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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Portland Violence Continues As Judge Extends Order Against Federal Marshals

Portland Violence Continues As Judge Extends Order Against Federal Marshals

 

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A U.S. district judge in Oregon has extended a restraining order against the U.S. Marshals Service and agents with the Department of Homeland Security, ordering them to stop attacking journalists and legal observers at Black Lives Matter protests in Portland. The ruling came over the objections of the federal government, who argued that the restraining order issued against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service was now irrelevant.
That order barred federal officers from using physical force, arresting, or dispersing anyone they should “reasonably know” was at the protests as a journalist or observer. Attorneys for the federal agencies argued the circumstances had changed with the federal presence in Portland supposed to wind down — and that the order should therefore be allowed to lapse.
Judge Michael Simon sided with attorneys working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, who argued that the threat of violence remained even as the federal officers became less visible. The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Oregon, alleging local and federal law enforcement have been targeting and attacking journalists during more than two months of nightly protests against racism and police brutality. Two weeks ago, Simon issued an initial restraining order on the federal officers, following mounting accounts of officers injuring journalists and observers on the ground.
Protests in Portland continue for the 11th straight week as the city’s mayor pleaded for protesters to stay off the streets, saying those who barricaded the doors to a police precinct the night before and tried to set it ablaze were not demonstrators, but criminals. The majority of sit-ins and marches have been peaceful with no police interaction. A smaller element continues to violently clash with police after most of the several hundred peaceful demonstrators have cleared the streets.
Within a week of the restraining order being extended, police declared riots as a march turned violent. Police repeatedly blocked marchers as they made their through neighborhoods. The tactics prevented people from gathering outside local police buildings, which have been the recent focus of raucous demonstrations. Portland police pushed people, shot them with impact munitions and set off smoke devices after people threw water bottles and paint toward officers. As protestors left the area to make their way down another street they were repeatedly met by police blocking the march.
Each time protestors marched a different street another standoff with police ensued. Videos have circulated of the confrontations showing objects being thrown at officers from a crowd and others of officers advancing on protestors, knocking people to the ground as they walk down the street. The incident drew immediate criticism, including from Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the council’s leading advocate for police reform.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Sexual Assault Advocate Daisy Coleman Commits Suicide

Sexual Assault Advocate Daisy Coleman Commits Suicide

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Daisy Coleman, a high school sexual assault survivor who was featured in the documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” has died at the age of 23 by suicide. After announcing her death, Daisy’s mother Melinda wrote, “She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.” Daisy’s sexual assault prompted her to become an advocate for sexual assault victims and she co-founded the non-profit organization SafeBAE, which was aimed at preventing sexual assault in schools.
The Coleman family have suffered tremendous loss over the years far beyond Daisy’s sexual assault at a party in 2012. Melinda’s husband and father to her four children, Dr. Michael Coleman, was killed in a car crash in 2009, then Daisy’s younger brother Tristan died in a car accident at the age of 19 in June 2018 and now the loss of Daisy. The family had originally moved to the small town of Maryville from Albany, Missouri in 2009 after Michael Coleman’s death in hopes of making new and better memories than those the town of Albany held. Instead, they found themselves at the center of a sexual assault case that shocked the nation. Daisy and her friend were invited to a party in January 2012 where they became heavily intoxicated and both were sexually assaulted.
After the assault, Daisy was left intoxicated on her porch in 22-degree weather with no shoes or socks; when her mother found her she had frostbite. Sheriff’s deputies arrested two teens within hours and charged them with felonies. Matthew Barnett, a 17 year old high school senior and the grandson of former state representative Rex Barnett, was arrested for the rape and sexual assault of Coleman, who was 14 at the time. A 15-year-old boy was accused of doing the same to the girl’s 13-year-old friend Paige, and a third boy admitted to recording Barnett’s alleged assault on a cellphone. The video which was never retrieved by law enforcement, was deleted after reportedly being passed around the school.
The identities of alleged sex assault victims are generally not published, but Coleman’s family decided to go public with her identity and accusations. According to the Coleman’s, the torrents of hatred came only days after the case went public and the case divided the community. All four children experienced intense bullying and threats. Melinda Coleman, a veterinarian, lost her job because the case had become too contentious for the local veterinary clinic that was also the subject of threats. Mrs. Coleman says her three sons – Daisy’s brothers – were threatened at school and booed on the field – often by boys they had counted as friends’ just weeks earlier. Daisy became the target of daily bullying in school and was suspended from the cheerleading squad. She was hounded on social media, called a skank and a liar, and urged to kill herself, which she tried to do multiple times.
The relentless bullying prompted the family to move from Maryville back to Albany, Missouri. Shortly after moving, the family’s house in Maryville that they were trying to sell mysteriously burned to the ground 8 months after the moved. The case caught national media attention in October 2013 when the Kansas City Star reported that prosecutor, Robert Rice, dropped the rape charges – citing insufficient evidence. The state at the time appointed a special prosecutor to re-investigate the case, which ended in Barnett pleading guilty to the misdemeanor of charge child endangerment on Jan. 9, 2014. Barnett and his attorney maintain that the sexual encounter was consensual and the fact that two independent investigations have cleared him proves that he didn’t do anything wrong that night except for leaving Coleman outside in the cold. Daisy’s friend Paige’s rapist confessed and was convicted in juvenile court, after Barnett was convicted in adult court on the lesser charge of child endangerment during the 2nd investigation.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Protests Over Eviction Proceedings Spread Across US

