Priest urges haters to repent; reveals his Ku Klux Klan past

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press


McLEAN, Va. — A Roman Catholic priest in Virginia is taking a leave of absence after disclosing he once burned crosses as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Father William Aitcheson, a priest in the diocese of Arlington, described how he belonged to the Klan as a young man in a column published Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocese’s newspaper


“My actions were despicable. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else,” he wrote.

Aitcheson, 62, said that 40 years have passed since he was in the Klan, but the images from this month’s violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville reminded him that “we cannot forget, we should not forget.”

“While I firmly believe God forgave me — as he forgives anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness — forgetting what I did would be a mistake,” Aitcheson wrote.

The diocese noted that Aitcheson “voluntarily asked to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community.”

In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Klan troubling, but said he hopes his story of transformation will help others.

“I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to a conversion of heart,” Burbidge wrote.

Aitcheson was ordained as a priest in 1988 by the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas, and has been assigned to the Arlington Diocese since 1993, most recently serving at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax.

In his article, Aitcheson wrote that his membership in the Klan is public information, but rarely comes up.

Indeed, Aitcheson was convicted on criminal charges in 1977 after the cross-burnings, one of which drew a response from President Ronald Reagan years later.

Reagan paid a visit in 1982 to the home of Phillip and Barbara Butler — Aitcheson had burned a cross on their lawn after the Butlers moved to a mostly white neighborhood in College Park, Maryland. Reagan’s visit came a week after a judge ordered Aitcheson to pay the Butlers $23,000 in damages.

Diocese spokesman Billy Atwell said the diocese knew about Aitcheson’s past with the Klan when he arrived in 1993, but “just learned this weekend about the civil suit from 40 years ago and will be working with Fr. Aitcheson to ensure he meets all of his legal and moral obligations to make restitution.”

Aitcheson was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 1977 after a series of criminal charges involving allegations that he was involved in multiple cross-burnings, including the Butlers’ home, and had threatened to kill Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr.


Dick Gregory, civil rights activist and comedian, dead @ 84


Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who broke barriers in the 1960s and became one of the first African-Americans to perform comedy at white clubs, died Saturday.

He was 84.
Dick Gregory recently rescheduled an event in Atlanta because he was hospitalized. He died in Washington, his son posted on social media without giving details.
“The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love, and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time,” Christian Gregory said. “More details will be released over the next few days.”
Gregory satirized segregation and racial injustice in his acts, and was arrested several times in the 1960s for joining civil rights rallies.
Fellow civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson paid tribute to Gregory.
“He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live,” he tweeted. “Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”
Gregory was also a health and spiritual advocate, a motivational speaker and an author.
In a message to fans posted on his Instagram account after he rescheduled the event in Atlanta, Gregory talked about the political climate in the US.
“I’ve so much to say and can’t wait to get out of here and say it,” he wrote Wednesday.
Fellow comedians paid tribute to Gregory after news of his passing.
“Heaven just got funnier,” DL Hughley tweeted.
Developing story – more to come

Future Cancels Charlottesville & Virginia Beach Shows “Out Of Respect”

By Danielle Harling


It’s been nearly one week since a counter-protester was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia after a group of white nationalists converged on the city in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue.

Given the tragic events that unfolded in the city last weekend, Atlanta rap titan Future has chosen to cancel his August 19 show in Charlottesville and August 20 show in Virginia Beach. On Thursday (August 17), he revealed his decision to cancel both shows was “out of respect” via Twitter.

“Out of respect for the tragic events I felt it wasn’t rite to perform at this time..please understand my heart mean well VA #FutureHendrix,” Future wrote.

A statement from the chair of the University Programs Council (UPC), the University of Virginia organization that would have held the Future concert in Charlottesville, said the Freebandz leader was also concerned about safety.

“Future expressed concerns with safety, particularly following the events of this past weekend,” UPC Chair Nolan Reilly told The Cavalier Daily. “Our contingency plan has been developing hour by hour, but we are currently leveraging a social media marketing campaign to get the attention of Chance the Rapper.”

