BAYONNE BRIEFS

A fire on West 22nd Street injured one and displaced seven people.
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A fire on West 22nd Street injured one and displaced seven people.

Fire rips through 22nd Street building on July 15

In the early afternoon on July 15, the Bayonne Fire Department responded to a heavy fire on the second floor of a three-story commercial building at 28 West 22nd St. that extended to a neighboring residential building. Fire companies quickly deployed four hose lines to prevent the fire from spreading further in both buildings. The fire was under control by 2:30 p.m.

One person in the commercial building suffered a minor injury and was treated and released at the scene by EMS. Both buildings are uninhabitable until repairs can be completed and seven persons are temporarily displaced from 26 West 22nd St. Five of the seven persons displaced are being assisted by the Red Cross and the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management. The cause of the fire is under investigation and is not suspicious in nature.

Documentary film prompts review of 60-year-old child murder case

A documentary film about the 1960 rape and murder of an 8-year old girl in Blakely, Ga. has helped prompt a Southwest Georgia district attorney to review the case for new evidence.

The film tells the story of 24-year-old Navy veteran James Fair, Jr. of Bayonne, who in April 1960, joined a friend on a road trip home to Blakely. But their arrival in rural Early County could not have been more ill-timed, as it coincided with the alleged rape and murder of 8-year-old Yvonne Armelia Holmes, resulting in Fair being fingered as the fall guy. Less than three days later, without a jury present or lawyer to defend him, the amateur boxer was sentenced to Georgia’s electric chair, prompting his mother, Alice, to mount 26-month campaign in a fight for his life.

The film, “Fair Game: Surviving A 1960 Georgia Lynching,” had been reviewed by Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Christopher Carr in Atlanta. District Attorney Ronald V. McNease, Jr. of the Pataula Judicial Circuit notified Boston-based documentary film director Clennon L. King of the review on July 15.

In May, an aide to Carr referred King to McNease’s office responsive to his request that the state reopen the cold case.

“While my film makes clear the state of Georgia wrongly convicted and sentenced to death a New Jersey man who, against all odds, won his freedom, no one ever answered for the girl’s death,” said King. “Authorities now have a chance to get right, to do their job, and determine who was responsible.”

An autopsy of the child, who is buried in Blakely, was never performed. The victim’s mother, Frances Holmes, 99, who still resides in Blakely, and was listed as a witness in the original case, was never interviewed or submitted a statement. She has never spoken publicly about her child’s murder.

According to King, many black residents, including family members of the 8-year old victim, maintain the child’s murderer was a white man, and that the case was part of a cover up to protect him.

The 63-minute film has been viewed by audiences across the country, including in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida and Georgia.

Woman arrested shoplifting at Shop Rite, stripping topless in the process

A 42-year-old Hoboken woman was caught allegedly shoplifting from ShopRite on Avenue C at around 11 p.m. on July 16, according to police. The woman attempted to evade arrest and, in the process of evading arrest, was stripped topless.

Shop Rite employees notified police that a woman was shoplifting at the store. The woman allegedly resisted arrest, scratching and punching the officers. As one officer grabbed her by the shirt, she took it off to run away. The woman was arrested shortly afterward near the grocery store and charged with shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Activists protest ICE raids and Amazon

About 70 people convened in Elizabeth last week in solidarity with nationwide protests against the Trump administration’s announcement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will soon launch an uptick of arrests. The administration unjustly alarmed immigrant communities, Gov. Phil Murphy said. Elizabeth is home to both an Amazon fulfillment warehouse and an ICE detention center, which was the site of a massive “Close the Camps” rally this month.

The protesters’ call for Amazon to stop aiding ICE builds on a letter signed by hundreds of employees that urges the tech giant to cut ties with surveillance technology from Palantir, a California-based surveillance tech company contracted by the federal government. A document dump from earlier this year from the activist group Mijente revealed that in 2017, Palantir software enabled ICE to launch an operation that targeted and arrested family members of child migrants, which led to 443 arrests. The protests are the second at the ICE field office in Elizabeth. 36 people were arrested in the first protest.

Three new laws aim to help those facing addiction

Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills last week designed to help New Jerseyans in the daily battle against addiction, with a focus on the state’s increasingly deadly opioid crisis. One law will require all opioid prescription bottles to feature a warning label that details the risk of potential misuse. Another new law makes a new rule more permanent: that is, insurance companies can’t demand that Medicaid patients obtain a doctor’s “prior authorization” for medication-assisted treatment. The third law creates a state-led opioid addiction awareness campaign: October 6 is now “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day.”

NJ now accepting more cannabis vendor applications

The New Jersey Department of Health announced last week it will now open applications for cannabis retailers and growers to participate in the newly expanded medical cannabis program. Up to 15 dispensaries and five cultivation centers will be chosen, with seven licenses in South Jersey. A Q&A webinar is set for Aug. 2, and the deadline to apply is Aug. 21. Interested applicants can apply on the NJ Department of Health website.

New bill aims to award tax breaks to developers to build affordable housing

A bill in both houses of the state legislature proposes giving $600 million in tax breaks to housing developers under the condition that their projects include a sizable number of affordable housing units. At least half of the units must be “affordable,” a legal term under federal guidelines, to low-income and middle-income households. 13 percent must be affordable to very-low-income households. The impetus for the bill, other than the increasing cost of housing across the state, is that Gov. Phil Murphy’s ‘let’s-finally-change-and-cap’ tax incentives plan does not include a dedicated program for affordable housing,