Protests Over Eviction Proceedings Spread Across US

 

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Housing activists across the country are demanding local protections against evictions during the pandemic. Many states have faced criticism for resuming evictions as millions of people are still out of work, many who still have children at home until the school year starts. Many companies have closed their doors indefinitely, taking jobs with them across the US. While some states and counties issued eviction moratoriums, they have expired and thousands face homelessness.
In New Orleans, members of the Renters Rights Assembly surrounded a courthouse that handles evictions, chaining themselves together under a banner reading “Evictions = Death,” and blocking several landlords from entering the building. In Maryland, more than 100 protesters marched through Mayor Tom Barrett’s neighborhood demanding a moratorium on evictions and other forms of housing protections. Beyond standard legal protections, tenants in Maryland have an extra layer of protection against eviction during the pandemic: an executive order from Governor Larry Hogan prohibits eviction so long as the state remains under the state of emergency — and so long as the tenants can prove that their income has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. A second layer of protection, a pause on eviction-related hearings in Maryland courts, expired on July 25.
In Missouri, protests brought proceedings to a halt at a Kansas City eviction court. All spring KC Tenants demanded relief for Kansas City renters left vulnerable by the coronavirus pandemic. They organized — virtually and in person — to shut down the state eviction court proceedings at the Jackson County Courthouse. KC Tenants leaders pledged to keep shutting down the eviction docket until they see action to protect vulnerable residents. “If our so-called leaders continue to lead our tenants into death digitally, online, via phone or even in person, we are going to continue to shut it down until we get what we want,” Mason Andrew Kilpatrick said in front of the courthouse. In St. Louis, protestors gather outside city hall for an “anti-eviction rally” heavily criticizing the court’s decision to restart evictions. “People aren’t working. People don’t have money,” said Sarah Watkins, a rally organizer with Action STL. “People haven’t paid rent since the pandemic began in April. People will be on the street.”
In Milwaukee, a march was organized by the Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union to demand help for the many families still out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide ban on evictions expired two months ago and now, between 150 and 170 people are being evicted from their homes in Milwaukee every week. The state ($25 million), Milwaukee County ($10 million) and City of Milwaukee ($15 million) have poured millions into rental assistance programs, but advocates say vulnerable tenants need added protections. “The rental assistance is good, but it’s not enough,” said protest organizer Robert Penner. “It’s very slow, the systems are backlogged, and they’re over-saturated with cases. A lot of people lose their home before they can even get in contact” with such programs, he said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a second round of $15 million in rental assistance for people financially struggling during the COVID-19 recession Friday, one day after he declined to support a city-mandated eviction grace period for tenants to catch up on past-due payments. More than 3 million Texans have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began. They have also relied on federal benefits from a congressional pandemic relief package, eviction moratoriums and rent assistance programs to remain housed.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Minneapolis Investigating Unnamed Umbrella Man

Minneapolis Investigating Unnamed Umbrella Man

 

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Minneapolis police have issued an arrest warrant for a suspect known as “Umbrella Man” who was filmed smashing the windows of an auto parts dealership on May 27, two days after the police killing of George Floyd.  Video of the “Umbrella Man” went viral after protesters in Minneapolis confronted and filmed him while he was in the act of smashing several windows of an AutoZone store.  Investigators say the man is a white supremacist who sought to provoke violence against protesters.  The term “Umbrella Man” was coined on social media as people guessed at his identity, with some protesters speculating he was actually a member of the police force.

