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Capitol in DC

Capitol Rioters Wanted To ‘Capture And Assassinate’ Lawmakers, Prosecutors Claim

Federal law enforcement officers have been working non-stop since last Wednesday to get a greater understanding over what exactly transpired that allowed the riot at the Capitol to get so out of hand, and what was the actual plan for this mob should they have interacted with any US lawmakers or government officials. 

Officials are now claiming that they have found clues and evidence that points to one of the mob’s most distinctive figures, Jacob Anthony Chansley; the shirtless, tattooed man who many online have been referring to as “QAnon Shaman,” who stormed around the Capitol wearing a headdress made of coyote skin and buffalo horns. 

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Federal prosecutors in Phoenix, Arizona submitted a court filing this Thursday that wrote that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.” 

The entire filing was 18-pages long, and included a request to the judge to keep Chansley detained before his trial. One of the biggest pieces of evidence working against Chansley right now is the fact that he left a note for Vice President Pence at his desk in the Senate chamber which read: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Chansley himself has personally called on President Donald Trump to pardon him for his crimes after his lawyer, Albert Watkins, claimed that Chansley acted in a “peaceful and compliant fashion” towards the law enforcement officials who have been running the investigation, and besides, Chansley only stormed the Capitol after Trump invited him and the rest of the mob to; according to Watkins. 

“He took seriously the countless messages of President Trump. He believed in President Trump. Like tens of millions of other Americans, Chansley felt — for the first time in his life — as though his voice was being heard.”

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Law enforcement officials have warned that it’s likely there were multiple motives among the mob of those who stormed the Capitol, and an FBI investigation is currently in the works to determine whether some intended to do more than just disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. 

One man who was arrested was carrying a pistol and others were wearing tactical gear and were holding zip ties. Another individual was arrested after his truck was spotted near the Capitol building with 11 molotov cocktails inside. 

Trump has so far pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, and Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff, before they were both sentenced. Within the past month the most action the president has done in terms of political policy has been a slew of pardons for his allies, friends, family, and fellow republicans. 

Prosecutors have pointed out that Chansley brought a weapon in the Capitol building, a spear, so the charges being presented aren’t to be taken lightly and his request to be pardoned should sound ridiculous to law enforcement. However, Chansley and every other Trump supporter present that day have forced America to have a much larger conversation over if Chansley was a person of color slinging a giant spear around the Capitol building, if the response would’ve been different.

The Capitol Building

US Olympic Champion Swimmer Klete Keller Identified At Capitol Riot

Klete Keller, the American Olympic swimmer who one two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps, was identified as one of the Trump supporters who was inside the Capitol last week during the riot that occurred during the Electoral College vote proceedings. 

Popular swimming news website SwimSwam posted a report this week that alleged at least a dozen professional swimmers identified Keller due to the fact that he was wearing his US Olympic team jacket. The swimmers identified him after being sent a multitude of screenshots and videos from the riot.

Official USA Swimming did not respond when they were asked to confirm if the images from inside the Capitol were in fact Keller, but the images seemed relatively clear. Keller himself was recently reached out too by the press in order to get a confirmation or denial from the Olympic athlete but he has still yet to respond.

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Keller currently works at a Colorado and Ohio-based real estate agency that was recently also contacted for a comment, however, the woman who answered the phone claimed that they “are not commenting on anything right now,” before hanging up. 

One of the videos circulating online, that was taken by a conservative news reporter, shows the man who has been identified as Keller in a crowd of individuals that police officers were attempting to push towards any of the Capitol exits. 

Keller has previously made headlines for more Olympic related reasons; such as when he held off Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Games, securing him and the US with a gold medal. He’s a five-time Olympic medalist in general and at the height of his career was one of the swimmers to watch at the Games. 

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SwimmingWorld is another professional swimmer news site that confirmed with sources that Keller was seen inside the US Capitol during the riot last week. The sources also claim that the videos where Keller is seen don’t show him acting violently in any way, however, the fact that he was present among a crowd of domestic terrorists who stormed one of the most historic government buildings in the US is incredibly disheartening for Olympic fans who believe that these athletes are meant to be upholding the sanctity of the US and its democracy, not actively trying to destroy it. 

