Tag Archives: shootings

Miami officers fired for ‘jokes’ about target practice in primarily black neighborhoods

Three police officers were fired for making comments on a group chat about using Miami’s primarily black neighborhoods for target practice.

Officers Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin were fired on Dec. 23, after an internal affairs investigation concluded that they violated department policies, said the Miami Herald, citing documents it obtained.

The remarks angered local civil rights activists keeping tabs on a department that is currently scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Justice for a pattern of excessive force.

“It’s indicative of the casual conversations and comments that young and even more seasoned police officers are used to making without a lot of repercussions,” said Julia Dawson, an activist who has been part of law enforcement oversight panels in Miami.

The Miami police department confirmed that officers Bergnes, Valdes and Alcin were fired, but did not explain the reasons behind the dismissals.

In a statement, Chief Rodolfo Llanes said an internal affairs investigation found the officers’ actions “inconsistent with the mission and values of our department.”

Attorney Stephan Lopez, who represents the three officers, told The Associated Press that his clients were joking and that the comments were taken out of context. He said Alcin is African-American and Valdes has a black grandfather.

“They wanted to make an example out of this. But they made an example of the wrong people,” Lopez said. “These guys didn’t shoot anybody. They were clearly joking around. They are kids. You don’t terminate them the day before Christmas Eve.”

The incident happened June 30, when the three officers responded to other rookie colleagues’ questions about shooting ranges in a WhatsApp chat they often used to communicate, the paper said. According to documents obtained by the Herald, the officers-in-training shared department information on that thread.

It said the documents show Bergnes sarcastically suggested the friend looking for a shooting range try a Bank of America, adding “they’ll even give you some cash.” He then suggested Model City — the police district that includes Liberty City and handles the bulk of the city’s shootings — as another location.

Valdes suggested a particular intersection in the Overtown community, according to the paper. It added that Alcin followed up, saying Valdes “wouldn’t understand” until he’s worked there.

The next day, an officer warned them that their words were offensive even though she didn’t think they were racist. “Your words can come back to bite you,” she allegedly wrote.

A sergeant learned of the conversation and ordered one officer to apologize. He also wrote a memo to a lieutenant about the matter, according to the Herald. Internal affairs began an investigation and concluded on Dec. 19 that they broke social media, courtesy and responsibility rules, the paper said.

Lopez, the attorney, said it’s too early to say whether he will file a lawsuit for wrongful termination or negotiate to get their jobs back. The officers were still on probation after being sworn in earlier this year.

Javier Ortiz, president of the police union, said he didn’t agree with the “joking texts” but that it wasn’t enough for dismissal. He said the city manager would “rather focus on text messages than the senseless killings and violent crime.”

The incident came months after the city of Miami agreed to go under supervision of the U.S. Justice Department to reform its policing after a series of police shootings from 2008 to 2011. The agreement followed a report that questioned 33 police shootings, including seven black men and teenagers who were killed in a short time.

 

Politics, shootings undercut criminal justice overhaul in Congress

Hopes for overhauling the nation’s criminal justice system have faded in Congress this year, undercut by a rash of summer shootings involving police and the pressure of election-year politics.

Republicans, including Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, had joined forces with Democrats in hopes of revising the 1980s and ’90s-era federal “tough on crime” laws by reducing some mandatory sentences for low-level drug offenders and giving judges greater discretion in sentencing. The goal is to reduce overcrowding in the nation’s prisons and save taxpayer dollars.

In 1980, the federal prison population was less than 25,000. Today, it is more than 200,000.

The bipartisan group encountered fierce opposition from some Republicans who argue reform could increase crime and pose a greater danger to law enforcement.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump hasn’t commented on the pending legislation but has dubbed himself the “law-and-order candidate” for what he calls a country in crisis, with terrorism in cities and attacks on police.

With Republicans deeply divided, one man could break the legislative deadlock: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has not indicated whether he supports the effort.

If inaction is telling, McConnell so far has declined to put the legislation to vote, suggesting he doesn’t want a messy intraparty fight before the November election.

Unlike McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., strongly supports an overhaul and may bring up a series of bipartisan House bills in September to reduce mandatory sentences and boost rehabilitation programs.

An unusual coalition — President Barack Obama, the American Civil Liberties Union and the conservative Koch Industries — says the system is broken and supports changes. Obama has made it a priority in his last year.

But Ryan and Obama have a tough job in winning over McConnell, who must deal with opponents such as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and a handful of other Senate Republicans.

Supporters are also battling the calendar.

Congress is only in session a few weeks before Obama leaves office.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports the effort, but if she wins it’s unclear whether there would be momentum for the overhaul in her busy first year in office.

