The Evening Blues - 6-2-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Memphis r&b singer Rufus Thomas. Enjoy!
Rufus Thomas - The Memphis Train
“The people are angry about police violence. What should we do?”
‘Hmm… have we tried using police violence?’
“Yeah! It just made them angrier!”
‘Must not be violent enough. Let’s try military violence.’
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
President Trump told governors that they need to “dominate” in response to the ongoing unrest tearing through the nation, taking an inflammatory approach after days of civil rights protests over the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.
"You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” Trump told governors and law enforcement officers during a Monday morning call, according to audio obtained by VICE News.
"If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time.They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks."
— VICE News (@vicenews) June 1, 2020
"You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said.
“The harder you are, the tougher you are, the less likely it is you’re going to be hit with the movement,” he continued. ...
Trump repeatedly said the violent protesters were anarchist agitators, tying them to the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement and calling for law enforcement and prosecutors to come down heavy on them.
Defense Secretary Esper encourages governors to ‘dominate the battlespace’ to put down nationwide protests
More than 17,000 troops in 24 National Guard jurisdictions, at the direction of their governors, are responding to civil unrest in states from California to Pennsylvania following a weekend of police standoffs with protestors as demonstrations escalated to looting and deployment of tear gas and rubber bullets to control crowds.
“I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper said during the call, according to a recording leaked to the New York Times.
Esper’s comments came after multiple tweets from President Donald Trump throughout the weekend urging “the military" to get involved in riot response, though so far, that has only meant Guard troops mobilized in a state status.
The footage and photographs are disturbing. These lawless rioters are out of control. They have driven an SUV into a crowd, tossed journalists to the ground and pepper-sprayed them, beaten people with batons and even blinded a woman in one eye. They have been launching unprovoked attacks on peaceful, law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional rights. The violent behavior of these mobs should be condemned by all. We need to restore order: someone must stop the police.
Around the US over the last few days, following the murder of George Floyd, there have been widespread protests against police brutality. But in city after city, law enforcement agencies seem determined to prove the protesters right, by responding with a hefty dose of police brutality.
There is no shortage of examples of police using excessive force against protesters. In New York, officers who had intentionally covered their badge numbers “pulled down the mask of a peaceful protester, who had his hands up, and pepper-sprayed him in the face”. In Salt Lake City, an older man with a cane was shoved to the ground. In Austin, police shot a pregnant woman in the stomach with a “non-lethal” round. There were scenes reminiscent of the infamously brutal suppression of demonstrators at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. As Reason concluded, officers around the country acted with “total disregard for protesters’ safety or rights”.
There was no real need for those New York officers to disguise their badge numbers. After all, even when police officers’ names are fully known, there is rarely any accountability. The whole reason protesters are angry is that it seems American cops can get away with almost anything. In 2016, an Arizona police officer executed a man who was pleading for his life. It was on video. The officer was acquitted. This was not an exceptional case; it happens over and over. If outright murder goes unpunished, no officer need every worry about getting in trouble for blinding and maiming a few protesters.
Of course, it’s the protesters who are called violent, even when the overwhelming majority do nothing but march and chant – though they do refuse to back down, and challenging authority can be a capital crime in a police state. ... In theory, the police are supposed to protect the community. When they are whacking the community with sticks, and firing teargas into it, they are more like an armed gang than keepers of the peace. When police show no interest in obeying the constitution or treating protesters with dignity and care, then they should cease to command respect. A police force that runs amok does not deserve to be called “law enforcement”. They are rioters, plain and simple.
The Minneapolis police officer who spent almost nine minutes kneeling on the neck of George Floyd was charged with murder on Friday. But the fate of his colleagues, who stood by as Floyd’s strained cries grew silent, is yet to be determined. Three colleagues of Derek Chauvin, who is accused of third-degree murder and manslaughter, were fired after Floyd’s death but have not been arrested and have reportedly gone to ground as protests have spread from Minneapolis across the US.
