United in Action to STOP KILLER DRONES:
SHUT DOWN CREECH!
Spring Action, 2022
March 26 - April 2—Saturday to Saturday
Co-sponsored by CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com
Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”
That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.
Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.
For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.
The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.
To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
Sign Petition at:
Rashid just called with the news that he has been moved back to Virginia. His property is already there, and he will get to claim the most important items tomorrow. He is at a "medium security" level and is in general population. Basically, good news.
He asked me to convey his appreciation to everyone who wrote or called in his support during the time he was in Ohio.
His new address is:
Kevin Rashid Johnson #1007485
Nottoway Correctional Center
2892 Schutt Road
Burkeville, VA 23922
Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!
Wrongful Conviction podcast of Kevin Cooper's case, Jason Flom with Kevin and Norm Hile
Please listen and share!
Kevin Cooper: Important CBS news new report today, and article January 31, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor's Press Office
Friday, May 28, 2021
Governor Newsom Announces Clemency Actions, Signs Executive Order for Independent Investigation of Kevin Cooper Case
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves. In addition, the Governor signed an executive order to launch an independent investigation of death row inmate Kevin Cooper’s case as part of the evaluation of Cooper’s application for clemency.
The investigation will review trial and appellate records in the case, the facts underlying the conviction and all available evidence, including the results of the recently conducted DNA tests previously ordered by the Governor to examine additional evidence in the case using the latest, most scientifically reliable forensic testing.
The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here:
The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant executive clemency in the form of a pardon, commutation or reprieve. These clemency grants recognize the applicants’ subsequent efforts in self-development or the existence of a medical exigency. They do not forgive or minimize the harm caused.
The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, correct unjust results in the legal system and address the health needs of incarcerated people with high medical risks.
A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction.
A commutation modifies a sentence, making an incarcerated person eligible for an earlier release or allowing them to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which Parole Commissioners determine whether the individual is suitable for release.
A reprieve allows individuals classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements in the community consistent with public health and public safety.
The Governor weighs numerous factors in his review of clemency applications, including an applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interest of justice, and the impact of a grant on the community, including crime victims and survivors.
While in office, Governor Newsom has granted a total of 86 pardons, 92 commutations and 28 reprieves.
The Governor’s Office encourages victims, survivors, and witnesses to register with CDCR’s Office of Victims and Survivors Rights and Services to receive information about an incarcerated person’s status. For general Information about victim services, to learn about victim-offender dialogues, or to register or update a registration confidentially, please visit:
www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/ or call 1-877-256-6877 (toll free).
Copies of the gubernatorial clemency certificates announced today can be found here:
Additional information on executive clemency can be found here:
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.
And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears.
And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden.
The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.
For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life?
President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing.
For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years.
The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with.
This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:
President Joe Biden
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
E-mail: At this link
I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet:
I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.
PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or email@example.com
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
A number of the stores’ nearly 500,000 employees have reported being homeless, receiving government food stamps or relying on food banks.
By Sapna Maheshwari and Michael Corkery, Feb. 12, 2022
"Kroger has one of the country’s starkest gaps between a chief executive’s compensation and that of the median employee. Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chief executive since 2014, earned $22.4 million in 2020, while the median employee earned $24,617 — a ratio of 909 to 1. The average C.E.O.-to-worker pay ratio in the S&P 500 is 299 to 1, with grocery chains like Costco (193 to 1) and Publix (153 to 1) lower than that."https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/12/business/kroger-grocery-stores-workers-pay.html
When Enrique Romero Jr. finishes his shift fulfilling online orders at a Fred Meyer grocery store in Bellingham, Wash., he often walks to a nearby plasma donation center. There, he has his blood drained, and a hydrating solution is pumped into his veins, a process that leaves him tired and cold.
Mr. Romero, 30, said selling his plasma made him feel “like cattle.” But the income he earns from it — roughly $500 a month — is more reliable than his wages at Fred Meyer, which is owned by the grocery giant Kroger. His part-time hours often fluctuate, and he struggles to find enough money to cover his rent, his groceries and the regular repairs required to keep his 2007 Chevy Aveo on the road.
“The economy we have is grueling,” he said.
Business has boomed during the pandemic for Kroger, the biggest supermarket chain in the United States and the fourth-largest employer in the Fortune 500. It owns more than 2,700 locations, and its brands include Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Smith’s, Pick ’n Save and even Murray’s Cheese in New York City. The company, which is based in Cincinnati, said in December that it was expecting sales growth of at least 13.7 percent over two years. The company’s stock has risen about 36 percent over the past year.
But that success has not trickled down to its vast work force of nearly 500,000 employees, a number of whom have reported being homeless, receiving government food stamps or relying on food banks to feed their families. A brief strike in Colorado last month by workers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, at dozens of Kroger-owned King Soopers locations brought renewed scrutiny to the issues of pay and working conditions for grocery workers, who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic.
The Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group that surveyed more than 10,000 Kroger workers in Washington, Colorado and Southern California about their working conditions for a report commissioned by four units of the food workers union, found that about 75 percent of Kroger workers said they were food insecure, meaning they lacked consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. About 14 percent said they were homeless or had been homeless in the previous year, and 63 percent said they did not earn enough money to pay for basic expenses every month.
“There is a race to the bottom that’s been going on for a while with Walmart and other large retail stores, and also restaurants, and to reverse that trend is not easy,” said Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable.
Kroger was the sole employer for 86 percent of those surveyed, partly because more than half had schedules that changed at least every week, making it difficult to commit to another employer. About two-thirds said they were part-time workers, even though they wanted more hours. Keeping workers part time is a strategy employers use to encourage turnover and reduce costs.
Kristal Howard, a spokeswoman for Kroger, said the report was “one-dimensional and does not tell the complete story.”
“Kroger has provided an incredible number of people with their first job, second chances and lifelong careers, and we’re proud to play this role in our communities,” she said. Ms. Howard added that the company had raised its national average hourly rate of pay to $16.68 from $13.66 in 2017, a 22 percent increase, and that its benefits package included health care, retirement savings, tuition assistance and on-demand access to mental health assistance.
Some of the workers said that even though other retailers and fast food restaurants had started offering higher starting wages than Kroger, the company’s health insurance and retirement benefits, which the union negotiated, were more generous than what other employers offered. Other part-time Kroger workers say they stay on the job because they don’t want to lose their seniority and the chance for a full-time role.
Despite some of the wage increases and benefits, working at a grocery store no longer provides the stable income and middle-class lifestyle that it did 30 years ago, workers say. The Economic Roundtable report studied contracts dating back to 1990 and said the most experienced clerks — known as journeymen — in Southern California made roughly $28 per hour in today’s dollars while working full-time schedules. Wages for top-paid clerks today are 22 percent lower, and those workers are far more likely to be working part-time hours.
Ashley Manning, a 32-year-old floral manager at a Ralphs in San Pedro, Calif., works full time but is regularly strapped for cash. Ms. Manning, the single mother of a 12-year-old, said she had worked at Ralphs for nine years and earned $18.25 an hour. It took her four years to reach full-time status, which guarantees 40 hours per week and comes with an annual bonus ranging from $500 to $3,000.
She said she struggled to pay rent and moved into her grandmother’s house after being evicted last spring. She has needed help from her family to help pay for a car. She has tried to make extra money through a party planning and decorating business, but demand for those services dried up in the pandemic.
“I would think, ‘I have a good job and make decent money,’ and I don’t,” Ms. Manning said. “I’m still on the poverty level.”
During the pandemic, grocery store workers have been recognized as essential to keeping society going, but they have also faced health risks. At least 50,600 grocery workers around the country have been infected with or exposed to the coronavirus, and at least 213 have died from the virus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Ms. Manning was hospitalized for Covid-19 last summer. She blames herself for her grandmother’s subsequent death from the virus in August.
“She was one of the people that would help me the most, if I was short on a bill or needed help, to pick my daughter up from school,” she said. But when her grandmother was in critical condition, Ms. Manning said, she was told that she couldn’t take more time off after being sick with Covid-19.
The illness and the company’s response were jarring, given that corporate workers had the flexibility to work from home, she said, adding that she ultimately took disability leave for a stretch.
Kroger has one of the country’s starkest gaps between a chief executive’s compensation and that of the median employee. Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chief executive since 2014, earned $22.4 million in 2020, while the median employee earned $24,617 — a ratio of 909 to 1. The average C.E.O.-to-worker pay ratio in the S&P 500 is 299 to 1, with grocery chains like Costco (193 to 1) and Publix (153 to 1) lower than that.
These disparities have fomented outrage among employees, who are also dealing with issues like fights over masks and theft and violence in stores.
In Colorado, more than 8,000 workers at the Kroger-owned King Soopers chain walked off the job last month when union contract negotiations broke down over wages, employee safety issues and scheduling.
Around the time of the strike, a nonprofit publication, A More Perfect Union, published an internal Kroger document in which the company acknowledged that one in five of its employees received government assistance in 2017. The document also included research showing that employee turnover was lower in places where it raised wages.
In response, Kroger said it had developed an improvement plan after the analysis, which included the wage increase and steps to improve tuition assistance and retirement benefits. The company commissioned its own study that stated last month that Kroger’s average pay and benefits in Colorado and three other Western states were higher than those of other retailers.
After more than a week of picketing, the union — Local 7 of the U.F.C.W. — won large concessions, including wage increases and a plan to move at least 500 part-time workers into full-time roles within a few months.
As successful as the strike was for workers in Colorado, Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers of America, said the contracts covered only employees at specific Kroger chains, making it difficult for unions to gain broader leverage.