Although new dates have yet to be scheduled for Future’s Virginia stops, he let fans know he’ll be back “very soon.”

“VA is important to me & always will be. I’m comin very soon,my word! Love Forever,” he tweeted.


Why is Confederate general Albert Pike (KKK) memorialized at Judiciary Square?

(A statue erected in 1901 honoring Albert Pike stands near Judiciary Square in downtown Washington. Pike, a Confederate general, was active in the Masonic movement.)

By John Kelly

His name is Albert Pike and, oh, does he have a backstory.

The words engraved on the memorial describe the multitalented Pike (1809-1891) thusly: AUTHOR, POET, SCHOLAR, SOLDIER, JURIST, ORATOR, PHILANTHROPIST and PHILOSOPHER. Hmm, did we leave anything out? Why, yes: Racist. Someone has added a reference to that. Spray-painted in two places on the granite base of Pike’s monument are the words “Black Lives Matter.”

It’s a sentiment that would have confused Pike, who — among his other achievements — rewrote the lyrics to “Dixie” so they were more likely to inspire Confederate soldiers.

“Southrons, hear your country call you!” Pike’s version begins. “Up, lest worse than death befall you!”

Ironically, Pike was not a Southron at all, but a Northron, born and raised in Massachusetts. He worked for a while as a schoolteacher, then lit out for the territories in 1831. He made his way to Mexico and involved himself in various adventures out West before settling in Arkansas, where he hung out his shingle as a self-taught lawyer. His clients included American Indian tribes.

Pike also wrote for Southern newspapers, eventually purchasing the Arkansas Advocate with funds that his wealthier wife brought to their marriage.

Politically, Pike was a strict nativist. He joined the Know-Nothing Party — those anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant agitators — but left when he found the party’s support of slavery insufficiently intense.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the transplanted Yankee supported the Confederacy and was made a brigadier general in its army. Pike seems not to have been a good soldier. He oversaw a regiment of Native Americans but was unable to control them at the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862. Some of the men under his command committed atrocities, scalping fallen Union soldiers. After further run-ins with his superiors in Richmond, Pike was reprimanded and resigned his position.

After the war — and a pardon from President Andrew Johnson — Pike returned to work as a lawyer and writer. He moved to Washington in 1868 and threw himself wholeheartedly into the minutiae of Freemasonry, an organization he had been involved with since 1850.

It is Pike’s Masonic activities — he wrote frequently on the topic and served as Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction — that prompted the construction of the memorial in 1901. The monument, with statues by sculptor Gaetano Trentanove, was paid for by the Masons.

It was said of Pike, “He found Freemasonry in a log cabin and left it in a Temple.” His body is interred in the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, at 16th and S streets NW, where there is a museum in his honor and the contents of his library are kept.

You can also see his death mask and compare it to the statue. A contemporary described Pike as “a man of gigantic frame and his long waving white hair and silky beard gave him a decidedly patriarchal appearance.”

Pike’s critics contend that he was instrumental in forming the Ku Klux Klan. Masons insist evidence does not support that. Of Pike’s activities in the late 1860s, “The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture” hedges: “He may have become involved in the organization of the Ku Klux Klan at this time, although this is not certain.”

Even if Pike wasn’t involved with the Klan, he did believe that the races should not mix. He was against integrating Masonic lodges.

It’s hard to judge the claims made about Pike’s prowess in the field of letters. His doorstop of a magnum opus, “Morals and Dogma,” is pretty much unreadable by modern audiences. His poetry has not aged well. He is revered in the Masonic movement, but unless you’re a Mason it’s hard to understand exactly why.

Pike is the only Confederate Civil War general honored with a statue in the capital of the side that won. The D.C. Council once contemplated seeking its removal. In 1992, the monument was the site of weekly protests organized by followers of fringe political figure Lyndon LaRouche. At least once, they managed to climb the statue and dress Pike in white sheets.

