s album 4:44, released in 2017, won widespread acclaim for its content, including “The Story of O.J.,” and an animated short that told of the story of the Black struggle in America, urged rappers to invest wisely and Blacks to seek economic empowerment. It was released as an exclusive on his Tidal platform. The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with one million copies purchased by Sprint and offered to consumers as free downloads. It debuted high, number one, on the U.S. Billboard 200. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year and “The Story of O.J.” was nominated for Record of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

“As a Black person, you have to be aware that there is a constant war being waged and you have a target on your back. So you have to make sure that everything you do is clean and on point,” hip-hop journalist and activist David “Davey D” Cook, observed. “For somebody who has an album talking about wealth, being a billionaire, and putting money towards different social movements, he’s going to get extra scrutiny and they’re going to find a way to take away some of that wealth as a way to eliminate the competition. Jay-Z has been allowed to make all of the money he has and now that he’s become a little more political, it’s really important that all his ducks be in a row.”

In 2007 Iconix purchased Rocawear, the clothing company co-founded with former business partner Damon Dash for $204 million. As part of the deal, according to the SEC, the hip-hop mogul maintained a partnership with Iconix as it related to the Rocawear brand. In March 2016, Iconix devalued Rocawear by $169 million and in March of this year, wrote it down again by $34 million. The SEC is investigating Iconix to make sure things are legit, especially given the company plans to change its financial reports for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

And, the SEC, claims Rocawear is central in the losses Iconix reported in 2015 and 2017.

“The SEC’s application states that the Commission seeks Carter’s testimony to inquire about, among other things, Carter’s joint ventures with Iconix,” the agency stated as its reason for speaking with Jay-Z, who has failed to appear for investigative testimony twice. However, several companies that Jay-Z owned have submitted approximately 11,000 pages of financial-related communications with Iconix and Desiree Perez, chief operating officer of Roc Nation and S. Carter Enterprises, met with the SEC for seven hours and provided testimony.

Alex Spiro, a partner at the New York-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, is representing Mr. Carter in this matter. He argued the SEC’s insistence on having his client testify is nothing more than what he called a “celebrity hunt.”

“The SEC continues to insist on meeting Mr. Carter in person for an unlimited period of time. The upshot imposes unreasonable burdens on Mr. Carter and raises serious questions about whether this exercise has transcended any investigative purpose and crossed over into a celebrity hunt,” Mr. Spiro wrote in legal memorandum, also stating that his client had no involvement in any of Iconix’ financial reporting.

Toure Muhammad noted the multiple ways in which Whites have worked to stifle Black enterprise and business ownership. “If you look at this from the perspective of being an attack on Black businesses and business owners, here’s a brother who put out a very profound album 4:44, and in it he basically said study the Jews,” said the Chicago-based businessman and founder of Chicago Eats. “I don’t know if he heard ‘Business is Warfare,’ the lecture the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gave a few years ago, but Jay-Z highlighted how business really is warfare. And by mentioning the Jews, we know how they can be very opposed to having the spotlight put on them like that.”

“We know from how they came after George Johnson when he agreed to help the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan manufacture the POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth) products at Johnson Products many years ago. We saw what happened with Prince when he wrote ‘Slave’ on his face, Reginald Lewis, the first Black billionaire, or with Carol’s Daughter,” Mr. Muhammad explained. “They’re either going to try to buy us out, take the company or the brand, and sometimes, we die under mysterious circumstances. But we have enough historical evidence to rightly wonder if this is another targeted attack on a successful Black businessman.”

Jay-Z’s meeting with the SEC is expected to last no longer than the day as he prepares to embark on another U.S. tour with his wife, Beyonce. It remains to be seen what part his testimony will play in the SEC’s investigation into Iconix, but count Jay-Z as just the latest Black celebrity and businessman to have his legal woes play out in public for the world to see.