“When all contracts are local, how do you deal with a giant national company?” Mr. Cohen said. “Not very well.”
Kroger has tightly controlled labor expenses during the pandemic. The company offered hero pay and thank-you bonuses to workers in the early months of the pandemic but ended those well before vaccinations were available. (Grocery workers were also not given priority for vaccinations in many states.) While some municipalities like Los Angeles and Seattle sought to institute hazard pay mandates, Kroger and grocery lobbying associations fought such efforts.
Kroger’s resistance to wage increases peaked last year when the Los Angeles City Council approved a hazard pay mandate requiring large grocers and pharmacies to pay employees an additional $5 an hour for four months. In response, Kroger said it would close three stores in the area in May — two Ralphs locations and a Food 4 Less — blaming increased costs. The company pointed to a release at the time that said the stores were underperforming. But City Council members were left with the sense that the closures were retaliatory.
Paul Koretz, a member of the Council, said he had dealt with backlash from some constituents about the impending closing of a Ralphs in his district, a go-to for the local Orthodox Jewish community. He said Ralphs representatives had warned him that they would close the store if the mandate was instituted.
“I’m not sure I really believed that Ralphs would do it,” he said. “It just seemed so counterintuitive that you would mess with your very loyal customers.”
Shoppers in his district have adapted since the store closed. But he said he believed that the impact of the closings on employees and Council members’ fear of angering constituents probably had a chilling effect on other municipalities that were considering similar measures.
The mandated hazard pay gave many Kroger workers a glimpse of how their day-to-day lives could improve with more money. Areli Rivas, a part-time cashier at a Ralphs in Van Nuys, Calif., who is married to a full-time worker at the store, said the extra pay gave her “peace of mind.”
The mother of two said it was hard to justify purchases like a new backpack for her son, even though his current one is fraying. More pay would also allow her to get her daughter a new glasses prescription.
Some workers like Ms. Manning said that they couldn’t afford to shop at their store and that the employee discount of 10 percent applied only to Kroger-branded goods and did not always include produce and other essentials.
Kroger said that the discount covered 19,000 private-label food products and that it did include dairy, proteins and produce.
Pio Figueroa, 25, who has been working at a Ralphs in Laguna Beach, Calif., for about six years, said he was able to manage his monthly expenses now that he was among the highest earners in his store, making about $22.50 an hour. But at one point, he was making $15 or $16 per hour at the chain and struggled mightily.
“There were times I could only budget to spend $100 on food and everything a week,” he said. “So there were times I would go without a meal or definitely think, ‘What am I going to eat tonight?’”
"It was no surprise to us," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told HuffPost Sunday.
By Carly Ledbetter, February 13, 2022, Updated February 14, 2022https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eminem-knee-super-bowl-halftime-show_n_6209aee0e4b0328e00284b12
Eminem takes a knee as he performs alongside Dr. Dre during the halftime show of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Feb. 13.
Eminem sent a message by kneeling in the middle of the Super Bowl LVI halftime show on Sunday, after reports surfaced earlier in the day stating that the NFL would not allow the rapper to do so.
The “Lose Yourself” entertainer kneeled during the end of the show, after performing alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige.
Articles published earlier Sunday suggested that the rapper would be barred from kneeling “Colin Kaepernick-style,” and that Dr. Dre would be censored from saying his lyric “still not lovin’ the police,” while performing his song “Still Dre.”
But NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy denied that certain elements of the performance caught anyone off guard.
“It was no surprise to us,” he told HuffPost Sunday. “We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that was going to happen.”
The NFL initially banned players and team personnel from sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, a policy that was approved by all NFL team owners, save for San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, back in 2018. The policy stated that players wishing to protest could stay in the locker room.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time that “on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.”
This policy, which was supported by then-President Donald Trump, also included the option to fine those who disobeyed it.
Kaepernick first began kneeling in August 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality against Black people, setting off a civil rights movement and leading athletes of all sports to follow in his footsteps. Prior to kneeling, the former NFL quarterback protested by sitting during the national anthem.
It wasn’t until Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor that the NFL admitted it was wrong for its treatment of players and personnel.
“We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Goodell said at the time, without mentioning Kaepernick’s name. “We, the NFL, believe Black lives matter.”
The NFL has repeatedly come under fire for its mistreatment of Black athletes and, more recently, its racist hiring practices as alleged in a lawsuit by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores.
Prior to the start of the Super Bowl, President Joe Biden called on the NFL to exercise “generic decency” in relation to its hires.
“The whole idea that a league that is made up of so many athletes of color, as well as so diverse, that there’s not enough African American qualified coaches to, quote, ‘to manage’ these NFL teams, it just seems to me that it’s a standard that they’d want to live up to,” Biden said. “I don’t know if there’s not a requirement of law, but it’s a requirement, I think, of some just generic decency.”
Fueled by climate change, the drought that started in 2000 is now the driest two decades since 800 A.D.
By Henry Fountain, Published Feb. 14, 2022, Updated Feb. 15, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/climate/western-drought-megadrought.html
ALBUQUERQUE — The megadrought in the American Southwest has become so severe that it’s now the driest two decades in the region in at least 1,200 years, scientists said Monday, and climate change is largely responsible.
The drought, which began in 2000 and has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers and helped fuel wildfires across the region, had previously been considered the worst in 500 years, according to the researchers.
But exceptional conditions in the summer of 2021, when about two-thirds of the West was in extreme drought, “really pushed it over the top,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led an analysis using tree ring data to gauge drought. As a result, 2000-21 is the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D., which is as far back as the data goes.
The analysis also showed that human-caused warming played a major role in making the current drought so extreme.
There would have been a drought regardless of climate change, Dr. Williams said. “But its severity would have been only about 60 percent of what it was.”
Julie Cole, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the research, said that while the findings were not surprising, “the study just makes clear how unusual the current conditions are.”
Dr. Cole said the study also confirms the role of temperature, more than precipitation, in driving exceptional droughts. Precipitation amounts can go up and down over time and can vary regionally, she said. But as human activities continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, temperatures are more generally rising.
As they do “the air is basically more capable of pulling the water out of the soil, out of vegetation, out of crops, out of forests,” Dr. Cole said. “And it makes for drought conditions to be much more extreme.”
Although there is no uniform definition, a megadrought is generally considered to be one that is both severe and long, on the order of several decades. But even in a megadrought there can be periods when wet conditions prevail. It’s just that there are not enough consecutive wet years to end the drought.
That has been the case in the current Western drought, during which there have been several wet years, most notably 2005. The study, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, determined that climate change was responsible for the continuation of the current drought after that year.
“By our calculations, it’s a little bit of extra dryness in the background average conditions due to human-caused climate change that basically kept 2005 from ending the drought event,” Dr. Williams said.
Climate change also makes it more likely that the drought will continue, the study found. “This drought at 22 years is still in full swing,” Dr. Williams said, “and it is very, very likely that this drought will survive to last 23 years.”
Several previous megadroughts in the 1,200-year record lasted as long as 30 years, according to the researchers. Their analysis concluded that it is likely that the current drought will last that long. If it does, Dr. Williams said, it is almost certain that it will be drier than any previous 30-year period.
Tree rings are a year-by-year measure of growth — wider in wet years, thinner in dry ones. Using observational climate data over the last century, researchers have been able to closely link tree ring width to moisture content in the soil, which is a common measure of drought. Then they have applied that width-moisture relationship to data from much older trees. The result “is an almost perfect record of soil moisture” over 12 centuries in the Southwest, Dr. Williams said.
Using that record, the researchers determined that last summer was the second driest in the last 300 years, with only 2002, in the early years of the current drought, being drier.
Monsoon rains in the desert Southwest last summer had offered hope that the drought might come to an end, as did heavy rain and snow in California from the fall into December.
But January produced record-dry conditions across much of the West, Dr. Williams said, and so far February has been dry as well. Reservoirs that a few months ago were at above-normal levels for the time of year are now below normal again, and mountain snowpack is also suffering. Seasonal forecasts also suggest the dryness will continue.
“This year could end up being wet,” Dr. Williams said, “but the dice are increasingly loaded toward this year playing out to be an abnormally dry year.”
Samantha Stevenson, a climate modeler at the University of California, Santa Barbara who was not involved in the study, said the research shows the same thing that projections show — that the Southwest, like some other parts of the world, is becoming even more parched.
Not everywhere is becoming increasingly arid, she said. “But in the Western U.S. it is for sure. And that’s primarily because of the warming of the land surface, with some contribution from precipitation changes as well.”
“We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years,” she added.
She’s the third person ever to be cured. Researchers announced that the new approach holds the potential for curing more people of racially diverse backgrounds.
By Apoorva Mandavilli, Feb. 15, 2022
A colored scanning electron micrograph of H.I.V. particles, in yellow, infecting a host cell. The patient received cord blood from a donor with the mutation that blocks H.I.V.’s entry into cells. Credit...Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Source
A woman of mixed race appears to be the third person ever to be cured of H.I.V., using a new transplant method involving umbilical cord blood that opens up the possibility of curing more people of diverse racial backgrounds than was previously possible, scientists announced on Tuesday.
Cord blood is more widely available than the adult stem cells typically used in bone marrow transplants, and does not need to be matched as closely to the recipient. Most donors in registries are of Caucasian origin, so allowing for only a partial match has the potential to cure dozens of Americans who have both H.I.V. and cancer each year, scientists said.
