Black Lives Matters

Thirty arrested and ten officers injured in clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and NYPD


Riot police in New York City fought with protesters who marched across Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday.

A Black Lives Matter demonstration began peacefully in Brooklyn on Monday afternoon to mark the annual commemoration.

Several hundred people then crossed into Manhattan.

As night fell, they were told to clear the area but some refused. CBS reported that 30 people were arrested, and ten police officers were injured including a captain struck on the head with a bottle.

Officers with the New York Police Department clashed with protesters on Monday night

Officers with the New York Police Department clashed with protesters on Monday night

Images and videos posted on social media showed unrest on Monday night outside City Hall

Images and videos posted on social media showed unrest on Monday night outside City Hall

Protesters marched across Brooklyn Bridge (pictured) after a rally that began in Brooklyn

Protesters marched across Brooklyn Bridge (pictured) after a rally that began in Brooklyn

Photos and video on social media showed the scuffles. 

Freelance video journalist Leeroy Johnson filmed the police rushing the crowd, attempting to force them from the road. 

In another picture a man could be seen being carried away by the police. 

‘They definitely charged multiple times,’ said Egypt Staley, 22, of Washington Heights. 

He told the New York Daily News: ‘Some people were just being grabbed off the sidewalk. Some people were not even facing them.

‘They surrounded us. People were trying to leave. Some people were like, ‘How can I even leave?’ ‘ 

Helen Guzman, 30, told the paper: ‘They were really violent. Cops were pushing, shoving folks, pummeling people, tackling them.’ 

The area was all quiet by around 10pm, according to social media.

Demonstrators were seen scuffling with the police during Monday night's melee

Demonstrators were seen scuffling with the police during Monday night’s melee

Monday’s unrest came four days after New York’s attorney general sued the New York Police Department for its handling of the George Floyd protests in the spring.

Letitia James, the attorney general, called the rough treatment of protesters against racial injustice part of a longstanding pattern of abuse that stemmed from inadequate training, supervision and discipline. 

James’ lawsuit includes dozens of examples of alleged misconduct during the spring demonstrations in the wake of Floyd’s police killing, including the use of pepper spray and batons on protesters, trapping demonstrators with a technique called kettling and arresting medics and legal observers.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over the ‘excessive, brutal and unlawful’ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over the ‘excessive, brutal and unlawful’ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year

James said she found 'a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests' (Picture above captured in Times Square on May 30)

James said she found ‘a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests’ (Picture above captured in Times Square on May 30)

‘We found a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests,’ James said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

James, a Democrat, was tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with investigating whether NYPD officers used excessive force to quell unrest and enforce Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nightly curfew. 

She issued a preliminary report in July that cited a ‘clear breakdown of trust between police and the public.’

James is seeking reforms including the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics at future protests and a court order declaring that the policies and practices the department used during the protests were unlawful.

The lawsuit in federal court named the city, de Blasio, police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan as defendants. 

James criticized de Blasio for saying the use of kettling was justified and Shea for saying that the NYPD ‘had a plan which was executed nearly flawlessly’ when officers aggressively cracked down on protesters on June 4 in the Bronx.

It comes as the culmination following a months-long investigation into the NYPD's actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December (Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, on May 30)

It comes as the culmination following a months-long investigation into the NYPD’s actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December (Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, on May 30)

In June, at the height of the protests, de Blasio was accused of misleading the city when he told reporters that he personally saw ‘no use of force around peaceful protests,’ even after officers had been caught on video moving on demonstrators without provocation and bashing them with batons.

De Blasio said he met with James on Wednesday and that they share the goal of pushing for major police reforms, such as implementing recommendations in previous reports on the NYPD’s protest response. 

De Blasio, also a Democrat, said however that he did not agree a lawsuit was the solution.

‘A court process and the added bureaucracy of a federal monitor will not speed up this work,’ de Blasio said. ‘There is no time to waste and we will continue to press forward.’

John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said the department is committed to reform but that James’ lawsuit ‘doesn’t seem to meet the standard for a federal monitor, and it doesn’t seem to illustrate a pattern and practice’ as required.

The head of the city’s largest police union blamed a ‘failure of New York City’s leadership’ for sending officers ‘to police unprecedented protests and violent riots with no plan, no strategy and no support.’

