Officials Focus on Victims After Virginia Beach Shooting
- A shooter opened fire inside a municipal building in Virginia Beach on Friday, killing 12 people and injuring four others before being shot by police.
- In several press conferences from city officials and police officers, leaders chose to focus on the victims and heroes rather than the shooter, specifically saying the gunman’s name only once.
- Some are glad to see this become a regular practice after mass shootings, while others argue that knowing basic facts about the acts and actors is important.
Virginia Beach Shooting
Government officials and police officers have emphasized the need to focus on the victims of Friday’s mass shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach.
On Friday afternoon, a gunman entered the municipal building and opened fire. According to police, he shot and killed a victim in a car outside before entering the building. He then went into the building, killing 11 others and injuring four additional people.
The shooter was an employee of the city and as a result, he had access to the building. Police arrived shortly after and began exchanging fire with the attacker. After a while, the shooter was eventually shot by police and later died from gunshot wounds.
Authorities are still looking for the motive behind the attack. It was later reported that the shooter had sent in his resignation by email earlier that same morning, though he did not say why or allude to the shooting.
Friday Press Conference
Rather than focusing on the shooter himself, officials with the City of Virginia Beach and police officers chose to center their press briefings around remembering the victims of the shooting.
“Our process is always to notify family members prior to releasing names,” Virginia Beach Chief of Police James Cervera said in a press conference Friday. “We do know who the suspect is, we have not been successful in notifying certain family members.”
“Once we are able to do to that we will release his name once. We’re going to mention his name once, and then he will be forever referred to as ‘the suspect,’ because our focus now is the dignity and respect to the victims in this case and to their families.”
Cervera also recognized the police officers who responded to the scene, saying, “I want you to know that during this gun battle, basically, the officers stopped this individual from committed more carnage in that building.”
Saturday Press Conference
The sentiment of remembering the victims was also echoed in a longer press conference on Saturday.
“We want you to know who they were, so in the days and weeks to come, you will learn what they meant to all of us, to their families, to their friends, and to their coworkers,” Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen said. “They leave a void that we will never be able to fill.”
Hansen then went on to give a detailed presentation of the victims, including their names, photos, job titles, and the cities or towns they lived in. Hansen also noted that of the people who died, 11 were city employees, and one was a contractor.
One of those people was Ryan Keith Cox, who has been hailed as a hero for rushing others to safety and helping barricade them in a room, before going to see if other people needed help. Cox died in the shooting, but he saved his co-workers who he helped hide.
Following Hansen’s presentation, he passed the mic off to Chief of Police Cervera, who talked about the investigation and then went on to discuss the suspect. As he promised, Cervera only said the suspect’s name once.
Shift in Narrative
Throughout all the many press briefings in Virginia Beach from government officials and the police, the victims, rather than the shooter, have been the intentional focal point.
“We wanted to control that narrative,” Virginia Beach’s deputy city manager of public safety Steve Cover told the Associated Press after Saturday’s briefing.
“We didn’t want it to leak out piece by piece through family and friends and so forth through the media. We felt it was kind of our obligation to get that message out.”
In fact, this idea of controlling the narrative is something we have been seeing more and more. After the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to say the gunman’s name and urged people to say the names of the victims instead.
According to experts, refusing the name mass shooters and instead remember the names of the victims is a growing tactic that has huge implications for how we talk about mass shooters and could impact the motivations of future attacks.
“The goal is to kind of interrupt the cycle of new mass shooters citing previous ones, and the new mass shooters who are becoming role models for even more attackers,” Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama, told the AP.
“What the guy’s face looks like is not the sort of information that will help stop the next mass shooting.”
However, not everyone agrees with this tactic. James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied mass shootings, told AP that it is appropriate for law enforcement to release basic facts.
“It is news,” said Fox. “We provide basic details on other types of offenders.” Fox also argued that it is the “act — not the actor” that influences other shooters, continuing, “The Columbine massacre, for example, inspired copycats, not the assailants’ names and faces.”