The woman, who also had leukemia, received cord blood to treat her cancer. It came from a partially matched donor, instead of the typical practice of finding a bone marrow donor of similar race and ethnicity to the patient’s. She also received blood from a close relative to give her body temporary immune defenses while the transplant took.
Researchers presented some of the details of the new case on Tuesday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver, Colo.
The sex and racial background of the new case mark a significant step forward in developing a cure for H.I.V., the researchers said.
“The fact that she’s mixed race, and that she’s a woman, that is really important scientifically and really important in terms of the community impact,” said Dr. Steven Deeks, an AIDS expert at the University of California, San Francisco who was not involved in the work.
Infection with H.I.V. is thought to progress differently in women than in men, but while women account for more than half of H.I.V cases in the world, they make up only 11 percent of participants in cure trials.
But Dr. Deeks said he did not see the new approach becoming commonplace. “These are stories of providing inspiration to the field and perhaps the road map,” he said.
Powerful antiretroviral drugs can control H.I.V., but a cure is key to ending the decades-old pandemic. Worldwide, nearly 38 million people are living with H.I.V., and about 73 percent of them are receiving treatment.
A bone marrow transplant is not a realistic option for most patients. Such transplants are highly invasive and risky, so they are generally offered only to people with cancer who have exhausted all other options.
There have only been two known cases of an H.I.V. cure so far. Referred to as “The Berlin Patient,” Timothy Ray Brown stayed virus-free for 12 years, until he died in 2020 of cancer. In 2019, another patient, later identified as Adam Castillejo, was reported to be cured of H.I.V., confirming that Mr. Brown’s case was not a fluke.
Both men received bone marrow transplants from donors who carried a mutation that blocks H.I.V. infection. The mutation has been identified in only about 20,000 donors, most of whom are of Northern European descent.
In the previous cases, as the bone marrow transplants replaced all of their immune systems, both men suffered punishing side effects, including graft versus host disease, a condition in which the donor’s cells attack the recipient’s body. Mr. Brown nearly died after his transplant. Mr. Castillejo’s treatment was less intense, but in the year after his transplant, he lost nearly 70 pounds, developed a hearing loss and survived multiple infections, according to his doctors.
By contrast, the woman in the latest case left the hospital by day 17 after her transplant and did not develop graft versus host disease, said Dr. JingMei Hsu, the patient’s physician at Weill Cornell Medicine. The combination of cord blood and her relative’s cells might have spared her much of the brutal side effects of a typical bone marrow transplant, Dr. Hsu said.
“It was previously thought that graft versus host disease might be an important reason for an H.I.V. cure in the prior cases,” said Dr. Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the International AIDS Society, who was not involved in the work. The new results dispel that idea, Dr. Lewin said.
The woman, who is now past middle age (she did not want to disclose her exact age because of privacy concerns), was diagnosed with H.I.V. in June 2013. Antiretroviral drugs kept her virus levels low. In March 2017, she was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia.
In August of that year, she received cord blood from a donor with the mutation that blocks H.I.V.’s entry into cells. But it can take about six weeks for cord blood cells to engraft, so she was also given partially matched blood stem cells from a first-degree relative.
The half-matched “haplo” cells from her relative propped up her immune system until the cord blood cells became dominant, making the transplant much less dangerous, said Dr. Marshall Glesby, an infectious diseases expert at Weill Cornell Medicine of New York and part of the research team.
“The transplant from the relative is like a bridge that got her through to the point of the cord blood being able to take over,” he said.
The patient opted to discontinue antiretroviral therapy 37 months after the transplant. More than 14 months later, she now shows no signs of H.I.V. in blood tests, and does not seem to have detectable antibodies to the virus.
It’s unclear exactly why stem cells from cord blood seem to work so well, experts said. One possibility is that they are more capable of adapting to a new environment, said Dr. Koen Van Besien, director of the transplant service at Weill Cornell. “These are newborns, they are more adaptable,” he said.
Cord blood may also contain elements beyond the stem cells that aid in the transplant.
“Umbilical stem cells are attractive,” Dr. Deeks said. “There’s something magical about these cells and something magical perhaps about the cord blood in general that provides an extra benefit.”
Here’s an early taste of the laboratory-grown meat that companies are racing to bring to market, and a look at the questions it raises about how we feed ourselves.
By Kim Severson, Published Feb. 15, 2022, Updated Feb. 16, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/dining/cell-cultured-meat.html
Mr. Davila prepared a sautéed cultivated chicken breast with beurre blanc, tomatoes and charred scallions for a recent tasting with a reporter. Credit...Gabriela Hasbun for The New York Times
EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Until I read the release form, I wasn’t concerned that the bite of sautéed chicken breast I was about to eat had taken less than three weeks to grow from a few cells inside a laboratory tank to a thick sheet of meat.
Would I assume full responsibility, the form asked, for any personal injury, property damage or death that came from ingesting meat “whose properties are not completely known”?
I was in the airy test kitchen and production center that Upside Foods opened four months ago in a Bay Area residential shopping district as part of its quest to sell chicken grown from animal stem cells, first in the United States and then globally. They hope other foods, including beef, duck and lobster, won’t be far behind.
“We just cannot take for granted that what we eat now is the gold standard,” said Dr. Uma Valeti, the cardiologist who helped start the company in 2015 after he became convinced that the same medical technology used to grow stem cells to repair a human heart could also grow food.
“We are changing the paradigm,” he said. “We are detaching the meat from the animal.”
Tissue engineers and scientists in several countries are trying to find a commercially viable way to transform animal stem cells into a marbled Wagyu steak, briny oysters or sushi-grade salmon. Their work is fed by nearly $3 billion in investments from companies like Archer-Daniels-Midland and the Brazilian meat giant JBS; billionaires like Bill Gates; environmentally minded celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio; and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Qatar Investment Authority.
The global market for what is most commonly known as cell-based or cultivated meat could reach $25 billion by 2030, according to the consultants McKinsey & Company. That would be a tiny slice of the projected $1.4 trillion meat market, but one that food companies see as a key player in the fast-growing category called alternative meat.
Growing cells into meat remains the Wild West of food production. Although companies are racing to file for patents, and guard breakthroughs in cell technology like gold, almost a decade after the first cell-grown hamburger was introduced at a packed media event, the notion of buying an engineered steak at the grocery store remains an expensive theory.
Only about 700 people in the world have ever purchased cellular meat — most of it ground, breaded and fried, and all of it in Singapore, which became the first nation to grant regulatory approval in 2020. And though the United States isn’t far behind (the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration could finish writing rules about how to produce and sell cultured meat by the end of the year) all of this is still a long way from the grocery store.
There are plenty of questions about whether producers will ever master the technology and build plants big enough to make commercially viable amounts of the meat at a price consumers will pay.
But as the theoretical keeps inching closer to reality, curious cooks and adventurous diners are taking a closer look at whether farming meat cells will — or should — be widely embraced, the way plant-based meat substitutes have been.
“I’m not excited about it, but I wouldn’t bet against it,” said the restaurateur Danny Meyer, who added that he has yet to see evidence that cell-based meat is healthier, better for the planet or not just for elite diners. “I want to buy food for dinner, not a science experiment.”
For true believers, growing meat in tanks is a way to lessen the environmental impact of industrial meat production and relieve animal suffering. It could reduce food-borne illnesses, they say, and create an abundant meat supply to feed the world.
Opponents say the process ignores both culture and nature, and could be scientifically risky, creating potential allergens and untested byproducts, along with waste that might be a biohazard. And it ignores the value of time-tested regenerative agricultural practices in favor of unproven claims of environmental gain.
“If for any reason someone wants to avoid animal protein, why not just eat plants and foods made with plants?” said Alan Lewis, who oversees governmental affairs for the Natural Grocers health food chain. “The obsession with the taste and texture of meat I can understand. But taking the leap of faith to consuming synthetic protein seems entirely unnecessary.”
The chef José Andrés believes in the meat’s potential, and plans to serve it at one of his restaurants once it becomes available. He recently joined the board of Good Meat, a division of Eat Just that makes plant-based eggs from mung beans. In 2020, Good Meat became the first company in the world to sell cultivated meat. It debuted at a private club in Singapore, which tucked the meat into a bao bun and turned it into a crisp patty on a maple waffle.
Upside Foods has signed a multiyear consulting contract with Dominique Crenn, whose San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn has three Michelin stars. She serves no chicken or red meat on her tasting menu, but has promised to add the company’s chicken and help promote it.
When Dr. Valeti approached Ms. Crenn last year, her initial thought was, “No way.” But then she thought, why not? “I love farmers and ranchers. That is not what I am against. I am against factory farming. That is not sustainable.”
At her first tasting, she thought the breast meat was a bit mushy, but the flavor reminded her of poulet rouge, a heritage breed from France.
Michal Ansky, an Israeli food journalist who hosts “MasterChef Israel” and has opened several farmers’ markets, also is a fan. She tried cell-based chicken in January during a blind tasting set up by SuperMeat, one of several cell-based meat companies in Israel.
She and a panel sampled it alongside traditionally grown minced chicken. Ms. Ansky was convinced that the better-tasting chicken came from an animal. She was wrong, and became a convert. She even thinks the meat could even find a place at farmers’ markets.
“Food is more than ingredients,” Ms. Ansky said in a phone interview from Tel Aviv. “Food is about memory and tradition and identity and longing. If my grandmother was still alive and could make her chicken soup with the lab meat, many lives would be better.”
In 20 years, she said, “people will look at us as crazy people who slaughtered chickens.”