On Friday the Hennepin county attorney, Mike Freeman, who announced the charges against Chauvin, said he expected charges would be brought against the now ex-police officers J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane. Freeman is yet to detail the charges the three men could face, but all three were mentioned in the documents charging Chauvin.
Kueng, according to the official complaint, held Floyd’s back while Lane held down his legs as Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. As Floyd repeatedly told the officers “I can’t breathe”, Kueng, Lane and Thao, according to prosecutors, “stayed in their positions”. ...
Protesters have demanded that Lane, Thao and Kueng also be charged. Records show that Thao, like Chauvin, had a history of complaints. ...
Freeman did not elaborate on the charges he expected Thao, Lane and Kueng would face. But on Sunday the chief of Minneapolis police suggested the three men also bore responsibility for Floyd’s death.
An independent autopsy ordered by the family members of George Floyd showed the 46-year-old died from asphyxiation from sustained pressure to the back of his neck, their legal team announced Monday.
“Beyond question, he would be alive today if not for the pressure applied to his neck by fired officer Derek Chauvin and the strain on his body from two additional officers kneeling on him,” Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, said at a news conference.
Independent pathologists also said Monday that there weren’t any other medical conditions that contributed to Floyd’s death. That directly contradicts what Minneapolis’ local officials have been saying: that multiple factors, including underlying conditions, led to Floyd's death last week. ...
The Hennepin County medical examiner released autopsy findings Monday afternoon stating Floyd died of homicide, caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression." The medical examiner also said Floyd had “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease,” in addition to "fentanyl intoxication" and "recent methamphetamine use."
The president of the Minneapolis police union has written to its members calling George Floyd a “violent criminal”, describing those protesting over his death as terrorists and criticizing the city’s political leadership for not authorizing greater use of force to stop the rioting. The letter drew a swift rebuke from a former Minneapolis police chief who called it a disgrace.
Lt Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, defended the four officers involved in Floyd’s death, including Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes in the lead-up to his death on 25 May. Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges, and the three other officers have been fired.
“What is not being told is the violent criminal history of George Floyd. The media will not air this. I’ve worked with the four defense attorneys that are representing each of our four terminated individuals under criminal investigation, in addition with our labor attorneys to fight for their jobs. They were terminated without due process,” wrote Kroll, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Star Tribune.
Floyd had served time in prison for aggravated robbery but Chauvin could not have known that when he detained him. Video footage shows that Floyd was not behaving in a violent manner during his arrest, was not armed, and was not suspected of a violent crime.
Following Governor Tim Walz’s characterisation of the protests as led by outside agitators, Kroll described the demonstrators as organised extremists.
A disgrace to the badge! This is the battle that myself and others have been fighting against. Bob Kroll turn in your badge! pic.twitter.com/SQmeNIIU3v
— Janeé Harteau (@ChiefHarteau) June 1, 2020
More numbers from our tracking. From May 28-31:
—At least 19 reporters arrested.
—At least 36 journalists have reported being shot at by police with projectiles such as rubber bullets. 50% just in Minnesota.
—At least 76 reported assaults (physical and shot at). 80% by police.
— U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (@uspresstracker) June 1, 2020
Police forces have regularly attacked and arrested journalists at protests in this country. But often it has been unfamous journalists from non-corporate outlets, so no one paid attention to it. Now, the police are deliberately & consistently attacking corporate journalists too.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) May 31, 2020
The body of David McAtee laid in the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, for over 12 hours on Monday. McAtee had been killed by law enforcement just after midnight on Sunday, May 31, amid days of protests over police violence nationwide. Noon the next day, protesters were gathered at the site. McAtee’s body was still there. McAtee, the owner of a local barbecue business and a beloved community figure, was shot and killed after Louisville police and the National Guard opened fire on a crowd that had gathered at a parking lot on 26th and Broadway. As the owner of YaYa’s BBQ, McAtee was known to give police officers free meals. Bystanders and witnesses have said that the crowd was not protesting when the police arrived. Police claim that they were returning fire after the crowd began shooting.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear attributed the killing to the Louisville Metro Police Department and the National Guard. Police officers, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, had not activated their body cameras in violation of policy. Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired as a result, but retains his pension. Acting Chief Robert Schroeder, at the press conference, seemed to walk back Beshear’s statement pending investigation. “We do not know who shot him,” he said, “we do not know if it was related to a separate incident, if it was due to the shots fired by our officers and the National Guardsmen soldiers who accompanied them.” The press conference did not address why McAtee’s body was left outside, and Louisville police did not respond to a request for comment.