‘They should be forced to answer for the resulting chaos, instead of pointing fingers at cops on the streets and ignoring the criminals who attacked us with bricks and firebombs,’ Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.

James’ lawsuit is the second major legal action to stem from the NYPD’s handling of the protests.

In October, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society sued the city on behalf of protesters who say they were assaulted and abused by police.

Andrew Smith, a black man who was seen on video getting pepper sprayed in the face by a white officer who’d tore down his facemask, said that officer ‘showed the world the inadequate training, the violent racist culture of the NYPD when he attacked me when my hands were high up in the air.’

A civil rights organization and a city watchdog agency have also criticized the department’s actions.

Human Rights Watch issued a report in November on the Bronx crackdown and the city’s inspector general issued a report in December that found that the NYPD was caught off guard by the size of the protests and resorted to aggressive tactics that stoked tensions and stifled free speech.

Mark Winston Griffith, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Communities United for Police Reform applauded the lawsuit, saying: ‘NYPD violence against protesters is a long-standing problem and it’s a credit to Attorney General James that she’s using the power of her office to challenge the systemic lack of accountability for this violence.’

In a joint statement, the NYCLU and Legal Aid Society said: ‘We hope this will be the beginning of a serious reckoning over police violence and militarized use of force against protesters, especially people of color, and a check on the impunity many officers have come to see as their right.’



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How Republicans Are Warping Reality Around the Capitol Attack


Immediately after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, all corners of the political spectrum repudiated the mob of President Trump’s supporters. Yet within days, prominent Republicans, party officials, conservative media voices and rank-and-file voters began making a rhetorical shift to try to downplay the group’s violent actions.

In one of the ultimate don’t-believe-your-eyes moments of the Trump era, these Republicans have retreated to the ranks of misinformation, claiming it was Black Lives Matter protesters and far-left groups like antifa who stormed the Capitol — in spite of the pro-Trump flags and QAnon symbology in the crowd. Others have argued that the attack was no worse than the rioting and looting in cities during the Black Lives Matter movement, often exaggerating the unrest last summer while minimizing a mob’s attempt to overturn an election.

The shift is revealing about how conspiracy theories, deflection and political incentives play off one another in Mr. Trump’s G.O.P. For a brief time, Republican officials seemed perhaps open to grappling with what their party’s leader had wrought — violence in the name of their Electoral College fight. But any window of reflection now seems to be closing as Republicans try to pass blame and to compare last summer’s lawlessness, which was condemned by Democrats, to an attack on Congress, which was inspired by Mr. Trump.

“The violence at the Capitol was shameful,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, tweeted at 6:55 a.m. the morning after the attack. “Our movement values respect for law and order and for the police.” But now, in a new video titled “What Really Happened on January 6th?” Mr. Giuliani is among those who are back to emphasizing conspiracy theories.

“The riot was preplanned,” said Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. “This was an attempt to slander Trump.” He added, “The evidence is coming out.”

For months, Republicans have used last summer’s protests as a political catchall, highlighting isolated instances of property destruction and calls to defund the police to motivate their base in November. The tactic proved somewhat effective on Election Day: Democrats lost ground in the House of Representatives, with Republican challengers hammering a message of liberal lawlessness.

About nine of every 10 voters said the protests had been a factor in their voting, according to estimates from A.P. VoteCast, a large voter survey conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago. Nearly half of those respondents backed Mr. Trump, with some saying they worried that the unrest could disrupt their communities.

Republicans are now using the looting to try to explain away the Capitol attack. The result, for some Republican voters, ranges from doubt to conspiratorial thinking.

Suzanne Doherty, 67, who traveled from Michigan to be in Washington on Jan. 6 to support Mr. Trump, came away feeling confused and depressed over the invasion of the Capitol and not trusting the images of the mob.

“I heard that on antifa websites, people were invited to go to the rally and dress up like Trump supporters, but I’m not sure what to believe anymore,” she said. “There were people there only to wreak havoc. All I know is that there was a whole gamut of people there, but the rioters were not us. Maybe they were antifa. Maybe they were B.L.M. Maybe they were extreme right militants.”

The conjecture that the mob was infiltrated by Black Lives Matter and antifa has been metastasizing from the dark corners of the pro-Trump internet to the floors of Congress and the Republican base, even as law enforcement officials say there is no evidence to support it. The authorities are now flagging threats of violence and rioting leading up to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration.