The chef Dan Barber, co-owner of the Blue Hill restaurants in New York State, said lab-grown food enriches no one but the investors, and ignores the environmental and phytochemical benefits that come when animals feed on pasture, which translates into both flavor and better nutrition. “As they say, ‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how,’” he said.
The meteoric rise of highly processed plant-based proteins has kicked open the door for cellular agriculture. It’s been only six years since Impossible Foods introduced a patty made with soy leghemoglobin to mimic beef blood. Now McDonald’s is testing a McPlant burger, and KFC is selling plant-based chicken nuggets from Beyond Meat.
Cultivated meat is an entirely different creature. It begins with stem cells from an animal biopsy, an egg or even a feather that multiply rapidly in a stainless steel tank called a bioreactor or cultivator. The cells feed on a complex broth that contains nutrients like carbohydrates and amino acids, and some type of growth factor, to become muscle, fat or connective tissue. Taste and nutrition are controlled by cell selection and the broth they grow in.
Making a product that looks like ground meat is easier than replicating traditional cuts. To create something that looks like a steak or a chop, some companies use an edible scaffold that the cells can attach to. Scientists are experimenting with biological 3-D printing technology originally designed to rebuild human tissue, using it instead to turn layers of muscle and fat tissue into Wagyu-style beef.
And the taste? In the Upside Food test kitchen, I sampled a slightly grainy chicken pâté and a perfectly round breakfast patty blended with plant-based proteins that fried up nicely. Generous seasoning masked the flavor of the meat.
The breast I ate came from tissue that had grown short meat fibers and had been pressed into plastic molds to approximate the size and shape of a small boneless breast. It had less chew but much more flavor than a typical grocery-store breast. The biggest difference was how the meat reacted in a pan. As it browned, the surface looked more like coarsely ground meat than whole muscle.
What to call meat grown in tanks remains a battle. The United States Cattlemen’s Association petitioned the Department of Agriculture in 2018 to limit the definition of meat and beef to products derived from animals born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner. The request was denied. States have jumped in. In Georgia, cell-cultured products have to be labeled “lab-grown,” “lab-created” or “grown in a lab.”
Most producers prefer the term cultivated meat, or cultured meat. The terms slaughter-free meat or clean meat are favored by some in the animal-rights contingent. Cooks, ranchers and others who oppose it call it synthetic, fake or engineered meat. The debate is likely to be settled, at least legally, when the agriculture department decides what to require on the label.
David Kaplan oversees the new National Institute for Cellular Agriculture at Tufts University, which in October received a $10 million grant from the Department of Agriculture to study cellular meat, from production to consumer acceptance. He prefers the term cultured meat. “Really, there is nothing artificial about this,” he said.
Dr. Kaplan and others acknowledge that squeamishness about the technology remains a hurdle. In a consumer survey released this year by Britain’s Food Standards Agency, only a third of those polled said they would try it. Just one in 10 Americans would be interested in trying food or beverages grown from cells, said Dasha Shor, an associate director of the market research firm Mintel.
The first consumer products will likely be a blend of plant-based proteins and cell-grown meat, she said, adding that younger people are more open to cultivated meat than their elders, which is why companies like Aleph Farms, in Israel, are recruiting members of Generation Z as cell-meat ambassadors.
Josh Tetrick, a founder and the chief executive of Eat Just, thinks acceptance is just a matter of time. “When the freezer came out, people thought it was bizarre, too,” he said.
Isha Datar is the executive director of New Harvest, a nonprofit institute that funds open, public research into cellular agriculture. In an October TED Talk that’s been viewed 1.6 million times, she contends that growing cells for meat offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix a broken agricultural system. It could be as revolutionary, she says, as the transition from hunting to farming.
But she cautions that investors and companies have too much control over a process that, like making beer or cheese or growing vegetables, shouldn’t be treated as intellectual property.
“What does it mean for one company to own the recipe for meat?” she said. “It has the capacity to be very good and to be very bad.”
The restaurant, Café Habana, is scheduled to open in the spring. But it’s already leaving a bitter taste for many Miami-Dade County residents.
By Christina Morales, Feb. 10, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/dining/cafe-habana-miami-castro-guevara.html
MIAMI — A Manhattan restaurant planning an expansion to Miami has drawn the ire of some Cuban Americans after its use of Communist lore was pointed out on social media.
Café Habana, which plans to open a branch in the Brickell neighborhood this spring, was inspired by the Mexico City restaurant where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were rumored to have planned the Cuban revolution, according to a history now deleted from the restaurant’s website. The Miami Herald first reported the story.
This is the latest stumble for an out-of-town restaurant tone deaf to the histories of the local residents, many of whom still blame Castro and Guevara for upending their lives in Cuba. In 2017, the Turkish chef Nusret Gokce, known as Salt Bae, faced criticism online when he posted a photo of himself posed as Castro, according to the Miami Herald. He later opened a restaurant in Miami.
“Many Cubans living in Miami now, and its descendants, blame Fidel personally for being here,” said Jorge Duany, the director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. “The level of hatred, for quite a number of Cuban immigrants, is quite intense.”
Café Habana, which at its location in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan sells Mexican-style grilled corn and a Cubano sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise, has opened branches in Malibu and Tokyo. Sean Meenan, the chain’s founder, did not return repeated calls for comment, nor did others affiliated with the restaurant, including the company’s chief executive and partner, Luke Thomas.
In the past, Mr. Meenan has also played on the imagery of Cuban communism with a large mural in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, which married the iconic Alberto Korda photograph of Guevara with the face of the rapper the Notorious B.I.G. That mural was painted more than a decade ago for the chain’s Habana Outpost location, which has since closed.
“I was honestly shocked they had the audacity to open up in Miami,” said Josue Alvarez, 31, the son of Cubans who left the island in 1980. He was inspired to post a TikTok that spread on social media.
Lillian May, 62, took issue with the politics and the menu. “He has no right to be appropriating something for his own benefit and hurting the community he’s appropriating the culture of,” she said.
Others, like Jose Manuel Palli, 70, of Miami, were not bothered. Mr. Palli, who was born in Cuba and moved to Argentina when he was 8 years old, said it wasn’t surprising to see the community in an uproar, and added that he views the response as “just a way of trying to re-fight a battle that they lost many years ago.” He feels that many Cubans and their descendants have “built their lives and their identities on their anti-Castro stance.”
Mr. Palli said he would eat at the restaurant when it’s open. “My fellow Cubans will brand me as a Communist, but I’d love to make a statement there.”
Tiana Hill gave birth to her child in the Clayton County Jail. She contends that officials did not do enough to treat her while she was in labor and did not take her to a hospital in time.
By Eduardo Medina, Feb. 16, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/us/georgia-birth-clayton-county.html
A woman who went into labor at a jail in Clayton County, Ga., two years ago said the facility’s medical staff and sheriff ignored her pleas to be taken immediately to a hospital and are responsible for the death of her baby, according to a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit contends that the jail administrators “denied and refused to provide” the woman, Tiana Hill, and her baby, “D.H.,” prenatal and medical care, causing Ms. Hill physical pain and stress, and the wrongful death of the child on Jan. 3, 2020, four days after birth.
The lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in December, was reported this month by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and 11 Alive in Atlanta.
Mitchell Albert III, a lawyer for Ms. Hill, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview on Tuesday.
Jack Hancock, a lawyer for Sheriff Victor Hill of Clayton County, a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a statement that he would not “comment on pending litigation.” A phone message left on Tuesday at a number listed in court records as belonging to Sheriff Hill was not immediately returned.
The other defendants — CorrectHealth Clayton LLC; Charles Clopton, the jail’s doctor; Clayton County and its board of commissioners — did not respond to emails or phone calls on Tuesday seeking comment.
Ms. Hill, a mother of three girls, was arrested on Sept. 12, 2019, on charges of battery and violation of probation and detained at the Clayton County Jail, where she told the authorities that she was pregnant, according to the lawsuit.
Ms. Hill’s health began to deteriorate in jail, the lawsuit contends. She requested medical attention from the jail’s staff, it states, but was not provided any.
On Dec. 29, 2019, Ms. Hill, sitting in her cell, told jail staff members that she was in labor, according to her lawsuit.
She was taken to the jail infirmary at 11:12 p.m., the suit states, and felt severe pain as she heard staff members tell her that she was having a miscarriage.
“Ms. Hill was forced to lay in a blood-saturated pad, in childbirth labor, crying, asking to be sent to the hospital,” the lawsuit states. “She was not sent to the hospital.”
About 12 hours after Ms. Hill first told jail employees that she was in labor, she gave birth, the lawsuit states, on Dec. 30, at 12:32 p.m. She and her child were then transported to Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, where the 4-day-old baby died on Jan. 3, 2020, Ms. Hill’s birthday, according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff Hill has recently faced other legal problems.
Last summer, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia suspended the sheriff after Sheriff Hill was indicted on felony charges of deprivation of rights after using restraining chairs as punishment for detainees, according to a federal lawsuit. Sheriff Hill’s lawyers have denied the charges and said that none of the inmates had been physically injured. The lawsuit is pending.
Sheriff Hill is a defendant in a pending lawsuit filed in 2020 that claims that his office failed to protect detainees from Covid-19.
Ms. Hill is seeking $25 million from her lawsuit.
The government emphasized not only racial slurs but also expressions of support for vigilantism.
By Tariro Mzezewa and Richard Fausset, Feb. 16, 2022
Gregory McMichael listening to proceedings during the state trial in November 2021. Credit...Pool photo by Sean Rayford
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Federal prosecutors in the hate crimes trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s three murderers on Wednesday presented the jury with voluminous digital evidence of racism, as the government continued to build its case that the defendants, who are white, chased Mr. Arbery through their South Georgia neighborhood because he was Black.
