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Oregon Attorney General Calls Out Federal Agents ‘Blatant Abuse’ Towards Protesters

Protests against police brutality/in solidarity with Black Lives Matter have been occurring throughout the world ever since George Floyd’s untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis Police in May. While these protests have all remained relatively peaceful, there are countless examples of police/military forces coming in and acting extremely violent towards these protesters who are expressing their first amendment right. 

Portland, Oregon has now become a spot of experimentation for how violent these forces can get, as Trump and his administration have deployed militarized federal agents into the city to put a stop to the protests. The breaking point for Portland specifically occurred after police claimed that protesters broke into the Portland Police Association building and set it on fire. 

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In one video posted on Twitter this week, a reporter records as a man who is repeatedly beaten by multiple federal officers for simply standing still in the middle of the road. Tear gas and the sounds of explosions echo in the background, a setting that has become all too familiar at these protests that all remain peaceful until outside forces get involved.

“We have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And … they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism,” one protester claimed. 

Even more disturbing in Portland, and other parts of the US as well, there have been multiple reports of federal agents driving through the city in unmarked vehicles, picking up protesters from the streets without any explanation or reading of Miranda rights. Many of these agents don’t even have professional credentials, and are reportedly just men dressed in camouflage with “police” patches on. 

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One protester recounted the gruesome scenes in Portland as she discussed the goals of these protests, and how much more passionate the crowds are becoming as a response to the government’s violent actions towards its own citizens.

“We can talk about defunding the police, but it’s more than that. We need to defund Ice [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], we need to demilitarize our border. There’s so much that’s wrapped up in this.”

On Sunday Trump responded by tweeting how he wants to help Portland and protecting “Federal property and our people” is his number one priority. However, the mayor of Portland even called out these federal officers and Trump, claiming that the “president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect.”

Governor Kate Brown also recently spoke out against the president’s actions within her state, claiming that Trump is guilty of a “blatant abuse of power by the federal government.” Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum went as far as filing a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security, Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service. Within the lawsuit Rosenblum is making a similar claim to Brown’s, and is suing on the grounds of federal agents violating state citizen’s right to peacefully protest as well as their due process rights; as many citizens are continuously ripped off the streets and “arrested.” 

Edward Colston Statue

Edward Colston Statue Replaced With Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester

Black Lives Matter protests have been occurring all across the world for the past couple of months in wake of the untimely death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and countless other black individuals at the hands of the police. One of the newest aspects of these demonstrations calls for a removal of countless statues and monuments that honor historical figures who were either slave owners, political figures who made racist policies targeted at black people, etc. 

In Bristol, UK, protestors made headlines last month when they tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader from the 17th century. Once they tore down the statue they dumped it into the River Avon, a body of water Colston often used to bring black people into the UK to be traded as slaves. 

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Now, the city has decided to reckon their past mistake of honoring Colston and instead have mounted a new statue that honors the Black Lives Matter movement. Marc Quinn is the British artist who was hired to create the new statue, which now depicts a young woman standing with her fist raised in a Black Power salute in the same exact spot that Colston’s statue stood for decades. 

The statue is inspired specifically by Jen Reid, a Bristol resident whose photo has circulated social media within the past month after she climbed up onto the empty podium where Colston’s statue once stood and raised her fist. After Quinn contacted Reid he made a life-sized sculpture of her based off the photograph using black resign.

“It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialized, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate.”

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Quinn stated that his friend was the one who initially showed him the photograph of Reid and right away he thought to himself “how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her.” The sculpture is officially titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020,” and unfortunately will only be temporarily erected where it currently stands. 

Quinn didn’t receive permission to erect the statue there, however, if it sells before it’s forcibly removed, Quinn claims the money made will be donated among two charities that will be chosen by Reid and work to promote the inclusion of Black history in school curriculums. The goal of the statue is to “highlight the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism” and force individuals with privilege to confront the ways in which they’ve fueled that fire. 

Reid also spoke with media outlets, claiming that her climbing onto the statue’s platform during the June demonstration was a complete impulse decision. The protest itself was on June 7th in Bristol and brought in an estimated 10,000 participants. She claimed she initially agreed to collaborate with Quinn in order to “keep the journey towards racial justice and equality moving.” 