That has not stopped Republican lawmakers and some of their constituents from pushing these narratives to defend Mr. Trump.

Interviews with voters this week in Kenosha, the southeast Wisconsin city that was roiled by a high-profile police shooting last summer, captured the yawning split along ideological and racial lines. Democrats pointed to the differences in motivation between the Capitol mob and the mass protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was not seeking to overturn an election or being incited by the president. Republicans saw the Capitol attack as the work of outsiders or as justified by the summer’s isolated incidents of looting and property destruction.

“I think the goal was to try to put some final nails in the coffin of Donald Trump,” said Dale Rovik, a 59-year-old who supports Mr. Trump and is a native of Kenosha.I think it’s pretty clear that they did that to make him look bad and to accuse him and, of course, to try and impeach him again. That certainly is pretty clear to me.”

Joe Pillizzi, a 67-year-old retired salesman in Kenosha who supports Mr. Trump, said he believed last summer’s looting and rioting had “put a seed” in the minds of the mob that attacked the Capitol.

“If the Black Lives Matter didn’t do what they did, I don’t think the Capitol attack would have happened,” he said.

Democrats have also seized on a point of conservative hypocrisy. For all the talk of supporting “law and order,” this month’s attacks pitted a violent mob against Capitol Hill law enforcement personnel, and a police officer was killed.

Dominique Pritchett, a 36-year-old mental health therapist in Kenosha who supports Black Lives Matter, said the events of the summer were being portrayed inaccurately by the right, while the Capitol rioters were treated far more softly by the police than peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were.

“No, the protests did not turn violent; the looting and rioting started,” she said. “No violence is acceptable; I think we all can agree to that.” Referring to the Capitol rioters, she said: “They are tearing up one of the most protected and prestigious places in the United States because No. 45 lost. Someone lost an election, versus Black and brown people getting gunned down and killed every day.”

The misinformation on the right reflects the mood of Mr. Trump’s most ardent base, the collection of elected officials in deep-red America who have consistently rationalized his behavior in crises. But other signs indicate that some Republicans are exasperated by Mr. Trump and his actions in a way not seen since he entered office.

A new Pew Research poll released Friday showed the president’s approval rating dropping sharply among Republicans since he inspired the mob violence, cratering to an all-time low of 60 percent, more than 14 percentage points lower than his previous nadir. Among Americans at large, Mr. Trump’s approval rating was 29 percent, a low since he took office in 2017, and he had a 68 percent disapproval rating — his highest recorded number.

In the House, 10 Republicans voted to impeach Mr. Trump for a second time, making it the most bipartisan effort of any impeachment effort in the country’s history. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has signaled a desire to rid the party of Mr. Trump. And in recent days in Washington, some Republicans spoke out about the misinformation that had spread through the ranks of the party’s base and its elected officials.

Representative Peter Meijer, a Republican freshman who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, said in an interview with “The Daily,” the New York Times audio podcast, that the prevalence of false information among the base had created “two worlds” among congressional Republicans — one that is based in reality and another grounded in conspiracy.

“The world that said this was actually a landslide victory for Donald Trump, but it was all stolen away and changed and votes were flipped and Dominion Voting Systems,” Mr. Meijer said, describing what he called a “fever swamp” of conspiracy theories.

In a video news conference Friday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also made a direct appeal to Republicans still in doubt. “Biden actually won,” he said. “The election wasn’t rigged.”

Their words, contrasted with Mr. Trump’s own message and that of many supporters, highlight a challenge for the Republican Party. The rioters targeted law enforcement personnel, members of Congress and even Vice President Mike Pence. However, much of the party’s base and many of its leaders at the local and state levels remain loyal to Mr. Trump.

Another Republican who backed impeachment, Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina, acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he was likely to face a G.O.P. primary challenger in his 2022 re-election effort because of his vote — a threat the other nine Republicans who voted for impeachment will probably face as well.

“FIRST G.O.P. Primary Challenger Announces Run in Michigan Against Freshman Rep. Meijer — One of 10 G.O.P. Turncoats,” read a headline from The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing and often conspiratorial news outlet that has amassed influence among Mr. Trump’s base.