Amy Vaughan, an intelligence analyst with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, walked the jury through text messages and social media posts by two of the defendants, Travis McMichael and William Bryan, calmly reading bigoted language so harsh that the prosecutor Christopher J. Perras issued a warning to people in the courtroom gallery before she began. None of the racist statements specifically mentioned Mr. Arbery. But prosecutors are hoping that they will help convince the jury that racism motivated the trio to pursue him.
The prosecutors’ strategy about how they would use this evidence in service of their goal became clearer on Wednesday. They plan to show the men’s racist words were too frequent to be considered slips of the tongue. They have taken pains to note that some of the language was used within days or months of Mr. Arbery’s killing. They have emphasized not only racist remarks, but expressions of support for vigilantism: The jury learned that roughly five months before the killing, Gregory McMichael, 66, Travis McMichael’s father and the third defendant in the case, posted a meme on Facebook that said, “A gun in the hand is worth more than the entire police force on the phone.”
And in the case of Travis McMichael, they have introduced evidence that he not only disliked Black people but wished them dead. In one instance, after a friend sent Travis McMichael, 36, a video of a Black person playing a practical joke, Mr. McMichael responded by using a racist epithet and saying he would kill the person who made the joke.
The three men have already been convicted of murdering Mr. Arbery in state court and sentenced to life in prison, with only Mr. Bryan given the possibility of parole. In the federal case, which started on Monday, they also face up to life in prison for the charges against them, which include attempted kidnapping and, in the case of the McMichaels, separate weapons charges.
Mr. Arbery, 25, lived a couple of miles from the men’s Satilla Shores neighborhood outside of Brunswick. On the day of his death, he had jogged there and walked onto the site of a house under construction, as he had many times before. The McMichaels, who suspected him of break-ins in the neighborhood, began chasing Mr. Arbery, who was unarmed, in their truck. Mr. Bryan soon joined the chase. None of the men called the police until the end of the five-minute pursuit, when Gregory McMichael called 911 just before his son shot Mr. Arbery three times with a shotgun.
In the federal trial, the fate of each man could differ, given the extent of the government’s evidence against them. No evidence has emerged that Mr. Bryan, 52, expressed a desire to harm Black people, although he repeatedly referred to his daughter’s Black boyfriend using a racist slur, including four days before the killing.
No evidence was introduced on Wednesday that showed Gregory McMichael using racial slurs. But in June 2016, he posted a meme to social media that stated, “White Irish slaves were treated worse than any other race in the U.S.,” followed by vulgar language that contrasted the Irish with other racial or ethnic groups who demanded “free” things.
Prosecution witnesses from the F.B.I. and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have noted that they were unable to retrieve data from Gregory McMichael’s cellphone.
In opening statements on Monday, Bobbi Bernstein, another U.S. Department of Justice lawyer, indicated that the government planned to call a former co-worker of the elder McMichael who would discuss an anti-Black tirade Mr. McMichael went on after the death of the civil rights leader Julian Bond. Ms. Bernstein said that Mr. McMichael said he wished that Mr. Bond had “been put in the ground years ago.”
“He was nothing but trouble,” Mr. McMichael continued, according to Ms. Bernstein. “Those Blacks were nothing but trouble.”
One question that has emerged in both the state and federal trials is whether Mr. Arbery had committed any crime during his multiple visits to the house under construction. The house had no walls or door at the time, and there is no evidence he stole or damaged property there. On Tuesday, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said he did not think the visits even amounted to trespassing.
On Wednesday, prosecutors showed a video that Travis McMichael had made in which he described his plans for a hog hunt. The video shows a “No Trespassing” sign on a property, and Mr. McMichael knocking it down as he walks past it. A month later he called the police to report that Mr. Arbery was trespassing at the house under construction.
Nia Whims, 13, was held in juvenile detention for 11 days after a classmate impersonated her on Instagram. Information proving her innocence was “available at the press of a button,” a lawsuit claims.
By Azi Paybarah, Feb. 17, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/us/florida-lawsuit-nia-whims.html?action=click&algo=bandit-all-surfaces_impression_cut_3_filter_new_arm_5_1&alpha=0.05&block=more_in_recirc&fellback=false&imp_id=581667808&impression_id=59310db0-9016-11ec-9f3b-31596e6fbd9b&index=0&pgtype=Article&pool=more_in_pools%2Fus®ion=footer&req_id=706817992&surface=eos-more-in&variant=0_bandit-all-surfaces_impression_cut_3_filter_new_arm_5_1
The family of a Florida girl who was held in a juvenile-detention center for 11 days after a classmate impersonated her on social media to make threats against their school has filed a lawsuit against the school and Instagram for their roles in the episode.
For the girl, Nia Whims, being jailed was “a horrifying experience,” a lawyer representing her said at a news conference on Wednesday. “She knew she didn’t do anything wrong, and yet here she is, behind bars.”
Nia’s mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, said her daughter was “heartbroken” by what happened. After Nia was released from custody, on Nov. 29, “she threw away her school uniform,” Ms. Davis said.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in state court in Broward County, accuses Nia’s school, Renaissance Charter School at Pines, and Meta, the social media giant that owns Instagram, of failing to protect her. The lawsuit says the family is also planning to add the Pembroke Pines Police Department in the suit.
Police officers arrested Nia without sufficient proof that she had written the threatening messages, the lawsuit claims.
Last week, the police department said in a statement that Nia’s family had delayed cooperating with the investigation, a claim that the family has denied.
The lawsuit also blames Instagram for not quickly providing the authorities with information that would have proved the teenager’s innocence. That information, the lawsuit says, is “literally available at the press of a button.”
Instagram also failed to protect the teenager, and the public, by not having policies in place to prevent people from being impersonated on its platform, the lawsuit says.
Colleen Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Renaissance Charter School at Pines, declined to answer any questions about the matter, citing pending litigation, but she wrote in an email, “We always have and always will take all appropriate actions to ensure our students and staff are safe.”
Instagram did not respond on Wednesday to an email requesting comment.
In November, Nia was a 13-year-old eighth grader at Renaissance. She had no prior disciplinary issues there but suffered relentless bullying, the lawsuit said.
Ms. Davis, at the news conference, said she had sought a meeting with school officials and the parents of the bullying students, but she met only once with a teacher. She said she saw no improvement in how her daughter was treated.
On Nov. 18, Nia was using her brother’s iPad and communicating with a classmate at the charter school.
At some point, the classmate created an Instagram account using Nia’s name and information, according to the lawsuit and police officials. Then, the student, who is identified in the lawsuit only as M.S., used this new account “to send messages to herself that would appear to be sent” from Nia, according to the lawsuit.
The messages threatened to blow up the school and kill M.S., as well as a teacher at the charter school and that teacher’s family, the lawsuit says.
That teacher was informed of the messages and in turn alerted school officials and the police, the lawsuit says. When officers with the Pembroke Pines Police Department visited Nia’s home to ask her about the threats, Nia confirmed that she used Instagram but denied writing the messages, the lawsuit says.
On Nov. 19, the police arrested Nia at her home and took her to a juvenile detention center. She was released on Nov. 29 after Ms. Davis hired a lawyer who argued for her release, according to Nia’s lawyer, Marwan Porter. Nia was cleared of the charges several weeks later.
At the news conference, Ms. Davis said she tried to prove her daughter was innocent the day the police arrested her by giving officers the iPad her daughter was using. (In a brief interview on Wednesday, Ms. Davis said she had allowed the police to take the iPad for the investigation.)
A spokeswoman for the Police Department declined to answer questions about the matter on Wednesday, referring instead to the statement the department issued last week. Ms. Davis, who is identified as “the mother of Victim #1” in the news release, “began cooperating” with the investigation on Dec. 21. That cooperation, the statement said, “caused investigators to apply for a subpoena for the I.P. addresses associated with the threatening messages.”
The authorities eventually determined that the messages were sent from an I.P. address that did not match the one on the device that Nia was using at the time.
Mr. Porter said at the news conference that the police account of events was inaccurate, and that “this was a joke of an investigation.”
“Our natural inclination is whatever they’re saying is the truth,” Mr. Porter went on to say, referring to the police. “Let me tell you, it’s not, in many situations.”
The lawsuit claims that “failure to promptly investigate this easily discoverable information by the Pembroke Pines police” forced Nia to remain in custody unnecessarily for 11 days, while Instagram’s refusal “to promptly provide or cooperate with the investigating officers” further prolonged the investigation.
Placing a young girl in handcuffs when a simple review of the Instagram accounts, messages and conversations would have revealed the truth, “shocks the conscience and is beyond the bounds of decency,” the lawsuit says.
By Mary Ziegler, February 17, 2022
Ms. Ziegler is the author of “Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/opinion/abortion-florida-15-week-ban.html
Reproductive rights advocates in Florida protest the state’s proposed 15-week abortion ban. Credit...Octavio Jones for The New York Times
In 2019 a wave of anti-abortion laws swept this country — a common enough event in the United States, where hundreds of such laws have passed during the last decade. But these grabbed the public’s attention in a way many others hadn’t. Georgia banned abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, or about two weeks after a missed menstrual period. Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky did the same, while Missouri banned the procedure at eight weeks. Alabama went the furthest, banning virtually all abortions in the state.
