It’s Tuesday, March 29th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - An attorney says a Fort Lauderdale hotel employee who was arrested after video showed him brawling with a guest was just trying to defend himself.
The incident happened back in January at the Best Western on Seabreeze Boulevard. Activist and attorney Benjamin Crump over the weekend tweeted surveillance footage from the hotel that shows 28-year-old Raymond Rachal working at the desk in the lobby when a man walks up to him, pushing past a stanchion. Rachal eventually put the man in a headlock and held him for several minutes until police officers arrived. The video shows the officers immediately approach Rachal, pushing him before taking him into custody. Rachal was eventually placed in handcuffs and booked into jail. In his tweet, Crump said Rachal "tried to exercise his RIGHT to cancel a white hotel guest's stay for spewing racial slurs at him, but Ft. Lauderdale (Fla) PD officers allowed the man to STAY & Rachal was attacked, arrested & charged for defending himself!"
No. 2 - A southwest Miami-Dade business owner and his son are speaking out about getting arrested while Miami-Dade officers were seen on camera roughly taking a convicted felon into custody.
The incident happened Thursday night when Miami-Dade Police officers were arresting Jarvis Swanson, later charging him with carrying a weapon as a convicted felon. Drug charges from October also kept in him jail past his initial bond hearing. In the video that was later posted online and went viral, officers are seen struggling with Swanson while he is on the ground. One officer is seen punching Swanson in the side of his head. People are heard yelling at the officers, and others can be heard telling those recording to get images of the officers' faces. Click here to see the video in a report from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard you’ll see Only on 6.
No. 3 - North Bay Village Police are searching for a transgender woman who has been missing since last Thursday.
They say Julia Da Silva was last seen leaving her home in North Bay Village. Her loved ones are worried sick about where she might be. According to police, the 5’11, 23-year-old told her aunt that she was going to look at an apartment in Hialeah. Tatiana Valentina, one of Julia’s very close friends, said Julia used to live with her and her family. She says it's unlike Julia to not come home, call or respond to texts. One of her fears is that Julia may have been targeted. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Alyssa Hyman.
No. 4 - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that limits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade in the state's public schools.
DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law at a school in Spring Hill. The bill passed a Republican-controlled state legislature earlier this month. The bill states: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Parents would be able to sue districts over violations. The measure, dubbed by activists the "Don't Say Gay" bill, has drawn intense opposition from LGBTQ advocates, students, national Democrats, the White House and the entertainment industry.
No. 5 - St. Thomas University’s law school has an active, university-approved chapter of the Lambda Law Society, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
“Lambda Law Society has been here over 10 years. They are represented at events, they’re on our website, they have their own social media, and we have never had any issues that even smell of discrimination with them,” said Carlos de Yarza, the university’s VP of marketing. However, according to a letter allegedly written by a group of law school faculty members, when members of the Lambda Law Society asked the administration to provide a bus in which the group could ride in the Miami Beach Pride Parade next month, university president David Armstrong denied the request and allegedly threatened them with severe consequences. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Ari Odzer.
No. 6 - The day after slapping Chris Rock on the Oscars stage and upending the 94th Academy Awards, Will Smith issued an apology to the comedian, to the academy and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”
The fallout from Smith’s actions during Sunday's ceremony continued Monday as Hollywood and the public continued to wrestle with a moment that stunned the Dolby Theatre crowd and viewers at home. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith striking Rock, who had made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and said it would launch an inquiry. Later in the day, Smith gave a stronger apology than he did in his best actor acceptance speech, which notably hadn't included an apology to Rock. The 53-year-old actor added apologies to the film academy, producers of the telecast, attendees, viewers and the Williams family. Smith was honored Sunday for his role as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, in “King Richard.”