Reached by email, the site’s founder, Jim Hoft, did not reply to questions but did send along several of his own news articles related to claims of antifa involvement in the Capitol attack — citing the case of a man named John Sullivan, whom the right-wing media has dubbed an “antifa leader” in efforts to prove its theory of infiltration. He was the same man cited by Mr. Giuliani in tweets that threatened to “expose and place total blame on John and the 226 members of antifa that instigated the Capitol ‘riot.’”

Interviews with local and state Republican officials show the long-term effects that the amplification of misinformation has among the party. While few members of Congress have agreed with Mr. Trump’s assertion that his actions were “totally appropriate,” several party officials did. And while many Republicans condemned violence, attacks on law enforcement personnel and the killing of a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, they did not agree that those things were the work of pro-Trump mobs acting in the president’s name, as is the consensus among law enforcement officials.

“I do not believe President Trump should be blamed for what happened in D.C. on Jan. 6 any more than the media should be blamed for the carnage in Minneapolis, Portland, Dallas or Seattle,” said Ed Henry, a former campaign chair for Mr. Trump in Alabama. “The attack on the Capitol has not shaken my confidence in President Trump. I still support him.”

Eileen Grossman, a Republican activist from Rhode Island who worked on Mr. Trump’s campaign, dismissed the violence as the work of outside agitators.

“I know that the violence was caused by bad actors from antifa and liberal progressives as well as Black Lives Matter,” Ms. Grossman said, without citing any evidence. She added, using an acronym for “Republicans in name only,” that the Republicans who voted for impeachment would face primary challengers. “They are RINOs and traitors.”

Ms. Grossman has recently left Rhode Island because, in her words, she “wanted to live in a red state.” She moved to Georgia, a historically Republican state that in the last three months has voted for Mr. Biden in the presidential election and sent two Democratic candidates to the Senate.

“Obviously I chose poorly,” she said.

Reporting was contributed by Lisa Lerer in New York, Reid J. Epstein in Washington, Tom Kertscher in Milwaukee and Kathleen Gray in Port Huron, Mich.





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Southern California leaders see Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in Black Lives Matter movement – San Bernardino Sun


Two weeks after scores of people of all races flooded downtown San Bernardino to protest police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd‘s death, local school board President Gwen Dowdy-Rodgers and her colleagues did something new.

Representing more than 47,000 students, as well as administrators, teachers, staffers and parents on June 16, 2020, San Bernardino City Unified board members took turns reading portions of a resolution into the record.

The declaration?

That the county’s largest school district was “unequivocally” anti-racist, and that it condemns all acts of racism.

Now days before the nation marks the 36th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Dowdy-Rodgers and other Southern California leaders and activists are reflecting on the connection between the late civil rights icon’s lasting call for social justice and the summer’s Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent efforts to change policy in the region.

‘Send a message’

Three days after she and her San Bernardino school board colleagues condemned all acts of racism, brutality, racial profiling and the excessive use of force by law enforcement, Dowdy-Rodgers was part of a contingent of community members to implore San Bernardino County leaders to take a similar stand.

“It was very important for us to send the message that we are very serious about raising social justice issues and equity issues,” Dowdy-Rodgers said, “because policy is something we can point to when things are not the way they should be.”

Having met twice previously with faith leaders, activists and members of the Black community, the Board of Supervisors on June 23 declared racism a public health crisis.

Soon after, cities across the region adopted similar resolutions acknowledging racism exists and condemning it outright, and educators began exploring expanded ethnic studies programs and measures to create inclusive learning environments.

Such actions are a direct result of the mass protests that spread nationally after the death of Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, said Darrin Johnson, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Inland Empire. But the 38-year-old said he will not be satisfied until concrete change – in schools, in government, in policing – is achieved.

“The protests showed that when pressure is put to government, (officials) will be forced to act,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, as fall went through, our momentum was lost and I feel politicians were less compelled to take those kinds of actions.

“I feel like the people we have now in positions of power, especially career politicians, are too used to playing political games,” Johnson added. “That’s how they stay in power and continue to do the things they do. They throw us a crumb and are convinced they’re doing stuff for us.

“We need to hold everyone’s feet to the fire to keep this momentum going.”

Linking generations

As Dowdy-Rodgers reflects on summer 2020, what makes her most proud of the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent policy discussions and changes is the bond now established between those with first-hand memories of King and those who’ve come to admire him through textbooks, biographies and iconic video clips.

