Philadelphians Can Now Get Free Rent During The Pandemic: Here’s How You Can Sign Up

Country House

Source: John Keeble / Getty

City officials are assisting low-income families by helping them stay afloat during difficult times.

Related: Philadelphia Offers Mothers Free Formula and Diapers During Pandemic

The city recently launched its COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance program in efforts to cover the rent of families struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This new program will aid over 3,000 households affected by COVID-19.

“A lot of landlords in Philly are small business people themselves, can’t afford to miss several months of income, so for them, this program is going to be very helpful,” said Gregory Heller, Senior vice president of community investment for Philadelphia Housing.

In order to be eligible for the program, renters must be caught up on all rent payments that occurred before April.

Payments also cannot exceed $2,500 over the next three months.

All applications must be completed and submitted by Saturday at 5 p.m.

Click here for more info on the program and all of its requirements.

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In Defense Of Gayle King: Debunking 3 Ridiculous Arguments

The Morning Show New York Premiere by APPLE TV

Source: WENN/Avalon / WENN

If we’re going to have the conversation about whether Gayle King was wrong for bringing up the late Kobe Bryant‘s rape case during an interview with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, then context and nuance are key. And judging by social media responses, many people are missing those components.

King has been called everything from a “funky dog-head b*tch” to a “sellout” just for asking Leslie this question about Kobe:

“It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman as a WNBA player?”

A good amount of tweets were devoted to the belief that King shouldn’t have asked this question and made far-fetched accusations against King that lack evidence. In King’s defense, check out three of the accusations below and how they can be debunked.

1. Gayle King is trying to “tarnish” Kobe Bryant’s legacy


Gayle King is a broadcast journalist. A journalist’s job is to provide context to a topic, especially if the political climate for the topic has changed over the years.

We are in the #MeToo era. The way the media has talked about sexual assault has changed over the past 20 years, especially when #MeToo went viral in 2017. Since then, campaigns like #MuteRKelly have led to the indictment of powerful men who have long gotten away with sexually abusing women and girls.

However, if you just pay attention to the legal and criminal ramifications of the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to overlook what the movement was about in the first place … the victims.

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke has constantly said in interviews that she started the movement as a support system for victims of sexual assault and abuse, and not solely to bring down powerful men. With that being said, we are currently in a moment where people are trying to reconcile the accolades of a figure but also understand them as alleged abusers. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, eight out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. While some of these acts might have been settled in or out of court, not everyone has fully processed or healed from the alleged abuse, even after the alleged abuser has died.

Many publications — including Slate, Time, New York Post and The New York Times — have addressed these sentiments as they pertain to Kobe’s alleged assault before King even brought it up. As a journalist, it was King’s job to not ignore the people who were writing about it, but to understand the conversation and to get the perspective of someone close to Kobe, Lisa Leslie. King ended their conversation by asking Leslie if the media should continue bringing up the rape allegations against Kobe, which arguably shows that King wanted clarity on the topic as a journalist herself.

“Is it even a fair question to talk about it, considering he’s no longer with us and that it was resolved or is it really part of his history,” asked King. Leslie responded, “I think that the media should be more respectful at this time. If you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that. I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”

Clearly, Gayle was seeking the answer to a question many people were asking and she received it from Bryant’s close friend. This is not sensationalism or King trying to “tarnish” Kobe’s legacy. This is understanding the media climate and asking the hard questions as a journalist to receive the answers.


2. Gayle King is harder on Black men accused of sexual assault than she is on white men.

Many people have argued that King has had these close relationships with accused abusers like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose, even going so far as to dig up old photos of King and them together. People have used these pictures to argue that King has gone light on white people accused of sexual assault while going extra hard at Black men accused of sexual assault.


This is hard to believe for a couple of reasons.

First of all, King could have very well taken those pictures before she even knew of allegations against Weinstein or Rose. If she did know about the allegations before they became public, then yes, this is something we should hold her accountable for.

However, once they did become public, King did not completely ignore the allegations. Just last year, she interviewed Weinstein’s defense lawyer, Donna Rotunno, and applied as much pressure to her as she did Lisa Leslie or any other person she’s interviewed. She brought up the fact that Weinstein was accused of abuse or assault by over 70 women and she asked Rotunno, “How does Harvey explain those allegations?”

She also pressed Rotunno, saying she seemed to be minimizing the “serious” accusations against Weinstein and she asked her “Do you ever worry that you’re making it harder for women who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, raped, to come forward?” Then, when Rotunno tried to place the onus of sexual assault on women, King followed up with, “Doesn’t a man have to take responsibility for his actions too?”

If this isn’t applying pressure to Weinstein and his defenders, I don’t know what is. It’s quite possible that Weinstein was declining interviews at the time, so King’s next closest source was his lawyer, and King asked the hard questions.


As for King’s relationship with Charlie Rose, she did say that she still considered him a friend back in 2018 despite an additional 27 women accusing him of sexual harassment or assault. “I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say this moment, but I don’t believe in abandoning friends when they’re down,” she said on the set of “CBS This Morning”. She added, “I don’t know what more we can do to Charlie Rose, except a public flogging. He’s gone. He’s not coming back to CBS News.”

She then said that she’s “sick of handling” the Charlie Rose story but added, “you can’t ignore what these women are saying and that’s also apart of my anguish here. To know that women were hurt and are saying the things that they’re saying, and I think it’s good that we’re having this conversation.” When her co-host said that “CBS This Morning” would continue to cover the Charlie Rose allegations, King added, “And we will cover it. That’s the thing, we’re not running away from it.”

