Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, March 7, 2022


Photo by David Solnit



Ringo Starr





United in Action to STOP KILLER DRONES:   



Spring Action, 2022


March 26 - April 2—Saturday to Saturday


 Co-sponsored by CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace





Free Em All—Mic Crenshaw and David Rovics featuring Opium Sabbah

 (Mumia, Leonard Peltier, lots of other political prisoners)



Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “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

End Legal Slavery in U.S. Prisons

Sign Petition at:








Español  Português

On the anniversary of the 26th of July Movement’s founding, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research launches the online exhibition, Let Cuba Live. 80 artists from 19 countries – including notable cartoonists and designers from Cuba – submitted over 100 works in defense of the Cuban Revolution. Together, the exhibition is a visual call for the end to the decades-long US-imposed blockade, whose effects have only deepened during the pandemic. The intentional blocking of remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions have prevented essential food and medicine from entering the country. Together, the images in this exhibition demand: #UnblockCuba #LetCubaLive

Please contact art@thetricontinental.org if you are interested in organising a local exhibition of the exhibition.



Kevin Rashid Johnson is Back in Virginia!


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!

Major Tillery and his family have set up a new Change.org petition to submit to the Board of Pardons in support his petition to commutation of his sentence to parole while maintaining his legal fight for exoneration and overturning of his conviction.
Major's commutation petition focuses on both his factual innocence as well as his decades of advocacy for other prisoners while serving almost 40 years as a lifer, over 20 of those years in solitary.

Please circulate and support the petition:






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


Great news for Kevin Cooper, an innocent man 

on San Quentin's death row:




Contact: Governor's Press Office


Friday, May 28, 2021


(916) 445-4571


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

By Johanna Fernández

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.”



Demand Mumia's Freedom:

Governor Tom Wolf -1(717) 787-2500  Fax 1 (717) 772-8284
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
HarrisburgPA  17120    
After calling the governor, send an online communication about our concerns.   https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/#PhoneNumber
Let us know what there response was, Thank you.  Mobilization4Mumia@gmail.com


Questions and comments may be sent to: info@freedomarchives.org



This beautiful and powerful exhibit is ongoing 

and can be viewed online at:



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603


Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

LEONARD PELTIER, Native American hero. An innocent man, he’s spent 44 years as a political prisoner. The prosecutor who put him behind bars now says Peltier is innocent. President Biden, go to Mass today, and then stop this torture. (Sipa/Shutterstock)

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


Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland


Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov


Attorney General Merrick Garland


Phone: 202-514-2000

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. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

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: 

National Hotline

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. 

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: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) Don't Be a Tankie: How the Left Should Respond to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

By Roane Carey

—The Intercept, March 1, 2022

A convoy of Russian military vehicles moving towards border in Donbas region
A convoy of Russian military vehicles drives through Rostov, Russia, toward eastern Ukraine on Feb. 23, 2022. Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

WITH RUSSIA’S MASSIVE invasion of Ukraine from three directions, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and install a puppet regime. If he persists in this mad act of imperial aggression, it will be catastrophic not only for Ukraine but for Russia and all of Europe — and maybe even the entire world. With his forces encircling Kyiv but bogged down after five days of heavy combat, Putin placed Russia’s nuclear forces on alert.


If you identify as a leftist, wherever you live and whatever your nationality, your duty now is to stand by the people of Ukraine as they resist Russian state terrorism — and to stand by those thousands of Russian citizens courageously protesting the war in dozens of cities across their country. If you opposed the criminal U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003, then you must oppose this criminal attack on Ukraine. Not just consistency, but a minimal degree of decency and human solidarity requires it. Putin’s war is a blatant violation of international law against an independent country that posed no threat to Russia.


Solidarity with the oppressed — regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, and so on — must be the driving force of leftist politics if they are to have any ethical value. Unfortunately, a small but loud faction that claims to be on the left and to be anti-imperialist has for years backed deeply oppressive dictatorships around the world, from Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who declared war against his own people, to the Chinese government, which has forcibly detained up to a million Turkic Muslims in internment camps, to Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, who abandoned the left many years ago and now rules over his country as a right-wing dictator.


These pseudo-leftists — sometimes called “tankies,” a name deriving from an earlier generation of Western leftists who backed the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 — also defend Russia’s behavior today. Other commentators like Gilbert Achcar and Dan La Botz have explained this crowd’s origins in detail, but the key element in the tankie mindset is the simple-minded assumption that only the U.S. can be imperialist, and thus any country that opposes the U.S. must be supported. As author and human rights activist Leila Al-Shami put it several years ago, “The pro-fascist left seems blind to any form of imperialism that is non-western in origin. It combines identity politics with egoism. Everything that happens is viewed through the prism of what it means for westerners — only white men have the power to make history.”


WHAT THE TANKIES fail to acknowledge is that Putin’s regime is as deeply reactionary socially as it is repressive politically. That’s why right-wing extremists in western Europe and the U.S., including Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon, have applauded him, and why neo-Nazis have celebrated him as the savior of the white race. In supporting Putin, the tankies are in league with the far right.


Like American leaders when they engage in imperial ventures, Putin does not see his invasion as an illegal war. In a long, potted essay last summer, he argued that the two countries are “one people, a single whole” and criticized Lenin’s establishment of the Soviet Union as a federation of equal republics with each having the right of secession. Russia, Putin claimed, “was robbed” by the Bolsheviks. He wrote that the “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.” The message could not have been clearer: Ukraine has no right to genuine independence; it belongs to Russia. This policy toward Ukraine is more reminiscent of 19th-century Great Russian chauvinism than anything else.


Putin heightened the rhetoric to fever pitch after ordering Russia’s “special military operation.” He absurdly accused Ukraine of committing “genocide” in regions of eastern Ukraine where the Russian language dominates and separatists have a foothold. Putin called Ukraine’s government a “junta” led by a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis,” and he declared that the goal of the invasion was to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.” Ukraine led by Nazis? The president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who was elected in 2019 by a landslide, is a Jew whose relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. Though there are fascist militias in Ukraine, just as there are in the U.S. and other Western countries, Ukrainians have repeatedly and decisively rejected neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists at the polls.


Responsibility for this war rests with Russia and Russia alone. But that should not obscure the fact that NATO, led by Washington, laid the groundwork for confrontation with a series of missteps after the breakup of the Soviet Union, provocations that fueled Russian resentment and fears of Western encirclement. First came the ill-advised expansion of NATO in the late 1990s, which was criticized not only by the left, but by a long and impressive list of former establishment cold warriors, including George Kennan, Richard Pipes, Sam Nunn, and many more. Western leaders had an opportunity to reorder the European security architecture in a way that included Russia at the highest levels after the fall of the Soviet Union. Instead, led by President Bill Clinton, they committed to the eastward expansion of NATO, an organization built on the premise of confrontation with Russia.