According to a search warrant, the man is associated with the “Aryan Cowboys,” which the Anti-Defamation League lists as a White supremacist prison and street gang. The warrant does not label them as a White supremacist group, but describes them as a “known prison gang out of Minnesota and Kentucky.”  A Minneapolis arson investigator wrote in the search warrant affidavit that the man also spray painted the words “free sh*t for everyone zone” on the doors of the AutoZone. Not long after he smashed in the windows, looting began, and a bit later the AutoZone was set on fire, the affidavit said.

“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Sgt. Erika Christensen, wrote in the affidavit.  “Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella Man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”

Police identified the 32-year-old suspect through a tip last week but the suspect has not been named. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told the Associated Press he could not confirm the name of the person involved, but said the investigation remains open and active.  The tipster told the investigator that the man was a member of the Hells Angels biker gang who “wanted to sow discord and racial unrest by breaking out the windows and writing what he did on the double red doors.”  Police matched him to photos a Muslim woman took when she was harassed during an encounter with the Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, while eating burgers with her young daughter in Stillwater in June.

The riots spread to other parts of Minneapolis and led to Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct burning down, and according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, resulted in $500 million in property damage.  At least two people died — one a man who was fatally shot at a Minneapolis pawnshop and another man whose burned body was found in the ruins of another pawnshop.

Protests against police brutality and systemic racism continue in cities across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death.  The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn tens of millions into the streets to participate in protests taking place every day since May.  The protests have been plagued with violence from the start.  They continue to push for police reform and an end to systemic inequalities around race.  It has led to radical reform in recent months in many states and the faces of those they continue to seek justice for continue to change as more police shootings occur.

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Gunmen in Murder of NJ Judge’s Son Linked to Another Shooting

Gunmen in Murder of NJ Judge’s Son Linked to Another Shooting

 

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The son of a federal judge in New Jersey has died after a gunman opened fire on their home in North Brunswick. Judge Esther Salas was unharmed in the shooting that killed her 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl and critically injured her husband. Roy Den Hollander, a self-proclaimed anti-feminist lawyer, is the primary suspect in the fatal shooting that took place at Salas’ New Jersey home a Sunday evening. Daniel Salas, who had just turned 20, was an only child and studying law to follow in his parents’ footsteps. He graduated cum laude with honors from St. Joseph’s High School in 2018 and was enrolled at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Hollander allegedly posed as a FedEx employee when he approached Salas’ home and shot her husband, Mark Anderl, and her son, Daniel Anderl, 20, before escaping in a car, according to sources. Daniel Anderl died from his injuries, and Mark Anderl was critically injured and rushed to the hospital. Salas was unharmed. Hollander was found dead by police in an apparent suicide the next day, according to investigators.

Preliminary indications are that the husband answered the door and was shot multiple times; the son came running to the door and was shot as well before the gunman fled, the sources said. Judge Salas was believed to be in the basement at the time of the shooting, and she was not injured. Hollander was found dead of an apparent suicide the day after the shooting.
The only interaction Hollander and Salas had was a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2019. A female teenager sued the Selective Service System five years ago because she could not register for the male-only draft. In her most recent opinion on the case, filed in spring 2019, Salas sided with part of the plaintiff’s argument, allowing the lawsuit to move forward. The plaintiff’s attorney at the time was Roy Den Hollander. That civil rights suit appears to be the only time Hollander argued before Salas in court. Hollander was replaced last June as the female plaintiff’s lawyer in the lawsuit. A managing partner for Boies Schiller Flexner said that Hollander asked the law firm to take over the case because he was terminally ill. In Hollander’s autobiography published on his personal website, he wrote that he was diagnosed with melanoma in 2018.
County officials in California say they received additional evidence connecting Hollander to another killing. San Bernardino County authorities released new images that captured Roy Den Hollander inside two California train stations in early July around the days he’s suspected of killing Marc Angelucci. Investigators believe Hollander left New York on July 4th and arrived in at the San Bernardino train station on July 7. A second photo from inside Union Station in Los Angeles supports the claims by authorities that Den Hollander fled back to New York on July 14, three days after he drove a rental car to Angelucci’s house in Cedar Pines Park and shot him.
Officials believe Den Hollander used the same gun in both of killing of Angelucci on July 11 and the shooting of Judge Esther Salas’ son and husband in New Brunswick, New Jersey. According to sources, officials are investigating whether the attacks were grudge killings committed by Hollander after he knew he was dying.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Continue to Rise in the US