With this short segment, it’s clear that King isn’t avoiding sexual misconduct allegations just because the alleged abuser is her friend. It’s clear that as a journalist, she’s still ready to cover the whole story about a person’s legacy and their alleged acts of harm. This is the same tough approach that she brought to Kobe Bryant’s case. In her interview with Lisa Leslie, they talked about the rape allegations against Kobe. But they also talked about his mentorship to women athletes, his love of Michael Jordan and his life as a loving father. King did not single out the allegations against Kobe as a way to “tarnish” his reputation. Similar to Charlie Rose, she just didn’t want to ignore things that were made very public in the media.

If folks aren’t ready for this conversation — or don’t want to have the conversation at all — that’s their prerogatives. But dragging someone who wants to have the conversation by claiming she’s only doing it with Black men and not white men is not accurate. Folks are also allowed to critique King on still being friends with an alleged abuser. However, if we do a deeper dive into the celebrities and close people we know who have been accused of harm, can we honestly say that we’ve cut them off completely? Abusers are not some boogie man that lurks in the dark. They are family, they are friends, they are acclaimed celebrities, they are white folks and they are Black folks. Completely dragging someone for bringing up these points isn’t going to solve the problem.

3. Gayle King is trying to divide Black men and women (a.k.a. She has an “Agenda Against Black Men”)


When people say this, essentially what they mean is we shouldn’t prioritize sexual assault along with race issues.

The problem with this argument is that it seems people don’t view sexual assault as a traumatizing and life-altering experience that, in fact, affects Black people, especially Black women. They don’t view it as a serious incident that can trigger or heighten mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. They especially don’t see it as a priority on the agenda for Black liberation.

People who make this argument also don’t view the conversation around sexual assault as a place for growth that could, in fact, benefit Black men. If you really care about the entire Black race, then that means you care about Black men and women not harming each other, right? That means you care about eliminating intimate partner violence no matter your gender or sexual orientation right? So why wouldn’t a conversation about sexual assault be beneficial?


Many people’s concerns about having these conversations publicly are steeped in people’s fears that another Black man will go to prison or be stripped of accolades that have long inspired Black communities. There is also a very real history of Black men being accused of assault by white women and facing harsher consequences than their white counterparts. These are understandable concerns and could have very well played a part in the anger towards Gayle King. The system is messed up and prisons as an adequate response to harm is a burgeoning debate, especially in a climate of criminal justice reform or abolition.

However, to say King is trying to divide Black people or has an “agenda” against Black men is not fully backed up, as addressed in point number two above. Because these claims lack evidence, they feel like a cop-out to talking about sexual assault and it dismisses the violence that can come towards people who speak on it. It feels like a silencing technique that says, instead of revisiting the criminal accusations against Kobe, instead of revisiting the alleged victims claims and Kobe’s claims, instead of revisiting Kobe’s subsequent apology once the criminal charges were drop, let’s completely erase this part of Kobe’s life from history just to protect him from white people.

Let’s erase incidents that could possibly become learning moments for countless Black men or people trying to understand or heal from sexual violence. It seems the threat of white people, the threat of prisons or the threat of false white accusers has caused people to want to completely ignore sexual assault. It begs the question: If these forces weren’t at play, how serious would people be about discussing sexual assault?

It’s fine if you’ve moved on from Kobe’s case, but why can’t people like Gayle King address the folks who are still trying to gain clarity. The people who might still be angry. These people are Black women, Black LGBTQ+ folks and yes, even straight Black men.

Virginia’s Black Residents, Businesses Left Out Of Lucrative Casino Plans

The ongoing debate over whether to build and operate new casinos in Virginia has failed to take the commonwealth’s Black residents and their economic opportunities into consideration, African American business leaders say.

In particular, there appears to have been no opportunity for Black people and Black-owned businesses in Virginia to participate in the economic development aspect of the ambitious proposed legislation that would pave the way for the new casinos to open in five cities where there are sizeable Black populations — Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond.

According to the Bristol Herald Courier, “the five proposed casinos would generate nearly $1 billion in combined annual net gaming revenue for operators and more than $260 million annually in state gaming tax” and “would create more than 7,000 jobs.” However, there has been a failure to address how the local Black population would be considered when it came to those jobs or the opportunities in casino management, construction, service contracts or other investment ventures.

That omission is unacceptable, the top leadership of Urban One Inc., a Black-owned business that operates media organizations across the country as well as in Virginia, said.

“Economic opportunity is the driver for a better way of life for African Americans. Casinos in Virginia’s Black Communities will create Billions of dollars in value from jobs, construction, service contracts and Investment profits. The African American community deserves the right to participate in the value creation generated from its own revenues! This opportunity should not just go to Indian Tribes and out of state billionaires,” Cathy Hughes, Urban One’s founder, and Alfred Liggins, Urban One’s CEO, said in a statement.

Thus far, the only minority participation in the Virginia casinos process has been that of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe which, by one state estimation, has about 200 members. That population stood in stark contrast to the number of Black people in Virginia (20 percent of the state’s more than 3.5 million residents). It also paled in comparison to the Black populations of each of the five cities where the casinos have been planned.

Hughes and Liggins urged Virginia’s Black residents and eligible Black-owned businesses who are missing out on what could be a lucrative economic opportunity to contact their members of the General Assembly and other state representatives to voice complaints about what they described as an unfair process.

“Email or call your state legislators and the Governors office to say that ‘Black economic inclusion in Virginia Casinos matters!’, Hughes and Liggins added in their statement.

Members of the Virginia General Assembly can be found by clicking here. The contact information for the office of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam can be found by clicking here.

