- Police documents say that 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was stabbed and killed at a gas station in Peoria, Arizona on Thursday morning because he was listening to rap music.
- The 27-year-old suspect arrested for the crime, Michael Adams, told police he felt “threatened” by Al-Amin’s music and is currently in custody for first-degree murder.
- Court records show that Adams has a criminal history of violence and was released from prison two days before the murder.
- News of the teen’s death spread and sparked outrage on social media, with many calling it a hate crime.
Police in Peoria, Arizona say a man stabbed and killed 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin at a gas station Thursday morning because the teenager’s music made him feel “threatened.”
According to the victim’s father, Al-Amin was leaving work and stopped at a nearby gas station with his girlfriend when he was attacked.
“He was getting a fountain drink, and a dude randomly walked in and stabbed my son in the neck,” Mr. Al-Amin told 12 News. “So my son, he got stabbed he ran out, and he collapsed.”
The suspect, 27-year-old Michael Adams, was arrested a short time later and found with a pocket knife in his possession along with blood on his clothes, according to local reports. He is currently in custody for first-degree murder.
Police documents say Adams allegedly admitted to stabbing Al-Amin telling officers he did so because the teen was playing “rap music in the parking lot.” According to the documents, Adams also said the music made him feel “threatened” and feel like he had to “protect himself and the community from the victim.”
“Rap music makes him feel unsafe, because in the past he has been attacked… by people who listen to rap music,” court records state.
Adams bail is set at $1 million and he is scheduled to appear in court on July 11.
Court records from Maricopa County show that Adams has a history of criminal activity and violence. In October of 2018, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison for aggravated assault and two counts of unlawful theft detection.
According to the Arizona Department of Correction Inmate Datasearch, Adams was released from prison on July 2, just two days before Al-Amin was killed. The datasearch also shows that while in custody, Adams had several disciplinary infractions, including disorderly conduct and assault on an inmate.
Adams’ lawyer, Jacie Cotterell, says the reason for her client’s actions is because he is mentally ill, with both autism and ADHD.
“My client is a very unfortunate young man,” Cotterell told ABC15. “He suffers from what are some obvious mental illnesses, he’s been ill served by the state.”
However, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections told local reporters that Adams “was not designated [as] seriously mentally ill (SMI).”
The spokesperson added that “prior to his release, Inmate Adams was provided contact information for services in the community such as continuing care, housing, welfare as well as other community resources.”
In response to Cotterell’s argument, the teen’s father said that any mental illness Adams may suffer from does not excuse his actions.
“To go in or follow him behind the store and stab him, I don’t care what issues you have,” he told 12 News. “You knew right from wrong, as far as I’m concerned he knew right from wrong.”
Some social media users agreed with Mr. Al-Amin and tweeted that mental illness does not justify a crime.
The hashtag Justice for Elijah began trending on Twitter, with many calling the attack a hate crime.
Al-Amin was an upcoming senior in high school and just two weeks away from his 18th birthday.
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)
COVID-Driven School Closures Top Record Highs, But Many Remain Open
While some districts have implemented protective measures, many teachers say they fall short.
Schools Respond to Omicron Surge
U.S. COVID cases, driven by the omicron variant, are continuously topping new record highs, posing difficult questions for schools resuming after winter break.
According to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school closures, at least 5,409 public schools canceled classes or moved to remote learning by the end of last week due to COVID — more than triple the number at the end of December.
That is still only a fraction of the nation’s 130,000 schools, and many of the biggest school districts in the country are still insisting that students come into the classroom.
Los Angeles, which is home to the second-biggest district, is requiring that students at least test negative before they return to school this week.
In the biggest district of New York City, classes have already resumed following winter break. Although the city has said it will double random tests and send home more kits, students were not required to provide negative results.
Teachers Protest In-Person Learning
Teachers in other major districts have protested the local government’s decisions to stay open.
One of the most closely watched battles is in Chicago, where students on Monday missed their fourth consecutive day of school due to a feud between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).
Last week, the union voted to return to remote learning in defiance of a city-wide order mandating they teach in-person, citing inadequate COVID-19 protections. Lightfoot claimed the conditions were fine and that students were safe, despite record surges, instead opting to cancel classes altogether while the fight plays out.
On Sunday, the union said it was “still far apart” from making any kind of agreement with public school officials after Lightfoot rejected their demands.
Lightfoot, for her part, has said she remains “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but she also stirred up the union by accusing teachers of staging an “illegal walkout” and claiming they “abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.”
Meanwhile, teachers in other school districts have begun to emulate the tactics in Chicago.
On Friday, teachers in Oakland, California staged a “sick-out,” promoting 12 schools serving thousands of students to close.