According to the New York Times Keller has deleted all of his social media accounts following the riot last week and the exposure of his involvement. In recent years Keller’s social media has apparently been saturated with pro-Trump rhetoric as well. 

As most Americans have already seen last week Trump exhorted thousands of his supporters who were at the Capitol, not wearing masks or socially distancing, which prompted them to erupt in a riot of violence, vandalism, and domestic terror. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the rampage, and the FBI and Department of Justice is currently investigating and making dozens of arrests in relation to last weeks dark day.

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.

US Capitol Building

Black Lives Matter Activists Call Out Double Standard Of Police Response In Capitol Riots

Hundreds of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol building yesterday after the current president encouraged the crowd to not back down from fighting one of the “most fraudulent elections in US history,” despite the past two months of evidence disputing every single one of Trump’s claims. 

Rioters broke windows, destroyed offices, vandalized government property, and looted, causing social media to blow up with claims of double standards and the obvious white privilege that these individuals carried to be able to simply walk into what was thought to be one of the most secure buildings in the US. 

Beyond that, many began posting images from the past year of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent due to police and military presence alone. Hundreds of thousands of videos began recirculating of the national guard and police throughout America tear gassing, shooting, and assaulting peaceful protesters for simply expressing their first amendment rights, yet dozens of white Trump supporters were able to simply walk in and out of the Capitol as they pleased. 

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One of the most impactful images shared showed the Capitol building steps this summer covered with National Guard troops in preparation for a DC Black Lives Matter protest; prompting many to question where the Guard was yesterday, especially since the DC Mayor called on them two days ago in anticipation of these riots. 

The Black Lives Matter Global Network released a powerful statement about the blatant racism and white supremacy that was exemplified with yesterdays act of domestic terrorism. They stated that the riot was just “one more example of the hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest,” and unfortunately, no one was surprised. 

“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets. Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”

Videos online began circulating of the DC National Guard and police armed and wearing camouflage uniforms on the steps of the Lincoln memorial during a peaceful protest following several days of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city; rioters made it into the Capitol yesterday and remained there for hours before the National Guard was activated.

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The DC Mayor also implemented a 6 p.m. curfew when the Capitol first was stormed, however footage showed hundreds of Trump supporters still outside the Capitol building long after that curfew had passed. If we remember back to the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the police would pull people walking home from work off the street and arrest them for being out past curfew. 

There’s also another double standard in the way in which political leaders and media outlets report on these protests and riots. When it was Black Lives Matter protests turning violent due to an aggressive police presence shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at non-threatening protesters, the narrative turned into one where the protesters were the ones inciting violence and leaving the police with no choice but to control the crowd violently. 

When we look at what was going on yesterday, Republican commentators and leaders immediately took to Twitter and told the rioters not to “become like the other side,” immediately shifting the blame from the domestic terrorists who destroyed federal property to individuals on the other side who “would’ve responded the same way.” 

The reality is it was Trump’s supporters who enacted so much violence and made dark history by storming a federal government building to protest a legitimate election. So far four individuals have died and 53 have been arrested. The FBI has opened an investigation and will be reviewing every picture and video posted online of those who were in the building, and time will tell how they will all be charged.

Small Movie Theatre

The Irishman: A Near-Perfect Gangster Epic

Director Martin Scorsese has implored audiences not to watch his latest crime epic, The Irishman, on a smartphone. And while many viewers of the director’s latest film are likely to ignore this advice, Scorsese’s request is well-founded. At three-and-a-half hours long, The Irishman can be difficult to watch in one sitting — but the cinematic experience on offer is best enjoyed on a big screen, whether it’s projected on a movie screen or displayed on a large TV. Scorsese has drawn criticism lately for his comments about Marvel movies, which he’s characterized as “not cinema,” comparing them to amusement park rides, entertaining and full of spectacle but lacking in substance. And while his comments have angered fans of the immensely profitable superhero genre, they also speak to Scorecese’s understanding of the potential of cinema as an art form and its ability to speak to audiences on a deep, human level. Scorsese’s commitment to artistry is evident not only by his extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed crime dramas, but by his career-defining work on his latest epic.