‘I Get To Be Black For A Summer’: Robert Downey Jr. Defends His ‘Tropic Thunder’ Role

"Die Fantastische Reise Des Dr. Dolittle" Press Conference In Berlin

Source: Tristar Media / Getty

Although blackface has always had a racist history behind it, with social media and other avenues, Black people have been able to express how offensive the act can be in detail. Actor Robert Downey Jr. had to explain his use of blackface in the 2012 comedy movie “Tropic Thunder” and he didn’t seem to have many regrets.

According to Page Six, the 54-year-old actor went on “The Joe Rogan Experience” to talk about his role in the movie where he played an Australian actor who darkens his skin in order to portray a Black soldier in a war movie. Downey said he believes the comedy ignited a conversation he thought needed to be had.

“I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that’s out of place and out of its time, but to me it blasted the cap on [the issue],” Downey Jr. said. “I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ In my defense, ‘Tropic Thunder’ is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.”

Despite Downey’s defense of the role, he still admitted that he was hesitant to take it at first. When director and comedian Ben Stiller offered him the role, he said his mother, Elsie Ford, was also concerned.

“My mother was horrified,” Downey Jr. said. “‘Bobby, I’m telling ya, I have a bad feeling about this.’ I was like, ‘Yeah me too, mom.’”

He went on to say, “When Ben called and said, ‘Hey I’m doing this thing’ – you know I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something. Possibly wisely. And I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that and I’ll do that after Iron Man.’ Then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea, wait a minute.’”

The actor eventually had a change of heart.

“I thought, ‘Well hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart? My heart is … I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me.” He continued, “The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion, just my opinion.”

Unsurprisingly, Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie. Meanwhile, Black actors are still struggling to get nominated for an Oscar for a role that’s not rooted in slavery or stereotypes.

Downey Jr. went on to play the “Black friend” card when defending his role in “Tropic Thunder”.

“90 percent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ I can’t disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies,” he said on the podcast.

Luckily, Downey Jr. lost the Academy Award to the late Health Ledger, who won for his role in “The Dark Knight”. You can check out Downey Jr.’s full words for yourself below.



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Howard Thurman Helped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Non-Violent Philosophy

For African-Americans who grew up with the legacy of segregation, disfranchisement, lynching, and violence, retreat from social struggle was unthinkable. Martin Luther King Jr., however, learned from some important mentors how to integrate spiritual growth and social transformation.

As a historian, who has studied how figures in American history struggled with similar questions, I believe one major influence on King’s thought was the African-American minister, theologian, and mystic Howard Thurman.

The influence of Howard Thurman

Born in 1899, Thurman was 30 years older than King, the same age, in fact, as King’s father. Through his sermons and teaching at Howard University and Boston University, he influenced intellectually and spiritually an entire generation that became the leadership of the civil rights movement.

Among his most significant contributions was bringing the ideas of nonviolence to the movement. It was Thurman’s trip to India in 1935, where he met Mahatma Gandhi, that was greatly influential in incorporating the principles of nonviolence in the African-American freedom struggle.

At the close of the meeting, which was long highlighted by Thurman as a central event of his life, Gandhi reportedly told Thurman that “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.” King and others remembered and repeated that phrase during the early years of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

Thurman and King were both steeped in the black Baptist tradition. Both thought long about how to apply their church experiences and theological training into challenging the white supremacist ideology of segregation. However, initially their encounters were brief.

Thurman had served as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 1953 to 1965. King was a student there when Thurman first assumed his position in Boston and heard the renowned minister deliver some addresses. A few years later, King invited Thurman to speak at his first pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Their most serious personal encounter – the one that gave Thurman his opportunity to influence King personally, and help prepare him for struggles to come – came as a result of a tragedy.

A crucial meeting in hospital

On Sept. 20, 1958, a mentally disturbed African-American woman named Izola Ware Curry came to a book signing in upper Manhattan. There, King was signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.” Curry moved to the front of the signing line, took out a sharp-edged letter opener and stabbed the 29-year-old minister, who had just vaulted to national prominence through his leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott.

King barely survived. Doctors later told King that, if he had sneezed, he easily could have died. Of course, King later received a fatal gunshot wound in April 1968. Curry lived her days in a mental institution, to the age of 97.

It was while recuperating in the hospital afterward, that King received a visit from Thurman. While there, Thurman gave the same advice he gave to countless others over decades: that King should take the unexpected, if tragic, opportunity, to meditate on his life and its purposes, and only then move forward.

Thurman urged King to extend his rest period by two weeks. It would, as he said, give King “time away from the immediate pressure of the movement” and to “rest his body and mind with healing detachment.” Thurman worried that “the movement had become more than an organization; it had become an organism with a life of its own,” which potentially could swallow up King.

King wrote to Thurman to say, “I am following your advice on the question.”

King’s spiritual connection with Thurman

King and Thurman were never personally close. But Thurman left a profound intellectual and spiritual influence on King. King, for example, reportedly carried his own well-thumbed copy of Thurman’s best-known book, “Jesus and the Disinherited,” in his pocket during the long and epic struggle of the Montgomery bus boycott.

In his sermons during the 1950s and 1960s, King quoted and paraphrased Thurman extensively. Drawing from Thurman’s views, King understood Jesus as friend and ally of the dispossessed – to a group of Jewish followers in ancient Palestine, and to African-Americans under slavery and segregation. That was precisely why Jesus was so central to African-American religious history.

The mystic

Thurman was not an activist, as King was, nor one to take up specific social and political causes to transform a country. He was a private man and an intellectual. He saw spiritual cultivation as a necessary accompaniment to social activism.

As Walter Fluker, editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project, has explained, the private mystic and the public activist found common ground in understanding that spirituality is necessarily linked to social transformation. Private spiritual cultivation could prepare the way for deeper public commitments for social change. King himself, according to one biographer, came to feel that the stabbing and enforced convalescence was “part of God’s plan to prepare him for some larger work” in the struggle against southern segregation and American white supremacy.

