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US Capitol Building

90 People Have Been Arrested So Far In Relation To The Capital Riots

Around 90 people are facing charges currently that range from misdemeanor curfew violations, to felonies related to assaulting police officers, making death threats, and damaging federal property. Arrests are far from over as well.

DoorDash

Food Delivery Workers Fear For Their Safety Battling Curfews And A Pandemic

For the past few months, delivery/gig workers have had to navigate being an “essential worker,” making minimum wage, and battling a global pandemic while going out and working during a time where the government is telling everyone to stay home. Now, many are facing the challenges of figuring out how to work around thousands of protests and early night curfews enforced aggressively by the nation’s police force. 

This past Thursday, a video went viral on Twitter that showed a food courier out doing deliveries being arrested by multiple NYPD officers for being out past curfew, even though essential workers have been exempt from the curfew restrictions. The employee worked for a food delivery service known as Caviar, which is owned by DoorDash, and a spokesperson for the company recently made a statement regarding the video, claiming that they were “alarmed by it and we’re gathering information and are in contact with City officials to determine what transpired.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the incident is “NOT acceptable and must stop.”

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This wasn’t an isolated incident either, several other videos have been circulating online that seem to depict multiple delivery workers being arrested, assaulted, and yelled at by officers for simply doing their job or walking home from work; something that’s especially common in large metropolitans like New York City. 

In multiple media interviews with these employees, many have reconsidered their current employment during a time of justified civil unrest, however, for many this is their sole source of income, and quitting a job during one of the worst recessions the US has ever endured is daunting, especially if you’re making minimum wage. 

DoorDash has responded to their employees having to navigate through crowded city streets, police officers, and working with small businesses that have closed on days due to protests, but are listed as open on the app, by incentivizing them with $1-$4 bonuses on certain orders; I’m sure you could imagine how less than enthused some employees were. 

“I think it’s crazy, with everything on fire and giving me a $2 bonus — it’s because they know people have to work. I lost my previous job earlier this year and turned to delivery services like DoorDash as a financial lifeline. Since I didn’t know the pandemic was going to hit, I didn’t have much money saved,” an anonymous DoorDash employee told the media

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DoorDash has also released a statement in which they claimed that their employees’ health and safety was top priority, and that they are “tailoring operations based on the guidance [they] have received from governments.” Other popular food delivery services like GrubHub and Postmates have issued similar statements. 

The unemployment rate in America is currently at 13.3%, and over 30 million individuals have lost their jobs since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Workers for essential services like DoorDash are now at a crossroads of choosing their health and safety or minimum wage employment during a time of political unrest and economic turmoil. Many are forced into choosing the latter. 

“For those who are making ends meet by delivering food and groceries during the pandemic, this is going to be another source of anxiety, insecurity, and economic instability. Gig workers are disproportionately people of color, many of whom have already experienced police harassment,” Veena Dubal, a labor law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said about the curfews. 

The curfews themselves aren’t only harmful for employees in terms of potentially being arrested, but also because it limits the amount of business these essential services are able to receive, which leads to even less money being made. New York has since lifted its curfew, but other major cities still have them in place, so many protesters are now calling on their lawmakers to allow them to express their first amendment rights the way they were originally intended; at any hour of the day or night.

Hong Kong Protest

Hong Kong Protests Escalate As 1,000 Citizens Detained at University

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing for several months now and show no signs of slowing anytime soon, and are in fact escalating in intensity as a Hong Kong university was transformed into a battlefield between police and demonstrators, which ended with hundreds of young people jailed. Roughly a dozen protestors remain inside the school after heavily armed police officers surrounded the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, arresting many protestors who eventually surrendered to the authorities. Some students were able to escape without being captured by police by rappelling from a bridge to be rescued by motorbike drivers, while others unsuccessfully attempted to use a sewage pipe to escape. 

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The protests began as a response to proposed legislation to make it easier to extradite Hong Kong residents to China which was feared to impact Hong Kong’s independence and political freedoms. While the legislation in question has since been withdrawn, the aim of the protests has expanded to demand a stronger democracy in Hong Kong, further independence from China, and greater police accountability. The police have escalated their attempts to quell the protestors, using live ammunition on multiple occasions. These actions have only emboldened protesters, who have used bows and arrows and homemade weapons such as molotov cocktails in their ongoing battles with the police. At PolyU, police used tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets against protestors, who retaliated with violence. As the battle at the university concluded, protestors were searched by police and those who were older than 18 were arrested. According to Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, around 200 of the protestors were minors.