Cotton calls the Senate bill “a dangerous experiment in criminal leniency” that would let violent criminals out of prison.

Supporters say the legislation would do the opposite, making communities safer by focusing on rehabilitation and preserving police resources. Mark Holden of Koch Industries, which has backed the Senate and House bills, points to states that have successfully put similar reforms in place.

Proponents argue that there’s no direct connection between the overhaul and this summer’s shootings of black men in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge — or the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge — since the measures would primarily deal with incarceration of low-level drug offenders and rehabilitation programs. Opponents counter that reducing mandatory minimum sentences could further endanger law enforcement.

“If you talk to actual officers on the street, almost all of them will tell you their job has gotten more dangerous,” said the Hudson Institute’s John Walters, who was drug czar under President George W. Bush. “The current debate about this isn’t going to give them a voice.”

The House Judiciary Committee is looking at separate action on policing and has created a bipartisan working group on police accountability and aggression toward law enforcement. After meetings in Detroit on Tuesday, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., predicted criminal justice reform will eventually pass.

On policing, Goodlatte said mistrust between law enforcement and the communities will not be solved overnight. “However, this should not deter us from devoting urgent attention to this matter of national importance,” he said.

Republicans who back criminal justice overhaul point to the support of several law enforcement groups and say they are working the party’s grassroots, bringing the message that changes could save billions of federal dollars and help criminals from returning to prison.

“There’s no question that it’s very hard to draw the lines on the conservative movement and where people are on this,” says Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general who is working with a group called Right on Crime.

At the heart of the Republican debate on the issue is a philosophical difference between advocates who say rehabilitation and shorter sentences could lower recidivism and opponents who say it will let criminals out and not do enough to stem crime. Advocates point to a dip in overall crime in the U.S., while opponents point to rising crime in some major cities.

The Senate bill was introduced last October, and Cornyn and other supporters revised it this spring to try and win over reluctant GOP colleagues. But Cornyn acknowledged in July that the House would have to move first on its legislation, which is similar but not identical to the Senate bill.

Some advocates are hoping the legislation could be passed as part of the typical last-minute horse-trading in the “lame duck” session in between the election and the end of the year.

To get momentum, “we need a House vote in September, and we need a big House vote in September,” says Holly Harris of the Justice Action Network.

Nurse in photo describes her arrest at Baton Rouge protest

The black woman in the photograph stands in calm protest, her long dress fluttering in the breeze as two policemen clad in the heavy black padding and helmets of riot gear rush to remove her from a roadway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Officers took about 180 people into custody over the weekend in the state capital, mostly on misdemeanor charges accusing them of blocking traffic on a major thoroughfare during protests over recent police shootings of black men.

But the standoff with one woman, identified by friends as Ieshia Evans and captured in a widely used image by Reuters freelance photographer Jonathan Bachman, has encapsulated for some the spirit of demonstrators across the United States protesting in the past week what they decry as unjust treatment of minorities by police.

“You’ll be seeing this iconic photo from #BatonRouge and versions of it, for the rest of your life,” a man named David Law said on Twitter on Monday.

The Atlantic magazine called the image, which prompted comments on social media from around the world, “a single photo from Baton Rouge that’s hard to forget.” The Washington Post said it “captured a critical moment for the country,” while Britain’s Daily Mail website called it “an iconic arrest photo.”

Evans is a licensed practical nurse who lives in Pennsylvania, according to online records and a Facebook page that appears to belong to her.

“This is the work of God,” she wrote on Facebook after her arrest. “I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I’m glad I’m alive and safe.”

Baton Rouge has become a flashpoint for protesters after Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed last week by city police who were responding to a call that he allegedly threatened someone with a gun outside a convenience store where he was selling CDs.

Sterling’s death, followed by the fatal shooting of another black man, Philando Castile, 32, near St. Paul, Minnesota, revived a wave of protests over police treatment of minorities that has swirled for two years and given rise to a movement called Black Lives Matter.

‘MAKING HER STAND’

Evans, the mother of a 5-year-old boy, traveled to Baton Rouge “because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights,” according to R. Alex Haynes, who said on Facebook he had known Evans since childhood.

A jail log from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office showed an Ieshia Evans, 35, was booked on a charge of simple obstruction of a highway and had been released from custody.

Reuters could not reach Evans for comment on Monday.

Bachman said police had cleared a group of protesters, including members of the New Black Panther Party carrying bullhorns and shotguns, from the road before Evans walked onto the highway and stood before a wall of officers. Her face bore no expression and she did not speak, he said.