Covid 19 Cases Continue to Rise in the US

 

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There have been over 15 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world with 618,000 deaths. Of those cases 8,500,000 have recovered. In the US there are over 4 million confirmed cases and over 145,000 have died in the 6 months since the first case was confirmed in the US. Almost 8,500,000 of the US cases have recovered. The United States has set another grim record for coronavirus infections, with more than 75,600 new cases confirmed. At least 11 states are reporting record hospitalizations, with nearly 1,000 new deaths in just 24 hours. Officials in Texas and Arizona have put out calls for refrigerated trucks, as morgues overflow with the bodies of COVID-19 patients. Texas and Florida both reported their highest death tolls of the pandemic.
As the number of new global coronavirus cases reaches record highs, the World Health Organization is warning the coronavirus outbreak will continue to worsen if governments don’t take basic public health measures. Reports the number of coronavirus deaths in Latin America has now exceeded the death toll in the United States and Canada. Researchers estimate the US will have 219,864 total Covid-19 deaths by November 1, according to the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington.
In Florida, confirmed coronavirus cases topped 300,000 even as Disney World completed a phased reopening of its Orlando theme parks. Nearly 50 Florida hospitals said they were out of ICU beds. In Miami, hospitals have run out of regular intensive care beds, with new patients moved into converted ICUs. Governor Ron DeSantis said he was mobilizing 1,000 medical workers to fill critical staffing shortages.
California, the most populous state and the first to shut down months ago, appeared to have Covid-19 under control — only to suffer a massive resurgence and surpass New York with the most coronavirus cases in the nation. California, which now has 417,000 confirmed cases due to the recent spikes, is largely shutting down again. California Governor Gavin Newsom has a plan to halt the recent surge by ordering all indoor restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and museums to be closed again. Bars have been ordered to cease all operations. Indoor businesses have been shuttered in many areas. Newsom said the new shutdowns are needed to address the public health crisis. The Los Angeles and San Diego school districts have announced that all classes will be conducted online at the start of the school year due to the pandemic.
Covid-19 is set to become one of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles County, according to Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director. “It’s killing more people than Alzheimer’s disease, other kinds of heart disease, stroke and COPD,” Ferrer said. Comparing Covid-19 to the flu, Ferrer said data shows Covid-19 killed twice as many people in six months as the flu did in eight months.
The city of Atlanta announced a similar plan. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said schools will be allowed to reopen, but only in regions with low daily infection rates. At least 41 states have some kind of mask requirement in place or planned. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate, a week after refusing public health officials’ pleas to require facial coverings in public. Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a similar mask mandate. The CDC reports that 10 states have reported 10,000 new cases while three states each reported over 60,000 new cases in the last week.
Several vaccine trials are progressing well, and researchers say a vaccine might be publicly available by early 2021. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said any Covid-19 vaccine that’s sponsored by the US government will be free or affordable for the American public.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

 

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As historic protests continue to sweep the country two weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council announced it would move to disband the city’s police department. Nine members of the council — a veto-proof majority — made the vow during a community rally. The vow to disband the police came just days after the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. Congress is slated to introduce reforms that include a chokehold ban, a limit on qualified immunity for officers and a restriction on military weapons. While news reporting may be bias, social media videos of police brutality toward peaceful protestors has sparked many local governments to take action as the protests continue. Although many of these reforms will be subjected to a long debate among local officials, some activists say it is a good start.
In Louisville, KY, the City Council unanimously passed “Breonna’s Law” Thursday night that banned the use of “no-knock” warrants. The legislation was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was killed in her home while in bed in March by Louisville police officers while executing a no-knock warrant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended the use of no-knock warrants last month, said he will sign the bill. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.” The officers involved in Taylor’s death are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave.
New York’s state legislature voted to repeal parts of a provision that shielded police disciplinary records from the public. The repeal of 50-A means that police officers across the state must disclose personnel records used to evaluate performance. Criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the repeal for years. The legislation also bans officers from using chokeholds, prohibits false race-based 911 calls and appoints the state attorney general to be an independent prosecutor in any case where an officer shoots an unarmed person. The state Senate approved the bill and the state Assembly approved it with later in the day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a sweeping set of reforms that would shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors of the city’s budget. De Blasio said he will work with the city council to hammer out the details over the next three weeks, but told reporters Monday that the amount would be “something substantial.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she will sign the emergency legislation passed by the City Council that bans the police from using neck restraints on suspects. The bill also bans the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The Council also passed a bill that requires the mayor to release police body camera video from any police-involved death or serious use of force within three days of the incident. The family members of the person involved in the incident will be the first to see the video, according to the bill’s language.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced short- and long-term changes to the city’s police force to address the concerns about police from residents. She said she will review the Seattle Police Department’s budget with a “special focus on listening community voices throughout the process.” Durkan has also called for an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute any police officers as well as updating the department’s procedures for mass protests.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the state will ban police departments from using chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints or similar tactics. Grewal said their use has led to several incidents where a suspect suffered asphyxiation. The order provides an exemption “in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