“I’m smart enough to know that White folks will be White folks at the end of the day. This is what they’re going to do because it’s about the protection of their assets,” Mr. Fraser said. “And if those assets are diminished in any way and they can point to some high profile, successful brother or sister to lay the blame on, then that’s what they’re going to do. That’s what they do and it’s always been that way and it will always be that way until we replace them when it comes to power, systems and infrastructure.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Meek Mill Freed

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent

The Re-Education of Meek Mill - A rapper’s plight highlights power of judges and broken probation system touching millions

Philly rapper Meek Mill, Robert Rihmeek Williams, is out of prison.

But he says he doesn’t feel free, though out on bail while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions. He goes back to court in June.

Meek Mill has seen a massive show of support from fans, powerful, prominent political figures, including Philadelphia’s mayor and the governor of Pennsylvania, celebrities, even prosecutors have complained about an out of control legal system.

The “Dreams and Nightmares” lyricist represented by rap mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation says now that he’s out of prison, a lot of people who face similar battles with the criminal justice system are depending on him.

“I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time. While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” tweeted Meek Mill, who faced a hard childhood. His father was gunned down when the rapper was age five.

After being whisked by helicopter from prison with Philadelphia 76er’s co-owner Michael Rubin, Meek Mill rang a replica Liberty Bell April 24 at center court of the NBA team’s first-round clinching playoff game less than two hours after his release.

He was let go after the state Supreme Court directed Judge Genece Brinkley, who had jailed him, to immediately issue an order letting him out.

Meek Mill was sentenced on November 6, 2017 to two to four years behind bars for probation violations. He had been arrested last year after a fight, and then after popping a motorcycle wheelie while filming a music video, according to his lawyer. The charges from the fight were dropped and those from the wheelie incident were dismissed. Judge Brinkley, however, ignored recommendations from the prosecutor and his probation officer that he be freed.

The ruling came after prosecutors said they agreed with his lawyers that he should get a new trial because of questions about the arresting officer in his case. A now-retired officer, Reginald Graham, was among a list of police officers the prosecutor’s office sought to keep off the witness stand in cases across the city because of credibility questions.

Mr. Graham, the sole witness in Meek Mill’s initial case, testified that he saw the young man sell crack cocaine, pull a gun from his waistband, and point it at cops as they tried to arrest him, according to media reports. In a sworn affidavit, former cop Jerold Gibson said Mr. Graham lied under oath to get Meek Mill sent away on drug and gun charges in 2008. He was 19 years old.

The rapper’s lawyers are seeking to have the conviction thrown out and a new trial.

The district attorney’s office has not said whether they would seek to retry him if the old convictions are thrown out.

But prosecutors have declined to prosecute three defendants in other cases because of doubts about the credibility of arresting narcotics agent Graham, the same officer who had arrested Meek Mill. Over 100 convictions could be overturned because of questions about narcotics agent Graham.

Questions about a judge and probation violations

Judge Brinkley, who had refused to release Meek Mill on bail until the Supreme Court ruling, was accused by the defense of waging a vendetta against the rapper.

She contends she acted “impartially and without prejudice” in all proceedings since 2008. She sentenced him to five months in jail in 2008 and then probation. But over the years, probation violations resulted in additional time being added to his terms of probation.

The violations over the years included traveling out of town to perform without permission, failing a drug test, failing to come to court and failing to meet with his probation officer.

By last year, after nine years of probation, many felt Meek Mill was on the right path and should be released.

His lawyers also complained that the judge, who at one point ordered Meek Mill to take etiquette classes, was too personally involved in his case. They accused her of asking the rapper to remake the Boyz II Men song “On Bended Knee” and shout her out. And, the lawyers accused the judge of asking the rapper to sign with a friend and leave Roc Nation.

It has been reported that the FBI is looking into the judge’s handling of the case.

A new focus, fight for talented rapper?

Meanwhile, Meek Mill said he plans to focus on getting his convictions overturned, and that he looks forward to resuming his music career.

“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” he tweeted April 24.

“I’m very happy to see that the brother has been released and that he can come back into the world and recontribute the best of himself,” said ZaZa Ali, educator, author, and radio host based in Atlanta. She wrote Meek Mill when he was in jail.