Robert LeVertis Bell, a community activist who’s running for the Louisville Metro Council in the 4th District, was among the hundreds of protesters who had gathered at the scene early Monday afternoon. He said the crowd was made up mostly of members of the community, not experienced activists, who were angry and hurt. “We were already dealing with the death of Breonna Taylor,” he said, referring to the police shooting of a young black woman two months ago. “Even if they had some sort of legitimate, procedural reason for [keeping the body at the scene] you’d think they would have in mind the trauma that they’re inflicting when they do that, especially having experienced that with the Mike Brown case in Ferguson,” Bell said. “That’s the first thing I thought, that this was terrorism… because it’s terrorizing, even if they don’t intentionally try to do it.”
Cops Didn’t Have Their Body Cameras On When They Shot and Killed a Black Man During Louisville’s Protests
The two Louisville police officers who fired on a crowd of people Monday morning during an altercation that left one black man dead didn’t have their body cams activated, the city’s mayor revealed on Monday afternoon.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher told a press conference that the failure to activate the body cameras was an “institutional failure” that could not be tolerated. He announced that Police Chief Steve Conrad had been fired immediately as a result.
Conrad had announced last month that he would retire at the end of June.
David McAtee, the 53-year-old owner of YaYa’s BBQ restaurant in the city, was killed during the altercation just after midnight on Monday. The two police officers, together with troops from the National Guard, were called to Dino's Food Mart on South 26th Street at around 12 a.m. local time to help clear a large crowd that had gathered in the parking lot.
The officers were met with gunfire, Conrad said, and both the officers and National Guard troops fired back at the crowd.
Confederate Statues and Other Symbols of Racism All Over the Country Were Destroyed by Protesters This Weekend
Confederate statues in Birmingham and Richmond. A former slave market in North Carolina. The national headquarters for a Civil War revisionist group. These were just some of the monuments and buildings symbolizing centuries of systemic racism in America that were hit during the weekend’s protests, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, protesters set fire to the Market House, the site where North Carolina delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1789. Both the Market House that currently stands and its predecessor, the State House, which burned down in 1831, hosted slave auctions well into the years of the Civil War. ...
In Philadelphia, a statue honoring former police commissioner and Mayor Frank Rizzo has been at the center of controversy for years. Over the weekend it was defaced, and protesters set fire to it and attempted to pull it down. As commissioner Rizzo ordered raids and strip searches of Black Panther Party members, and as mayor he once urged his supporters to “vote white” for a change to the Philadelphia city charter that would allow him to run for a third term.
With Militarization of Cops on Full Display, Senator Plans Amendment to End Transfer of Military Equipment to Local Police
With the militarization of local police forces on full display as heavily armed cops and armored vehicles patrol the streets and crack down on protests over the killing of George Floyd, Sen. Brian Schatz on Sunday said he plans to introduce an amendment to end the federal program that permits the transfer of excess military equipment to police departments across the nation.
"I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments," the Hawaii Democrat tweeted late Sunday.
Julián Castro, the former Housing Secretary, applauded Schatz's proposal, warning that "as long as our police arm up like a combat force, they'll act like it."
President Donald Trump in 2017 rolled back Obama-era limits on the 1033 Program, which authorizes the Defense Department to send military equipment and weapons to local police departments. As NBC reported at the time, "Congress created the program in 1990 during the height of the war on drugs for federal and state law enforcement agencies, and it was expanded seven years later to include all law enforcement departments."
"Since the program's inception," NBC noted, "more than $5.4 billion in equipment has flowed to police."