In a larger sense, the discipline of nonviolence required a spiritual commitment and discipline that came, for many, through self-examination, meditation and prayer. This was the message Thurman transmitted to the larger civil rights movement. Thurman combined, in the words of historian Martin Marty, the “inner life, the life of passion, the life of fire, with the external life, the life of politics.”

Spiritual retreat and activism

King’s stabbing was a bizarre and tragic event, but in some sense it gave him the period of reflection and inner cultivation needed for the chaotic coming days of the civil rights struggle. The prison cell in Birmingham, Alabama, where in mid-1963 King penned his classic “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” also accidentally but critically provided much the same spiritual retreat for reflections that helped transform America.

The relationship of Thurman’s mysticism and King’s activism provides a fascinating model for how spiritual and social transformation can work together in a person’s life. And in society more generally.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Jan. 11, 2018.

Paul Harvey, Professor of American History, University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Iran Ditches Nuclear Deal After Trump-Ordered Attack, Pushing America Closer To World War III

Fears of a war with Iran has almost surpassed the realm of possibility following the assassination of the Middle Eastern country’s top leader, Qasem Soleimani. In an announcement made on Sunday, Iran revealed that they will no longer uphold the parameters of the Barack Obama-orchestrated 2015 nuclear deal that is clearly unraveling, and quickly, according to a report from the Associated Press.

MORE: Trump Inches America Closer To World War III By Pulling Out Of Nuclear Deal

While the country said during a television broadcast that they are open to negotiations with European allies, they did not recede any promises that they will no longer seek a nuclear weapon.

The Sunday announcement, however, is clearly indicative of a nuclear threat and might be the largest made by Iran since President Trump withdrew the U.S. out of the nuclear deal that was installed to reduce a threat in the Middle East.

Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and at the time, he promised “the highest level of sanctions” against Iran until the country was in accordance with a new deal based on his terms. He also said that if Iran opposes, they “will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.”

The president’s decision has also heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, whose president, Benjamin Netanyahu, earnestly opposed the deal and thanked Trump on live TV from Jerusalem at the time.

“I think that everybody recognizes the malign intentions of Iran, and I think everybody also recognizes Israel’s right of self-defense, which is really our common defense,” Netanyahu said on May 8, 2018.

A coalition of European nations, on the other hand, expressed their regret for Trump’s problematic decision to withdraw from the deal with Iran.

Nonetheless, the killing of Soleimani is serving as a catalyst for unpredictable danger that will involve more than the U.S. An Iranian official has said that the country will “consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani,” according to the Associated Press.

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah political party has also said that Soleimani’s death has made U.S. military bases, warships and service members across the region targets for attacks.

Iran’s state TV shared a statement from President Hassan Rouhani’s administration declaring that the country will no longer “observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.”

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has in a statement announced its fifth and final step in reducing Iran’s commitments under the JCPOA,” a state TV broadcaster said, referring to the acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “The Islamic Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations.”

Trump has been longing to dismantle president Obama’s achievements and overall presidential legacy and his recent course of actions may enable him to do just that.


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Teacher Still Employed After Assigning ‘Set Your Price’ Slave Trade Assignment

An Oakville, Missouri schoolteacher is still on payroll after assigning a “set your price” slave trade assignment. The racist and extremely tone-deaf assignment was given to a group of fifth graders at the Blades Elementary School. A photo of the assignment and its’ instructions surfaced the net on Sunday and has caused much confusion because at what point was slavery ever a joking matter or a trivial game to be xeroxed on a worksheet?

MORE: ‘We Should Bring Back Slavery’: White Woman Defends Racist Snapchat Video As An ‘Inside Joke’

“You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers,” the work problem reads. “You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves.”

The assignment goes on to allow students to make up their own price for a slave and advises students that “these could be worth a lot.”

The rest of the assignment prompts students to set prices for items like wool, wood, grains and lumber. Yes, in 2019 a children’s homework assignment said the trading of agriculture was comparable to the institution of slavery and trading black people. Upon completion of the ridiculous assignment, students were asked to reflect on the prices they chose. “Do you think you set your item at a good price to sell? Why or what not?” the assignment read.

According to Fox6, the school’s principal, Jeremy Booker, issued a letter to the families of Blades Elementary School on Monday, calling the assignment “culturally insensitive.” He also claimed that measures would be taken to ensure that teachers and staff are aware of and respected “cultural biases” going forward.

“As part of both the Missouri Learning Standards for fifth-grade Social Studies and the fifth-grade Mehlville School District curriculum, students were learning about having goods, needing goods and obtaining goods and how that influenced early settlement in America. Some students who participated in this assignment were prompted to consider how plantation owners traded for goods and slaves,” Booker said.

However, there was no mention of disciplinary action or firing the teacher who assigned the homework. No suspension without pay, no termination, just an investigation. Go figure.

The letter continued, “The assignment was culturally insensitive. I appreciate the parents who notified me of this assignment. I met with the teacher this morning to discuss the purpose of the assignment, the teacher’s interpretation of curriculum standards, and the impact the activity could have on students. The teacher has expressed significant remorse. The district is continuing to investigate this event.”

Booker added that he is “working with district leadership to provide all Blades teachers and staff with professional development on cultural bias in the near future. We are working together to ensure all students and families feel valued and respected at Blades Elementary.”


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D.C. Man Arrested For Marijuana And Found Dead In His Cell Less Than 7 Hours Later

Jamaal Byrd was arrested on Sept. 30 because he was suspected of selling marijuana. On Oct. 1, he was found dead in his cell. Activists have been demanding answers for months and are reportedly getting little to no cooperation from police.