“One of the things I said to him was you have a great responsibility with your music,” Ms. Ali said. “But even before he went to jail, he was talking about Lean. He was talking about drugs, and the negative impact that they had on him. He was speaking out about racism, White supremacy, so, we’ve got to give him credit for the emphasis that he’s putting into becoming a better person.”

Lean, or “purple drank,” is prescription cough syrup combined with codeine, soft drinks and candy.

Meek Mill can become a symbol for justice reform by making his word bond and using his platform to address mass incarceration, commented Gregory Muhammad, who is based in Philadelphia and leads the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministries in the Delaware Valley Region.

There needs to be independent monitoring of judges’ court sessions by outside agencies to capture abuses, said Mr. Muhammad. “During the election season, citizens or voters don’t acknowledge the enormous power judges and district attorneys possess, so, the voters take these two elections lightly,” he said. “The people themselves can prevent this abuse of power or abuse of discretion of judges by voting for a more honest and morally conscious judge.”

Millions on parole, probation in U.S.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 4.5 million people in the U.S. are on probation and parole. Its researchers say Meek Mill’s case has brought attention to how people are recycled back into prisons and jails.

“The Pennsylvania Community Corrections Story,” one of two reports published in April, shed light on the system that “stalked” Meek Mill for close to a decade.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania serves as a good example of how high rates of probation and parole can go hand-in-hand with, and contribute to, high incarceration rates. Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast, coupled with the third highest percentage of its citizens on probation and parole in the country,” wrote Columbia Professor Vincent Schiraldi, who authored the report.

While one out of every 53 adults is supervised by probation and parole nationally, in Pennsylvania, one out of every 34 adults is under community supervision, a rate 36 percent higher than the national average.

What Ms. Ali found most disturbing about Meek Mill’s case is that a Black woman was at the helm. It’s important to have Black elected officials, but they don’t matter if they’re doing the bidding of Whites in continuing the degradation and incarceration of Black men, she insisted.

“We could say she’s (Judge Brinkley) infatuated with this man. She’s obsessed with him, or she’s taking orders from someone higher up. The bottom line is that she has been the focal point and the face for limiting this brother’s process and then eventually imprisoning him,” Ms. Ali stated.

As for those who say no need to focus on Meek Mill because of his money and celebrity, “shame on us as a people,” Ms. Ali lamented. Celebrity is a double-edged sword, sometimes they get too much credit, and at others they don’t get enough, she explained.

“In the most simplest idea of this, Meek Mill is still a man. He’s a Black man. He made mistakes when he was young, and he’s still paying for mistakes he made when he was young, paying way too heavy of a price,” Ms. Ali argued.

“I think that as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad talks about, ‘The Proper Handling of People,’ that applies to celebrities as well, and we need to re-cultivate our empathy and compassion for one another whether it’s a celebrity or whether it’s not.”

Davey D, hip-hop activist, journalist and radio personality, noted many people are juxtaposing Meek Mill with political prisoners. The argument is being made about freeing the rapper, and no one’s talking about freeing political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal and other folks, he said.

“First, we should never forget our political prisoners, but part of the reason we even have political prisoners is because they were fighting the injustices that visited a Meek Mill,” Davey D told The Final Call.

“In other words,” he said, “a lot of our political prisoners were there because of the criminal ‘injustice’ system. And so we should not bemoan, be upset or be surprised when people want to fight the criminal system when it’s relatable to them.”

Meek Mill is relatable to his fans, who may not know of former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal, while advocates for the longtime political prisoner and others know nothing about the rapper, said Davey D.

“It’s not an either/or, but it’s a both/and as organizers and communicators, it’s up to us to connect the dots,” Davey D said. “Instead of just focusing on this as an individual act, frame the conversation as something that’s systemic.”

“Meek Mill is part of a long line of people who have been put in jail, and keep in mind, there’s a bunch of people who have family members who ain’t rappers or former Black Panthers who are going, ‘to hell with Meek Mill and to hell with Mumia,’” Davey D noted.

