By Robert A. Vella
When was the last time you saw a report of police using excessive force against right-wing extremist demonstrators or when arresting white supremacist mass murderers and domestic terrorists? If you remember any such examples, please inform me because I can recall none at all since the Ruby Ridge and Waco siege incidents of the 1990s when federal law enforcement agencies escalated those confrontations with deadly results. But, over the last 2-3 weeks, how many reports have you seen of police and national guard troops using excessive force against racial injustice protesters across the nation? I’m sure you’ve seen at least dozens of such examples because I certainly have. What’s going on here? If the purpose of police is to “Protect and Serve” as their traditional motto states, then who do they think they are protecting and to whom do they serve?
Obviously, the evidence of widespread police bias in their official duties is easy to see. I won’t get into the many reasons for this prejudice today because it’s a huge and complex problem which has triggered a wave of police reform measures in the wake of the George Floyd murder. However, I will cover the recent incident in Albuquerque where police allowed a group of armed white militiamen to target racial injustice protesters in which one of the protesters was shot. The shooter is reportedly the son of a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office employee.
The Democratic governor of New Mexico, Michelle Grisham, expressed outrage over the incident and is vowing to investigate the militia group as well as the conduct of the police (see: Albuquerque shooting: New Mexico governor condemns vigilantes who might have instigated violence). President Trump and Republicans, on the other hand, are trying to placate police reform demands with halfhearted measures designed only to serve their political interests. Yesterday, Trump signed a toothless and inconsequential executive order while uttering his usual rhetoric in support of the police and against the protesters. Today, Senate Republicans announced a somewhat more serious police reform bill – led by Tim Scott of South Carolina – but this too is likely to be used as a political ploy by the GOP leadership. A much stronger effort is being pursued by House Democrats which includes revoking the qualified immunity legal doctrine that shields police officers from civil and criminal liability.
The cultural polarization splitting the nation apart over systemic racism, police bias and misconduct, the resurging coronavirus pandemic, plus a multitude of other ideological and political issues, is causing a tremendous amount of anxiety among Americans. The tension and concern is quite palpable. A neighbor told me this week that she can’t even watch the news anymore. “It’s like the fabric of society is shredding,” she said.
Here’s the news:
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) arrested Stephen Ray Baca, 31, in connection with the shooting after detaining several members of a white militia who call themselves the “New Mexico Civil Guards,” according to local news outlet KRQE. Though Baca has been charged with aggravated battery, his ties to the group have not been confirmed.
The shooting happened as a group of protesters attempted to tear down a statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate in the city’s Tiguex Park. Videos posted to Twitter captured the moment several shots rang out as protesters tried to topple the statue.
Members of the militia were recorded being taken into custody.
Witnesses told KRQE that although dozens of protesters had called the police for help before the shooting, officers did not arrive until after it occurred.
Video circulated on social media showed authorities firing tear gas to disperse the crowd after the shooting.
Americans are at their unhappiest level in almost 50 years, according to new research, as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, using General Social Survey data, discovered that only 14 percent of American adults reported being very happy in 2020.
The results represent an all-low in the study, which has been conducted at least every other year since 1972. The previous low was in 2010, when 29 percent of Americans declared themselves very happy.
In 2018, the last time the survey was taken, 31 percent reported being very happy.
Related story: U.S. plummets to 10th spot in World Competitiveness Ranking
WASHINGTON — The head of the Justice Department’s civil division told staff members on Tuesday that he planned to resign after nearly two years in the post, according to an email obtained by The New York Times, making him the third top official at the department to step down in the past week.
The official, Joseph H. Hunt, who previously was chief of staff to Jeff Sessions when he was the attorney general, did not say why he was leaving, and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on his departure. It came hours after the department filed a lawsuit signed by Mr. Hunt against President Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton. The suit seeks to delay the imminent publication of Mr. Bolton’s coming memoir that is expected to disclose damaging details about Mr. Trump.
Related story: Pentagon official who questioned Ukraine aid freeze resigns
Trump wrote on Twitter on Sept. 1 that Alabama would be among U.S. states that would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian, then one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record.
Within minutes, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Birmingham, Alabama, responded by saying that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian.
After days of controversy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Commerce Department headed by Wilbur Ross, released a statement on Sept. 6 saying the Birmingham tweet was “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”
A report conducted on NOAA’s behalf by a panel set up by the non-partisan National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), found the NOAA’s acting administrator, Neil Jacobs, and its former deputy chief of staff and communications director, Julie Kay Roberts, violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy with the statement.
Two top officials at Voice of America resigned on Monday as an appointee of President Trump prepares to take control of the international network and other US federally-funded media operations. The resignations were long in the making.
The Trump administration had been trying to get its nominee, Michael Pack, through the Senate confirmation process for two years.
Earlier this month, after Trump applied additional pressure, the Republican-controlled Senate voted Pack through, adding to a sense of apprehension at Voice of America, VOA for short, about what comes next.
Some journalists at VOA fear that Pack — best known for making films with a conservative bent — will interfere with the organization’s independent newsroom and turn it into a pro-Trump messaging machine.
Karina Serrano Rodríguez was being escorted to a computer terminal at the South Louisiana Detention Center two weeks ago to prepare for her asylum case before an immigration judge when she learned that she would finally be paroled.
Rodríguez, 27, an asylum-seeker from Cuba, had spent eight months at the detention center, located in Basile, after having waited three months in Ojinaga, Mexico, for her turn under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy.
Rodríguez was ecstatic when she learned the news — until she found out that the parole came with a $10,000 bond.