Even more misguided was the Western vow in 2008 to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. As Anatol Lieven, a Russia specialist at the Quincy Institute, put it in a recent interview: “We never had the slightest intention of defending Ukraine, not the slightest.” NATO’s declaration, he said, was “deeply immoral” for its hollowness. President Joe Biden’s current CIA Director William Burns, a veteran Russia expert formerly at the State Department, has long argued against both of those provocations, most recently in a memoir published just a few years ago. Even New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, that popinjay of pompous platitudes and parrot of establishment opinion, noted that, in this unfolding disaster, “America and NATO are not just innocent bystanders.”


What now? We must demand a full and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, and we must insist that the United States and NATO keep to their repeated public vows not to get directly involved militarily. Some of the sanctions may do more harm to the Russian people than to their government; the freezing of the government’s foreign bank reserves could bring the entire Russian economy to its knees. But freezing the money secretly stashed overseas by wealthy Russians — which some economists estimate could amount to as much as 85 percent of the country’s GDP — would be a good way to narrowly target Putin and the oligarchs surrounding him.


For the left, solidarity with Ukrainians under Russian siege is just as vital as solidarity with Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid, Yemenis being bombed by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, or any other people fighting oppressive regimes. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.



2) We Need International Working-Class Solidarity
Speech at protest in the UK against Russian invasion of Ukraine
By Marxist Student Federation Representative

"I’m here today because I grew up in Ukraine, I have family in Ukraine, and I’m here to plead for an end to the war. 

"My mother had to flee for days to get across the border. I have family that is still there organizing support for refugees, doing their best to help their fellow working people. 

Because, at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Because right now the real losers are the working class, in Ukraine and in Russia:

·      The working class and the rank-and-file in both armies who are being sent to the slaughter. 

·      The working class in Ukraine who are caught in the crossfire. 

·      The working class in Russia who are suffering under extreme Western sanctions. 

"The only winners here are the ruling classes on both sides, the war profiteers, the oil executives, who are making windfall profits, and the imperialists in Russia and in NATO who are bent on consolidating their power and furthering their spheres of influence. 

·      What we need is international working-class solidarity.

·      What we need is to stand with the Russian working class who are standing against Putin. 

·      What we need is to follow their example: THE ENEMY IS AT HOME! 

·      What we need is to stand up to the NATO hypocrites who cry fake tears while doing nothing but inflaming the situation. 

·      What we need is to stand up to the billionaires who are thriving off of this tragedy. 

·      What we need is an end to the exploitative capitalist system which makes this kind of tragedy inevitable. What we need is socialism. 

·      What we need is communism. 

"If you believe that, if you agree, join the Marxist Society.

Forward to the revolution, comrades. Solidarity forever.”

Via Facebook and Tik Tok, March 2, 2022



3) Officer Acquitted of Endangering Breonna Taylor’s Neighbors in Raid

Brett Hankison, the only officer who was charged after the police raid, fired 10 bullets into Ms. Taylor’s apartment. Three pierced a wall and flew into another apartment where a family slept.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, March 3, 2022

Brett Hankison was acquitted of all charges on Thursday. Testifying a day earlier, he said he had not done anything wrong and thought his fellow officers were under fire.
Brett Hankison was acquitted of all charges on Thursday. Testifying a day earlier, he said he had not done anything wrong and thought his fellow officers were under fire. Credit...Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

The only officer to be charged for his actions during the fatal police raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment was found not guilty on Thursday of endangering three of Ms. Taylor’s neighbors by firing bullets into their home during the botched operation.


Jurors acquitted the former officer, Brett Hankison, whose bullets did not strike anyone, on all three counts of wanton endangerment after deliberating for about three hours.


Mr. Hankison, a longtime detective for the Police Department in Louisville, Ky., testified that he had taken part in as many as 1,000 raids during his police career but said that he had never fired his gun while on duty until the March 2020 raid, during which another officer fatally shot Ms. Taylor.


The killing of Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency room technician, was among several police killings that set off a wave of protests across the country in 2020. The demonstrations were particularly sustained in Louisville, where activists protested for more than 100 days in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to persuade the Kentucky attorney general to file charges against the officers who shot Ms. Taylor.


The acquittal of Mr. Hankison comes after several high-profile convictions of police officers elsewhere in the country, including three former Minneapolis police officers who were convicted last month of violating George Floyd’s rights by failing to intervene as a fourth officer fatally knelt on his neck. In December, a jury convicted a police officer in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minn., who had been charged with manslaughter for killing a man during a traffic stop when she mistakenly fired her gun at him instead of her Taser.


Mr. Hankison’s lawyer, Stew Mathews, praised the jury’s verdict on Thursday.


“I think it’s a good day, finally, for law enforcement,” Mr. Mathews said, though he noted that federal investigators were still scrutinizing the raid and could bring separate charges if warranted. The F.B.I. office in Louisville has been investigating Ms. Taylor’s death since May 2020, and the Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the city’s Police Department.


After Thursday’s verdict, a spokesman for the bureau said it was continuing to work with the Justice Department “to determine what, if any, federal charges are warranted.”


He called for a ban of “no-knock” warrants that allow police to raid a home without announcing themselves; in Ms. Taylor’s case, a judge initially signed off on that kind of warrant but the orders were later changed to require that police knock and identify themselves.


The verdict was also condemned by Jeff Sexton, a lawyer for the neighbors whose apartment was hit by Mr. Hankison’s bullets, who called the jury’s decision a “knee-jerk, emotional verdict.” He said they could not have adequately considered the evidence in three hours.


Had there been more thorough consideration, he said, “There’s no way that that jury approves of a cop firing wildly, after midnight, into the side of an apartment building.”


The police had a warrant to raid Ms. Taylor’s apartment in search of evidence that her former boyfriend had been selling drugs, but the warrant was based on shoddy surveillance and officers believed that Ms. Taylor would be alone at home. Instead, she was asleep in bed with her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.


Officers banged on the door and later told investigators that they had identified themselves as police officers, though Mr. Walker said he and Ms. Taylor did not hear them say anything. When the officers rammed open the apartment door, Mr. Walker said, he believed that they were intruders. He fired a shot from his handgun toward the doorway, striking an officer in the thigh.


