January 24, 2020

A Bank Wouldnt Take His Bias Settlement Money. So Hes Suing
Last week, Sauntore Thomas, a black man from Detroit, had a victory over profiling when he settled a race discrimination case against his former employer.But as he learned this week, it was too soon to celebrate.When he tried Tuesday to deposit the money at his TCF Bank, a new lawsuit says, he met resistance that escalated with a call to the police and what amounted to a claim of racial discrimination against the bank. The lawsuit called it "banking while black."After the assistant branch manager called the police, Thomas, 44, was questioned by two Livonia Police Department officers in the lobby for about an hour, Thomas and his lawyer, Deborah Gordon, said in interviews Thursday. He was also accused of fraud, even after Gordon texted screenshots of documents showing that he had just won the funds from the settlement, Gordon said."I have had this with black clients before," Gordon said. "There can be a lot of questions when they suddenly have money."Lt. Charles Lister, the investigative bureau commander at the police department, said that Thomas was not handcuffed or patted down, that the two officers were in the bank with him for 50 minutes and that two others briefly waited outside."He was never told he could not leave by our officers," Lister said.Thomas, whose story first appeared in The Detroit Free Press, had collected the checks from the Jan. 13 federal settlement with his former employer, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Circuit Court for the county of Wayne.On Jan. 21, Thomas went to the TCF branch in Livonia, Michigan, where he has had a checking account since 2018, it says. He asked to open a savings account, obtain a new debit card, deposit the money and get cash back, the lawsuit says.But he did not get far. The lawsuit says he was told by the assistant branch manager that the system was malfunctioning, that the checks had to be "verified" and "called in," and that he needed to answer a question: "How did you get this money?" The lawsuit says that the assistant branch manager went into a back room and called the Livonia Police Department.In an interview Thursday, Thomas said that two police officers arrived, while two were posted outside the bank. Thomas said one of the officers inside the bank told him, "'Can you come over here and speak with us?' And I said, 'Who, me?'"He said he was told to take his hands out of his pockets, which he did, and go to a back room, which he refused to do."He thought I was a threat," Thomas said. "I was just trying to do some banking."TCF did not immediately reply to an email or phone calls seeking comment.The Free Press quoted a bank spokesman, Tom Wennerberg, as saying that race was not a factor and that the checks showed a watermark that read "void" when scanned by the bank. Wennerberg said the three checks were for $59,000, $27,000 and $13,000. Gordon said she was unable to disclose the amount of the checks.After Thomas was questioned by the officers and they spoke to Gordon, he left without depositing the checks, the suit continues. Thomas' "race was a factor" in the bank's decision to "treat him less favorably than other individuals," it says.The lawsuit, which alleges race discrimination and names TCF Financial Corp. as the defendant, is seeking a jury trial.Wennerberg said in an interview Thursday that Thomas had little previous activity on his account and the assistant branch manager, who is black, believed the checks could be fraudulent because they "visually" did not match previous checks."We take extra precautions involving large deposits and requests for cash, and in this case, we were unable to validate the checks presented by Mr. Thomas and regret we could not meet his needs," Wennerberg said."We really want to apologize for the experience," he said. "Local police should not have been involved."Before he left the bank that day, Thomas closed his TCF account; he then went to another bank, where he opened a new account and deposited the checks, he said. They cleared the next morning and Thomas was able to buy a used car that he had his eye on for $6,000, he said.But TCF bank had filed a police report against Thomas, alleging check fraud, according to the lawsuit. On Jan. 22, a Livonia detective asked Gordon in an email for a contact at Thomas' former employer, Enterprise, the rental car company, so that the officer could ask about the settlement checks and "confirm that they are not fraudulent," the email said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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