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Here’s How Badly Police Violence Has Divided America These Past Few Years

Mother Jones

In Shots Fired, the buzzworthy police drama premiering March 22 on Fox, federal agents investigate a black cop who has gunned down a young, unarmed white man. By the numbers, police actually kill more white people than they kill black people, but they kill black people at a far higher rate. Using population data from the Census Bureau and police shooting data from the Washington Post‘s 2015 database, we calculated that black men between the ages of 18 and 44 were 3.2 times as likely as white men the same age to be killed by a police officer. And while black men make up only about 6 percent of the US population, last year they accounted for one-third of the unarmed people killed by police.

We’ve obviously got some policing issues, but the Trump administration seems inclined to look the other way. Last month, in his first speech as attorney general, Jeff Sessions made clear that his Justice Department will curtail the monitoring of problem-plagued police departments that the Obama administration used as a tactic to combat civil rights violations by police. (Sessions suggested the monitoring had undermined “respect for our police and made, oftentimes, their job more difficult.”) Lest readers have forgotten just how divisive the racial disparities in law enforcement have been, and continue to be, we put together this brief history of recent police violence and backlash to it.

July 2013
Sickened by the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, labor organizer Alicia Garza writes on Facebook, “I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter.” Her friend Patrisse Cullors turns the last bit into a hashtag.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire via AP Photo

March 2014
In a Pew poll, 46 percent of Americans agree that “our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.”
July 2014

Eric Garner is choked to death by an officer on Staten Island, New York. His last words, “I can’t breathe,” become a civil rights slogan.

Bruce Cotler/ Globe Photos/Zuma

Aug. 2014
A white cop in Ferguson, Missouri, kills black teen Michael Brown, sparking weeks of protest. Police deploy riot gear, armored vehicles, and sniper rifles, while demonstrators adopt a “hands up, don’t shoot” posture based on claims that Brown had his hands up when he was shot. On Twitter, #BlackLivesMatter takes off.
Oct. 2014
A Chicago cop shoots Laquan McDonald 16 times. Police officials claim the teen was approaching officers with a knife—a union rep says he “lunged”—but the city won’t release dash-cam footage.
Nov. 22, 2014

Tamir Rice, 12, is killed by a Cleveland officer as he plays with a toy gun in a park.
Nov. 24, 2014
A Ferguson grand jury declines to indict Officer Darren Wilson, Michael Brown‘s killer. More protests. Critics of #BlackLivesMatter respond with #AllLivesMatter.

Darren Wilson St. Louis County Prosecuter’s Office/Reuters

Nov. 30, 2014
Five St. Louis Rams players walk onto the field for a game in the “hands up” position.
Dec. 3, 2014
The NYPD officer who choked Eric Garner escapes indictment. Days later, LeBron James and other NBA players don “I Can’t Breathe” shirts at pregame warmups.

Jonathan Brady/ PA Wire via Zuma Images

Dec. 18, 2014
The White House announces a new task force to “strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”
Dec. 20, 2014
Two NYPD officers are ambushed. Their killer, a black man, had posted a photo of his gun on Instagram: “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today.”
Jan. 2015
#BlackLivesMatter tweets average 10,000 a day.

Erik McGregor/Zuma

March 2015
A Department of Justice report says Ferguson police employees sent racist emails and targeted black residents with nuisance citations to generate revenue.
April 2, 2015
A white sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shoots black suspect Eric Harris after a foot chase. “I’m losing my breath,” Harris pleads in a video. “Fuck your breath,” another officer responds.
April 4, 2015

Walter Scott is fatally shot as he attempts to flee from Officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Walter Scott in his Coast Guard days Courtesy of the Scott family

April 19, 2015
Freddie Gray dies of his injuries after a “rough ride” in a Baltimore police van.
May 2015
“I have heard your calls for ‘no justice, no peace,'” prosecutor Marilyn Mosby says as she announces charges against six officers in the Gray case. The White House task force releases its report: Police must “embrace a guardian—rather than a warrior—mindset.”

Alex Brandon/AP Photo

June 2015
Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” video depicts him being shot by police. It garners about 70 million YouTube views and wins two Grammys.

July 2015
BLM activists seize the mic at a Democratic candidate forum to grill Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders on police violence.
Oct. 2015
Rapper Vic Mensa’s video for “16 Shots,” a song about Laquan McDonald, goes viral.