Though most of these laws were quickly blocked by the courts — they were obviously unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade — the backlash to their passing was intense, especially in Georgia, a major hub of film and television production. Boycotts were threatened. Netflix and Disney spoke out. The actress Alyssa Milano even tried to get a “Lysistrata”-style sex strike off the ground.
Three years later, American reproductive rights are on an even bleaker trajectory. A Supreme Court decision that’s expected to come down this summer is likely to strike down Roe v. Wade, either in deed or in word, making it possible for states with anti-abortion leadership to ban the procedure altogether.
It might seem curious, then, that legislators in some conservative-leaning states are spending these months before the likely downfall of Roe working to pass less extreme abortion measures than they did in 2019. Now seems like the time for anti-abortion legislators to go for broke. The fact that some of them are pursuing a different strategy offers clues about what a post-Roe America could look like, and how that landscape could be more complex — and less predetermined — than some Americans had assumed.
One of this year’s unmistakable trends in anti-abortion legislation is the 15-week ban. Legislators in Arizona, Florida and West Virginia are now considering bills — which, as the name suggests, would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, in violation of Roe. At first blush, it might seem these states are simply copying the Mississippi law that the Supreme Court seems likely to uphold this summer, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But why would they hold back now, rather than try to get more draconian legislation through their legislatures? Florida even considered a six-week ban in recent months but did not end up acting on it. What is going on?
The answer is that 15-week bans are a way for Republicans to test public reaction in states that are still somewhat politically contested. Arizona has two Democratic senators and went for Joe Biden in 2020. Elections in Florida have been decided by a handful of votes. Their Republican governors might worry that if they go too far, they might trigger a backlash that could threaten their hold on power. Among the political realities at play: Some battleground states have constitutions that have been interpreted to protect abortion, while in others a majority of people likely oppose criminalizing the procedure.
Fifteen-week bans are a trial balloon to see what voters will tolerate — and they may end up being a step toward more bans on abortion from the moment of fertilization. You can bet these lawmakers will be watching the public reaction to the Dobbs decision this summer. If the reaction is relatively muted — as it has been, in much of the country, to Texas’s six-week abortion ban, which has now been in effect for nearly six months — they likely will keep pushing more sweeping laws, until, perhaps, they reach an absolute ban. Conversely, if enough people revolt at the destruction of abortion rights, lawmakers in states like Florida may not feel as comfortable pushing further.
This raises the possibility that, at least for a time after Roe is decimated, there could be not two Americas when it comes to abortion, but three: one in which almost any abortion is a crime, one in which abortion is broadly available and one in which abortion is heavily restricted but not altogether unavailable.
At some point that third America, if it comes to be, also will be threatened. Because after Roe is gone, leaders in the national anti-abortion movement will push for abortion to be banned from the moment of fertilization. The movement’s ultimate goal has always been the legal recognition of fetal personhood, which would functionally ban abortion across the nation. That would never be possible through the democratic process, but the anti-abortion movement is now betting that it might be through the Supreme Court, with its new conservative supermajority. For decades, anti-abortion leaders have downplayed the fetal personhood goal because doing so made it easier to win public support for their cause, help Republicans get elected and reassure Supreme Court justices anxious about public backlash. But with the makeup of this court — which will not shift once President Biden replaces the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer — they could well get their wish.
In the meantime, the anti-abortion movement will want to score as many wins as possible in red and purple states, hoping that 15-week bans will eventually lead to outlawing virtually all abortions.
The recent rash of anti-abortion laws reflects the uncertainty of America’s future. The writing may be on the wall for Roe v. Wade, but when it comes to what happens next, the public might still have a say.
A video of the fight at a New Jersey mall circulated widely online. Gov. Philip D. Murphy said the appearance of “racially disparate treatment” was “deeply, deeply disturbing.”
By Azi Paybarah, Feb. 17, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/nyregion/mall-fight-bridgewater-commons-nj.html
It was a routine scuffle that normally would have gotten little attention: two teenagers taking swings at each other in a New Jersey mall.
But when the police arrived and pulled them apart, one teenager, who is Black, was placed in handcuffs. The other one, who is white, was allowed to sit unrestrained on a couch.
The fight, which took place at the Bridgewater Commons mall on Saturday, was captured in a video that has been viewed more than 1.8 million times on Twitter.
“The appearance of what is racially disparate treatment,” Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said at a news conference on Wednesday, “is deeply, deeply disturbing.”
On Monday, the Bridgewater Police Department wrote on Facebook, “We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation.”
In a letter to residents on Tuesday, the mayor of Bridgewater said that the township’s police chief had asked the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to look into the matter. The New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP is calling for the officers involved in the episode to be immediately removed from the force pending an investigation.
The family of the Black teenager, Z’Kye Husain, 14, is working with Benjamin Crump, the civil rights lawyer who represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other high-profile victims of police brutality against Black people.
In a brief telephone interview on Thursday, Z’Kye’s mother, who asked that she be identified only by her first name, Eboné, said her son remained in handcuffs for about 20 to 30 minutes. The white teenager, who Mr. Crump said was in the 11th grade, was not handcuffed, Eboné said. No charges were filed against either teenager, she said.
“The cops said it was just protocol for a situation like that for them to put the kids in handcuffs,” she said. “It just so happens my son was the only one with the handcuffs on.”
A spokesman for the Bridgewater Police Department referred questions to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, which did not respond to requests for comment.
Z’Kye’s mother said her son was at the mall with friends around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday when the white teenager started harassing one of Z’Kye’s friends, who is in the seventh grade. Z’Kye defended his friend, she said, as other teenagers at the mall began recording the encounter with their phones.
In the video, the white teenager, who is wearing a dark sweatshirt, jabs a finger near Z’Kye’s face. Z’Kye pushes his hand away. Then the white teenager shoves Z’Kye in the chest with both hands. Z’Kye stumbles back. Then, both teens start throwing punches as the crowd around them backs away.
The older teenager tackles Z’Kye onto a couch. More punches are thrown. The white teenager tackles Z’Kye and is above him when two uniformed officers, who appear to be white, arrive.
The officers throw the white teenager toward the couch and one briefly stays with him as the other officer tackles Z’Kye to the floor and begins to handcuff him.
The officer who was with the white teenager on the couch leaves him there to help restrain Z’Kye, both officers placing their knees on his back.
The white teenager stands up and appears to take a few small steps toward the officers and Z’Kye.
The video ends as one officer picks Z’Kye off the ground and the other walks over to the white teenager and puts a hand on his chest as if to guide him back to the couch.
“Yo, it’s because he’s Black,” one bystander says before the video ends. “Racially motivated.”
A Bridgewater Commons spokeswoman said both teenagers had been banned from the mall for three years. She declined further comment, citing the developing investigation.
Mr. Crump said other videos of the fight could surface showing more of the encounter and the officers’ response to it. He also said the episode was important because “too many of us do get killed when we’re wrongfully accused and falsely accused.”
Mayor Matthew Moench of Bridgewater Township, which is about 30 miles north of Trenton, told residents in his letter that it was “not appropriate for me or any other Township official to comment any further” because an investigation was underway. Mr. Moench did not respond to telephone calls and email messages seeking comment.
Township officials also canceled a previously scheduled town hall meeting on Wednesday, citing “the volume and nature of communications that have been received by our Township staff and Police Department,” according to a letter posted on the township’s website.
During demonstrations after George Floyd’s murder, several people in the Texas capital were taken to hospitals after being struck with beanbag rounds that officers fired from shotguns.
By David Montgomery, Published Feb. 17, 2022, Updated Feb. 18, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/us/austin-police-indictments-protests.html?searchResultPosition=2
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas district attorney said on Thursday it was very likely that several Austin police officers would be indicted on criminal charges for their treatment of protesters who were denouncing police violence and racial injustice after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis law enforcement in 2020.
Grand juries meet in secret, and many details of the investigation by Travis County have not yet been publicly released. But District Attorney José Garza said at a news conference that a special grand jury had concluded its work, and Joseph Chacon, the city’s police chief, separately declared that he was “extremely disappointed” in the news that charges against his officers were forthcoming.
Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association, said several lawyers representing officers told the union that 19 officers had been indicted.
The discussion of charges could begin to rekindle divisions that gripped the state capital during days of violent confrontations. Several protesters were injured as officers armed with “less-lethal” weapons, such as rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, confronted large crowds that intermittently blocked traffic on Interstate 35 through downtown Austin.
Mr. Garza, who made investigating the officers’ actions a priority after he was elected in 2020, said the county’s review uncovered disturbing facts.
“We believe many protesters injured by officers during the protests were innocent bystanders,” he said. “We also believe that the overwhelming majority of victims in the incidents that were investigated suffered significant and lasting injuries.”
At least 11 people were taken to hospitals after being struck with the beanbag rounds, which are filled with lead and fired from shotguns. Brad Levi Ayala was shot in the forehead while watching a peaceful protest.
“It created this huge gaping hole in his head — a huge wound,” said his brother Edwin Sanchez, who said Mr. Ayala required seven hours of surgery.
The police chief at the time announced that the department would no longer use beanbag rounds in crowds, and on Thursday, the city approved settlements with two demonstrators who were injured during the protests. The lawsuits said Justin Howell and Anthony Evans were severely injured when officers used “less-lethal” ammunition as a form of crowd control.
“Something went wrong here because no one should be injured merely exercising their constitutional rights,” Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement about the settlements.
At his news conference on Tuesday, Chief Chacon defended the response of his officers, who he said were often targeted by rocks, frozen water bottles and fireworks. The chief said officers were asked “to work under the most chaotic of circumstances” in crowds that escalated into the thousands.