Activists, organizers and communicators must probe the judge’s actions, her power, the oversight or lack thereof, and see how to deal with those who abuse power and make changes so everyone can benefit, he said.

It’s good that Meek Mill wants to help folks and bring attention to the atrocious injustices of the system, but don’t expect him to do the heavy lifting or expect to see overnight sea change, Davey D cautioned.

“But heck, if Mill can do a song, concert, shout out one or two political prisoners and bring attention to their plight, I think that’s great … and it’s something we should angle for,” Davey D stated.

Also, look at the record labels, what role did they play, and do not let them off the hook, Davey D continued. What are they doing for artists, and what resources are they devoting on behalf of Meek Mill, did they write letters on his behalf, and do they have training for artists on how to walk the straight and narrow? he asked.

“Are they waiting to capitalize off of Meek Mill coming out of jail primarily because the community rallied, so we can go Meek Mill straight out of jail, and they have a marketing tool for records to be sold?” Davey D continued.

“My thing is f--k them labels if they didn’t pick up a dime to help … since they make profit coming and going. They make profit off of Mill when he was talking about doing criminal stuff, and they’re going to make profit off of Mill when he actually serves time for criminal stuff and actually gets out of jail in a highly publicized case.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From The Final Call Newspaper

Tears for Brandy - 'Women must be protected and elevated'

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent

What's your opinion on this article?

A grieving mother and community want answers and justice for young New York woman brutally murdered and whose body was dismembered

Brandy Odom (R) Mother of Brandy Odom, Nicole Odom, in white head covering speaks to media about the New York Police Department and her daughter. Nation of Islam student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, in black hat and coat, and Borough President Eric Adams, in blue cap, supported the grieving mother and family at the vigil.

The mother of a young Black woman whose body parts were found sprawled across a Brooklyn, N.Y., park is still in shock over the chilling way her child was murdered. And, she is calling on the New York Police Department for more answers and to step up its effort to find a vicious murderer.

Brandy Odom’s killer cut off her limbs.

A woman walking her dog in early April found the 26-year-old’s head and torso in one area of Canarsie Park. Police found her arms and legs in other parts of the park.

“I want to find the person or persons who committed this brutal crime, and I just want the world to know that nobody deserves this, what happened to my daughter,” Nicole Odom told The Final Call in an exclusive phone interview on April 19. She believes her daughter may have known the killer, because she kept a close circle of friends. She had no boyfriend, Ms. Odom said.

“If you’ve seen something, know somebody who’s got anything to do with this, just come forward so justice can be served,” Ms. Odom asked.

The last time she saw her daughter was late March. They celebrated news of Brandy’s school safety job acceptance letter. “She thanked me. I loved her. And, that was the last time I seen her,” Ms. Odom said of her middle child who was so “bubbly.”

The ordeal has rocked their family and community, she said. Her children are her heart, Brandy in particular, because she was a premature baby. She almost lost her twice. Now her other two daughters, ages 28 and 21, are afraid to go outside, the mother said.

“She was independent for herself. It just seemed like whatever she accomplished, it just wasn’t enough. She always kept herself in school, always trying to get some type of certificate, degree. Everybody loved her,” Ms. Odom stated.

“For somebody to play God out there right now and take her from me has been devastating,” lamented Ms. Odom. She lost their father to an aneurism when Brandy was five years old.

The Seaview section of Canarsie is a beautiful community with tree lined blocks, synagogues, churches, schools and homes whose residents are mostly middle to upper middle class. Pastor Gil Monrose, director of the Faith Based and Clergy Initiative said that the community was shocked and overwhelmed by the crime. “We must keep the pressure on until there is justice for Brandy and whoever done this is caught and brought to justice,” said Pastor Monrose.

Funeral services for Brandy were scheduled for April 26 at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, 12 noon to 2 p.m. Viewing of the remains was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

According to the mother, Brandy lived in an apartment in Queens, N.Y., and had a 28-year-old roommate. The young woman reached out with condolences once through a FaceTime video call, but the family never heard from her again, Ms. Odom stated. “We asked her how she found out, because we hadn’t released the name yet, so how did she know to call and give condolences?”