“To me, it seemed like she was making her stand and she was like, ‘You’re going to have to come and get me,'” the photographer said in an interview.

Bachman said the officers grabbed Evans and hurried her away, with the whole incident lasting only about 30 seconds.

After her arrest, Evans ended another Facebook post with, “Peace, love, blk power! ‪#‎blacklivesmatter.” She asked friends not to give interviews on her behalf, saying she wanted to tell her own story, but said later she was not ready to speak to reporters.

“I want to get home to my son,” she wrote. “I’ve been through a lot.”

 

Transcript: Biden commemorates lives of Dallas officers killed

In this week’s address from the White House, Vice President Joe Biden commemorates the lives of the five police officers who were killed and the seven people who were wounded in Dallas.

The police officers were providing safety to those who were peacefully marching against racial injustices in the criminal justice system — and the shocking images of the lives lost in St. Paul and Baton Rouge.

Echoing the remarks of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief David Brown, the vice president called on the American people to act with unity and to stop the violence. He emphasized that it is the responsibility of everyone to speak out against disparities within the criminal justice system, just as much as it is the responsibility of everyone to stand up for the police who protect us every day.

The audio of the address and video of the address is online at www.whitehouse.gov.

The following is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery in the weekly address on July 9:

Although I didn’t know the five police officers who were killed, or the seven who were wounded in Dallas this week – I knew them.

They were the folks I grew up with: The boy with the most courage and the most compassion; the man with a brave heart and a generous soul, whose words were always encouraging; the son who made his mother proud every time he turned and smiled at her; and the friend who you could always count on. Being a cop wasn’t just what they did. It was who they were-like every officer who joined for essentially the same reason. There was something about them that made them think they could help, that they should serve, that they had a duty.

So when an assassin’s bullet targeted the police force in Dallas, it touched the soul of the nation. Those killed and wounded were protecting the safety of those who were peacefully protesting against racial injustices in the criminal justice system. Those who were marching against the kind of shocking images we saw in St. Paul and Baton Rouge-and have seen too often elsewhere-of too many black lives lost.

I believe the Dallas Police Department is one of the finest in the nation-and this incredibly diverse city can bridge any divide. To paraphrase Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, let us use our words carefully. Let us act with unity, not division. As Dallas Police Chief David Brown-one of the leading chiefs in America-said, “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city, all I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

As Americans, we are wounded by all of these deaths. It’s on all of us to stand up, to speak out about disparities in our criminal justice system-just as it’s on all of us to stand up for the police who protect us in our communities every day. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue offering our thoughts and prayers to provide comfort to the broken-hearted families. But they will only be redeemed by the courage of our actions that honor their memories.

So while we’re being tested, we can’t be pulled apart. We are America, with bonds that hold us together. We endure, we persevere, we overcome, we stand together.

Senate Republicans defeat gun violence prevention measures

The U.S. Senate has voted down gun violence prevention amendments just a week after 49 people were massacred and 53 others were injured in an attack on a gay club in Orlando, Florida.

The votes went largely along party lines, with Republicans siding with the National Rifle Association.

The amendments to the FY 17 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 2578) were introduced by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Feinstein’s proposal would have ensured the U.S. Justice Department, which backed the measure, had the authority to deny gun sales to individuals it had a reasonable suspicion were involved in terrorism.

Murphy’s proposal would have tightened the unlicensed seller loophole by requiring criminal background checks on all sales while maintaining reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and emergency self-defense.

“We are deeply disappointed in each and every senator who failed to stand up today for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation,” said David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

He continued, “For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence, and easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat. The volatile combination of animosity towards the LGBTQ community and easy access to deadly weapons exacerbates the climate of fear and the dangers faced by LGBTQ people. Reasonable gun violence prevention measures are part of the solution to bias-motivated violence, and it’s critical that Congress pass commonsense legislation.”

HRC had urged senators to vote for the Democrats’ measures in a letter sent following the mass shooting in Orlando committed by a violent man who had easy access to guns.

HRC, in its statement, said the degree of bloodshed at the Pulse nightclub and many other recent mass shootings “may have been avoided if the perpetrators had faced reasonable restrictions on their ability to own a gun. In most states across the country, troubled individuals intent on carrying out violence can purchase assault-type weapons without a background check from an unlicensed seller, no questions asked, including in Florida.”

Erica Lafferty Smegielski of the Everytown Survivor Network called the senators who voted against the measures spineless.

“Following the worst mass shooting in modern American history, spineless members of the Senate blocked critical measures that would have kept guns out of the hands of dangerous, hateful people and saved innocent lives from gun violence,” said Smegielski.