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According to The Washington Post, a D.C. police report claims he “was arrested Sept. 30 on suspicion of selling marijuana at a restaurant in the 1500 block of North Capitol Street. Byrd was transported to the District’s Central Cell Block at 300 Indiana Avenue NW, in the basement of D.C. police headquarters. It was there that Byrd and other arrestees were held until their initial hearing at D.C. Superior Court.” 

Less than seven hours later, Byrd was discovered in his cell. He was allegedly alone and passed out on his bed. A guard performed CPR and he was taken to a hospital. The 33-year-old was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.

Roxane Johnson, Byrd’s mother said in a statement, “We need answers. My son was in great health. What happened to cause his death while in the custody of the DC Department of Corrections? Nothing will bring my son back — but I am demanding to know what happened to my son! He meant the world to me and my family.”

While D.C. police say he was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana, Black Lives Matter in D.C. says, “Byrd was on his way to sign up for a job training program when he was stopped by police.”

Keena Blackman, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections, said in a statement on Friday, “Our condolences remain with his family during this difficult time.”

One user wrote on social media about Jamaal Byrd, “Jamaal Byrd was a sweet and respectful man, a loving father, brother and son. His life matters to his mother, his sister, his children and all of us who love and care about him. We demand to know the truth about his death.”

An investigation into his death is allegedly ongoing and autopsy results are pending. 

We hope the Byrd family gets justice. Our condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.


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This Is The Rudy Giuliani Who Black People Warned America About A Long Time Ago

It’s telling that President Donald Trump is seemingly the only one who has confidence in Rudy Giuliani.

MORE: This Is The Donald Trump Black People Warned You About

At least, that seemed to be the case after Gordon Sondland testified as a key witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union — which includes Ukraine, where the very impeachable quid pro quo scandal unfolded — said in no uncertain circumstances that Trump specifically directed officials to withhold financial aid until Ukrainians officials investigated former Vice President Joe Biden‘s family for personal political gain.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland asked rhetorically in his opening remarks before ultimately saying that “the answer is yes.”

Sondland’s testimony shared one common denominator with the other diplomats who have testified: Giuliani, with whom Sondland testified neither he nor his team wanted to work and only did so out of obedience to the president’s orders. Most of the witnesses have corroborated each other’s accounts that place Giuliani and Trump at the center of one of the most egregious presidential scandals in international history.

Now, Giuliani is being investigated by federal prosecutors for his alleged attempts to profit from the very investigations into Ukrainian energy projects that Trump insisted on in exchange for political capital that could affect the outcome of the 2020 election. Turns out Giuliani may have been the crook all along while trying to criminalize low-income Black and brown people he presided over as New York City mayor.

When Trump was a candidate, Black people warned America about who he really is – a lying, racist, xenophobic sexist. Trump has more than proven those attributes to be true, and then some, to the point that news outlets have been forced to revise their stylebooks to amend their definitions of what constitutes racism.

Now, with Giuliani, it can’t be ignored how loudly Black folks also sounded the alarm about him dating back to the early 1990s. Guiliani’s track record with Black and brown folks has been well documented, beginning in 1992 when he incited a race riot in New York City.

At the time, New York City had its first — and only — Black mayor in David N. Dinkins. Giuliani used that racial aspect to fuel the racist fire he was starting. That was just one of many unfortunate parallels between Giuliani and Trump, the latter of whom also has a long documented history of racism and discrimination against Black and brown people and used race — specifically that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, the nation’s first and only Black president — to fuel his candidacy.

Noticing a theme here?

Race riot and drastic cuts to social services notwithstanding, Giuliani’s time in New York City Hall also ushered in the now-unconstitutional Broken Windows policing practice of Stop And Frisk that has had immeasurable damage on Black and brown communities as part of a larger racist legacy the former mayor left behind that has still thrived. Giuliani has also gone on to utter such gems as saying that Black Lives Matter is “inherently racist,” insisting that Black people are their own worst enemies and blaming Black fathers for racist police violence. “There’s too much violence in the black community,” Giuliani said on CBS’ “Face The Nation” in 2016. “A black will die 1% or less at the hands of the police and 99% of the hands of a civilian, most often another black.”

Fast forward a couple of decades later and Giuliani and Trump are the main characters starring in an international blockbuster of a political scandal that has vast implications for the country moving forward.

Of course, Giuliani and Trump are not isolated cases of who Black folks have warned America about. The plight of Black people in America has been increasingly amplified louder while still many times falling on deaf ears belonging to the powers that be. That can lead to delayed reactions to injustices — reparations, anyone? — instead of having proactive approaches.

Chances are that Trump will be impeached but not removed from office if a partisan Senate acquits him as expected. But if there was ever a chance for America to make amends for ignoring the Black voices of reason that warned of Trump and Giuliani — two corrupting factors directly contributing to the decline of America’s it would be on Election Day 2020 to vote out Trump in favor of any Democratic candidate.


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Did The NFL Set Up Jay-Z To Be The Fall Guy On All Things Race-Related?

Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing feud with the NFL, especially the practice session on Saturday, has left many people divided. From Stephen A. Smith to Eric Reid to Ava DuVernay, there are strong opinions. However, one thing many haven’t forgotten is Jay-Z’s so-called social justice partnership that was launched a few months ago. Jay has remained silent on the issue since he told America we are “beyond kneeling” with Roger Goodell smiling next to him.

However, many are asking if the NFL set up the rapper to be the fall guy on the endless hiccups with race.

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According to Complex, a “source” says that Mr. Carter was “disappointed” with Kaepernick, believing he turned the workout into a “publicity stunt.” Don’t forget this is the rapper who allegedly told Travis Scott to not perform at the Super Bowl because he was standing with Kaep.

