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70-year-old man becomes town’s first black Santa 50 years after cops detained him for wearing costume

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Merlin Kennedy as "Santa Claus" at the Santa Station in Normal, Illinois (WYZZ/screen grab)

Civil rights activist Merlin Kennedy has become the first official black Santa Claus in Normal, Illinois nearly 50 years after police detained him for violating the town’s “One Santa Rule.”

In 1966, Kennedy had protested the town’s “One Santa Rule” by attending the annual Christmas parade as Santa Claus.

According to the McLean County Museum of History, Kennedy was riding on an NAACP float, but police stopped it before it could reach the parade route. So Kennedy and others climbed off the float walked the parade route instead, waving to the children.

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“They just seen the suit and they didn’t recognize a black person in the suit. One [white] woman almost jerked her little boy’s arm off because he called me Santa Claus,” Kennedy later recalled.

But before they could finish the route, a police officer told Kennedy that he was “under arrest for disturbing the peace.” Although the incident generated sensational headlines at the time, officers eventually declined to go through with the arrest.

WYZZ reported that Kennedy donned the Santa costume once again over the weekend after the NAACP partnered with the town of Normal to host the Santa Station.

“Because of the times that we’re living in today, with so much happening throughout these United States, that we get an opportunity to rewrite history and to continue the conversations about race and inequality and diversity,” Bloomington-Normal NAACP Vice President Takesha Stokes told WYZZ.

Kennedy will be back in the costume again at the Santa Station on Friday, Dec. 18 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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WATCH: Portland police in riot gear deploy teargas and then slash tires of medical van

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Law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon were seen on video slashing the tires of a medical support vehicle.

According to reports from the scene, the van was providing medical support to anyone injured in the ongoing protests. The vehicle was said to have been repurposed from Timbers Army, a fan group backing a local soccer team.

"Just witnessed PPB riot police stab the wheels out of a medic van as it tried to drive away in accordance with their orders," one photographer noted on Twitter.

Video shared on social media shows riot police using tear gas to clear a street where the vehicle was parked. Before the vehicle can leave, an officer jabs a knife-like object into the tires.

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Video shows California cops pointing guns at Black teens who were being threatened by homeless man

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Law enforcement officers in Santa Clarita, California were seen on video pointing weapons at Black teens who were allegedly being threatened by a homeless man.

The video was posted by Instagram user Tammilaray.

"I wanted to share what happened to my son yesterday in SCV when he was with a couple of friends sitting at a bus stop headed home," the Instagram user explained. "He was attacked by a gentleman (homeless guy) who approached them and first asked them if they had any crack then tried to take their things."

According to the report, the manager of the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings called the cops to get help for the teens.

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Activism

‘Back the Blue’ members beat BLM protesters in Colorado ditch: ‘Keep punching each other in the face’

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Members of a "Back the Blue" rally were seen fighting with Black Lives Matter counter-protesters in Fort Collins, Colorado over the weekend.

Video posted on social media shows members of the "Back the Blue" group advancing on Black Lives Matter activists. The confrontation eventually becomes a fighting match in a neighborhood ditch.

"Everybody keep their hands off their weapons!" one man can be heard shouting. "Keep punching each other in the face. Don't shoot anybody."

Ciara Wilson posted video of the confrontation on Instagram.

"I was at the Pro Police FCPD rally today," she wrote. "Counter protestors were violently beaten and had no signs of aggression or hostility. Pro Police protestors forced them to the end of the block and then savagely assaulted them. Afterwards the COUNTER PROTESTORS WERE DETAINED. The officers did not tell them why they were being detained. The pro police protestors who literally assaulted these people for no fucking reason other than being PSYCHOPATHS got away with it. I am so sick and tired of this."

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