Two police officers immediately returned fire, spraying the apartment with bullets and striking Ms. Taylor.


As the first two officers fired, Mr. Hankison ran away from the doorway to the side of the building and fired 10 shots into Ms. Taylor’s apartment through a window and sliding-glass door. Three of the bullets traveled through Ms. Taylor’s apartment and into a neighboring unit where a pregnant woman, her boyfriend and her 5-year-old son had been sleeping.


The woman, Chelsey Napper, testified at trial that it felt as if bullets were “flying everywhere” as she frantically went to check on her son and cowered with him on the floor. The bullets struck Ms. Napper’s kitchen table, a wall and a glass patio door.


Mr. Hankison testified that when he heard the 22 bullets fired by his two fellow officers, he mistakenly thought they were engaged in a gunfight with someone inside the apartment; he also wrongly interpreted the sound of the handgun fired by Mr. Walker as coming from a much more dangerous semiautomatic rifle. He said he believed that someone was firing at the officers as they tried to help the officer who had been shot in the leg.


“I knew they were trying to get to him, and it appeared to me that they were being executed with this rifle,” Mr. Hankison said.


The police chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department fired Mr. Hankison three months after the raid, saying he had violated department policy by shooting “blindly” into the apartment through the window and door, which were covered by blinds. Mr. Hankison testified that he had fired after seeing muzzle flashes illuminate the window, not knowing that they were coming from the officers’ weapons.


The attorney general’s office, which led the prosecution of Mr. Hankison, did not pursue charges against either of the officers whose bullets struck Ms. Taylor, Detective Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. Mr. Cosgrove, who the F.B.I. said fired the fatal shot, was eventually fired from the department, as was a detective who prepared the search warrant. Mr. Mattingly, the officer whom Mr. Walker shot, retired last year.


Hours after Mr. Hankison was acquitted, about 50 protesters gathered in Jefferson Square Park, the nucleus of the city’s protest movement in 2020. Leaders expressed outrage, saying that the system unfairly protects police officers, before the group marched through downtown while chanting, “We won’t let this go.”


In closing arguments on Thursday, Mr. Mathews, the lawyer for Mr. Hankison, sought to shift blame for what happened partly to Mr. Walker, who he said was the “common denominator” of the case because he had fired at the officers as they entered the apartment.


In response, Mr. Hankison “did what he thought he had to do in that instant,” the lawyer said. Mr. Mathews reiterated that Mr. Hankison did not know there was another apartment behind Ms. Taylor’s that his bullets might reach. He said jurors could not find Mr. Hankison guilty if he did not know about that risk.


The crime of “wanton endangerment,” a felony, required jurors to find that Mr. Hankison “wantonly” did something to create a substantial danger of death or serious injury to the neighbors and did so with “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”


In the prosecution’s closing argument, Barbara Whaley, an assistant attorney general, focused on the fear that Ms. Napper felt with her family while hiding in the apartment. She said it would have been “obvious” to Mr. Hankison that there was an apartment behind Ms. Taylor’s because its front door was right next to hers.


And, referring to Ms. Taylor, Ms. Whaley said that Mr. Hankison’s “wanton conduct could have multiplied her death by three.”


“By grace, they’re still alive,” she said.


Ryland Barton contributed reporting.



4) Biden Says ‘Fund the Police.’ Well, They Aren’t Exactly Strapped for Cash.

By Jamelle Bouie

Baltimore Police Department cadets after completing an Ethical Policing Is Courageous training program in February.

Baltimore Police Department cadets after completing an Ethical Policing Is Courageous training program in February. Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

“We should all agree,” President Biden declared in his State of the Union address on Tuesday:


the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training. Resources and training they need to protect their communities.

It’s not hard to understand why this paragraph was in the speech. For more than a year, moderate and conservative Democrats have been in a state of panic over the impact of “defund the police” — a controversial slogan from the George Floyd protests of 2020 — on their electoral fortunes.


Despite slim evidence of any particular impact on voters and despite even slimmer evidence that defunding the police is a priority for much more than a handful of elected Democrats, anger and consternation over the slogan continues to shape political and strategic thinking in the Democratic Party.


What doesn’t, somehow, shape political and strategic thinking about law enforcement within the Democratic Party is the reality of police budgets in this country. The president’s rhetoric notwithstanding, police departments in the United States are not actually strapped for funds.


Let’s just look at the numbers. Despite some cuts, according to a 2021 analysis of police budgets in the nation’s 50 largest cities by Bloomberg CityLab, law enforcement spending as a share of general expenditures rose slightly, from 13.6 percent in 2020 to 13.7 percent in 2021, even as many cities cut spending in other areas as a result of the Covid pandemic. And out of 42 major cities where Democrats gained votes from 2016 to 2020, more than half increased police spending for fiscal year 2021. Some cities that cut spending or pledged to cut it later reversed or restored that funding.


In 2020, for example, New York City’s mayor at the time, Bill de Blasio, pledged to cut $1 billion from the Police Department’s $6 billion budget. In the end, most of these cuts did not materialize. Instead, de Blasio approved for fiscal year 2022 a $200 million increase in police spending.


City officials in Austin, Texas, embarked on a similar journey, cutting the city’s police budget during the Floyd protests, reversing those cuts the following year and then expanding the budget for law enforcement, including for more officers and more training. This year the Austin Police Department budget stands at $442 million, a record high.


Last year, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, proposed an $11.2 billion budget that increased funding for the L.A.P.D., from $1.71 billion for fiscal year 2021 to $1.76 billion for fiscal year 2022. In Baltimore, likewise, police funding grew to $555 million for 2022, a $28 million increase from the previous fiscal year.


Yes, since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increase in violent crime. It has been happening everywhere, in big cities and small towns, in Democratic strongholds and Republican ones. At the same time, there is no real relationship between crime rates and police budgets. As Philip Bump observed for The Washington Post in 2020, “More spending in a year hasn’t significantly correlated to less crime or to more crime. For violent crime, in fact, the correlation between changes in crime rates and spending per person in 2018 dollars is almost zero.”


And even if there were a connection, it is not as if there has been a peace dividend for crime. Cities spend big on police when crime is up, and they spend big on police when crime is down. They spend big when police solve crimes, and they spend big when they don’t. In 2020 the Miami-Dade Police Department — one of the largest in the country — resolved (or cleared) just over 40 percent of the violent crimes reported in its jurisdiction. Commit a violent crime in Miami-Dade County and you had a roughly 6 in 10 chance of not being caught, at least that year. Despite that low clearance rate — despite a decade of low clearance rates — the budget for the Miami-Dade Police Department has only increased, reaching nearly $800 million for this fiscal year, up from $765 million for 2021 and $707 million for 2020.