If this is true, some people are hypothesizing Jay’s real role with the NFL. Activist Bree Newsome wrote on Twitter, “Again, the white ownership of the NFL cut a deal w/ Jay-Z to perform this exact function, to act as the token minority spokesperson to uphold the white power structure & downplay the issues of racism within professional football.”

Another user wrote, “Well intentioned (or not) Jay-Z should’ve NEVER positioned himself with the NFL when it comes to equality, social justice, and race relations issues. He’ll be maligned and blamed at every end and corner when the NFL fucks up (cause, obviously) on any of these issues.”

A third Twitter user pointed out the ongoing theme of celebrities being the fall guy for a corporation’s racism writing, “@NFL is getting help #BlackWashing over its racism. >#Kaepernick is banned from NFL for protesting police brutality against black people, so the NFL partners with Jay-Z. >#Racist #PapaJohn’s give @SHAQ seat on its board. @Stephenssmith of course plays his part.”

In case you missed it, Kaepernick’s Saturday workout took an unexpected turn when the NFL demanded that he sign an unusual liability waiver. According to a statement from Kaepernick’s attorney Ben Meiselas and agent Jeff Nalley, “From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one. Most recently, the NFL has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives….Mr. Kaepernick simply asks for a transparent and open process which is why a new location has been selected for today.”

The waiver would have required Kaepernick to acknowledge that he was made “no promise of employment” by participating in a workout. This was protection for the NFL because if they expressed a desire to keep him out of the league, this could possibly give grounds to file a lawsuit or a second collusion grievance, similar to the first collusion grievance Kaepernick filed against the NFL.

Keapernick — who believes that the NFL blackballed him from the league from 2017 to 2019 because he took a knee and spoke out against police brutality — would not want to surrender his ability to invoke certain legal rights in the future.

Kaepernick relocated the workout to an Atlanta-area high school.

After the workout, Kaep said, “I’ve been ready for three years. I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why. I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell to stop running. Stop running from the truth. Stop running from the people.”

With Jay-Z be their side, the NFL always has a cover for their racism. The question is, is Jay-Z a knowing participant? Because as he famously said, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”


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Anti-Diversity Judge Gets Confirmed To Thurgood Marshall’s Legendary Appeals Court Seat

Senate Judiciary Committee

Source: Tom Williams / Getty

On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Steven Menashi to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 51-41. According to Slate, every Republican present supported Menashi with the exception of Sen. Susan Collins. Each Democrat present opposed him. Donald Trump has now flipped the 2nd Circuit to a majority of Republican appointees, which could assist him in shielding himself from criminal liability and congressional scrutiny in a New York jurisdiction, which he previously called home. Whenever the court hears cases en banc — or with every judge sitting — the now 7-6 Republican majority will give conservatives an upper hand.

On top of all this, Menashi has a serious history of discriminatory remarks and actions against Black people, women, Muslims and LGBTQ folks. Unfortunately, he will be taking a seat once filled by civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall, who went on to become the first Black Supreme Court Justice.

Most of Menashi’s past writings were anti-diversity in nature. For example in a 2010 law review article called “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy” Menashi argued that an Israeli law favoring Jewish immigrants fits within the framework of a “liberal democracy” because many countries impose “ethnic preferences” in immigration. He argued: “Ethnic ties provide the groundwork for social trust and political solidarity,” whereas diverse societies have “lower social trust” and less “effective governing institutions.”

Menashi also went after sexual assault activists. In college, he condemned Take Back the Night marches, saying that “campus gynocentrists” unfairly accuse “the majority of male students with complicity in rape and sexual violence.” Menashi also didn’t support LGBTQ issues early on. He questioned why the Human Rights Campaign “incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard” but did not discuss murders committed by gay men. He also claimed “tony colleges” were hypocritical for allowing LGBTQ residence communities while “sneer[ing] at the military for worrying about open homosexuals in the ranks.”

Menashi has little care for Black people too. He once defended a mostly white frat’s “ghetto party,” in which white students sported afros and toy guns. He also wrote that Brown University’s Third World Transition Program for people of color was meant “to fully indoctrinate them in leftist multiculturalism.” He went on to describe academic multiculturalism as a “thoroughly bankrupt” effort that is all “about denigrating Western culture in order to promote self-esteem among ‘marginalized’ groups.”

When Menashi joined the Trump administration as the acting general counsel in Betsy DeVos‘ Department of Education, he seemed to coalesce to more bigotry. During his time there, the agency rolled back protections for students who are LGBTQ, racial minorities, disabled and sexual assault survivors. The New York Times also recently reported that Menashi devised a plan “to use private Social Security data to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by their for-profit colleges.” A federal judge eventually halted the scheme, ruling that it violated federal privacy laws. In 2018, Menashi transitioned to the White House to serve as a legal adviser. In this role, he helped Stephen Miller — a white supremacist — carry out Trump’s crackdowns on immigration and asylum.

Menashi’s placement in the 2nd Circuit can further cement his allegiance to Trump. For example, a three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit is currently weighing the legality of a subpoena that the House of Representatives issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for Trump’s financial records. If the panel goes against Trump, he could request en banc review, which would favor him now that the full court is majority Republican. Even in instances where Congress continually issues subpoenas, Trump’s appointees can give Congress the go-around about why they’re against the subpoenas, which could further draw out the judicial process.


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Popeyes Stabbing Victim Is Identified As Tributes Pour In


Source: ERIC BARADAT / Getty

The 28-year-old who was fatally stabbed outside a Popeyes restaurant has been identified and folks are sending their condolences.

According to WJLA, Kevin Tyrell Davis of Oxon Hill, Maryland, was the victim of the stabbing, which occurred after an altercation over the restaurant’s popular chicken sandwich.