“We are connecting the generations that had been disconnected,” Dowdy-Rodgers said. “Those who were part of or close to that time when civil rights was just coming to the forefront and those marching and fighting got us to where we are today. Now, we’re handing the baton over to this generation, this young generation, and saying ‘We want to support you.’”

Activist Kayla Booker, 26, is a small business owner and founder of The B.L.A.C.K. Collective, supporting black businesses and creators in the Inland Empire. (Photo courtesy of Kayla Booker)

Kayla Booker, a college student activist in Riverside, said King’s work and legacy have emboldened younger generations, decades later, to stand up in today’s social and political climates.

The 26-year-old who participated in a number of demonstrations and rallies in Riverside and across the Inland Empire said more young people of color need to be involved in their local communities and in leadership roles.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Booker said, paraphrasing King’s 1965 sermon in Selma, Alabama. “If we’re not sitting at the table, then who is hearing our voices and concerns?”

Resilience, Booker said, is something she learned from King. She is president and founder of The B.L.A.C.K. Collective, a group of young Black leaders in Riverside working to uplift the area through events, community involvement, mentorship and entrepreneurship.

“We’re tired of not being heard, of feeling alone,” Booker said. “We’re the only African American group (in this area), run by youth, and no one has reached out to us about our concerns. Not the mayor or sheriff. They want to go out and take pictures with us, but they don’t ask us how we can help, what we can do, to really make a difference.

“At some point, you’re going to hear us.”

With help from three friends, Sage Hill School graduate Jackie Ni built SupplyCrate.org, an online nexus for procuring and distributing PPE (more than 375,000 pieces). Then came BLMsupplycrate.org, to facilitate requests and donations to organizers and activists involved in social justice protests. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

With college campuses offering only virtual classes this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sage Hill High School graduate Jackie Ni decided to postpone his freshman year of college to spend his free time addressing economic and social justice issues.

At first, that meant organizing other teens to secure thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment, or PPE, for health care workers at the onset of the pandemic. But after Floyd’s death, Ni pivoted to supporting Black Lives Matter organizers.

As a result, the Irvine teen formed the nonprofit BLMsupplycrate.org.

By the end of September, the group had raised a few thousand dollars to help pay for such necessities as permit fees and supplies of water, along with shipping more than 3,000 protective masks to protesters in California, New York and parts of the Midwest.

Ni’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement segued into forming a youth-led political action committee, called MemePAC, with three Orange County friends his age — Theodore Horn, Jason Yu and Vera Kong. In school, the 18-year-old had learned of King and the civil rights movement; but his own research this past year led to a deeper understanding of the economic equality King sought the last years of his life.

Ni, who plans to study public policy or political science in college, and perhaps run for office someday, sees King’s legacy in the passion and dedication that he and other young people show for systemic change.

“It definitely carries on what Martin Luther King set out to do, tackling issues in a logical way, in a peaceful way.”

Miranda Sheffield, 35, is a cultural arts commissioner in Pomona. (Courtesy of Miranda Sheffield)

‘We have to work’

On the heels of a nationwide call for social change, King’s message echoes louder than ever before, said Miranda Sheffield, a cultural arts commissioner in Pomona who helped organize demonstrations there over the summer.

“With everything that happened at the protests and the (Jan. 6) riot at the (U.S.) Capitol,” Sheffield said, “we need to listen to King’s words and demand change.”

New 5th Ward San Bernardino City Councilman Ben Reynoso is sworn in at San Bernardino City Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

San Bernardino City Councilman Ben Reynoso, who was in Mississippi with family when protesters began marching in communities across the nation following Floyd’s death, said he understood why so many felt compelled to unite.

“There’d been multiple times in my life when I’ve seen Black and brown people killed at the hands of police, or die in police custody,” said Reynoso. “When I was with family, I was reaching for understanding as an individual. For me, I had to be out near my mother and surrounded by people who understood and could express their emotions.

“What you saw this summer,” he added, “was a collection of people who couldn’t express their emotions in silence. They needed to express it publicly.”

The summer’s activism has a direct link to the civil rights movement King spearheaded in the 1950s and ’60s, Reynoso said.

“Martin Luther King understood narrative,” he said. “That’s why he was willing, and the young organizers around him were willing, to do things like sit in diners where people of color weren’t allowed, to be beat up on live TV. Because they knew America and the world wouldn’t understand what they were going through without seeing it.