In short, there is no pressing, national need for greater police funding. If anything, police departments and their allies have skillfully used anxiety over “defund” to successfully lobby for even larger budgets, despite the striking inability of many police departments to solve crimes and clear murders.


There does remain, however, a pressing, national need for police accountability. In theory, the police are subordinate to elected officials. In practice, police departments in many areas exist beyond democratic control. That’s especially true in states where police contracts and state law make it difficult, if not impossible, to remove bad or abusive officers from their jobs.


In Oakland, Calif., for example, police simply ignored a 2018 ordinance that placed limits on police use of surveillance technology. In Asheville, N.C., the prospect of accountability for bad actors in the police department led to an exodus of officers from the force. When, in 2014, de Blasio expressed sympathy for the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the N.Y.P.D., the city’s police officers went on the offensive against him, as if this were an unacceptable breach of conduct.


In other words, Biden’s pledge to “fund the police” is divorced from the actual circumstances of police funding in the United States. It is a solution to a problem that does not exist. Worse, if Congress acts on this pledge and provides more money for cops, it will be funneling money to police departments that hold the people they serve — and the elected leaders they presumably serve under — in contempt.


The most memorable images from the protests of 2020 were those of civil unrest, but we should not forget the extent to which those protests were marked by police unrest as well. Police drove vehicles into crowds, assaulted peaceful bystanders, pepper-sprayed cooperative protesters and attacked journalists with so-called nonlethal rounds.


In one particularly egregious example of misconduct, police in Portsmouth, Va., charged a state senator and several public defenders with felonies over the protests in that city and then served a summons on the vice mayor, who had called for the police chief’s resignation.


Few police officers are held accountable for killings. Even fewer have to answer for more common forms of abuse and bad behavior. And too many cops act with impunity, as if they were above the laws that govern the rest of us. We don’t need to fund the police (American law enforcement has more than its fair share of cash); we need to control them.



5) Who Should Be Allowed to Transition?

By Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, March 4, 2022

Mx. Marzano-Lesnevich writes extensively on transgender issues and is the author of a forthcoming memoir about nonbinary identities.

Hayley Wall

Two and a half years ago, I sat in a medical waiting room nervously rehearsing my reason for seeing the nurse practitioner. The words I needed to say to her — that I was transgender and wanted her help medically transitioning — I had once promised myself not to say to anyone. I thought I’d keep this part of my identity my deepest secret, one I’d known since childhood but would never reveal.


Back then, I wouldn’t have even known how to reveal it, what words to use — I only sensed that I wasn’t the girl everyone assumed me to be and that I wasn’t quite a boy like my twin brother, either. I had vivid dreams in which I could change the shape of my body, dreams from which I woke up heartbroken. I didn’t know how to articulate who I was or imagine a world in which others could truly see me. I only knew who I wasn’t.


As the decades went by, I found language that helped me articulate my nonbinary identity, language that led me to a community. I became more secure, more certain, more comfortable. I noticed a pattern: The more out I was, the more openly myself and recognized as such, the happier I became. I started to believe that a different life might be possible, one in which my body and my experience in the world more closely aligned with my self-knowledge. I decided I wanted to begin hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, which is how I had come to be in that waiting room, whose taupe walls were lined with photographs of the medical providers, smiling with stethoscopes slung around their necks.


Recently, conservative politicians have whipped up fears that doctors are agreeing too readily to treat people, particularly young people, for gender dysphoria. On Feb. 21, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas released a formal opinion declaring that under state law, gender-affirming medical care for transgender children — including nonpermanent options like puberty blockers — is considered child abuse. The next day, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter calling on teachers, doctors and other professionals to report parents who provide their transgender children with gender-affirming care. One investigation has already begun. Hundreds of new bills introduced nationally in the past few years seek to criminalize care for transgender children, and based on a January report by the Human Rights Campaign, hundreds more appear to be coming.


How best to support transgender kids is an important question, but there is no good evidence that they are being rushed into treatment. In fact, in many parts of the country, it is difficult even for adults to locate and get good care.


Where I lived in Maine made doing so possible. The clinic I chose operated under what’s known as the self-ID or informed consent model, which emphasizes trust in a trans person’s self-knowledge. Medical providers offer assistance and expertise, but they begin by listening. As a result, my own attestation that I was transgender turned out to be all I needed to get HRT. I was, to put it simply, believed.


My experience is far from the norm. Many, perhaps most, insurance companies in the United States insist that patients seeking gender-affirming medical care undergo lengthy assessments by medical providers to ascertain whether they’re “truly” trans. This model is known as medical gatekeeping. These assessments sound like they’re intended to protect the patient, but in practice they too often come down to a provider’s own ideas about transgender people, including racial and class biases. Black and brown trans people, particularly trans women, continue to face greater barriers to care. In surveys, doctors repeatedly indicate that they have little if any formal training in transgender health. They express frustration that any transgender issues are often collapsed into a few general L.G.B.T.Q. lectures, leaving many unprepared to conduct assessments regarding gender identity. Yet their conclusions are still prioritized by insurers over a patient’s self-knowledge.


That gender-affirming health care saves lives is clear: A 2018 literature review by Cornell University concluded that 93 percent of studies found that transition improved transgender people’s heath outcomes, while the remaining 7 percent found mixed or null results. Not a single study in the review concluded negative impact. But in a capricious medical environment in which access to care depends not only on a patient’s resources but also on a provider’s inclinations, too many patients may be left to suffer from the suicidality, depression, substance use disorders, eating disorders and other adverse life impacts that go with untreated dysphoria.


Last June, the Biden administration moved the United States toward the self-ID model for documentation when it changed the rules for obtaining a passport: Applicants now simply select the gender marker that matches how they identify, and they will soon have the option of choosing a nonbinary X. But many more-stringent state laws are likely to remain unchanged, so a person could soon have different genders on their passport and their state-issued driver’s license or birth certificate. This bureaucratic confusion is reminiscent of the situation faced by many gay and lesbian couples for the 11 years between Massachusetts’ decision to legalize gay marriage and the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. During that time many couples were married in their home states but unmarried in the eyes of federal law.


The debate between these two schools of thought — the self-ID and gatekeeping models — lies at the heart of every argument we have about the lives of trans adults, from fights over access to gender-affirming procedures to whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete. Is someone trans because they say they are? Or does it take an outside expert to know for sure?