“It’s about Black children seeing it up there. It’s something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we’re not going anywhere.”

The trend of tearing down statues and petitioning for their removal based on the individuals depicted having extremely racist pasts is growing large all around the world. As protests continue throughout America and the rest of the world every single day, one of the goals will now be to replace them all with individuals who made real lasting impacts on the history of this country.

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Statue of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt Statue To Be Removed From The Museum Of Natural History Steps In NYC

The statue of President Theodore Roosevelt that’s currently erected in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City will be removed, according to a statement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

The request to remove the statue actually came from the Museum of Natural History themselves, as the statue features America’s 26th president on a horse while a Native American and Black man stand on each side of the horse itself. The removal is also a general response to the multitude of confederate statues that are either being removed by protesters or requested to be removed by local officials in light of the current social justice issues America is enduring.

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“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior. The city supports the museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue,” de Blasio’s office said.

Executives working for the Museum of Natural History also released a statement on their website, claiming that while the statue was originally placed in front of the museum as a means of celebrating Roosevelt as “devoted naturalist” and American historian, the message behind the statue also “communicates a racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.”

No specific date of removal has been set yet, but the museum is currently working with NYC officials on the proper protocol for removing and storing a historical statue that’s been a part of the museum’s property for so many years. The statue itself is titled the “Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt” and was initially commissioned to be made for the museum in 1925. It made its debut in 1940 as a part of New York’s larger memorial to Roosevelt, according to the museum.

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“To understand the statue, we must recognize our country’s enduring legacy of racial discrimination — as well as Roosevelt’s troubling views on race. We must also acknowledge the museum’s own imperfect history. Such an effort does not excuse the past but it can create a foundation for honest, respectful, open dialogue,” the museum continued in their statement.

As previously stated the museum’s decision was also inspired by the many historically confederate and racist statues currently being removed from parks and other state establishments in America. Just last week New Jersey’s Monmouth University voted to remove President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the campus’s Great Hall.

The University’s decision, like the museums, is a result of Wilson’s controversial reign as a politician. Wilson famously viewed racial segregation as a “benefit” to the country and its power structure. He also defended the enslavement of Black people by claiming that slaves in general were “happy and well-cared for.”

The protests and demand for true systemic change has been a fight since the dawn of the civil rights movement. Protesters want US officials to think about what we choose to memorialize and turn into monuments. When we honor things like the Vietnam War or 9/11, we often honor the victims of those tragic events in American history, so why aren’t there more monuments for the millions of slaves that were forced into this country? The Museum of Natural History agreed with this sentiment,and is hoping other historical institutions follow suit.

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Black Lives Matter Poster

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Black Lives Matter Paper

Trump Faces Backlash For Scheduling Rally On Juneteenth In Tulsa, Oklahoma

President Donald Trump is planning on restarting his campaign rallies for the November 2020 election, however, he’s already received some major backlash given the context of the entire announcement. Trump’s campaign trail was put to an obvious halt amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still very much a public health issue that has infected nearly 2 million Americans and killed more than 112,000 people in the US alone. 

The New York Times reported this week that Trump’s first “rebooted rally” will be taking place on June 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Right away, individuals on social media pointed out that Trump scheduled this rally on Juneteenth; a national holiday meant to celebrate the end of slavery, it’s also referred to as Independence Day for Black Americans. Beyond that, the fact that the rally is taking place in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the same spot that the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 that killed over 300 black Americans took place – has many individuals angry with the president’s tone deafness given the current protests against police brutality in light of George Floyd’s murder. 

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The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred almost 100 years ago in Oklahoma in a place referred to at the time as “Black Wall Street.” This area of Tulsa was technically known as the Greenwood District, and was known for its large population of successful black Americans (there were over 300 black-owned businesses in the district). Unfortunately, successful black individuals caused racial tensions to heighten among white individuals living in Tulsa, as they were threatened by that success. 