According to officials, an argument between two men began inside the restaurant located at 6247 Livingston Road, reportedly while the victim was waiting in line for the sandwich. The argument then transitioned outside on the street where the victim was stabbed. Davis was pronounced dead about an hour later at a local hospital.

“Our homicide detectives are hard at work on this one, but we have been able to determine preliminarily that this is related to the release of the sandwich here at this restaurant,” explained Jennifer Donelan, the Prince George’s County Police Department’s media relations director.

Investigators believe the argument came about because Davis cut the line. “It’s something we have to question in terms of how we’re interacting with one another as a society, is how does a confrontation over cutting line lead to a death,” Chief Hank Stawinski said at a press conference on Tuesday. “What bothers me about this…is that there are families and children in this restaurant as this is unfolding and they’ve been exposed to this now as well. This is pointless. This is disrespectful.”

The suspect for the crime is still at large, and cops are asking witnesses to come forward to assist with identifying him. They released store photos shortly before 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, tributes have already started pouring in for Davis, who was known as Oside KD, according to the

“I failed you. I’m sorry #longlive KD,” one person shared on Instagram, who claimed to be his cousin.

“LongLiveKD Another Bro From the Lawd. Senseless,” another friend added.

On Tuesday, friends of Davis stopped by the Oxon Hill Popeyes location to lay out candles that spelled his name and to put up flowers as a makeshift memorial.

Although Popeyes hasn’t made a statement on social media regarding the incident, a representative for the restaurant chain told, “What happened in Maryland last night is a tragedy and we are saddened to hear about this senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends. We, along with the franchisee, are fully cooperating with local authorities and actively working to gather more information.”


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Police Interrogation Firm Sues Ava DuVernay And Netflix Over ‘When They See Us’

Ava DuVernays brilliant “When They See Us” caused  many people to look back at the trash behavior of the people who ruined the childhood of five Black children. Elizabeth Lederer, the lead district attorney on the case, resigned from Columbia University earlier this year. In addition, Linda Fairstein, the original prosecutor on the case, was dropped from her publisher and forced to leave several boards.  Nonetheless, DuVeray and Netflix are now being sued by a a police interrogation firm.

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TMZ reports, John E. Reid and Associates are  claiming in a lawsuit that “When They See Us” defamed them “by saying his method was used to squeeze statements out” of the children. The lawsuit claims the filmmakers “fabricated a scene designed to broadcast to the audience a conversation they made up that included false statements as to the Reid Technique.”

The main scene being addressed is from episode 4 where the prosecution staffer says to the detective, “You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision. The Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That’s truth to you.”

According to docs, John E. Reid and Associates  are whining that the method is not “universally rejected.” They are asked for a retraction in July and Netflix refused so they are suing for “a chunk of the profits, and other damages.”

But here is the clincher — John E. Reid has been dead since 1982. Variety explains, “John E. Reid, a former Chicago police officer, wrote a textbook on police interrogation. He died in 1982, but his company continues to offer training in the Reid Technique. The company also licensed its method to Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, a firm run by two former John E. Reid and Associates employees. For decades, Wicklander-Zulawski offered a competing version of the Reid Technique, but in 2017 the firm announced that it had abandoned the method, citing the risk of false confessions arising from the misuse of the approach.”

In 2002, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise exonerated by the New York State Supreme Court only because a fellow inmate came forward to confess — even though there was never any DNA evidence linking them to assaulting a woman in Central Park back in April of 1989. 


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Kanye’s Pastor Says He’s ‘So Excited To Study The Bible’ Even Though He Doesn’t Read Books

Kanye West is busy doing Sunday sermons and spitting out historically incorrect information about Black History. Now, his pastor claims that he is immersed in reading the Bible and coming to Christ.

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Pastor Adam Tyson is Kanye’s pastor and the just met in June. Tyson said in a recent podcast, “[The] first time I talked to [Kanye] the first Sunday in June, he told me, ‘I got radically saved five weeks ago.’ I said, ‘Kanye, what happened five weeks ago?’ He said, ‘I was just under the weight of my sin and I was being convicted that I was running from God, and I knew I needed to make things right, so I came to Christ. I came out of the darkness into the light.’”

He also said, “I spent about three hours just going through the gospel, making sure he understood clearly about the atonement of Jesus Christ, that God is holy, that we are sinners, that Christ came to die in the place of sinners, that by repenting and believing in him, we can have eternal life. And [Kanye] was like, ‘Hey, man. I told you. I’ve been radically saved; I believe that message and I wanna get that message out to the world.’ [I told him], ‘As long as you’re professing Christ and living for him, I’m here to help you.’”

Tyson also revealed that he is studying the Bible, even though he is a “proud” non-reader of books, “He’s so excited about studying the Bible. How can you say no?…The fruit that I’m seeing is he’s no longer continuing in some of the sin patterns that he was before he came to Christ. Right now, every day, he is living and walking with God, so from what I can tell, there’s no reason for me not to encounter that and be a part of that.”

Maybe the pastor could turn Kanye on to reading about his history. This was the same man who said slavery was a choice, Malcolm X wasn’t relatable and has repeatedly admitted to not voting a day in his life.


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Black Journalists’ Convention Increases Security After Racially Motivated Mass Shootings

AVENTURA, Florida –There were some early morning jitters at the annual gathering for Black journalists in suburban Miami on Wednesday morning after a fire alarm briefly disrupted the event’s first day of panels and workshops. But the nerves of those attending the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention here were quickly quelled when an evacuation was halted after it was announced that the alarm sounded because of some burnt toast.