How the world decides this question will have huge implications for the lives of transgender people. In recent years, self-ID has become the law in about 15 countries, including Ireland, Portugal and Uruguay, and it is likely to become law in Spain, where the government approved a draft bill last June. This week, a self-ID law was introduced in the Scottish Parliament. But elsewhere, transition treatment remains more complicated to get. Despite Germany’s liberated Weimar history, its requirements are outdated and onerous. Under the country’s 40-year-old Transsexuellengesetz (“Transsexual law”) — which forces people to undergo expensive, lengthy and often demeaning tests before they can transition — the process to change one’s name and documentation can take years.


A movement to change that law is underway. In September, two openly transgender women were elected to the Bundestag as representatives of the liberal Green Party: 27-year-old Nyke Slawik and 44-year-old Tessa Ganserer, whose supporters had to vote for her under her deadname because she has declined to undergo the government’s invasive process to change it. In late November, the new coalition government, which has united the Green Party with the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party, pledged to reform the law and move to self-ID for legal name change; they also plan to create a compensation fund for transgender people who were compulsorily sterilized as recently as a decade ago.


To better understand the toll of current gatekeeping measures in Germany and around the world, I traveled to Berlin in September to interview Felicia Rolletschke, a young woman who has become one of the faces of the push for change. High above her apartment in a converted shipping container in the woods of the Atl-Treptow neighborhood of Berlin waves a transgender flag, visible from the S-Bahn trains that pass by. The flag is secured to a five-meter-tall birch branch that she found in the woods and lugged home. “I was sore for a week!” she told me, laughing, as we sat on her balcony. But it was important to her that she have it. Without the flag, her neighbors might not know she’s trans.


By the time I met Ms. Rolletschke, she was about to turn 27 and had lived openly as a woman for six years. She told me that she had known she was transgender since childhood, but having been raised in a small conservative town in southern Germany, she had never met an openly transgender person and kept her identity a secret. Until 2011, all German parents were required to give their children sex-specific names. If a child grew up and realized they wished to change their gender, they were legally required to consent first to sterilization or gender reconstruction surgery.


When Ms. Rolletschke was 17, she moved to Berlin. At 21, she began the paperwork required to transition with the help of a therapist. To start hormones, the law mandated that she first live openly as a woman for a year. This has historically (and to many transgender people, offensively) been referred to as the “real-life test” and remains a requirement to get access to surgery in parts of the United States. The requirement can be brutal, even encouraging of abuse and discrimination, because it mandates that people present as one gender without the cosmetic help of medical transition while still carrying paperwork that outs them.


Ms. Rolletschke had a sympathetic therapist who understood the dangers of the requirement and agreed to circumvent it, allowing her to start hormones, but there was still the matter of her name and legal gender. She would need two psychotherapists to vouch that she was “truly” trans to qualify for the legal name change. To be evaluated by those experts would cost her 1,600 euros, money she did not have. An aunt eventually gave her the money, causing a family rift because other relatives were not supportive.


The first interview passed uneventfully, but the second was “terrible,” Ms. Rolletschke recalls. She was judged on how she applied makeup, how she sat, how she moved. She was interrogated about her romantic and sexual history; the implication was that she was somehow less of a woman if she was romantically interested in women. Though the interviewer ultimately did not oppose Ms. Rolletschke’s ability to change her name, she seemed to be holding Ms. Rolletschke to a retrograde, even discriminatory, idea of what a woman was. Ms. Rolletschke says that when she later read the report, she saw that the interviewer had misgendered her throughout.


Far from accidental, this stereotyping was one of the early aims of the gatekeeping model: to ensure that only people who could “pass” would be allowed to transition. A successful transition, the thinking went, meant that no one would know the person was transgender. Conventional attractiveness — and gender conformity — became a proxy for successful transition, a bias that still shows up today.


But many transgender people no longer want to pass. A June study by the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. School of Law found that some 1.2 million Americans identify as nonbinary. Not all nonbinary people identify as transgender, and not all, or even most, nonbinary or transgender people will pursue medical treatment. But many, like me, will. In my community, it’s now common for transgender people not to hide that they are transgender; many, like Rolletschke with her prominent flag, choose to be very visibly out.


Medical gatekeeping evolved not to protect the patient, but to protect the doctor, as Dr. stef shuster, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, argues in the new book “Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender.” In the 1960s, the German-born endocrinologist Harry Benjamin became the foremost doctor in the United States helping people transition, but the work was so controversial that it threatened his reputation. Dr. Benjamin and others like him realized they would need guidelines, ways of ascertaining who was legitimately trans, both to shore up their authority and to guard themselves against the specter of the fraudulent transgender person, the one who might be trying to trick them, or who was simply deluded.


Then, as now, there was little evidence of anyone making up a transgender identity. But then, as now, the fraudulent trans person was a potent, even driving, fear in the cis imagination. That fear contributed to the creation of an organization dedicated to transgender medicine, originally named after Dr. Benjamin, that would become the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the field’s most authoritative international organization.


This spring, WPATH is expected to release a set of guidelines to help countries arrive at best practices for medical transition. The previous set of guidelines, issued in 2011 — a lifetime ago in transgender rights — noted the importance of informed consent but also advocated gatekeeping practices. WPATH’s guidelines are unenforceable, but governments and medical organizations throughout the world are heavily influenced by its recommendations. The trans community is waiting to see how much the guidelines will change. A draft version that was released in January included language that would remove the requirement of mental health assessments for adults seeking HRT, moving closer to a self-ID model, but many providers were concerned that it did not go farther.


Unsurprisingly, many of the ideas that underlie gatekeeping measures are dangerously outdated. Take the fear of regret, for example. We now know that gender-affirming health care has some of the lowest rates of regret in medicine: A 2021 systemic review of the medical literature, covering 27 studies and 7,928 transgender patients, found a regret rate of 1 percent or less. That’s substantially lower than something like weight-loss surgery: A 2019 survey found a 5 percent regret rate for gastric bypass four years after surgery and a 20 percent regret rate for gastric banding. Rolletschke told me that in the rare cases of regret she has encountered in her community, regret most commonly isn’t caused by a change in the person’s understanding of their gender identity; it’s because something with the procedure has gone medically awry — or because of the transphobia they faced after transitioning.


Gatekeeping has also been driven by a misapplication of the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Doctors have long been aware that in helping a person transition, they are sending that person out into a transphobic society. As Dr. shuster notes in “Trans Medicine,” they worried that performing surgeries and providing hormones could worsen a patient’s quality of life by resulting in visible gender nonconformity and social ostracism. An overwhelming majority of providers are cisgender, and the speculative harm of treatment may seem far more visceral to them than the well-documented and known harms of untreated gender dysphoria. The potential harm of doing something is easier to conceptualize than the harm of doing nothing — even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the latter.