“I believe in many instances the officers were simply attempting to protect themselves and other protest participants,” he said. “I am not aware of any conduct that, given the circumstances that the officers were working under, would rise to the level of a criminal violation.”
Mr. Garza, the prosecutor, disagreed with that assessment. He said there had been a thorough investigation, and said he anticipated that several indictments would be announced in the coming days.
Ms. Potter fatally shot Mr. Wright after drawing her gun instead of her Taser during a traffic stop near Minneapolis.
By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Feb. 18, 2022
The former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday, far less than the standard of about seven years for manslaughter, after a judge said leniency was warranted because the officer had meant to fire her Taser and not her gun.
Jurors convicted the former officer, Kimberly Potter, on two counts of manslaughter in December. They found that she had acted recklessly when she fired a bullet into Mr. Wright’s chest after warning that she was going to stun him and yelling: “Taser! Taser! Taser!”
Ms. Potter, a 49-year-old white woman who served on the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minn., resigned two days after the shooting in April, during a time of chaotic protests over the killing of Mr. Wright, a 20-year-old Black man. She has been imprisoned since the guilty verdict on Dec. 23.
Judge Regina M. Chu sentenced Ms. Potter on only the most serious count, first-degree manslaughter, in accordance with Minnesota law. The state’s sentencing guidelines list the felony count as having a presumptive punishment of a little more than seven years in prison, though the maximum penalty is 15 years. Judge Chu said the case was far different from most manslaughter cases, as well as from other high-profile police killings.
“This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine and a half minutes as he gasped for air,” the judge said, referring to Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd. She added: “This is a cop who made a tragic mistake. She drew her firearm, thinking it was a Taser, and ended up killing a young man.”
Judge Chu handed down the sentence shortly after Ms. Potter sobbed while apologizing to Mr. Wright’s family in court on Friday.
“I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son,” Ms. Potter said. Speaking directly to Mr. Wright’s mother, she said: “Katie, I understand a mother’s love and I am sorry I broke your heart. My heart is broken for all of you.”
Mr. Wright’s relatives said they were outraged by the leniency of the two-year sentence Ms. Potter received.
Daunte Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright, fought back tears as he described feeling cheated and hurt. He said the judge had seemed to care more about Ms. Potter than about Mr. Wright and his family.
“They were so tied up into her feelings and what’s going on with her that they forgot about my son being killed,” he said. “We actually thought we were going to get a little justice.”
Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Mr. Wright’s family, said many people have been sentenced to longer terms in prison for selling marijuana.
One of Ms. Potter’s lawyers, Paul Engh, said he was grateful that Ms. Potter was “shown mercy.”
It is rare that police officers are convicted and sentenced to prison for killing people. And prosecutions are unusual in the few situations in which officers have claimed they thought they were firing their Tasers.
In 15 previous cases over the past two decades in which officers said they confused their weapons, three were convicted of a crime, including two officers who fired fatal shots. Johannes Mehserle, a transit officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant III at a train station in Oakland, Calif., in 2009, was sentenced to two years in prison. Robert Bates, a volunteer sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Okla., was sentenced to four years in prison after he shot and killed a man while meaning to fire his Taser.
Prosecutors in the office of Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general, had suggested that they would ask Judge Chu to sentence Ms. Potter to a prison term beyond the standard sentencing range of 6.2 to 8.6 years, but in a new court filing this week they instead said that a sentence within that range would be appropriate.
Ms. Potter’s lawyers asked the judge to sentence Ms. Potter to probation, arguing that she would be a “walking target” in prison and that the prosecution’s sentencing request was “a political statement.”
Mr. Engh said at the sentencing hearing on Friday that Ms. Potter had suffered a “decline in mental and physical health” in the nearly two months that she has been imprisoned in solitary confinement because of fears that she would be attacked.
Mr. Wright’s parents and siblings had asked Judge Chu to sentence Ms. Potter to the maximum possible prison term.
“Daunte meant the world to me,” Arbuey Wright said in court before the sentence. “He was handsome, he was my son, he was my prince. Daunte was my reason. He was my reason to do better.”
Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte Wright’s 2-year-old son, Daunte Jr., said she had become a single mother “not by choice, but by force,” and that Ms. Potter had taken Daunte Jr.’s “best friend away from him.”
It is quite likely that Ms. Potter will be released from prison after about 14 months, in April 2023. Under Minnesota law, prisoners are generally freed on a supervised release term after they serve two-thirds of their sentence, and Ms. Potter will be credited for the 58 days she has spent in custody since she was convicted.
Prosecutors in Ms. Potter’s case conceded that the shooting on April 11 was a mistake, and in the moments after she fired, body camera videos showed her shouting that she had grabbed the wrong weapon and falling to the ground in tears.
Mr. Wright had been driving with a friend to a carwash in a Minneapolis suburb when Officer Anthony Luckey, who was being trained by Ms. Potter, noticed that Mr. Wright had used the wrong turn signal. Officer Luckey followed Mr. Wright’s white Buick and noticed that the car had an air freshener dangling from the rearview mirror, which is against the law in many states, and that his license plate had an expired registration sticker.
Officers ran Mr. Wright’s name through a police database and determined that a judge had recently issued a warrant for his arrest because he had missed a court date on charges that he had illegally possessed a gun and had run away from police officers. He stepped out of the car at Officer Luckey’s request, but when the officer went to handcuff him, Mr. Wright twisted away from his grip and got back into the driver’s seat.
As Officer Luckey struggled with Mr. Wright, trying to keep him from driving away, Ms. Potter shouted “I’ll Tase you!” while drawing her department-issued Glock instead. Moments later, she fatally shot Mr. Wright, whose car traveled shortly down the street before crashing into an oncoming car.
Daunte Demetrius Wright had played basketball in high school and later worked at Taco Bell and a shoe store with his father. His mother testified at Ms. Potter’s trial that Mr. Wright had recently enrolled in a vocational school and was considering becoming a carpenter.
Five other people were wounded in the shooting, which the police said “appeared to be a confrontation between armed protesters and an armed homeowner.”
By Sergio Olmos, Austin Ramzy and Melina Delkic, Published Feb. 20, 2022, Updated Feb. 21, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/us/portland-shooting-protest.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=US%20News
PORTLAND, Ore. — A deadly weekend shooting in Portland at a protest against police killings left one person dead and five others wounded, raising tensions once again among the city’s social justice activists.
The Portland Police Bureau said a woman was dead when officers arrived on Saturday night at the scene in the neighborhood of Rose City Park. Two men and three other women were taken to a nearby hospital, the police said.
The shooting, which occurred at the start of a protest, appeared to be “a confrontation between armed protesters and an armed homeowner,” Lt. Nathan Sheppard said by phone on Sunday. “That’s what the preliminary investigation is indicating.”
He declined to provide details about the people hospitalized and declined to say whether anyone was in custody.
The crime scene “was extremely chaotic,” the police said in a statement on Sunday, “and a number of witnesses were uncooperative with responding officers. Most people on scene left without talking to police.”
The statement added that detectives believe a large number of people either witnessed what happened or recorded the incident. “This is a very complicated incident, and investigators are trying to put this puzzle together without having all the pieces,” the statement said.
One of the victims, Dajah Beck, who turns 39 on Monday and who was contacted through her attorney, said she was shot twice. One bullet went through her side, and the other grazed her knee. Ms. Beck said she was part of a volunteer motorcade group that was working to set up a safety plan and reroute traffic ahead of the march. “We’re not part of the protest,” she said, adding that no one in the motorcade group was armed.
As Ms. Beck and the group were working, with one woman riding in the back of a truck because she walked slower and with the aid of a cane, a man approached a small group of women, screaming that they were “violent terrorists” and repeatedly calling them a misogynist vulgarity. The man said they were the people responsible for violence in the city, Beck recounted, adding that he said: “If I see you come past my house, I’ll shoot you.”
People in the group tried to calm him down. But as Ms. Beck looked away from him toward one of her friends, “that’s when he started shooting,” she said. She fell to the ground after she was shot and crawled behind a truck tire for cover. Moments later, she said, “the first thing that I saw was my two friends on the ground covered in blood.” One of them was the woman who died. Ms. Beck said that at that point, the shooter had been subdued and people were on top of him.
A tense atmosphere in the city lingered on Sunday. Before midday, a news conference about the shooting was disrupted almost immediately by several protesters, one of whom denounced white nationalism.
In a statement on Twitter on Sunday night, Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the community to cooperate with the investigation.
“While many of the details of last night’s shooting near Normandale Park are unclear, we do know one thing for sure: Our community is dealing with the sadness of another senseless act of gun violence,” he said.
The shooting took place near a park in Portland that has been the staging ground for a number of protests against police killings in recent years. Neighbors said several shots were fired.
“I was sitting in the room talking to my wife, and all of a sudden you hear repeated gunshots,” said Jeff Pry, who lives in the area.
Protesters were to meet around 7 p.m. and begin to march around 8 p.m. local time from the area around Normandale Park, according to fliers shared online ahead of the event. Many activists did not respond to requests for comment. Some activist groups warned protesters to limit the sharing of firsthand accounts on social media, whether through photo or text.
Protesters have been demonstrating in Portland against police killings for years, some since before George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020.
The march on Saturday night was partly led by Letha Winston, whose son Patrick Kimmons was fatally shot in 2018 by police officers in Portland who were responding to an altercation. A grand jury determined that deadly force was justified. Ms. Winston has held sometimes weekly marches to protest for racial justice.