Spoilers for The Irishman follow.

The Irishman is based on the true story of Frank Sheeran, a hitman for the mafia who claimed to be responsible for killing the famous Jimmy Hoffa, a labor union activist who disappeared in 1975. While the nature of Hoffa’s disappearance in real life remains a mystery, Sheeran’s account is perhaps the most compelling explanation, as details of his story are corroborated by evidence, though most if not all of the other witnesses to the killing were dead by the time Sheeran confessed to author Charles Brandt shortly before his death. Brandt’s book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” forms the basis of Scorsese’s film, and the director took great lengths to ensure that the movie closely follows Sheeran’s recollection of events. Whether or not you believe that the film accurately portrays historical events, including details surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, depends on whether you trust Sheeran’s retelling of the events of his life and Brandt’s memorialization thereof.

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Regardless of its questionable historical accuracy, though, The Irishman shines as a meditation on the reality of aging, death, and how the decisions a person makes come to define the stories of their lives, for better or for worse. Sheeran is not a particularly sympathetic character he expresses no remorse for his many killings, some directed by the military and others by the mob — but the film succeeds in emotionally engaging the viewer with the protagonist nonetheless. This is in no small part thanks to Robert De Niro’s excellent portrayal of Frank Sheeran’s life over a period of decades, as the legendary actor imbues his character with an emotional depth and complexity rivaled by few other performances in recent memory. 

Scorsese pioneered the widespread use of expensive de-aging technology to allow the 76-year-old De Niro to portray a character several decades younger, and the implementation has received a mixed reception. While the effect is not entirely convincing and can at times even be a little distracting, it works for the most part, though it is at times clear that the aging principal cast struggle to mimic the vibrancy of men half their age throughout the film. It’s easy to look past this minor deficiency, however, and as the film’s narrative largely explores the concepts of aging and death, the at times geriatric performances of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci fit the film’s narrative framing of an elderly man sitting alone in a nursing home reminiscing about his past.

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Irrespective of how you feel about the visual effects, the actors’ performances are phenomenal, and add to the remarkable depth of the film’s writing and direction. Ultimately, while most of the events of the film revolve around Sheeran’s participation in the mob and his relationships with his mentor Russell Bufalino and the egotistical, hot-headed Jimmy Hoffa, I would argue the real point of the film is its examination of the importance of family life. Sheeran had four children, and while these characters don’t prominently factor into the events of the narrative, the emotional weight carried by Sheeran’s neglect of his children is immense. Sheeran’s daughters must grapple with the violent reality of his lifestyle and profession throughout the picture, mostly in the background, resulting in an ongoing rejection of their father that culminates in their disowning of him as he becomes an elderly man. After nearly all of the people close to Sheeran die, only his family remain, but his efforts to reconnect with his daughters fail as they have effectively disowned him. By the end of the film, Sheeran is left in a nursing home, talking about his daughters with a nurse who barely pays attention to his stories. Ultimately, the film plays a trick on the audience; while it seems at first to be about the mob, the Teamsters union, and the larger-than-life Jimmy Hoffa, it reveals itself by its conclusion to in actuality be about the inevitability of death and the importance of family ties.

This level of depth and thematic complexity is what has led The Irishman to receive near-universal critical acclaim. Though it premiered as a limited theatrical release, the movie is now available exclusively on Netflix, which incidentally turned out to be the only company willing to fund Scorsese’s experimental epic. Critics are speculating that The Irishman could sweep the Oscars, and many have speculated the film is a strong contender for Best Picture. If you’re willing to set aside the three-and-a-half hours necessary to engage in Scorsese’s latest film, you’ll be rewarded with a work of nearly-unparalleled emotional weight and tragedy.