Naomi Rainey-Pierson, the longtime president of Long Beach’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she applauds the work that younger people have been doing this past year, but added that protests alone won’t bring change.

“We have to not just stand up and scream, shout, holler and march when there is an outcry,” she said. “We have to continually march, we have to continually stand up, we have to continue using our voice. We have to stop pitting one group against the other.

“We have to work for equality and justice.”

In this file photo, Naomi Rainey-Pierson receives her honorary doctoral degree at Cal Sate Long Beach at the commencement for College of Liberal Arts on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Sean DuFrene, photographer for Cal State Long Beach)

Rainey-Pierson, a Black woman who grew up going to segregated schools in Mississippi, said injustice and inequality is nothing new, but that in order to follow King’s visions and goals, people must come together.





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Trump supporters, not antifa or Black Lives Matter, waged war on U.S.


Suzette Hackney
 
| USA TODAY

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Often during Donald Trump’s presidency, we have seen two realities. There are the complex and very real issues we’ve had to face as a nation, particularly as it has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Then there are the lies that Trump has peddled to propel his ego-driven, autocratic agenda.

Trump’s  falsehoods are as frequent as they are normalized. But last Wednesday afternoon, as hundreds of insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol attempting to halt Congress’s certification of the Electoral College votes that would confirm Joe Biden as our nation’s next president, those lies turned treasonous and deadly.

As shocking as it was to witness the violence and mayhem in Washington D.C., it certainly wasn’t surprising. For weeks after he lost to Biden, Trump floated baseless claims that rampant voter fraud had changed the outcome of the election. He riled his base at every turn and  incited a mob of his supporters to descend on the Capitol to challenge his defeat.

Trump’s mob wasn’t successful in their efforts, but their destruction will have a lasting effect. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, and dozens more were injured. Property was damaged. Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers were under siege. America was changed forever.

Could this finally be the moment? The moment when prominent Republicans who have walked in lockstep with Trump for years call for an honest reckoning of how we’ve devolved as a democratic republic — and how we might rebound?

Of course not. Instead they floated conspiracy theories that disguised antifa and Black Lives Matters protesters were responsible for the attack on the seat of American government. Because the rioters were overwhelmingly white, it was hard for even Trump’s most fervent supporters to blame Black protesters. So they falsely pointed fingers instead at antifa, a short-hand term for the anti-fascist protest movement.

“If the reports are true, some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters,” Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said from the House floor hours after the riot. “They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

An Alabama Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks, also weighed in on Twitter: “Please, don’t be like #FakeNewsMedia, don’t rush to judgment on assault on Capitol. Wait for investigation. All may not be (and likely is not) what appears. Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.”

Before Wednesday’s riots, Brooks had delivered an impassioned speech to Trump supporters, stating that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Trump and his supporters are often swift in their disturbing attempts to pivot and duck when the finger is pointed at them — irreproachable and smug. After Trump grasped the gravity of the riot, he also tried to place blame and deflect by privately claiming that “Antifa people” bear responsibility for the assault on the Capitol, according to Axios. 

For the record, the FBI on Friday debunked those trying to pin the blame on antifa or Black Lives Matter. Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said investigators had seen “no indication” antifa activists had infiltrated the mob and wreaked havoc.

The Associated Press also found that the rioters were overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, off-duty police and members of the military and those who subscribe to QAnon theories. The AP reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the unrest or who were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

We all know what — and who — we saw broadcast on our televisions and in photos later published. Those wearing red hats and carrying Trump or Confederate flags were a portion of his rabid and vocal base we’ve witnessed since Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. And those same domestic terrorists went on to riot, vandalize and kill. 

Still, the conspiracy theory about interlopers storming the Capitol was shared more than 150,000 times on Twitter and thousands of times more on Facebook by Wednesday evening, according to an analysis by The New York Times. “Altogether, the accounts pushing the rumor had tens of millions of followers,” the Times reported.

When will Americans tire of being lied to by those elected to represent us? When will Americans demand accountability? When will MAGA media personalities be called on the carpet for stoking fears and floating fabrications?

What happened last week lies squarely on the shoulders of Trump and his misguided flock. Any attempt to excuse, rationalize, justify or lie about their treasonous behavior is almost as despicable as their actions. 