Eazy-E’s Widow & Son In Legal Battle Over Ruthless Records

By Kyle Eustice & Others


When Eazy-E passed away from the AIDS virus in 1995, he left behind a Hip Hop empire — Ruthless Records. On Tuesday (August 15), the N.W.A rap god’s widow and current owner of the imprint, Tomica Woods-Wright, reportedly filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against her stepson Eric “Lil Eazy-E” Wright.

Woods-Wright claims Wright and his business partner, Arnold White, are unlawfully using the Ruthless Records name for profit on their website,

The suit alleges White and Wright tried to trademark “Ruthless Records Inc.” in 2016, but the application was rejected due to its blatant similarity to Ruthless Records. It also says the duo is incorporated as NWA-LLC, which infringes on the N.W.A trademark.

Ruthless Records was founded by record executive, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Arabian Prince, Dj. Yella & MC.Ren before Jerry Heller came in the picture, in 1986. The label gave birth to albums like N.W.A’s  Straight Outta Compton, JJ Fad’s Supersonic and The D.O.C.’s Nobody Can Do It Better.

The Ruthless Records story was partially depicted in the blockbuster film Straight Outta Compton in 2015.


MC Lyte Marries Marine Corps Veteran In Jamaica

by Trey Alston


Montego Bay, Jamaica – MC Lyte, one of Hip Hop’s prominent female pioneers, tied the knot this weekend with John Wyche, a Marine Corps Veteran and entrepreneur. The event took place in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The wedding, which Essence says was “intimate and soulful,” took place at the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort. Friends and family gathered to celebrate Lyte’s marriage to Wyche, who she began dating online.

Kelly Price sang at the wedding and DJ Jermaine kept the guests dancing long after the ceremony ended. There were a number of notable guests, including Lil Mama, YoYo and Coko of SWV.

“It was so beautiful and a fairtytale,” Lyte told Essence. “I got my king.”

The two met at the beginning of 2016 when she told the audience at her Wealth Experience, an annual event that empowers women in Miami, that she’s open to receiving a “yummy hubby.” After the attendants prayed for her, she went on to send Wyche a message on a couple of months later and the two soon began dating. The next year, she returned to the Wealth Experience with a book about her journey – Your Man and Your Money: How To Get’Em and How To Keep ‘Em.

“A few months into getting to know Lana I knew I wanted this woman as my wife,” Wyche told Essence.

Father and son first responders die less than a year apart from cancer linked to 9/11 recovery

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Robert Alexander and his father, Raymond, both had the day off — until two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

Raymond Alexander, a New York City firefighter, immediately reported to his firehouse in the Bronx as his son, a New York Police Department officer, headed to his precinct in East Harlem. Then, along with thousands of first responders, the father and son rushed to Lower Manhattan, where ash and debris rained onto the streets.

For days, they scoured the toxic rubble at Ground Zero. Robert desperately searched for his best friend, one of the 343 firefighters killed on the deadliest day in history for the department. For many weeks, Robert and Raymond Alexander combed through human remains at Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island.

The pair survived the terror of 9/11, and the days that followed strengthened their already close bond. Months after the attacks, Robert Alexander followed his father’s and his grandfather’s lead and left the police force to join the New York Fire Department, later becoming a marine engineer.

But their service in the city’s Ground Zero recovery would take a deadly toll.

In November 2016, Raymond Alexander died at the age of 76 after battling seven different types of cancer over 13 years, a disease his family says was linked to his rescue and recovery work after the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, less than a year later, his son Robert, 43, died of brain cancer, also related to toxin exposure at Ground Zero, his family said. They had no family history of cancer, relatives said, and both men lived healthy lifestyles.

Robert Alexander’s death marked the first time since Sept. 11, 2001 in which the 9/11 attacks “have claimed the lives of two generations in a single family,” Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, wrote in a statement.

Nearly 16 years after the terrorist attacks, 142 firefighters and fire officers have died due to 9/11-related illnesses, according to the association. Scores of firefighters, police officers, recovery workers and survivors continue to suffer from ailments linked to inhaling toxins amid the rubble.