The response by local law enforcement to the nationwide uprising that followed Floyd's killing has heightened scrutiny of the 1033 Program, with lawmakers and activists warning that access to military hardware has made police behavior toward protesters even more brutal and violent.
"Militarizing local police forces doesn't make our communities safer," tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Philip McHarris, a PhD candidate in sociology and African American studies at Yale University, wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post last week that "police departments have come to resemble military units, contributing to deadly violence disproportionately against black Americans."
"The cycle of police brutality sparking unrest, and that unrest being met by the militarized police is increasingly familiar in modern American society," wrote McHarris. "Tough-on-crime policies and militarized police departments have paved the way for increased police contact and tragic violence. Reducing the capacity for police to engage in routine and militaristic violence is the only way to break recurring cycles of police killings and the militarized response that protests of them are often met with."
Nearly 60% of Americans Support Extending Boosted Unemployment Benefits as Trump and McConnell Say Let Them Expire
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said late last month that they support allowing the temporary $600-per-week increase in unemployment benefits under the CARES Act to expire at the end of July.
But that decision would be extremely unpopular with the American public, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.
The survey found that found that 58% of Americans—including 60% of Independents and 75% of Democrats—support extending the temporary increase in unemployment benefits past July 31, when the additional payments are set to end without action from Congress.
The poll also found that 57% of Americans believe that controlling the spread of Covid-19 should take priority over reopening the U.S. economy.
Enhanced unemployment benefits have served as an economic lifeline for tens of millions of people in the U.S. who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, House Democrats passed a bill that would extend the boosted unemployment benefits through January 2021—but the legislation is likely going nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. In a private call with House Republicans on May 20, McConnell vowed that the $600 increase in weekly unemployment payments "will not" be in the next coronavirus stimulus legislation.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will haunt the US economy for a decade, wiping close to $8tn off economic growth, according to new projections released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Monday.
In a letter to lawmakers CBO director Phillip Swagel projected the virus will reduce US economic output by 3% through 2030, a loss of $7.9tn.
“Business closures and social distancing measures are expected to curtail consumer spending, while the recent drop in energy prices is projected to severely reduce US investment in the energy sector,” Swagel wrote in response to an inquiry from Senator Chuck Schumer. “Recent legislation will, in CBO’s assessment, partially mitigate the deterioration in economic conditions.”
By the end of this week, about half of all U.S. states will have no eviction protections — even though people like White are still grappling with the lack of income that made paying rent impossible in the first place.
Nearly 40% of Americans making less than $40,000 a year lost their jobs in March, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The eviction moratoriums were swiftly enacted at the onset of the pandemic in an effort to shield the newly unemployed from winding up on the streets, especially since the virus threat forced people to stay indoors.
Housing advocates and progressive legislators have pleaded for extensions on the protections and warned that the crisis isn’t over; the coronavirus is still spreading, and people are still suffering. Many states are still struggling to process unemployment benefits and get checks out to the newly poor.
“You’re going to have so many families with no income, and no prospect of income — they’re not going to be able to pay rent and get new housing because they don’t have a job; they don’t have deposit money,” said Russell Fowler, director of litigation and advocacy at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. “It’s going to be a true nightmare.”
Evictions don’t just strip a person of their home, either; they often damage credit and leave a black mark on a person’s rental history, making it difficult to find replacement housing. Since homeless shelter beds are in short supply across much of the nation, those renters could be soon forced to live in their cars or even tent encampments.
Andom Ghebreghiorgis is dropping out of the race to unseat New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel and endorsing his former opponent Jamaal Bowman, signaling that progressives in the race are coalescing around the Justice Democrats-backed former Bronx middle school principal. “With the election almost upon us, the reason why I entered the race hasn’t changed,” Ghebreghiorgis said in a statement Monday. “I’m proud to stand with the Working Families Party in making the final push to send Jamaal to Congress.”
Attention to the race has picked up in recent months as the coronavirus ravaged New York City, and specifically the 16th Congressional District, which covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester and was one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. Engel has faced scrutiny over being absent from the district during the pandemic — and lying about it to The Atlantic.