Fox did say there is a limit for how much should be reported, noting that reporting too much about a killer’s background can “humanize” them and turn shootings into a spectacle or a “celebrity watch.”
However, that concept presents a huge gray area. How can we draw the line between what the public should know and giving too much attention to shooters?
Regardless, it is important to remember and say the names of the victims instead of the shooter and it is refreshing to see officials and police officers doing just that in Virginia Beach.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Disney Renders DeSantis-Appointed Oversight Board Powerless
The board is looking into avenues for potential legal retaliation, but Disney maintains its actions were “appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums.”
The Fight For Disney’s Special District
Disney has stripped powers from the board Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) installed to oversee its theme parks, board members claimed.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, board member Brian Aungst Jr. said Disney’s action “completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”
DeSantis has been waging a war against the House of Mouse ever since the company condemned his controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which heavily restricts the discussion of sexuality in classrooms. To retaliate against the company, he took control of Disney’s special status that allowed it to operate as a self-governing district with autonomy over the land encompassing and surrounding Walt Disney World.
Disney operated under that special status for decades under the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but after DeSantis took over, it was changed to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. DeSantis appointed all members of the board, prompting concerns that it could be used to silence and sway Disney on social and cultural issues, including its content.
The oversight board gets control over infrastructure, property taxes, issue bonds, road and fire services, and other regulations. When DeSantis seized it, it was considered a big loss for the entertainment giant, but now, board members say the company may have lost little to no power at all.
As first reported by the Sentinel, Disney and the previous board signed an agreement allowing Disney to retain control over much of its land on Feb. 8, the day before Florida’s House signed the bill that gave DeSantis power to stack the board. Disney now holds veto powers over changes to the park, and any changes must be subject to the company’s “prior review and comment” to ensure thematic consistency.
The agreement also bars the board from using Disney’s name or trademarked characters like Mickey Mouse.
The Board’s Plan to Fight Back
Board members reportedly did not become aware of this until recently and discussed the issue at a Wednesday meeting.
“This essentially makes Disney the government,” board member Ron Peri said, via Click Orlando. “This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”
The subject of the agreement that has perhaps caught the most public attention is its staying power. The declaration says it will remain “in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this Declaration.” That means that so long as direct members of the royal family are alive, so is this deal.
According to BBC News, this is known as a “royal lives” clause and its use dates back to the 17th century, though it is rarely used in the U.S.
The board, however, already has plans to push back against Disney and has voted to hire outside legal counsel to evaluate their options.
“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” Aungst said. “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis released a statement claiming that “these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law.”
Disney maintains everything was above board.
“All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,” the company said.
See what others are saying: (Orlando Sentinel) (Click Orlando) (The Washington Post)
White Supremacist Propaganda Reached Record High in 2022, ADL Finds
“We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
White supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached record levels in 2022, according to a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism.
The ADL found over 6,700 cases of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, which marks a 38% jump from the nearly 4,900 cases the group found in 2021. It also represents the highest number of incidents ever recorded by the ADL.
The propaganda tallied by the anti-hate organization includes the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic flyers, banners, graffiti, and more. This propaganda has spread substantially since 2018, when the ADL found just over 1,200 incidents.
“There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans with their propaganda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash.”
The report found that there were at least 50 white supremacist groups behind the spread of propaganda in 2022, but 93% of it came from just three groups. One of those groups was also responsible for 43% of the white supremacist events that took place last year.
White supremacist events saw a startling uptick of their own, with the ADL documenting at least 167, a 55% jump from 2021.
Propaganda was found in every U.S. state except for Hawaii, and events were documented in 33 states, most heavily in Massachusetts, California, Ohio, and Florida.
“The sheer volume of white supremacist propaganda distributions we are documenting around the country is alarming and dangerous,” Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said in a statement. “Hardly a day goes by without communities being targeted by these coordinated, hateful actions, which are designed to sow anxiety and create fear.”
“We need a whole-of-society approach to combat this activity, including elected officials, community leaders, and people of good faith coming together and condemning this activity forcefully,” Segal continued.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (The New York Times)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”