“Three years ago, some of those same politicians blocked a gun safety bill after my mother was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. Tonight’s shameful vote brings that day back all too clearly — the anger, the disappointment, the sense of injustice,” Smegielski continued. She is the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was shot and killed Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Recent polls show a supermajority of Americans support common sense solutions to gun violence, including expanded background checks.

Some Republicans in the Senate, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, supported an NRA-approved proposal to deny a gun sale to a known or suspected terrorist if prosecutors could convince a judge within three days that the buyer was involved in terrorist activity.

Gun control advocates mocked the proposal, which also was supported by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio. Toomey, Johnson and Portman are considered vulnerable this election cycle, facing strong Democratic challengers.

Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, also faces a strong Democratic challenge from U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth but he supported the Democrats’ proposals to expand background checks, close the gun show loophole and allow the government to deny gun sales to suspected terrorists.

“If you’re too dangerous to fly on a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a firearm,” Kirk said, according to an AP report.

Before the Senate votes on June 20, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Connecticut’s assault weapons ban.

Editor’s note: this story will be updated.

A look at violence at gay venues

The deadly shooting early June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, follows several incidents of violence against people at gay venues.

At least 50 people were killed and at least 53 were wounded at the nightclub. The shooter died during a shootout with SWAT team members.

A look at some incidents since 1973:

  • Dec. 31, 2013: About 750 people were celebrating New Year’s Eve at a popular gay nightclub in Seattle when Musab Mohammed Masmari poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway and set it ablaze. No one was injured. Masmari was arrested a month later as he prepared to leave the country. He apologized in a statement to the court and said he didn’t remember his actions because he blacked out after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for arson.
  • March 1, 2009: Three men threw rocks into a gay bar in Galveston, Texas, injuring two male patrons. Brothers Lawrence Lewis III, 20 and Lawrneil Lewis, 18, along with their cousin Sam Gray, 17, were charged with a hate crime for throwing the rocks, which were apparently being used as doorstops, into Robert’s Lafitte bar.
  • Sept 22, 2000: Ronald Gay walked into the Backstreet Cafe, a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia, and opened fire, killing one man and wounding six other patrons, two of them seriously. Gay, a 55-year-old drifter who told police he was upset over the slang connotation of his last name, pleaded guilty to the murder of 43-year-old Danny Overstreet and was sentenced to four life terms.
  • Oct. 7, 1998: Gay college student Matthew Shepard was beaten into a coma while tied to a fence outside the small college town of Laramie, Wyoming. He never regained consciousness and died five days after the attack. His attackers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, claimed their motive was robbery to get money for drugs and not a hate crime. The crime spurred debate on the effectiveness of hate crime laws. McKinney and Henderson are serving life sentences for murder.
  • 21, 1997: A nail-laden device exploded in a back room of the Otherside Lounge, a nightclub in Atlanta with a mostly gay and lesbian clientele. The lounge was crowded with about 150 people when the device went off on a rear patio. Five people were wounded. Eric Rudolph was later convicted for the bombing as well as bombings at Centennial Olympic Park and abortionclinics in suburban Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. The 1996 Olympics bombing killed one person and wounded 111, and the Birmingham bombing killed a police officer and maimed a nurse. Rudolph is serving four life sentences in federal prison.
  • 27, 1978: San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, 48, a gay-rights activist, were shot to death inside City Hall by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. Milk became one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. White argued that junk food fueled his rampage. His now infamous “Twinkie defense,” supported by a psychiatrist, worked. Instead of murder, White was convicted of manslaughter. Thousands took to the streets in protest. White served a little more than three years in prison before he committed suicide.
  • June 24, 1973: The Upstairs Lounge fire in New Orleans’ French Quarter killed 32 people. Most of those killed were trapped by burglar bars on three front windows. A survivor said he believed someone dashed an inflammable liquid on the wooden stairway to the crowded second-floor lounge and lit it. The arsonist was never caught.

 

 

Blood donors needed, limits remain for gay men

Hundreds lined up to give blood on June 12 in Orlando to help the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub, but major restrictions remain for gay men wanting to give blood.

The response overwhelmed OneBlood donation centers, where officials asked donors to make appointments and continue donating over the next several days.

Over 50 people were injured and 50 were killed when a gunman opened fire early June 12 inside the downtown Orlando club Pulse.

While many Facebook and Twitter posts from individuals and at least one gay advocacy group in Florida said no one would be turned away and all blood would be screened, OneBlood denied any change in policy.

“All FDA guidelines remain in effect for blood donation. There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true,” OneBlood tweeted.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted a three-decade-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. But the lifetime ban was replaced with a new policy barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.