Nov. 19, 2015
A judge orders the release of dash-cam footage that appears to show McDonald walking away from police when he was shot. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fires his police chief the next month.
Nov. 22, 2015
Presidential candidate Donald Trump tweets out a chart of fabricated crime statistics suggesting that black criminals are responsible for the vast majority of homicides against white people. It’s entirely bogus. Here’s Politifact’s summary:

Feb. 7, 2016
Beyoncé’s dancers adopt a Black Panther look for the Super Bowl halftime show. Police unions call for a boycott of the star.

via GIPHY

Feb. 24, 2016
BLM activists disrupt a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, demanding she apologize for her racially charged comments about “super predators” during the 1990s. Clinton appears irritated, but the next day she does just that.
May 2016
The first state “Blue Lives Matter” bill passes in Louisiana. Attacking a cop is now a hate crime.
June 2016
The police-van driver in the Freddie Gray case is acquitted.
July 5, 2016

Alton Sterling is fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while officers have him pinned to the ground.
July 6, 2016
During a traffic stop, a Minnesota cop shoots Philando Castile as he reaches for his wallet—that’s according to Castile’s girlfriend, who livestreamed his demise on Facebook: “You told him to get his ID, sir!”

July 7, 2016
A black gunman kills five cops at a Dallas protest against police violence. He holes up in a parking garage, where police kill him with an explosives-bearing robot.
July 12, 2016
President Barack Obama defends Black Lives Matter at a memorial for the slain officers. “We have all seen this bigotry in our lives at some point,” and “none of us is entirely innocent,” he says. “That includes our police departments.”
July 17, 2016
A black military vet who ranted online about the treatment of black people by police assassinates three officers (one of them black) in Baton Rouge.
July 18, 2016
At the Republican National Convention, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who is black, proclaims that “blue lives matter.” In an op-ed the same day, he calls Black Lives Matter the “enemy.”

Mike Segar/Reuters via ZUMA Press

July 18, 2016
A police officer in Florida shoots a black caregiver who was lying in the street with his hands up. A union rep explains that the officer had been aiming at the man’s autistic patient, whose toy truck he mistook for a firearm.
July 27, 2016
After further acquittals in the Freddie Gray case, charges are dropped against the remaining officers.
Aug. 2016
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick starts sitting out the national anthem to protest police violence. A few pros and countless high school and college athletes follow suit.

Kevin Terrell/AP

Sept. 2016
Clinton debates Trump: “I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police,” she says. Critics pounce. “Yes, Hillary Clinton called the nation racist,” writes a Washington Times columnist.
Oct. 2016
Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the DOJ will (finally) start collecting national data on police use of force.
Dec. 2016
A jury of 11 whites and one African American deadlocks in the trial of Michael Slager. A retrial is scheduled for late August 2017. A separate federal trial, to determine whether Slager violated Walter Scott’s civil rights, is slated to begin in May 2017.

Mic Smith, File/AP Photo

Feb. 2017
In his first speech as attorney general, Jeff Sessions suggests that the Justice Department, under his watch, will discontinue its practice of monitoring police departments suspected of violating people’s civil rights.
March 2017
A new drama series, Shots Fired, debuts on Fox. “There were a lot of people who never saw Trayvon Martin as a kid,” one of the show’s co-creators tells Mother Jones. “He was painted as the victimizer, and Zimmerman Martin’s killer got donations from all over the country. So in doing a show that deals with police violence, the question was how do we make those people who sent in the donations see this kid as a human being? One of the things we came up with was to make one victim white.”

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Here’s How Badly Police Violence Has Divided America These Past Few Years

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Michael Flynn Has Just Resigned As National Security Adviser

Mother Jones

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Embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned in the face of a mounting scandal related to his communications with the Russian government.

The resignation capped a day of political turmoil for Flynn and the White House. Just hours earlier, all 17 Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform signed a letter demanding a full investigation of Flynn’s alleged discussions of sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the US during the month before President Trump took office.

The White House took contradictory positions on Flynn Monday. Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway first insisted that Flynn enjoyed “the full confidence of the president,” but less than an hour later, Sean Spicer, the press secretary, announced Trump was “evaluating the situation.”