All of these critiques reflect a growing awareness of the danger of substituting a provider’s idea of gender for a patient’s. As committees of physicians, psychologists and other stakeholders work on the new WPATH guidelines, they have come under escalating pressure to elevate informed consent and reduce gatekeeping for adults, and thus create greater room for patients to have their self-expression and identities recognized.


But whether the final guidelines will reflect the new consensus remains to be seen.


I am grateful every day for my experience in the nurse practitioner’s office, which opened up my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I look back now, as my voice drops further daily from testosterone and I feel more at home in my body than I ever thought was possible, and I’m thankful for what happened. But I’m also aware every day that with a different geographic location or skin color, I might have been turned away.


As we wait for the final WPATH guidelines, I often think of how I felt in 2015, as the Supreme Court prepared to rule on gay marriage. It was difficult to explain to heterosexual loved ones just how emotional and powerless I felt as I waited while nine strangers determined my future — decided whether I and people like me would be able to live and love as we are. It is difficult to explain to my cis loved ones now, who often can’t conceptualize what it feels like to be transgender, how unnerving and damaging it is to be in a system that doubts our identities.


Trusting adults to know who they are is not a radical thought. There is always a temptation to believe that history moves toward progress, yet the situation for transgender people in many countries, including this one, grows increasingly precarious and violent.


The simplest step might be the most important one: Trust us.



6) Texas Court Halts Investigation of Parents Over Care for Transgender Youth

One family was affected by the decision, but Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate certain medically accepted treatments as child abuse is still in place.

By J. David Goodman, March 2, 2022

Protesters held a march in support of transgender youth in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.
Protesters held a march in support of transgender youth in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. Credit...Christopher Lee for The New York Times

HOUSTON — A state court in Texas on Wednesday temporarily halted the child abuse investigation of a family providing medical treatment for its transgender 16-year-old, but allowed other investigations to continue under a contentious policy initiated last week by Gov. Greg Abbott.


Soon after, President Biden issued his first comments on the Texas policy, calling it “a cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.” He said he had directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take steps “to keep transgender children in Texas and their families safe — putting the state of Texas on notice that their discriminatory actions put children’s lives at risk.”


The intervention by the court in Austin, the state capital, came in response to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal on behalf of the parents of a transgender child who were being investigated for abuse by the Department of Family and Protective Services.


That inquiry immediately followed a directive by Mr. Abbott to conduct child abuse investigations when medically accepted treatments — including hormones or puberty-suppressing drugs, which doctors describe as gender-affirming care — are prescribed to transgender adolescents.


But the ruling on Wednesday, a temporary restraining order by Judge Amy Clark Meachum, fell short of what the groups had asked the court to do: stop such child abuse investigations altogether. They argued that the governor’s directive and the investigations by the agency broadly violated the Texas Constitution and the constitutional rights of transgender youth, as well as of their parents, and were improperly issued under state law.


The court is set to consider those arguments on March 11 and will decide whether to block the governor’s directive statewide, which would stop all related investigations or prosecutions.


Mr. Abbott’s directive followed an opinion by the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, that certain medical treatments for transgender children could be considered child abuse. The moves have had an immediate and chilling effect on the families of transgender youth in Texas, forcing some to consider halting recommended courses of medical treatment or even to leave the state. Investigations into other families have already begun, lawyers said.


The court’s ruling applied only to the family that brought the suit — identified as John and Jane Doe, the parents, and Mary Doe, their daughter — and a licensed psychologist in Houston, Dr. Megan Mooney, who is required to report suspected child abuse under Texas law. Dr. Mooney has a practice that includes transgender patients.


The court found that the family would “suffer irreparable injury” unless the state was immediately restrained from enforcing the governor’s directive. Jane Doe, an employee of the family protective agency, was placed on administrative leave after Mr. Abbott’s order. And investigators have already interviewed the family at home and sought medical records related to Mary.


The family members, Judge Meachum wrote, “face the imminent and ongoing deprivation of their constitutional rights, the potential loss of necessary medical care, and the stigma attached to being the subject of an unfounded child abuse investigation.” She blocked the state from taking any adverse employment action against Ms. Doe.


And in the case of Dr. Mooney, the judge wrote that, if she followed the governor’s directive, she would have been forced to choose between criminal prosecution for not reporting abuse, or potential civil liability for not treating patients “in accordance with professional standards and loss of licensure for failing to follow her professional ethics.”


Though the ruling was limited, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the message had been clear: The state’s investigation had “put the Doe family at incredible harm,” said Karen Loewy, senior counsel for Lambda Legal. “It would be pretty unconscionable for the agency to continue investigations when that’s the assessment,” she added.


Ms. Loewy said she thought the state was unlikely to appeal the temporary restraining order given its limited scope. “It would be extraordinary, and incredibly punitive for the state to appeal when at the moment the only relief is to the parties,” she said in an interview on Wednesday evening.


Soon after, the state, represented by the attorney general’s office, appealed the ruling.


A spokeswoman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


But in a call with reporters earlier on Wednesday, the top strategist for Mr. Abbott’s re-election campaign, David Carney, said that being against medical treatment for transgender children, and treating it as child abuse, was a “winning issue” for the governor. Mr. Abbott is running for a third term in November.


“That is a 75 to 80 percent winner,” Mr. Carney said. “This is why the Democrats across the country are out of touch.”



7) Meet South Korea’s Swing Voters: Young, Broke and Angry

Frustrated over housing prices, a lack of job opportunities and a widening income gap, the once-reliable voting bloc is undecided and will most likely elect the next president.

By Choe Sang-Hun, March 8, 2022

The banners of presidential candidates in downtown Seoul in February. On Wednesday, South Koreans will elect a new president, and all eyes are on young people. ​
The banners of presidential candidates in downtown Seoul in February. On Wednesday, South Koreans will elect a new president, and all eyes are on young people. Credit...Woohae Cho for The New York Times

SEOUL — When he was a college freshman in 2019, Jeong Hyun-min sometimes had less than $10 to cover meals for three days. That same year, a scandal erupted in South Korea that still roils him today.


While Mr. Jeong was cleaning tables and serving drinks at beer halls just to make ends meet, the country’s justice minister and his wife were accused of pulling strings to help their daughter glide into medical school, even fabricating an award certificate.