The new policy brought the U.S. in line with Australia, Japan, the U.K. and other countries, and researchers said it could slightly increase the U.S. blood supply. Gay rights activists said it still perpetuated negative stereotypes dating to the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

Messages left June 12 for OneBlood and FDA officials were not immediately returned.

In a tweet, Pulse staff encouraged donations of water, juice and snacks for people waiting in long lines to donate blood in Orlando.

According to the American Red Cross, roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, but less than 10 percent of those people actually do so each year.

All U.S. blood donations are screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The Zika virus has been a more immediate concern, and the FDA asks people to put off donating blood if they have been to outbreak areas, show symptoms of a Zika infection or have had sexual contact with someone exposed to that virus.

In Florida, the risk of a potential Zika virus outbreak has prompted some blood banks to seek more donations to stock up on blood supplies before anyone in the state contracts the Zika virus from local mosquitoes.

OneBlood joined other blood banks in shipping blood products from the continental U.S. to Puerto Rico because of a Zika virus outbreak on the Caribbean island that disrupted blood collections there.

On the Web

Check our website today for reports from Orlando, as well as updates about vigils.

Milwaukee PrideFest responds to shootings, announces plans for tribute

Milwaukee Pride on June 12 issued a statement expressing “absolute sympathy” after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and said there would be a tribute today at 4 p.m.

The organizers of the Milwaukee LGBT festival, which concludes today, said, “Our love and support goes to the victims, survivors, their friends and families, and hope that all can find peace in the wake of this horrifying event.”

Wes Shaver, president elect of Milwaukee Pride, said, “We are furious about this senseless violence. This act of terror sought to silence our community during a month of national LGBTQ celebration. We will not and cannot allow ourselves to be silenced.”

Shaver said PrideFest would continue today. Since 7:30 a.m., the all-volunteer team has been meeting with local, state and federal agencies to provide the highest level of security possible, according to a news release.

Organizers said three levels of security, including Milwaukee Police Department, Summerfest and PrideFest staff, patrol the grounds from open to close each year.

As a precaution, the festival today will introduce full metal detection at the admission gates and increase security staffing across all areas.

“Unlike some pride festivals, our grounds are open only to ticketed guests who pass through our front gates,” said Eric Heinritz, executive director of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. “All personal items are subject to search before entry, and we do not allow carry-ins. While some may find these rules inconvenient, our first and foremost priority must be the safety of our guests.”

In addition, the festival plans a tribute event at 4 p.m. at the Miller Lite Mainstage. Following a short presentation, PrideFest will honor a moment of silence for the Orlando victims throughout the entire festival grounds.

Today’s performers were encouraged to honor the tragedy during all scheduled performances.

“Today is a day for LGBTQ community solidarity,” said Michail Takach, communications director of Milwaukee Pride. “While thoughts and prayers are welcome, action is required. Today is a day to come out, to be seen, and to be heard, in honor of those whose day was stolen from them. Today is a day to remember where we started and why we started.

“Come together at the Milwaukee Pride Parade in Walker’s Point.  Come together at PrideFest at Milwaukee’s lakefront. Come together with our Proud Partners throughout Wisconsin.

“Wherever you are, today is a day to celebrate your right to live proud.”

Orlando mosque to hold prayer service

The Baitul-Aafiyat Mosque will hold a prayer service tonight, June 12, in Orlando.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA issued a statement urging calm after 50 were killed and scores injured at the Pulse, a gay dance club in the central Florida city.

The shooting early June 12 — the largest mass shooting in U.S. history — occurred on Latin-themed night at the club just days after 150,000 people celebrated Gay Days in Orlando.

In a statement issued mid-day June 12,  Dr. Wajeeh Bajwa, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando, said, “We condemn this senseless and horrific act of violence in the strongest possible terms.

“Our community has been in Orlando for nearly two decades and yet have never seen such depravity. Our hearts go out to the innocent victims and their families.  We stand in solidarity with them as their neighbors and brothers and sisters in peace.”

He continued, “In light of this horrific tragedy, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando Chapter will hold a prayer service for the victims, their families and the entire grieving community. We pray for the swift recovery of the injured and for our heroic law enforcement officers. We continue to offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Islam teaches reverence for all human life. This is a time to pray and act to stop such senseless violence in our nation.”

Additionally, Bajwa said the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Orlando Chapter is encouraging its members to donate blood even though they may be fasting today, which the  seventh fast in the month of Ramadan.

Florida’s blood services have issued a call for donors.

The prayer service will be at 8 p.m. eastern time at Baitul-Aafiyat Mosque, 9501 Satellite Blvd., Suite 103, Orlando.