But a bombshell news report on Monday night by the Washington Post appeared to finally set Flynn’s resignation in motion. The Post reported that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House in late January that she believed “Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador.” The paper reported that Yates had “warned that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”

In a resignation letter posted by the White House soon after the news broke, Flynn admitted that he had “inadvertently” provided “incomplete information” to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his calls to the Russian ambassador.

Flynn’s resignation was accepted late Monday by President Trump who named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. as Acting National Security Adviser.

Here’s the full text of Flynn’s resignation, courtesy of the White House:

In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors. These calls were to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the President, his advisors and foreign leaders. Such calls are standard practice in any transition of this magnitude.

Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.

Throughout my over thirty three years of honorable military service, and my tenure as the National Security Advisor, I have always performed my duties with the utmost of integrity and honesty to those I have served, to include the President of the United States.

I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way.

I am also extremely honored to have served President Trump, who in just three weeks, has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.

As I step away once again from serving my nation in this current capacity, I wish to thank President Trump for his personal loyalty, the friendship of those who I worked with throughout the hard fought campaign, the challenging period of transition, and during the early days of his presidency.

I know with the strong leadership of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the superb team they are assembling, this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history, and I firmly believe the American people will be well served as they all work together to help Make America Great Again.

Michael T. Flynn, LTG (Ret) Assistant to the President / National Security Advisor

This is a developing story. We’ll update as more news comes in.

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Michael Flynn Has Just Resigned As National Security Adviser

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The Dead Pool – 10 February 2017

Mother Jones

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As if National Security Advisor Michael Flynn doesn’t already have enough bad news on his plate, today he got some more:

On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the National Security Council, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

That forced Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer who had long maintained a top secret-level security clearance, out of his NSC post, explained the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters. One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.

Flynn has been sharply critical of the CIA, and apparently he’s regarded by some in the White House as waging “a jihad against the intelligence community.” So was this a little chin music by the CIA to warn Flynn to back off? Or was there really some kind of problem with Townley? Maybe someday we’ll find out.

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The Dead Pool – 10 February 2017

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Melania Trump’s Own Immigration Lawyer Condemns Refugee Ban

Mother Jones

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First Lady Melania Trump’s own immigration attorney, who has also represented the Trump Organization in numerous immigration cases, condemned President Donald Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” on Saturday afternoon, during an interview on MSNBC.

“How can we turn our backs on these individuals?” New York lawyer Michael Wildes said, adding that he thought the legal disputes over the executive order would eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court. “I think it is going to get worse before it gets better.”

“This is not the way you deal with people’s lives,” he said.

Wildes has previously represented Trump Models, President Trump’s New York modeling agency, and secured visas for models appearing in Trump’s Miss Universe pageants.

Last September, Melania Trump attempted to clear up questions surrounding her own immigration to the US, when she released a signed letter from Wildes flatly denying allegations that she had worked illegally in the US before receiving a proper work visa. But new documents uncovered by the AP less than two months later—including financial ledgers and contracts—contradicted the public account given by Trump and Wildes, revealing the Slovenia-born model had in fact received paid New York modeling assignments in the seven weeks before she received her work visa.

Wildes, a Democrat, voted for Hillary Clinton, according to an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell:

It’s not the first time Wildes has spoken out about Trump’s actions on immigration as president. “This is scary stuff for America’s legacy of immigration, for business and for our hospitality,” Wildes told ABC News this week.

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Melania Trump’s Own Immigration Lawyer Condemns Refugee Ban

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Seth Meyers devoted a full nine minutes to Trump and climate change.

Penn State’s Michael Mann will be permitted to proceed with a lawsuit against writers from the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute after an appeals court ruling in his favor Thursday.

Mann, the scientist behind the “hockey stick” graph, has been a frequent target of climate change deniers’ harassment.

“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” wrote Rand Simberg in a 2012 Competitive Enterprise Institute blog post, “except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet.”

The National Review’s Mark Steyn quoted these comments in a post of his own, writing that Simberg “has a point” and calling Mann’s work “fraudulent.”

Mann accused the two writers of libel, and now a three-judge panel for the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that he may proceed with his defamation suit against the authors and their institutions.

“Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming,” wrote Judge Vanessa Ruiz in the court’s decision. Now it could be a costly one.

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Seth Meyers devoted a full nine minutes to Trump and climate change.

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