“I realized what people had been saying all along: Your chances in this country are determined by what kind of parents you have,” said Mr. Jeong, a political science major at Daejeon University. “Fairness is the key if politicians want our trust back.”


On Wednesday, South Koreans will elect a new president and all eyes are on young people, whose disillusionment with the government has made this one of the most tightly fought races in recent memory. 


Frustrated over sky-high housing prices, a lack of job opportunities and a widening income gap, young people who were once considered reliably progressive voters are now seen as undecided and will most likely tip the balance in the election.


Unlike previous generations, these voters are not easily swayed by old political dynamics, such as regional allegiance, loyalty to political bosses, fear of North Korea or a desire to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula. Instead, they talk of economic despair and general frustration as their primary concerns, themes captured in popular movies and TV dramas like “Parasite” and “Squid Game.”


Many have adopted a saying: “isaenggeul,” or “We can’t make it in this life.”


“In the past, young South Koreans tended to vote progressive, but now they have become swing voters,” said Prof. Kim Hyung-joon, an election expert at Myongji University in Seoul. “To them, nothing matters as much as fairness and equal opportunity and which candidate will provide it.”


Yoon Suk-yeol, the leading candidate from the opposition People Power Party, has won over voters in their 60s and older by pitching their preferred conservative agenda. He has championed a stronger alliance with the United States and even threatened “pre-emptive strikes” against North Korea.


Mr. Yoon’s rival, Lee Jae-myung, the candidate representing President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party, remains popular among voters in their 40s and 50s. He has called for a diplomatic balance between the United States, South Korea’s security ally, and China, its biggest trading partner.


Few of these issues have roused South Koreans in their 20s and 30s, who make up one-third of the eligible voters, as much as they did older voters. Rather, on top of their minds is an uncertain economic future.


“We will be the first generation whose standard of living will be lower than our parents’,” said Kim Dong-min, 24, a student at Konkuk University Law School.


In the decades following the 1950-53 Korean War, most South Koreans were equally poor. Those who found success were often referred to as “a dragon rising from a humble ditch.”


Middle-class dreams were plausible as the postwar economy roared, churning out jobs. Education functioned as a vehicle of upward mobility. Millions of people migrated to the Seoul metropolitan area, where the best schools and most of the country’s wealth was eventually concentrated.


Getting a degree from an elite university and owning an apartment in Seoul became symbols of social mobility. But in recent decades, the economy slowed, and that old formula has broken down. In a survey last year, nearly 65 percent of the respondents in South Korea said they were skeptical that their children’s economic future would be better than their own.


A majority of respondents in their 20s and 30s said they no longer saw education as the great equalizer, as admission into top universities depended largely on whether parents could bankroll expensive private tutors.


“How would you feel when you are struggling in a marathon and you see others cruising along in sports cars?” said Oh Byeong-ju, 23, a senior at Dongguk University in Seoul.


In South Korea, where nearly three-quarters of household wealth is concentrated in real estate, no index illustrates widening inequality quite like housing prices. Young couples whose wealthy parents helped them buy apartments — a tradition in South Korea — saw their property value in Seoul nearly double under Mr. Moon.


The average household, on the other hand, must save its entire income for 18.5 years in order to afford an apartment in the city, according to estimates by KB Kookmin Bank.


“It has become impossible to buy an apartment in Seoul, even if you work and save for your entire life,” said Park Eun-hye, 27, who works at Youth Mungan, a civic group that provides affordable meals for poor youths. “Whatever the candidates say sounds unconvincing. Young people instead invest what little money we save in stocks and cryptocurrencies.”


South Korea’s poverty rate and its income inequality are among the worst in wealthy countries, with youths facing some of the steepest challenges. Nearly one in every five South Koreans between the ages of 15 and 29 was effectively jobless as of January, according to government data. That is far higher than the national average, 13.1 percent.


Upon his inauguration, Mr. Moon promised “equal opportunities” for everyone. “The process will be fair,” he said. “And the result will be righteous.”


Many young people claim fairness and equal opportunity — or their versions of those values — have been eroded instead. They bristled when Mr. Moon’s government formed a joint ice hockey team with North Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, arguing that it was unfair to replace elite South Korean athletes with inferior North Korean players.


And last year, after a scandal revealed officials had used their position to seek personal gain in the housing market, young voters helped deliver Mr. Moon’s government a crushing defeat in the Seoul mayoral election.


Rival political parties have since rushed to appease South Korean youth. Lawmakers lowered the minimum voting age to 18 from 19 and the age limit for running for Parliament to 18 from 25. Mr. Lee and Mr. Yoon, the two leading presidential candidates, have both apologized and have applied different tactics to win votes.


Mr. Yoon’s popularity soared among men in the 20s after he promised to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Women and sidelined a campaign adviser who identified as a feminist. Anti-feminist sentiments are widespread among the young men.


Mr. Lee is more popular among women in their 20s, and he has promised to introduce harsher punishment for date rape and other sex crimes. He also campaigned to make companies reveal gender-wage gaps to their employees and to the public.


But 20 percent to 30 percent of South Koreans in their 20s and 30s have said they may change their mind about their preferred candidate before they vote this week, according to surveys. “Our support shifts from one political party to another, issue by issue,” Mr. Jeong said.



8) Socialists’ Response to War in Ukraine Has Put Some Democrats on Edge

The Democratic Socialists of America’s view that U.S. “imperialist expansionism” through NATO fueled Russia’s invasion has created challenges for politicians aligned with the group.

By Dana Rubinstein and Katie Glueck, March 8, 2022

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in Washington earlier this year, represents a district that has a sizable population of Ukrainian immigrants.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in Washington earlier this year, represents a district that has a sizable population of Ukrainian immigrants.  Credit...Shuran Huang for The New York Times

Not long after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Democratic Socialists of America released a statement that drew instant reproof.


The group condemned the invasion, but also urged the United States “to withdraw from NATO and to end the imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict.”


The position — a watered-down version of a prior, even more pointed statement from the group’s international committee — drew rebukes from a White House spokesman and from a number of Democratic candidates and elected officials, from Long Island congressional contenders to officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But in the New York City area, where the D.S.A.’s largest chapter wields substantial influence, it has also created a challenging dynamic for politicians aligned with the organization.


In the state’s 16th Congressional District, a refugee from Kosovo is making foreign policy central to his primary challenge of Representative Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal from Yonkers who rose to power with support from the Democratic Socialists of America.


In New York City, Democratic congressional candidates are debating America’s role in the world. And even before D.S.A.’s most recent statement, City Council members were clashing over the history of American and NATO intervention.