Amid heightened worries surrounding gun violence from suspected white supremacists targeting minorities, the nation’s largest organization for journalists of color kicked off this year’s gathering as the nation was mourning the nearly two dozen deaths from this past weekend’s pair of apparently racially motivated mass shootings. It was because of that, NABJ Executive Director Drew Berry said — and probably because of the racist rhetoric and attacks on the media by Donald Trump — that there were extra security measures put in place for the organization’s signature event.

On Sunday, Berry sent a blast email to its members expressing his condolences to the victims of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which took place this past Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Berry emphasized that convention security would be ramped up, a message that had not been sent to attendees in past years.

“We met with local police departments and hotel security staff two days ago regarding our convention security needs including concerns fueled by the racial climate and recent mass shootings,” Berry wrote in part. “The security team is putting together substantial plans that include both visible and covert security details.”

Multiple requests for comment from Berry, NABJ President Sarah Glover and other officials within the nonprofit organization were not returned.

The convention began on the same day USA Today’s headquarters in Virginia was evacuated because of a report about an armed person that ultimately didn’t yield “evidence of any acts of violence.” It was just another example of journalists being on alert in a culture of mass shootings. Among a host of planned events over the span of five days, NABJ was planning a presidential candidates forum that was set to include New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

The preemptive move by NABJ seemed to make complete sense after at least 20 people were killed Saturday in El Paso by Patrick Crusius, who said in a racist manifesto that he was against “race mixing.” Less than 24 hours later, Connor Betts opened fired in the Oregon District in Dayton early Sunday morning, killing nine people, six of whom were Black. Though authorities did not immediately confirm a motive, social media users theorized that Betts was upset with his sister, whom he also killed, for dating a Black man.

Those shootings came about a week after Santino William Legan killed multiple people attending the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. Legan left behind social media posts that showed he may have been a white supremacist or at least sympathized with the racist movement.

The president’s open disdain for many Black people, especially journalists, was also another likely reason for NABJ’s precautions. Trump has used dangerously racist rhetoric that’s helped to embolden white supremacist extremists to target prominent Black people and especially journalists. The president during last week’s Democratic debates turned his attention to Don Lemon, who the president has repeatedly called “the dumbest man on television.”

Those insults toward Lemon may seem harmless, but another journalist proved Trump’s attacks on the media can create danger. Just last year, legendary journalist April Ryan, the 2017 NABJ Journalist of the Year, revealed that she was receiving death threats because of her coverage of the White House.

Despite the current events and racial climate in the country, one attendee said he wasn’t worried and that he believed NABJ officials would do their best to keep safe a segment of the community that perhaps would not have otherwise felt protected.

“With three mass shootings taking place over the span of a week, I’m a little on edge,” Victor Williams, a Cleveland television reporter, told NewsOne on Monday. “I don’t realistically see this problem going away anytime soon [and] unless something is done, it’s possible this could be a concern at all future conventions, [but] I’m confident in the planners of NABJ are taking extra measures to keep us safe.”


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Mass Shootings Expose Which Presidential Candidates Don’t Support Domestic Terrorism Bills

If it wasn’t clear following last week’s mass shooting in Gilroy, California, this past weekend’s back-to-back weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, respectively, exposed the nation’s lack of laws for domestic terrorism. But with officials announcing that the El Paso shooting that killed 20 people would be treated as domestic terrorism, the deadly gun violence also exposed which presidential candidates have thrown their support behind domestic terrorism legislation that has stalled in Congress.

Many politicians and pundits alike tend to use deadly episodes like the three mass shootings in the past two weeks as reasons to ramp up the rhetoric for tighter gun laws, but Senate Democrats have already taken that talk a step further by introducing Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019 back in March. S.894 has 19 co-sponsors. But that number was only made up of half the presidential candidates who are also Senators: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders.

Conspicuously missing from that list were three other presidential candidates who are Senators: Michael Bennett of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

That’s right, Elizabeth Warren, the person who has been lauded for having a plan for everything, has not co-sponsored the fledgling legislation against domestic terrorism, an issue that has been pushed to the forefront in just one week’s time. 

Warren did recently denounce white supremacy as domestic terrorism, but her efforts to get a law passed about it have been unclear aside from what appears to be her absence from being involved in the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019.

Meanwhile, the co-sponsorship by Booker, Harris and Klobuchar immediately gives them a ton of political capital on the topic that is bound to dominate future presidential debates and interviews as the country grapples with the fallout from a problem it doesn’t seem properly equipped to answer. However, since Klobuchar has become a fringe candidate whose campaign may not even last until the next debate, Booker and Harris — the latter of whom has flirted with being a frontrunner among Democrats — could emerge as difference-makers on helping to get the domestic terrorism law on the books.

There was also the House’s Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019 for which at least one prominent Congresswoman running for president has not signed on.

The idea of investigating the El Paso shooting as domestic terrorism was also interesting because even though mass shootings disproportionately waged by white American males have been on the rise for almost a quarter of a century, Esquire reminded readers in June that “the Department of Justice cannot label such acts as terrorism because there is no law under which they can do it.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act expands “the type of conduct that the government can investigate when it is investigating ‘terrorism’” but “does not create a new crime of domestic terrorism.”

All of which emphasizes why Durbin’s bill was especially important in the wake of this weekend’s carnage that on face value certainly seemed deserving of being labeled domestic terrorism. The El Paso shooter, who police managed to arrest, reportedly left behind a racist manifesto that indicated he traveled more than 10 hours by car to the border town in order to kill “Hispanics.” Not only does that type of premeditation mandate a hate crime charge, but domestic terror also fits perfectly into that narrative.

Aside from the requisite “thoughts and prayers” offered by politicians following mass shootings, it will be interesting to see how sitting U.S. Senators try to explain why they did not co-sponsor Durbin’s bill that has now taken on an added sense of urgency.


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