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There are almost 8,000,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with over 420,000 deaths. As many countries open up again, the World Health Organization warned the situation is getting worse globally. Nearly 75% of recent cases came from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia, said the WHO. The WHO also said that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people appears to be rare.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic now with the highest tolls reported in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru — which together account for over 1 million confirmed cases. The WHO said Central and South America have likely not reached peak transmission yet. Cuba remains announced they are closing in on the tail end of the pandemic, where infections have been on the decline for two months.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in U.S. states that were among the first and most aggressive to reopen, leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a 7-day statewide pause on further reopening as health officials study the data and try to contain budding outbreaks. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge.
Recent data shows 21 states have seen an increase in their average daily new Covid 19 cases this week than in the previous week. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent. Hospitalizations have risen as well. For example, Arkansas has seen a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day.
Health officials warn that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the virus, as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week across the globe. CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Top Editors Resign Amid Backlash Over Bias Reporting of Protests

Top Editors Resign Amid Backlash Over Bias Reporting of Protests

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The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet has resigned following outrage from staff and readers over the publication of an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton about the protests called “Send in the Troops.” In a statement, The Times said that James Bennet had resigned and that Katie Kingsbury would serve as the acting editorial page editor through the November election. The deputy editorial page editor, Jim Dao, is being reassigned to the newsroom and is stepping off the masthead.

In the opinion piece, Sen. Tom Cotton, advocated for deploying the military for riots. The senator described looting in New York City as “carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements,” and wrote that leftist ntifa movement had infiltrated protest marches despite an earlier Times article that reported Antifa involvement in the protests as misinformation.  The column immediately drew backlash, with dozens of Times journalists voicing their opposition, tweeting the headline, caption and a form of the phrase “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.”

Both Sulzberger and Bennet first defended the decision to run the column but the Times reversed itself and said the column had not met editorial standards. The Times reported that Bennet said in a meeting with staff members that he had not read the essay before it was published. And the paper added an editor’s note to the top of the original column.  “We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an op-ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish.”

Meanwhile, Stan Wischnowski,  the top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, has also resigned days after the paper published a piece titled “Buildings Matter, Too.”  The newsroom vet resigned after backlash from staff over that headline on a story that said “there could be a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia” amid protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Dozens of journalists signed an open letter to their editors explaining their decision to call out “sick and tired,” CNN reported. “They said they have spent ‘months and years’ trying to gain the public’s trust only to have it “eroded in an instant by careless, unempathetic decisions.”  The paper issued an apology the next day.  But it wasn’t just the article that played a role in Wischnowski’s resignation.  Wischnowski and other editors had scheduled a staffwide Zoom meeting to discuss race at The Inquirer and the pressures in particular faced by journalists of color before the article was published.

The Zoom session started off with Wischnowski telling staffers about the strides made in diversifying its 213-member newsroom but the session turned intense and emotional.  Some journalists could be seen in tears in their Zoom frames. Critics, black and white, denounced the pace of change at the paper, sharply criticizing both coverage and the racial and gender mix of the staff. Several journalists pointed out that the newspaper could muster only one male African American reporter to cover the protests and police response convulsing a city that is majority minority.  Hours after the wrenching Zoom session, about 50 journalists of color signed an open letter calling for faster changes at the paper. The following day, most of the minority staff took the day off from work in protest.

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