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ELIZABETH, New Jersey -- A campaign is underway to restore a vandalized mural that honors a transgender activist.

The mural of Marsha P. Johnson was created in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, but someone painted over it in what activists call an act of hate.

Malcom Rolling painted the mural, and members of an LGBTQ+ youth group that organized the first Pride march in Elizabeth last year made the murals the focal point.

The group is called The People's Committee of Elizabeth (TPCOE). Sister station WABC-TV in New York talked to one founding member, Priscilla Goana, who is in Hawaii right now.

"This is just a huge, huge slap in the face," Goana said.

She says plans and fundraising are in the works to repaint the mural because it's clearly needed.

"It's targeted - it's hatred and we don't want that here," said TPCOE activist Katherine Justiniano.

"This is a clear sign of transphobia, homophobia and racism," TPCOE co-founder Natalie Hernandez said.

Johnson was 46 when she died in 1992 and was decades ahead of her time. The self-identified drag queen was a pioneering gay rights activist and a key figure in the Stonewall Uprising in 1969.

TPCOE is raising money on Instagram, Venmo and GoFundMe.

About $1,500 is needed just for the paint to reimagine what was once there, plus what the artist plans to add.

"I have something to say," Rolling said. "Like I said, I'm a little furious, and I have something to say. And I want to be able to add to the mural to make it more robust."

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Tags: society society lgbtq pride lgbtq pride vandalism mural arts vandalized mural elizabeth johnson

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Jury Selection Underway In Capital Gazette Mass Shooting Case

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The man who pleaded guilty to killing five people at the Capital Gazette almost three years ago was back in court Wednesday.

After delays in a case, jury selection for the second phase of Jarrod Ramos’ trial has begun. Once the final jurors are chosen, they will decide if Ramos is criminally responsible for the mass shooting where five people were killed.

READ MORE: Capital Gazette Shooter Defense Attorneys Request Closed Hearing For Sensational Coverage

Judge is beginning the process of striking jurors for cause.
First juror told Judge that Ramos already said he’s guilty and she didn’t believe he should hide behind mental illness.

Judge said he will “strike that juror for case”. She will not be one of the final jurors. @wjz

— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) June 23, 2021


Judge Michael Wachs is presiding over the case. He is expected to call about 50 potential jurors in the morning and 50 in the afternoon each day this week until the jury is formed.

There is a jury pool of about 300 people and the court will have to narrow that down to just 12 with alternates. By the end of the first day of jury selection, there were at least 60 qualified jurors.

Judge Wachs asked dozens of potential jurors about their feelings on guns, mass shootings and even if they’ve been a victim of a crime.

Law professor David Jaros said this is all about finding jurors who will block out outside influences.

“It’s important to remember that we’re not looking for jurors who have never heard about this case, rather for jurors who are willing to have no pre-conceived notions about what happened and willing to base their decision solely on what they hear in the courtroom,” said Professor Jaros.

Judge is still addressing potential jurors on an individual basis to figure out if they can render an unbiased verdict based only on the facts they’ll hear in court.

There are more than 290 potential jurors. There’s expected to me an AM and afternoon session both days. @wjz

— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) June 23, 2021

READ MORE: Capital Gazette Shooter Back in Court, Defense Attorneys Attempt To Redact Previous Criminal References

Ramos has already pleaded guilty to killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters at the Capital Gazette. This phase of the case will determine if he’s criminally responsible which is Maryland’s version of an insanity case.

Under Maryland’s insanity defense law, a defendant has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he is not criminally responsible for his actions. State law says a defendant is not criminally responsible for criminal conduct if, because of a mental disorder or developmental disabilities, he lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.

If found not criminally responsible, he would be committed to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital instead of prison.

Ramos sat silently in court and watched the potential jurors which included one woman who told the judge she can’t put her bias aside because Ramos “already said he’s guilty” and that in her opinion, “he’s guilty and should not hide behind mental illness.”

The judge excused her from the jury pool along with several others.

WJZ Reporter Ava-joye Burnett asked Professor Jaros “How hard is it for an individual to throw aside any potential biases and hone in on what they are hearing inside the courtroom?’

“I think it’s incredibly hard,” said Professor Jaros. “I think it is a huge concern particularly for the defense, that people will have developed strong feelings about this case, and there may be facts in those cases that are not facts that would be admissible in court and are not relevant necessarily to this particular decision.”

The trial is set to begin next Tuesday — one day after the shooting’s three-year anniversary.  The judge made the decision to move the start of the trial so it wouldn’t land on the anniversary.

Judge Wachs said the goal is to seat the jury Friday afternoon. Day two of jury selection resumes on Thursday.

The afternoon session resulted in significantly more qualified jurors….
at least 46.

We’re live at 5 with more on this first day of jury selection in the Jarrod Ramos case. @wjz

— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) June 23, 2021

MORE NEWS: Motions Hearing Underway In Capital Gazette Shooting Case Wednesday

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