One day, a 17-year-old white girl named Sarah Page claimed that a 19-year-old black man, Dick Rowland, assaulted her, igniting massive mobs of armed white men to storm Black Wall Street. Rowland was arrested and held in court, where even larger white mobs waited outside for him to be released so that they could lynch him. The next part of the story varies based on who you ask, but basically, a group of black veterans came to the courthouse to try to deescalate the situation, eventually a gun shot was heard and complete chaos broke out, leaving two white men dead, and over 300 black individuals dead and many unaccounted for; even to this day. The newspaper headlines the next day, however, only reported on the white deaths. More than 1,200 houses were destroyed, and now an interstate is paved over the spot where Black Wall Street used to thrive. 

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Many individuals weren’t even aware of this massacre until these protests began, as they don’t teach about it in American schools. It’s ignited an even larger conversation about the type of history that’s taught in our education system, and the many stories/historical events involving black individuals, and POC in general, that have been completely erased from all textbooks. The president’s announcement that this will be where he hosts his first reboot rally has ignited that same frustration induced by lack his of acknowledgment in the protests as well. 

In a statement from Trump’s campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, she defended the decision to host the rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, stating that: “As part of the party of Lincoln, Republicans are proud of the history of Juneteenth, which is the anniversary of the last reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Joe Biden spent last Juneteenth raising money at a private fundraiser and defending comments he made celebrating his work with segregationist senators,” Pierson wrote.

Beyond the racial insensitivity that many are calling out Trump for in relation to this Juneteenth rally, many are also calling him out for restarting political rallies while we’re still in the middle of a worldwide health pandemic. This move was likely due to the fact that Trump is already behind Biden in the polls and the fact that Trump has done historically very well among his Oklahoma voters. 

The Centers for Disease Control is still emphasizing that all Americans should avoid mass gatherings at all cost. Oklahoma is one of the 19 states that has recently reported a spike in new Covid-19 cases amid many states reopening weeks ago. Within the past week alone Oklahoma has reported 7,480 new cases and 355 deaths. 

What’s most important is that everyone continues to take this pandemic as seriously as they were in March. Continue to social distance, where a mask in public settings, wash your hands consistently, and stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Cop Car

‘Live P.D.’ Cancelled Amid Worldwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Television network A&E has announced this week that they will be cancelling their hit-series Live P.D. in wake of George Floyd’s death and the political unrest in this country regarding police brutality against black Americans.

The series itself was already on hiatus amid the covid-19 pandemic, like many other television series that are unable to film due to health concerns. Now, the network announced that the hiatus would remain permanent out of respect to their black viewers.

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments,” the network said in a statement.

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The cancellation decision was made by A&E and MGM’s Big Fish Entertainment, which is the production company that has always produced the series. Live P.D. isn’t the only reality-police television series getting the boot amid these worldwide protests against racism. The announcement of Live P.D.’s cancellation came just one day after the Paramount Network announced that they would be cancelling Cops; the show originally aired in 1989.

Initially, the plan was going to be to keep Live P.D. in its hiatus until they could have extended conversations with the community, police, and fans on the best way to keep the show alive while still respecting the protesters fighting for basic human rights across the nation. Ultimately, the network and production decided a complete cancellation was the only way.

This decision came after members of production realized there was no way to continue the show in its current form especially when protesters, politicians, and celebrities with massive platforms are all calling for a complete overhaul of the police system.

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Live P.D. has always been controversial, as black viewers often felt it purposefully demonized individuals of color while praising the officers for their aggressive means of arrest. More specifically, in March of 2019 Javier Ambler was murdered during a police stop which has been allegedly captured by the crew of Live P.D.; the video has since been destroyed.

That incident, however, barely impacted the network or show. In fact, before these nationwide protests began two weeks ago, A&E had actually renewed the series for another 160 episodes. This makes sense, as Live P.D. was cable’s #1 show on Fridays and Saturdays in 2019, and actually boosted the network ratings so much that A&E became one of the leading cable networks.

During the pandemic especially, the show received a massive spike in viewership, along with many other cable television programs. The show was receiving about 3 million viewers every weekend.

The host of the show, Dan Abrams, took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the decision to cancel, as he genuinely believed the network would be able to work out a solution. However, Abrams and fans were left disappointed. The future of all other police related television shows are still up in the air, but after Cops, which has been on for three decades, was cancelled, many programs aren’t so confident. Like all things pandemic related, only time will tell what the future holds for authoritative related television programming.


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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.