Trump supporters did his bloody bidding. It’s now time to sit with that knowledge and own it.

National columnist Suzette Hackney is a member of USA TODAY’S Editorial Board. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter: @suzyscribe





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How law enforcement handled the pro-Trump mob compared to Black Lives Matter protesters


The scene looked familiar. Chaos in the streets of Washington, D.C., as crowds gathered for what was promised to be a peaceful demonstration. But there were some glaring differences between the law enforcement response to a pro-Trump mob invading the Capitol Building and demonstrators gathered on the streets of the city.

Of course, D.C. Police had no jurisdiction at the Capitol, which sits on federal land, leaving crowd control and security in the hands of Capitol Police. Despite the familiar riot gear, officers did not keep the crowd from breaching the building for the first time since the British attacked and burned the building in 1814, during the War of 1812. 

This summer, multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies brought in tanks and other vehicles ahead of planned demonstrations and at one point an eight-foot-tall fence surrounded Lafayette Park in front of the White House. But on Wednesday, protesters faced only a series of waist-high gates at the front of the Capitol Building — with some accusing police of allowing the crowd in.  


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It’s not clear what exact measures were taken to keep the mob out of the building, but tear gas and smoke grenades were reported only after rioters entered the Capitol. One woman was reported shot and killed, but there have been no reports of police discharging their weapons. In fact, unlike the response to some Black Lives Matter protests, the law enforcement response remained relatively peaceful even as shooters reportedly discharged firearms into the House Chamber, with officers attempting to deescalate the situation.


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Capitol Police have used force to remove protestors from the building in the past, including disabled people in wheelchairs, as reported by NBC News. 

 

Some theorized that this would not have been the case had the crowd been overwhelmingly Black rather than white, while others compared the rhetoric to criticisms of Black Lives Matter protests. 

 

No arrests have been reported, but perhaps should be anticipated if law enforcement follows the precedent set during President Trump’s inauguration, when more than 200 protesters were arrested.


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STATE OF MINNESOTA FILES HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLAINT AGAINST MINNEAPOLIS POLICE


 





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Black Lives Matter Rally Calls For Respect And Inclusion For All


Putnam County’s first Black Lives Matter rally of the New Year beckoned all Americans to create and respect healthy relationships while promoting inclusion for all. Fifty men and women gathered on the steps of the historic Putnam Courthouse for the 90-minute rally that was highlighted by a prayer circle, which organizer Norma Pereira explained was a “gift from the indigenes […]



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Black people will remember Gov. Whitmer’s inaction


Bankole Thompson
 |  The Detroit News

News that Candice Miller, the former longtime Michigan secretary of state and current Macomb County public works commissioner, is being asked to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should give Democrats reason to worry.  

Not that Whitmer can’t win reelection in 2022. But it won’t be a cakewalk. Though I don’t agree with her politics, Miller has a strong name ID and will prove formidable for a Democratic governor whose base — the Black community — may not be with her in 2022.

In the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, where the demand for racial equality has boiled to the top of the political debate, white liberal politicians like Whitmer can no longer expect to cruise easily into office simply through patronage politics. Many of the young people demanding serious police reform in Detroit and around the nation want to see real changes, not platitudes and ceremonial photo-ops with leaders of civil rights organizations.

Whitmer has spent a lot of time in office building her national profile, perhaps in anticipation of a VP pick that never materialized. All of those guest columns in national newspapers and interviews on TV shows won’t mean much in the Black community when she’s up for reelection.

Black people in Benton Harbor won’t forget how she botched an education crisis there by insisting on shutting down the only high school in that small Black city.

In Detroit, her foot-dragging in settling the right to literacy lawsuit for Detroit kids will be among the issues Whitmer will have to deal with in the largest Democratic community. Add that to her poor handling of the water affordability issue — she initially declined to issue a shut-off moratorium the ACLU requested, and only did so when presidential candidate Joe Biden was visiting Detroit.

Perhaps Whitmer’s most glaring campaign blunder was when she declined to appoint a cabinet-level poverty secretary earlier in her administration, a vow she made during a Democratic gubernatorial town hall on poverty at Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School. I recall as moderator of that forum how Whitmer told hundreds of Detroiters that one of her administration’s first moves would be to make poverty front and center with the creation of a cabinet position.