With a majority of Americans backing Ukraine as it struggles to repel a bloody, often live-streamed Russian invasion, the D.S.A.’s desire for a policy discussion about NATO appears to have sown unease in campaign circles: None of the nine New York City candidates the D.S.A. endorsed this year would consent to an interview on the topic, even as more centrist Democrats are now using the subject as a cudgel.


“We’re refugees from Kosovo, a country where me and my family had to flee because of ethnic cleansing and were saved, frankly, by U.S. and NATO intervention there,” Vedat Gashi, a Democrat challenging Mr. Bowman, said last week. “Blaming Ukraine and NATO for the escalation of this Russian invasion of Ukraine is to me, at the very best case, naïve and certainly wrong.”


The D.S.A. argues that NATO promotes a militarized response to conflict at the expense of diplomacy, and that economic sanctions too often victimize working people. In the case of Ukraine, many D.S.A. members say that the United States, by encouraging the expansion of NATO eastward, provoked Russia.


“There is a longstanding tradition with the U.S. left as well as in Europe that NATO has played a role, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in emphasizing militarized solutions when diplomacy could lead to more long-term stability,” said Ashik Siddique, a member of the D.S.A.’s National Political Committee. “It feels a little bit absurd for people to be acting like it’s a political crime to criticize NATO.”


Mr. Bowman has chosen a subtler tack, signaling distance from the D.S.A.’s position, without the sort of direct condemnation that might alienate a component of his base and play into his opponent’s hands. He declined to comment for this article, but in a prior statement, he said he supports NATO, “and will continue to do so during this crisis.”


Mr. Bowman’s district includes a sizable population of Ukrainian immigrants, and last week, he called more than a dozen who have written him letters, his office said. He has also joined the Congressional Ukraine Caucus and has put together a bipartisan letter asking President Biden to let at-risk Ukrainians enter the country without visas.


But Ukrainians are not the only constituents D.S.A.-aligned politicians need to consider amid the crisis, said Drisana Hughes, the former campaign manager for India Walton, the D.S.A.-backed candidate for mayor of Buffalo, and a campaign strategist at Stu Loeser and Co.


“I don’t think it’s just Ukrainian constituents; I think it’s Polish constituents, Finnish constituents,” Ms. Hughes said. “It’s a lot of countries that are sensitive to Russian aggression and anyone concerned about the future of Europe in particular.”


Certainly, whatever the balancing act for some Democrats, tensions are clearly evident for Republicans. Even as many express solidarity with Ukraine, former President Donald J. Trump has lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir V. Putin — just a few years after Mr. Trump’s first impeachment centered on issues including pressuring Ukraine for political favors. The only people to vote against a recent House resolution in support of Ukraine were three Republican members of Congress. And some right-wing media figures, like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have until very recently sounded protective of Mr. Putin.


Still, in New York, the rifts around the Russian invasion have taken on more urgency on the Democratic side, including in the battle for New York’s 11th Congressional District, which was recently redrawn to take in both Staten Island to Park Slope, and where the two most prominent Democratic contenders are military veterans.


Brittany Ramos DeBarros, a member of D.S.A., has endorsed working “with international partners to supply and support civil-military defense tactics,” and said “no” when asked directly in an interview if the U.S. should withdraw from NATO. But in 2019, she was listed as a speaker at an anti-NATO event, and acknowledged that she “attended a meeting about that” in her days as an antiwar activist. Her campaign said that she does not support withdrawing from NATO “at this time.”


“‘Not at this time’ means that right now is the time to save lives, and to de-escalate the situation,” she said in an interview. “If people would like to have a broader conversation about understanding how we got here and diagnosing what we need to do in order to, you know, shape a different future, then that can come once we have removed ourselves from the brink.”


Her campaign has noted that her main Democratic primary opponent, former Representative Max Rose, initially voiced skepticism of the first impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump, citing concerns at the time about a partisan process.


Mr. Rose, seen by party strategists as the likely front-runner, did vote to impeach Mr. Trump and said he took the subject “very seriously. But I did not blink in the face of holding Donald Trump accountable for his egregious actions.”


He also condemned the D.S.A.’s position regarding NATO and called for building “an even stronger NATO alliance.”


“America’s unilateral withdrawal from NATO is perhaps the most harmful, stupidest thing, foreign policy decision, that we could be considering right now,” he said. “America has to double down on its alliances, particularly its trans-Atlantic ones.”


Some left-wing candidates also directly rejected the D.S.A. statement.


“I don’t agree with the D.S.A.’s stance on the U.S. exiting NATO,” said Rana Abdelhamid, a member of D.S.A. who is challenging Representative Carolyn Maloney in a New York City district that, under redistricting lines, has shed some left-wing neighborhoods. “NATO is one of the primary lines of defense that we have to address Russian aggression towards Ukraine.”


But many other New York City officials aligned with D.S.A. — some of whom have weighed in often on other national and international issues in the past — were far more circumspect.


“Thanks for reaching out, but our campaign has no comment on that,” emailed Stephen Wood, a spokesman for Brooklyn State Senate candidate David Alexis, on Wednesday.


Other elected officials who declined to comment or did not return requests for comment included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; State senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport; and Assembly members Zohran Kwame Mamdani, Marcela Mitaynes and Phara Souffrant Forrest. Nor did Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, of Brooklyn, agree to comment.


“If you’d like to write about all electric buildings act, LLC disclosure legislation, or any of my other work as a legislator I’d be happy to talk,” Ms. Gallagher said.


Locally, the D.S.A.’s viewpoint has been most energetically advanced by Kristin Richardson Jordan, a councilwoman from Harlem and a democratic socialist, who was not backed by the organization in her campaign for office.


“In 2014, the U.S. helped overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected leader in an illegal coup, helped install a fascist government and empowered a far right military all with the goal of destabilizing Russia,” Ms. Jordan said recently on Twitter, accusing the United States and European Union of “provoking Russia with NATO expansion” — comments that some said provided cover for Mr. Putin.


She did not respond to requests for comment. But during a recent radio appearance, Ms. Jordan was asked to justify her position. She repeated her prior claims, and drew open pushback from Council colleagues.


“I’m not sure it makes sense to dive into the details of international politics when I’m in local government,” she said on The Brian Lehrer Show.


In Yonkers, where Mr. Bowman and Mr. Gashi are running, Kiril Angelov, the pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, said he had seen both men at a recent service.


“I hope that every single politician is seeing the situation in Ukraine with open eyes and with open hearts,” he added.