Headlines: June 5, 2020
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A video recording of an elderly 75-year old white man being shoved to the ground by police in Buffalo, New York has gone viral in the latest documented instance of police brutality during the protests against police brutality. The man was attempting to speak with police as a large crowd of well-armed officers in riot gear walked by. Police simply shoved him and as he fell backwards onto the curb his began bleeding from his ear lying motionless. The perpetrators mildly acknowledged the victim and continued toward another protester in order to arrest him. Now two officers involved have been suspended without pay while critics are demanding that they be charged and convicted of assault. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.” The victim, Martin Gugino an activist with People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo remains in the hospital in critical condition. The police violence aimed at protesters, journalists, passersby, and others appears to be a national phenomenon. Indianapolis police were caught on video violently assaulting a woman while arresting her. Witnesses say their videos show an officer grab the woman’s breast, causing her to instinctively pull away. Several officers then violently ganged up on her striking her with some sort of paint or flash grenades, and beating her relentlessly with batons as she fell to the ground in shock. A second woman nearby was also violently shoved to the ground and arrested.
More instances of shocking and brutal police savagery were on display in New York City as protesters who remained on the streets past the 8 pm curfew were beaten and arrested. A report by Huffington Post described the scene: “NYPD officers took it as their mandate to arrest everyone in sight, using brutal force to make sure they got the message. Even people walking through the neighborhood who were not participating in the protests found themselves trapped by NYPD officers who blocked exits on both sides of a block.” Here is one disturbing scene from Thursday evening. NYPD officers were also documented arrested food delivery workers who are exempt from the curfew. Meanwhile New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio, who claims to be a liberal leader, and who oversees the police force praised NYPD for showing restraint. In Los Angeles, California, police showed similar barbarity as they struck peaceful demonstrators with batons and rubber bullets. The LAPD have justified their cruelty saying that officers were being attacked with projectiles but so far little video evidence shows such attacks. In Northern California, Vallejo police fatally shot an unarmed 22-year old Latino man who was on his knees with his hands up. The police say they were responding to a call about a Walgreens being looted.
Aside from the Vallejo police killing, at least 12 people have been killed in protests across the nation, the majority of them black men. According to a Forbes.com roundup of incidents, of the 12 victims 8 were black men including one retired police officer. One was a woman who may be African American, and two others whose details are not yet known. One black federal police officer was also killed although it is not clear if his killing was linked to the protests. So widespread and shocking is the police savagery that 18 Attorneys General have now asked to investigate local police departments over the violence. In another bizarre incident of police misconduct, the Movement for Black Lives says that law enforcement has seized without explanation boxes of protective face masks that the group ordered for protesters. The organization spent tens of thousands of dollars for the masks that say “Stop Killing Black People,” and sent them to protest sites all over the country but the US Postal Service says the boxes have been seized by police.
In Washington D.C. a large fence went up around the White House in the wake of a violent police attack on peaceful protesters earlier this week. The Washington Post described it as, “Tall black fencing is going up seemingly by the hour. Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent… The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands.” The Washington DC chapter of Black Lives Matter has filed a lawsuit against Trump and the police for the Monday tear gassing of peaceful protesters calling it a violation of their constitutional rights. In what has turned into a standoff between Trump and Muriel Bowser the Mayor of DC, the street outside the White House has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza. Public works crews and local artists and activists painted the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in giant yellow letters on the street across two blocks.
The President escaped the White House to head to Maine for a visit to a factory that makes Covid-19 tests. Maine’s governor warned Trump to behave himself while protesters awaited his visit. Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins, who has been marginally critical of Trump is conspicuously absent to greet the President. Another of the centrist Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska now finds herself in Trump’s crosshairs after announcing that she may not support Trump’s reelection in November. Trump impetuously demanded that voters support any candidate “good or bad” against her. Trump is celebrating new economic data released on Friday that showed the unemployment rate has fallen slightly. He called the numbers, “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African American community, for the Asian American, for the Hispanic American community, for women, for everything.” A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll has found that two thirds of Americans feel Trump has worsened race relations in the US.
The President’s favorite news outlet, Fox News is now taking to encouraging vigilante violence against protesters. Host Tucker Carlson’s guest Bryan Dean Wright slammed protesters likening them to activists from the 1960s, including the Black Panther Party saying, “it took many years to finally put it down.” He linked the protesters to Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Carlson’s guest said, “What does that leave, Tucker? Let me tell you what it leaves. Vigilante justice.” To that Carlson responded, “That’s exactly right.” Meanwhile Twitter has taken down a political campaign ad by Trump’s reelection campaign that showed the President mourning the death of George Floyd and then denouncing “Antifa” and the “other radical left-wing groups” for “terrorizing the innocent.” Twitter’s decision was not based on ethical concerns, only copyright. And, the Trump campaign has pulled a video ad after NASA and several members of aerospace community complained that he was politicizing space. Trump’s campaign ad showed him watching last week’s SpaceX launch with the slogan “Make Space Great Again.” The ad violated NASA’s advertising rules. The wife of one of the astronauts who was carried by SpaceX called it “political propaganda.”