According to Ms. Odom, when she said she’d like to retrieve her daughter’s things from the apartment, the roommate was really shaky, then hung up all of a sudden. The young woman didn’t tell them anything, such as the last time she saw Brandy, Ms. Odom stated.

“She was supposed to call back with direct instructions how to get there. She never called back. … All this happened while we were in the precinct. The cops witnessed this take place. They told us don’t try to find her. Don’t go near her,” Ms. Odom said. She said NYPD was supposed to go question the roommate, but she doesn’t know if they did because no one has told her anything.

She refuted reports that her daughter was reported missing, and said Brandy wasn’t the type to run away. “She wasn’t the type of kid that didn’t have love. She had all these things, but I just don’t understand why somebody would wanna do her like this,” Ms. Odom continued.

She has received some backlash for bluntly saying she does not feel the New York Police Dept. was doing enough, but stuck to her position.

“This is what you get paid for. Go out there and do your job. Because as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think y’all doing a good enough job, in my eyes,” Ms. Odom said.

Ms. Odom said she still hasn’t received any leads or pertinent information and investigators have not been in contact with her. She feels she received the run-around from the start, when she tried to identify her daughter’s body after hearing a news reporter say a dismembered body found in Canarsie Park had “Chocolate” tattooed above the breast.

“I’ve been told nothing. Every little bits and pieces that I’m hearing, I’m hearing it off the media. The cops have not came and told me nothing,” Ms. Odom said.

Phil Walzak, deputy commissioner for public information, told The Final Call in an email: “The NYPD is aggressively investigating this case and is fully committed to bringing the perpetrator of this awful crime to justice. This is the same commitment the NYPD brings in service to every New Yorker.”

Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Eastern Region Representative for the Nation of Islam and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, joined Ms. Odom, her family and Mr. Adams at the vigil.‘Everybody should be treated equal. Every case should be treated equal. I don’t think one case should deserve more attention than the other case. These are human beings out here that lost their life.’
—Ms. Nicole Odom

The NYPD also told The Final Call that “upon arrival, responding officers discovered an unconscious and unresponsive female in a wooded area near a pathway. EMS also responded to the scene and pronounced her deceased. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.” No update was available at Final Call press time.

The Final Call received the above statements, some verifications, and no response to some requests after calling and emailing the NYPD numerous times for facts in the case, updates, and requesting a phone interview, which has not been granted. A person in the NYPD’s press office said there was no press release, but that NYPD had been sending out information about the case to major news outlets.

Mr. Walzak’s reply came after this writer asked NYPD for a direct response to Ms. Odom’s concern about a lack of attention and her belief that the NYPD investigation has been sloppy.

“Everybody should be treated equal. Every case should be treated equal. I don’t think one case should deserve more attention than the other case. These are human beings out here that lost their life,” Ms. Odom said.

Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams told The Final Call, a chief, a lieutenant and four detectives are working the case per information shared during an NYPD briefing. He feels NYPD isn’t releasing any information because of the sensitivity of the investigation. It takes a while before everything is flushed out, said the former police officer.

“We’re not going to allow this to go away and become a cold case,” Mr. Adams vowed. The police role is important to solving the case, but the community has a role in reporting what was seen, he added. Mr. Adams held an April 12 prayer vigil with the family and community. Brandy’s remains were found April 9.

Mr. Adams said his Brooklyn community is a long way from when it was having 2,000 homicides a year. In 2017, there were about 178 or 179 homicides, he said. “But each homicide is impactful, and so when you have one where the person’s body is dismembered and torn apart like that, it really escalates and makes the matter even more painful and horrific.

“It is very hurtful and is going to impact this community for a long time. I don’t think anyone will be able to walk past that location without reliving the trauma that happened.”

