Five stories that have North Texas talking: Muslims leaders in Texas singled out by lawmaker; charges dropped against family in Fort Worth arrest; Bush 41 could head home this weekend; and more.
Texas Muslim leaders gathered at the state Capitol Thursday to denounce the recent actions taken by a freshman Republican lawmaker who sent out a poll asking about their beliefs ahead of a so-called "Homeland Security Summit." Mosque leaders and representatives of the state’s Muslim community said they felt discriminated against and singled out by state Rep. Kyle Biedermann.
The poll sent in a letter to mosques and Muslim student organization across Texas asked respondents “to indicate whether they support efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization" and "whether they supported the ‘Declaration of Muslim Reform Movement’ and a pledge regarding the safety of former Muslims,” The Texas Tribune reports.
Texas Muslim Capitol Day, put on by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is scheduled for Tuesday. CAIR says Biedermann’s letter and summit intended to derail the event. Sarwat Hussain, president of the San Antonio chapter of CAIR, said: “His intolerance of Texas Muslims is putting this segment of our state into a more vulnerable position. His treatment of Muslims is giving fuel to the fire of Islamophobia that is running rampant in our state.” Read the full story from The Texas Tribune. [The Texas Tribune]
- Fort Worth police dropped all charges against a black woman and her teenage daughter involved in a controversial arrest. Jacqueline Craig and her daughter were shown in a viral video being wrestled to the ground by a white officer, William Martin, last month. The decision to drop charges Thursday was announced after a police bodycam video of the incident surfaced. On Dec. 21, Martin responded to a conflict between Craig and her neighbor. Craig said the neighbor had accused her 7-year-old son of littering on his property and then choked the boy. Police said they've cited the neighbor, Itamar Vardi, for assault. Martin served a 10-day suspension. Read more details. [KERA News]
- In Texas, more than 240 people sit on death row awaiting execution. Long the leading executioner in the U.S., the Lone Star State put to death fewer people last year than it has in two decades. Death row is reserved for criminals who commit the most serious crimes, but Anthony Graves says not everyone who is sentenced to death is guilty. He should know. He spent almost two decades incarcerated after he was wrongfully convicted of murder. Most of those years were on death row, awaiting execution. All this week the Texas public radio stations have explored stories surrounding the death penalty in a five-part series, “State of Execution.” [KERA News]
- Dana Schultes was only a college sophomore when she got her first professional acting job at Fort Worth’s Stage West in 1997. Now, she runs the place — while still acting, directing, sound-designing and overseeing a new, half-million dollar renovation that'll create two performance spaces. Not to mention, she’s a single mother. “I am lucky to have a job that allows me to be a single mom, to work the hours that I need to, to take off when I need to,” she says. “But I pay a large price by never disconnecting from it.” Get to know more about Schultes in the latest Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]
- Two weeks later, the 41st president is expected to head home from the hospital this weekend. Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush issued an update Wednesday saying the former president continues to improve from a bout with pneumonia. Bush, 92, has been hospitalized in Houston with a stint in intensive care since Jan. 14. Former first lady Barbara Bush, 91, was also admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital just days after her husband to undergo treatment for bronchitis. She recovered and was told she could go home Sunday, but she stayed an extra night to be with her husband. [KERA News]