The recent events at PolyU resulted in the greatest number of arrests in a single day since the protests began several months ago, and many protesters received serious charges such as rioting and possession of offensive weapons

The dozen protestors who remain, many of whom are high school and university students, have said that they will neither leave the university nor surrender to police, in essence waiting for officers to enter the university and arrest them. Except for the few remaining protesters, the campus has been totally deserted, with debris littered throughout, and unused petrol bombs and pro-democracy grafitti were found on the campus. Roughly 80 people were treated for injuries at the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, and around 200 people were sent to other hospitals. Protesters have set fire to bridges connecting the university to a nearby train station and have destroyed other property as well. The recent events at PolyU resulted in the greatest number of arrests in a single day since the protests began several months ago, and many protesters received serious charges such as rioting and possession of offensive weapons, which carries the threat of serious prison time, leading to reluctance on the part of protesters to surrender to police.

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Last week, protestors clashed with the police at another university, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Over 3,900 Molotov Cocktails were seized at this university, and Kwok Ka-chuen, a spokesman for the police, described the university as a “manufacturing base” for these weapons. At the same time as this drama unfolded at these Hong Kong universities, a Hong Kong court overturned a ban on face masks instituted by Beijing in an attempt to curb the tremendously disruptive protests. The Hong Kong High Court found that this ban violated the constitution of the Hong Kong territory, which is called the Basic Law. The Congress has taken the unusual step of criticizing the court’s decision, saying that the finding “seriously weakened the lawful governing power” of Hong Kong’s government. While this would be an extreme step, the National People’s Congress has the authority to change the Basic Law, meaning they could institute changes that would make the face mask ban legal, potentially having broader implications for civil liberties in the territory generally. 

Drugs

U.S. and China Joint Investigation Leads To Arrests In Massive Fentanyl Trafficking Ring

China and the United States clearly never see eye to eye. However, this week, the two countries worked together to make a big arrest involving a massive fentanyl smuggling ring between America and China. This Thursday, Chinese authorities sentenced one man to death and imprisoned eight others for trafficking fentanyl into the United States (NBC). Initially, the joint effort was in response to President Donald Trump’s public criticism and call to action directed at China to adopt stricter policies regarding drug trafficking, especially when it comes to fentanyl which is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. every year. 

The case started with an arrest in New Orleans in August 2017 that revealed information about a woman in China, known as ‘Diana’, who sold narcotics online and shipped orders to the U.S. That information was passed on by American officials to drug investigators in China, who spent months uncovering a sprawling network of fentanyl labs, producers and dealers,” according to Janis Frayer for NBC

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Police stand guard outside the Xingtai Intermediate People’s court

When a major wire transfer was made to “Diana” this week, authorities had all the information they needed to make a move. The raids made in response to the wire transfer lead to the nine arrests, and brought in over 26 pounds of fentanyl, along with other opioids and records that helped authorities track areas in the United States that the drugs were being trafficked to. More than 50 U.S. residents names and addresses were seized from the “Diana Organization’s” records which lead to three major arrests in the U.S., and 25 new cases to be opened here in America (NBC). 

Tensions between China and the United States have been especially on the rise within the past few months as we are currently in the midst of a massive trade war with the country. Because of this, this collaborative effort between both countries authoritative forces is being eagerly showcased in the media, and rightfully so. America has often criticized China on their laid back approach to drug trafficking and has labeled them as “complacent” so when these arrests were made China made sure that Americans knew how big of a deal it was. 

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Yu Haibin (C), deputy director of China National Narcotics Control Commission (ONNCC), speaks during a briefing in Xingtai

So much so that during the court proceedings this week, China invited groups of journalists to come and cover the hearings to ensure that the news would spread quickly and efficiently as the charges were made. Journalists were also invited to attend a news conference covering the case both before and after the hearings, China provided police escorts for all the journalists to and from the conference and court to show that they were serious and organized about this accomplishment. The case was being presented at a court in Xingtai, which is about 220 miles from Beijing. 

According to NBC’s coverage of the event, the nine defendants were made up of five men and four women, all of which were seated in the courtroom during the entire proceedings, but none were allowed to speak. There were three presiding judges, one of which was responsible for reading out all the details of the case, the charges that were being made for each individual, and what their sentences would be. The leader of the entire smuggling ring was sentenced to death after he serves a two year sentence, his charge was “leading a conspiracy to defy Chinese laws to manufacture and smuggle the drug of fentanyl to the United States.”

“Their measures are very covert, our investigators lack chemistry expertise … it’s definitely hard to identify and verify this type of substance,” Liu Zhiyong, the deputy chief of Xingtai Public Security Bureau told NBC News.

Due to the success of this collaborative effort, there are now two more ongoing joint fentanyl investigations occurring between the United States and Chinese authorities. This effort could help bring down some of the biggest international drug trafficking rings.