Whitmer got elected and did what previous liberal politicians did to Black people: Fool them. Instead of a cabinet secretary with executive power and resources to delve into poverty, Whitmer settled for a symbolic poverty task force, the predictable route for politicians who are not interested in accomplishing anything meaningful that will advance the interests of Black people.

Ironically, the first official contact I had with Whitmer was in 2017, when she was running for governor. She wrote me an email asking to meet for coffee to discuss a column I had written criticizing Democrats for taking Black people for granted. She said she totally agreed with the sentiment of my article.  

Whitmer has broken some key campaign promises. The governor’s white, liberal PR army will try to sell a different message. But one thing is clear: Those white liberals don’t think for Black people and won’t dictate how we view Whitmer’s administration.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM. 



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Protesters rally for Dolal Idd in Minneapolis


“I’m not here to justify what he (Idd) did, but how the family was treated and how the police went about it is completely wrong and that’s why we’re all here,” a protester who only identified himself as Kamal said.

Minneapolis police officers stopped Idd, who was wanted on felony charges, on Wednesday night at a gas station less than a mile from where George Floyd was killed in May. Police say the encounter escalated when Idd shot at officers, who fired back, killing Idd.

A SWAT team of Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in executing a search warrant early Thursday morning at Idd’s last known address in Eden Prairie. Video of the raid was made public on Saturday.



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George Floyd lived a life that mattered


We have all seen the video record of what happened to George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25. While viewers are free to interpret those images for themselves, it will be up to the courts to decide what crimes, if any, were committed.

Regardless of any legal determination, though, Floyd’s personal story — as reported in exhaustive, heartbreaking detail by reporter Maya Rao and photographer Carlos Gonzalez in last Sunday’s Star Tribune — illuminates a truth that some have been lamentably slow to accept:

Black lives matter.

Compassion should not depend on familiarity. It should not require such painstaking journalism to make us realize that Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed, had a life. But Rao and Gonzalez add details and context that make him come alive in the imagination. He loved and was loved. He was capable of seeing the best in others and of helping those less fortunate than himself. He was convicted of breaking the law and did his time. His life was far from perfect.

His life mattered.

In this story we see why those words have such power. What happened to Floyd, his neck trapped beneath the knee of a police officer for nearly eight agonizing minutes, becomes exponentially more painful when it happens to someone we know.

In the legal proceedings to come, defense attorneys will make their arguments on behalf of the officers who were called in response to a report that Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit bill at a grocery store.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office issued its final public report in June, ruling Floyd’s death a homicide. The report stated that Floyd “experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer[s].” It listed “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease,” as well as fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use, as “other significant conditions.”

That Floyd relapsed into drug abuse is part of his story, but not the whole picture. People in recovery know that relapses are common. They like to say that no matter how many months or years of sobriety people have — no matter how far along the road they have come — they are always the same distance from the ditch.

Minneapolis is known as a place that is enlightened about recovery. Rao’s profile portrays the city as the hope-filled end of a pipeline that begins in Houston. “If I stay down here,” their story quotes Floyd as saying, “I’m going to die.” It is painful to contemplate the possibility that, had he stayed in Houston, he might be alive today.

But in fact, as Floyd’s friend Aubrey Rhodes acknowledges, living in Minneapolis is not what killed him. Breonna Taylor did not live in Minneapolis. Nor did Rayshard Brooks or Freddie Gray or Walter Scott. Nor did Eric Garner, whose last words presaged Floyd’s desperate pleas of “I can’t breathe.”

Journalists know that sometimes the most effective means of telling a big story is to tell a little story. Floyd lived a life that was anything but little, except when compared to the national tapestry of Black lives lost in confrontations with law enforcement. He was a lone person whose life ended in a way that casts light on a tragedy that is national in scope.

This extraordinary piece should be required reading for all who serve in Minnesota government, for those in public safety, and for those who will contend for elective office in Minneapolis this fall. Like other major U.S. cities, Minneapolis is in the grip of a complex and stubborn problem. It demands responses more nuanced, and more substantive, than reflexive calls to defund the police.

To read “George Floyd’s search for salvation” is to come to know Floyd as a man who was working to improve his life, who had a deep faith in the God of his understanding, and who should be alive today, contributing to society as a citizen and a friend.

Maybe feeling the pain of it offers us the best chance to move forward.

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