Brandy’s demise so struck him that Mr. Adams put up personal reward money for anyone with information leading to solving the case. NYPD is offering a $10,000 reward and Mr. Adams contributed another $1,000. “I have sisters, and it’s clear that the person who did this is an animal in behavior and an animal in thinking. So as long as this person remains on the street, none of our family members, particularly the women in our households, are safe, so it’s imperative that we bring this person to justice,” he said.

“To do this and dump her body as though she was an animal or something, really I found, it touched me in a real way. As a former police officer, I have responded to many crimes and some of them were more gruesome than others, but this is at the top of the list.”

The case brought to mind what happened to Chanel Petro-Nixon, he said. She was found in a garbage bag in the Crown Heights section of New York, according to Mr. Adams. The killer, who was found in the Caribbean Islands, went free for years until he killed again. “The mere fact that case was not solved immediately gave him an opportunity to kill again,” said Mr. Adams.

Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Eastern Region Representative for the Nation of Islam and student minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, joined Ms. Odom, her family and Mr. Adams at the vigil.

It was important to join the borough president and bring the weight of his influence, on behalf of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in New York to the tragedy. The heinous killing was not given the kind of attention given when Karina Vetrano, a young White girl, was assaulted and murdered on the jogging trail in Howard Beach in August 2016.

At the vigil, Min. Muhammad spoke with the media and family, and asked for prayers for Brandy’s soul, for continued comfort for her mother, friends, family and all the young girls at the vigil.

“We even gave them a message, personally, away from the cameras, from Minister Farrakhan about the value of the woman, and how they must protect themselves and screen people that come into your lives today,” Min. Muhammad said. “This is not a time like any other time. These are very strange times for women, and women must be protected and elevated.”

The Nation of Islam and Mr. Adams called on NYPD to go after solving the case. “And what we could see now is that they are doing that. They said that they will not rest until the killer or killers are brought to justice, so we appreciate that kind of spirit. But we wanted to bring our presence to make sure that that was going to happen,” Min. Muhammad continued. That same request was made to city and state officials, he added.

With a lack of national media attention about the case, Min. Muhammad, like many, caught wind of the killing on social media.

Nayaba Arinde, an activist and editor of the Amsterdam News, said her suspicions arose due to the heinous and complicated nature of what happened to Brandy, dismembering the body and how it was disposed of. That’s not something that typically happens in the Black community, she said.

Unfortunately, the editor for the historic Black weekly newspaper, is a bit used to the deafening silence around Brandy Odom’s murder.

“This is not something new to our community. What I always say to the folks is that we need the Black Press, the extended media, to get the full story and the correct story because the mainstream media, it might not fit their agenda. They may not be bothered, and the writers in the newsroom may not be Black or conscious or not have the power to go and get some story like this. So I don’t always expect the mainstream media to cover our story because they don’t,” she declared.

Ms. Arinde told The Final Call she expects Blacks to do what they can, and brace for things to get worse. “You have an individual in office who’s set a tone when you see the way people talk to women, Black women in particular, and it looks like they’ve lost their mind,” she stated. She was referring to President Donald Trump who has insulted and verbally attacked Black women.

“There’s always been an attitude toward Black women, because we are such a force, and an assault on a Black female would go unnoticed because they don’t care, but we should care and we must care and we do care,” Ms. Arinde said.

She recalled 21-year-old college student Romona Moore, who was killed two months after she went missing from Brooklyn in April 2003. An anonymous caller tipped her mother to an abandoned house where two men were arrested. They were convicted in March 2006 of kidnapping, rape, torture and 1st degree murder.

“The mother told the cops and the cops said ‘well, she’s just a runaway’ … (the mother) said she’s not,” Ms. Arinde said. “It’s stuff like that. If they’d have been on it immediately, she might still be alive.”

When the mainstream does care, Ms. Arinde asks, “What’s your angle?”

“Let’s not be shocked, because while we’re sitting there being shocked, they’re doing it again. People are looking for that positive, good, redeeming factor, and it’s probably not there. It’s time to go by history,” she said. “Why is that not national news? Why is Brandy not national news? Somebody murdered her. Chopped her up, and had a chance to put her body all over the park! Who does that?”

(Daleel Muhammad reported from New York)