For the Alexander family, the deaths marked an end to many years of anguish endured by both men. They were described by relatives as physically capable and “selfless” firefighters accustomed to prioritizing others’ well being above their own.

Robert Alexander’s brother, named Raymond like his father, said it was “horrible” to see his brother deteriorate and lose his ability to walk straight, speak clearly and do the things he loved — like cooking.

“I don’t view him as a person who has succumbed easily,” Raymond Alexander said. “In my world he’s one of the few people who could’ve, should’ve, would’ve beat it. But it’s brain cancer.”

The father’s cancer diagnosis came less than two years after the World Trade Center attacks, Raymond Alexander said. During that time, Robert meticulously took care of his father almost every other day. “He went all in,” Raymond Alexander said.

Robert, who was an emergency medical technician before becoming a police officer, “knew more about taking care of people in emergency situations than anyone else,” his brother said. He shared his father’s medical care with his mother, Alice.

But in November 2014, exactly two years to the day before his father’s death, Robert was also diagnosed with cancer. What started as headaches turned out to be an inoperable brain tumor the size of a peanut. He retired from the fire department in October 2016, marking 80 continuous years of Alexanders in the department.

The two men were similar — quiet, humble men of few words. They hardly ever talked about the “baggage they carried,” Raymond Alexander said. “It’s like talking to a soldier about battlefield stuff.”

But their shared profession and illnesses gave them a “deeper connection than I could understand,” Raymond Alexander said.

“They’re the type of people that are just going to see something wrong and walk into it,” said Lori LaPonte, a cousin of Robert. “Because they’re protecting everyone behind them.”

Since he wasn’t married, his family said, Robert frequently worked overtime and on holidays to give his fellow firefighters more time with their families. He would work 60 to 70 hours a week. And when he wasn’t working, he would “come and go with the wind,” traveling between his home in the Bronx and his family’s home in western Massachusetts.

He became a “surrogate son,” for the parents of his best friend who died in the World Trade Center attacks, firefighter Sean Tallon. He also served as a mentor for his cousin’s sons, LaPonte said. One of them hopes to soon become a firefighter, to “carry on the legacy.”

In his final years, while battling cancer, Robert Alexander played an active role in campaigning for the renewal of federal legislation covering medical costs for those sickened by toxins on 9/11.

The legislation, known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, was named for a New York City detective whose death from respiratory issues was found to be connected to the World Trade Center attacks.

Doctors have linked nearly 70 kinds of cancer to Ground Zero, according to the World Trade Center Health Program. When the twin towers fell, so did a cloud of potential carcinogens, including asbestos, burning jet fuel and even mercury, experts say. Many survivors of the attacks have suffered from respiratory problems that became known as “the World Trade Center cough.”

Robert Alexander took numerous trips to Washington along with a coalition that included comedian Jon Stewart, to lobby Congress to renew benefits. In 2015, Congress extended the legislation for another 75 years.

In his public appearances, Robert Alexander would discuss his own illness to highlight the plight of scores of other survivors of the attacks. During a 2015 speech at a fire department gathering, he talked about how he was approaching the one year mark of his cancer diagnosis.

“I haven’t had a beer since that day, so that’s probably worse than having cancer itself,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“A lot of firemen are suffering, a lot of cops are suffering,” he said, “all the time they’re receiving treatment for one cancer or the other … they’re living all over the country.”

Speaking to the New York Daily News around that time, he said, “every day there’s a doctor’s appointment.”

“But I’m doing all right with it,” he added. “There are a lot of other guys that are suffering worse than I am.”

Despite the suffering the recovery efforts caused him, he said: “I would do it again.”

“If you didn’t want to do the job, you wouldn’t become a cop or a firefighter in New York City,” he added. “I’m proud of being a firefighter now more than ever.

Uncle Tom! Andrew Young opposes fight over Confederate statues

By Leon Stafford & Others

Civil rights icon and former Atlanta mayor, Boule member Andrew Young said Wednesday he doesn’t back the fight to tear down Confederate memorials around the country and that he fears it could have unintended consequences.