Information on social media indicated the protest on Saturday was in response to the death of Amir Locke, 22, who was fatally shot by the police in Minneapolis when they were carrying out a search warrant early on Feb. 2. The killing of Mr. Locke, who was Black, stirred anger in Portland.
Mr. Locke was not the target of the police raid, which was carried out with a so-called no-knock warrant that does not require notifying residents. Minneapolis has since suspended the use of such warrants.
In an image that promoted the protest on social media, organizers sought “Justice for Amir Locke” and “Justice for Patrick Kimmons,” in addition to others involved in cases of police killings.
In Portland, demonstrations over racial justice have sometimes spiraled into violence between protesters and counterprotesters, but initial reports did not indicate that counterprotesters were present on Saturday night.
While the police in Portland have been criticized for overreacting to the demonstrations — the police have acknowledged using force more than 6,000 times during protests in 2020, prompting a reprimand from the Department of Justice — the constant clashes, especially the ones that have devolved into vandalism, have exasperated many Portland residents, including the mayor.
Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, a nonprofit focused on countering white nationalism, issued a statement denouncing the violence on Saturday night.
Political violence, regardless of where it originates, only undermines social movements that seek a more inclusive society, he said in the statement. “Whether it’s police brutality, paramilitaries, vigilantes or misguided actions in support of police reform, there’s simply no more room for political violence in the Portland we’re working to build,” he said.
Giulia Heyward contributed reporting.
High energy prices in Europe are upending people’s lives. While some are installing solar panels, others are stoking their wood-burning stoves.
By Melissa Eddy and Liz Alderman, Feb. 21, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/business/europe-power-gas-bill.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Business
A German retiree facing sky-high energy bills is turning to a wood-burning stove. The owner of a dry cleaning business in Spain adjusted her employees’ work shifts to cut electric bills and installed solar panels. A mayor in France said he ordered a hiring freeze because rising electrical bills threaten a financial “catastrophe.”
Europeans have long paid some of the world’s highest prices for energy, but no one can remember a winter like this one. Lives and livelihoods across the continent are being upended by a series of factors, including pandemic-induced supply shortages and now geopolitical tensions that are driving some energy prices up fivefold.
Matters could get worse if tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalate further, potentially interrupting the flow of gas. Russia provides more than a third of Europe’s natural gas, which heats homes, generates electricity and powers factories. Even as politicians and leaders in capitals across Europe are freezing prices, slashing taxes on energy and issuing checks to households hardest hit by the price increases, concerns are growing about what the persistently high prices could mean for people’s jobs and their ability to pay their bills.
“People are very upset and very distressed,” said Stefanie Siegert, who counsels consumers in the eastern German state of Saxony who find themselves struggling to pay their gas and power bills.
Germany has so far not seen protests over exorbitant energy bills like those that filled streets in Spain last year, or an explosive outcry over inequality on the level of the so-called Yellow Vest movement that rocked France in 2018. But Ms. Siegert, whose agency counseled more than 300 customers in January — three times its monthly average — said she wouldn’t be surprised if the anger currently directed at the prospect of a vaccine mandate shifted its sights to energy prices.
“When you talk with people, you feel their anger,” she said. “It is very depressing.”
Charged in one month what he used to pay in a year
Henry Backhaus, 65, is among tens of thousands of Germans who were dropped by private energy companies that could not afford to buy wholesale electricity and gas at soaring rates. Under German law, the local utility was then required to step in, but it sent him a bill for 747 euros (nearly $850) a month — more than he had been paying for an entire year.
“I am a retiree,” he said, looking over the stack of paperwork spread out on his dining room table. “That is more than what I can afford.”
But Mr. Backhaus, who lives in a three-story house in Saxony, has an alternative that might make him the envy of the millions of other Germans stuck with high energy bills: He has a large wood stove in his living room and, in his basement next to his gas-fired furnace, a furnace that burns coal or wood.
The stove and furnace, installed before the house was connected to a gas main, allow him to turn down the dial on his radiators to just 18 degrees Celsius, or 64 Fahrenheit, essentially cutting his gas bill in half.
“I still have a reserve of coal briquettes and stacks of dried wood,” he said, poking another log into the stove. “But this is only temporary. It is not a long-term solution.”
Most people don’t have the option of burning wood or coal, relying instead of piling on layers of clothing. In Britain, the government’s price cap on energy bills was recently raised 54 percent, increasing annual charges to 1,971 pounds. That increase will affect 22 million households beginning in April, contributing to broadening worries in Britain about the rising cost of living.
Similar concerns can be found throughout the continent.
Athina Sirogianni, 46, a freelance translator in Athens, said she remembered fondly the day about a decade ago when her building switched from oil to natural gas. The move cut her utility bill in half.
Most people don’t have the option of burning wood or coal, relying instead of piling on layers of clothing. In Britain, the government’s price cap on energy bills was recently raised 54 percent, increasing annual charges to 1,971 pounds. That increase will affect 22 million households beginning in April, contributing to broadening worries in Britain about the rising cost of living.
Similar concerns can be found throughout the continent.
Athina Sirogianni, 46, a freelance translator in Athens, said she remembered fondly the day about a decade ago when her building switched from oil to natural gas. The move cut her utility bill in half.
‘The more we produce the more we lose’
The price of energy is also forcing shutdowns or slowing production at manufacturers across Europe, even as they are eager to fill a backlog of orders and resume levels of business from before the pandemic.
The smelting industry has been especially hit hard. Nyrstar, the world’s second-largest zinc processor, produces nearly 500 tons of the metal each day at a sprawling factory in Auby, in northern France, a complex that consumes as much energy as the French city of Lyon.
When its electrical rates surged from €35 to €50 per megawatt-hour to €400 last December, it made no sense to keep the factory running, said Xavier Constant, Nyrstar France’s general manager. At that rate, he said, “the more we produce the more we lose,” and so the plant shut down last month for three weeks.
Nyrstar temporarily halved production at its other European plants in October when the energy crisis set in, prompting a brief spike in the global price of zinc.
Last fall, fertilizer plants in Britain were forced to close because of gas prices. And several German companies that produce glass, steel and fertilizer have also scaled back production in recent months.
To ease the burden of the high prices, the government in Berlin reduced by half an energy surcharge on bills aimed at funding the country’s transition to renewable sources of power, and plans to phase it out by the end of next year.
But industry leaders say that is not soon enough. Almost two-thirds of the 28,000 companies surveyed by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry this month rated energy prices as one of their biggest business risks. For those in the industrial sector, the figure was as high as 85 percent.
Small businesses, too, are scrambling for ways to cut costs.
Pilar Ballesteros Parra, who co-owns Ronsel, a dry cleaning business in Madrid that employs 10 people, said that her company’s electricity rates had risen about 20 percent from the previous year. In reaction, she has reorganized her employees’ work schedule, starting the early shift earlier and pushing the late shift further into the evening so the dry-cleaning equipment can run when rates are lowest.
She is also installing solar panels on the company’s building, outside of the Spanish capital, so that Ronsel can generate at least 60 percent of its own energy. The government is helping her with a 35 percent subsidy of the $45,000 investment.
“Our building faces southwest and gets a lot of sun, so that means that we should be almost self-sustainable during the coming months of spring and summer, which will be a big relief,” she said.
Still, she said, the energy crunch and overall price inflation meant that she saw little chance of sparing her customers some of the burden.
“There’s clearly this electricity headache, but there’s also now wage inflation and much higher gas bills for our vans,” she said. “In a few months, it’s clear that some of these costs will have to be passed on to our clients if we want to keep going.”
For public budgets, ‘like riding a roller coaster’
A broad range of public institutions are facing strains from higher power bills. In Poland, hospitals that have already been financially stretched by the coronavirus pandemic now question if they can keep their doors open.
“Managing a hospital in Poland is more and more like riding a roller coaster,” Robert Suroweic, who manages the Provincial Hospital in Gorzow, said on Twitter. He said the facility’s electricity prices had increased 100 percent.
He and other hospital directors have appealed to the government in Warsaw to intervene, saying the recent cuts to taxes on energy and gasoline were not enough.
In Germany, there is rising tension in municipally owned utilities that must accept customers, like Mr. Backhaus in Saxony, whose relatively low-cost contracts have been dropped by private energy companies because the companies can’t pay ballooning energy rates.
The municipal utilities are forced to increase the rates for these new customers, often almost astronomically high, to cover the cost of buying extra energy on the spot market at record prices. That leads to tensions in communities, and can threaten municipal finances.
“Anyone who wants to will be supplied with energy by the municipal utilities,” said Markus Lewe, president of the German Association of Cities and Towns. “But it must not lead to the municipal utilities and their loyal customers being asked to pay for questionable business models of other providers and having to answer for their shortsighted financing.”
He called on the federal government to intervene, to protect cities from the price instability.
In France, local leaders are also looking to the federal government to help ease the sting of skyrocketing energy bills.
Boris Ravignon, the mayor of Charleville-Mézières, said his city is facing “a catastrophe” after its January energy bill more than tripled, wiping out the region’s budget surplus for infrastructure and public services in a single month. The city is trying to cut costs by switching streetlights to LED bulbs, which use less electricity, and has proposed a new hydroelectric project.
The mayor has already frozen planned hirings and said the city may have no choice but to raise the cost of public services like water, transportation, fees to use sports halls like the city’s public pool, and cultural events.
“We really want to protect citizens from these increases,” Mr. Ravignon said. “But when prices reach such crazy heights, it’s impossible.”
Reporting contributed by Adèle Cordonnier in France, Raphael Minder in Spain and Niki Kitsantonis in Greece.