Engel, who has been in office since 1989, is facing his first serious primary challenge since 2000. His progressive opponents have highlighted his record on foreign policy, from initial opposition to the Iran deal to support for the Iraq War and Israeli settlements. They have also focused on his campaign contributions from the defense industry, from which he has received more than $200,000 over the course of his career.
Donald Trump is escalating baseless attacks on mail-in voting in what appears to be an obvious effort to sow doubt about the fairness of the 2020 election.
The president has long made false accusations about voter fraud, claiming without evidence that 3-5 million Americans voted illegally in the 2016 election. But his barrage against mail-in voting is particularly alarming ahead of an election during the Covid-19 pandemic, where there is likely to be severely limited in-person voting and many Americans will probably vote by mail for the first time. Advocates worry voters who don’t want to risk their health and vote in person could also be swayed by Trump’s rhetoric, not feel comfortable voting by mail, and simply choose not to vote at all. ...
Trump’s tweets on mail-in voting in recent weeks have been a mix of unsubstantiated claims and outright falsehoods. Trump absurdly suggested on Thursday that children could steal ballots out of people’s mailboxes and distribute them to voters. Attacking a plan to mail-ballots to registered voters in California earlier this week, he also lied, saying the state was sending ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there”. He also said mailboxes would be robbed and that voting by mail would lead to fraudulently printed and signed ballots (California allows voters to track their ballot and verifies the voter’s identity using their signature). ...
Many people are used to brushing off Trump’s rhetoric about voter fraud, said Cliff Albright, a co-founder of the Black Voters Matter. But Albright said Trump’s comments were worrisome in a larger context of aggressive Republican efforts to police voting. In Georgia, Albright noted, Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, has encouraged absentee voting but also created an “absentee ballot fraud taskforce” stacked with prosecutors to monitor mail-in voting. In Texas, which severely restricts absentee voting, Ken Paxton, the attorney general, warned of possible “criminal sanctions” for anyone who advised a voter they could use Covid-19 as the basis for requesting a mail-in ballot.
“That one-two punch is what makes it very intimidating,” Albright said. “It does influence people and does intimidate people and makes some folks feel like this is not something they want to engage in.”
The sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth is accelerating, according to an analysis by scientists who warn it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilisation. More than 500 species of land animals were found to be on the brink of extinction and likely to be lost within 20 years. In comparison, the same number were lost over the whole of the last century. Without the human destruction of nature, even this rate of loss would have taken thousands of years, the scientists said.
The land vertebrates on the verge of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 individuals left, include the Sumatran rhino, the Clarión wren, the Española giant tortoise and the harlequin frog. Historic data was available for 77 of the species and the scientists found these had lost 94% of their populations. The researchers also warned of a domino effect, with the loss of one species tipping others that depend on it over the edge. “Extinction breeds extinctions,” they said, noting that unlike other environmental problems extinction is irreversible.
Humanity relies on biodiversity for its health and wellbeing, scientists said, with the coronavirus pandemic an extreme example of the dangers of ravaging the natural world. Rising human population, destruction of habitats, the wildlife trade, pollution and the climate crisis must all be urgently tackled, they said. ...
The analysis, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined data on 29,400 land vertebrate species compiled by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and BirdLife International. The researchers identified 515 species with populations below 1,000 and about half of these had fewer than 250 remaining. Most of these mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians were found in tropical and subtropical regions.
Scientists discovered that 388 species of land vertebrate had populations under 5,000, and the vast majority (84%) lived in the same regions as the species with populations under 1,000, creating the conditions for a domino effect.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Rufus Thomas - Little Sally Walker
Rufus Thomas - It's Aw'rite
Rufus Thomas - I'm So Worried
Rufus & Carla - That's Really Some Good
Rufus Thomas - Walking In The Rain
Rufus Thomas & Carla Thomas - When You Move You Lose
Rufus Thomas - Down Ta My House
Rufus Thomas - Do The Funky Chicken
Rufus Thomas - Ooh Poo Pah Doo
Rufus Thomas - Let The Good Times Roll