“I think it’s too costly to refight the Civil War,” Young said Wednesday at a press conference in which he and fellow civil rights icon C.T. Vivian endorsed Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell to succeed Kasim Reed as the city’s next mayor. “We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together.”

“I’ve always been interested more in substance over symbols,” Young said Aug. 16, 2017, when asked for his opinion on removing Confederate memorials around the nation.

Young’s comments came just days after a woman was struck and killed and at least 19 others were wounded in Charlottesville, Va., when a car plowed into a group of demonstrators who were protesting neo-Nazis, KKK members and white nationalists who had descended on the city because of plans to dismantle Confederate statues.

President Donald Trump sent what many consider mixed messages to the nation in reaction to the violence, saying on Tuesday that “alt-left” demonstrators shared some blame for the confrontations after a day earlier saying racism had no place in the nation.

Former Mayor Andy Young talks about the fatal crash at Charlottesville protest last weekend.

Young said the fight in the early 2000s to replace the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia flag hurt the state and Atlanta because the Democrats lost the governor’s mansion. If Georgia had not been embroiled in the battle, it might have salvaged the deal to bring a Mercedes-Benz plant to southern Georgia and an accompanying 3,000 jobs and that Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act might have expanded in the state.

“I’ve always been interested more in substance over symbols,” Young said, calling the fight over the flag a mistake.

“If the truth be known, we’ve had as much agony but also glory under the United States flag,” he said. “That flew over segregated America, it flew over slavery.”

Young also said he thinks James Alex Fields, the driver alleged to have been behind the wheel in the fatal death of Heather Heyer in the Charlottesville melee, is probably suffering from some type of mental illness and needs professional care.

“That’s not normal behavior,” he said of Fields. “That’s not militant behavior. That’s not patriotic behavior. That’s sick behavior.”

Drake and Future sued for millions by woman who claims she was raped at their concert by venue employee

By The Associated Press

Nashville, TN – A 28-year-old woman is reportedly suing Drake and Future for $25 million after she was allegedly raped after their Nashville, Tennessee concert at the Bridgestone Arena last August.

According to The Tennesseean, the unidentified woman was viciously attacked by 38-year-old Leavy Johnson after he told her he could get her backstage to meet both artists. Johnson claimed he was an employee at the venue. As soon as they were alone, he reportedly pushed her down in a corner and raped her.

Johnson was indicted for rape in January and after evading police for months, he was finally found in Tampa, Florida. He was arrested, extradited back to Nashville and charged with rape in May.

The alleged victim believes Drake, Future and arena employees should’ve known Johnson had outstanding warrants for assault at the time of the alleged attack, and potentially posed a threat to the public.

Drake and Future have not addressed the allegations.

Virginia governor declares state of emergency as white nationalist rally in Charlottesville breaks out in violence

 By Abby Jackson

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency as demonstrations in Charlottesville erupted into violence Saturday morning.

The demonstrations precede a “Unite the Right” rally called by white nationalists in response to a plan to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Thousands of white nationalist protesters, as well as groups that oppose them, have clashed during demonstrations that are currently ongoing.

Two people have been treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries, according to Charlottesville officials.

Images and videos of the protest have appeared on Twitter and depict police confronting protesters and deploying tear gas.

Former KKK learder David Duke was in Charlottesville, and called the rally a “turning point,” saying that protesters would fulfill the promisses of President Donald Trump.

Last night, hundreds of white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters on the University of Virginia’s Charlottesville campus.

At one point, marchers gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson and a brawl between the two groups broke out.

Protesters have already drawn rebuke from leaders in the community. In a Facebook post, Mike Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, called the demonstrations by white nationalists a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance .”

The president of UVA, Teresa A. Sullivan, also condemned the “unprovoked assault on members of our community.” 

The demonstration in Charlottesville comes just a month after 23 people were arrested and police deployed tear gas after a Ku Klux Klan rally in the city.