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Politicians Respond to a Weekend of Mass Shootings

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  • Politicians are responding to two mass shootings that occurred within 13 hours of each other in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killing 31 people.
  • Democrats are specifically linking the white nationalist motives that allegedly influenced the shooter in El Paso to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
  • Meanwhile, many Republicans are standing against white nationalism, but are leaving the president out of it.
  • Other politicians are bringing up the gun control debate, and some, including President Trump, are pointing to video games as a cause for the violence.

Two Shootings Occur in 13 Hours

Politicians are speaking out after two mass shootings over the course of the weekend left 31 dead and dozens more injured. 

On Saturday, a gunman in El Paso, Texas shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a Walmart. Officers believe the alleged shooter left behind manifesto where they described immigrants from the southern border as “invaders.” 

The author also said they were “defending” the U.S. from “cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” The incident is being investigated as domestic terrorism.

In Dayton, Ohio, thirteen hours after the shooting in El Paso, a shooter went to a popular neighborhood filled with bars. He opened fire wearing a bulletproof vest and a mask, killing nine, including his sister. Another 27 people were injured. Police killed the shooter after 30 seconds. 

Gun Control Conversation Starts

When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine spoke at a vigil on Sunday, the crowd met him with repeated chants of “Do something!”

These people were not alone in turning the conversation to gun control legislation.

2020 candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke about the shootings on Twitter. 

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) called for Congress to open session so a vote on gun control could happen quickly. 

Some Republicans joined in with similar messaging. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for red flag laws, which would allow a family member, friend, or law enforcement official to petition for someone’s right to purchase a gun to be restricted if they believe that person is a threat or danger. 

Leaders Condemn White Supremacy

Because of the shooter in El Paso’s motives, many also were quick to speak out against white nationalism. Many pointed to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as he has used similar language, including the word “invasion” in the past. 

When asked what Trump can do in response to these events, presidential candidate and former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke said, “Members of the press, what the fuck?” 

“Connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country,” O’Rourke continued. “He is not tolerating racism he is promoting racism.”

Other 2020 candidates also made similar statements. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said Trump is “giving license to this kind of violence.”

Pete Buttigieg spoke about the incident at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

“White nationalism is evil, and it is inspiring people to commit murder,” the South Bend, Indiana Mayor said. “And it is being condoned at the highest levels of the American government.”

Republicans also condemned white supremacy but were largely leaving Trump out of it. Acting White House Cheif of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on ABC’s This Week that the shooter in El Paso was “sick” but that “no politician is to blame for that.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said white supremacy has “no place in this world.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the shooting in El Paso a “heinous act of terrorism.”

Politicians Point to Video Games

Other politicians had a different approach when responding, with a few arguing that violence in video games was a catalyst for these shootings. The Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, told Fox News he believed the two were related on Sunday.

“What’s changed in this country? We’ve always had guns. We’ve always had evil,” he said. “But what’s changed where we see this rash of shootings? And I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.” 

“This was maybe a video game to this evil demon. A video game to him,” he continued. “He has no sense of humanity, no sense of life. He wanted to be a super soldier, for his Call of Duty game.” 

“The idea of these video games, they dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others,” he said. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also appeared on Fox News Sunday to speak about the subject.

“The idea of these video games, they dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others,” he said.

President Trump Responds

President Trump made several comments about the shooting himself. He also linked gun violence to video games during a Monday morning press conference.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” he said. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.” 

During the press conference, he also joined the many politicians who condemned white supremacy. 

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump stated. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.” 

He also cited mental illness as a factor in shootings. 

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” he said.  

On Monday, the president also tweeted about potential gun control legislation but linked to immigration policy.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers 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. Instead, we will be linking to donation pages for those impacted by the shootings.

El Paso Community Foundation Victims Fund

Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund

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Ohio Will Give 5 People $1 Million for Getting Vaccinated

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  • Ohio is launching a lottery program that will give five people ages 18 or older $1 million each if they receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will win full four-year scholarships to one of the state’s public universities under a similar giveaway program. 
  • Some have criticized the move as a waste and misuse of federal coronavirus relief funds, but others applauded it as a strong effort to boost slumping vaccination rates.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine (R) addressed critics on Twitter, writing, “The real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Ohio Announces Vaccine Lottery

Several states and cities across the country have been rolling out different incentives to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Some are offering $100 savings bonds, $50 prepaid cards, and even free alcohol, but Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine took it a step further Wednesday, saying that five people in his state will each win $1 million for getting vaccinated.

DeWine said that the lottery program, named “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” will be open to residents 18 and older who receive at least one dose. Drawings start May 26 and winners will be pulled from the state’s voter registration database.

The Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings, but the money will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.

Younger people will also have a chance to win something. That’s because DeWine said five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will be eligible to win a full four-year scholarship to one of the state’s public universities under a similar lottery program. The portal to sign up for that opens May 18.

DeWine Defends Lottery

Reactions to the giveaway have been mixed. Some echoed statements from State Rep. Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, who said, “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis.”

DeWine, however, seems to have anticipated pushback like this.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” he tweeted. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Despite some backlash, a ton of other people have applauded the plan as a smart way to encourage vaccinations across all age groups. So far, about 36%of Ohio’s population has been fully vaccinated — compared with 35% nationally. 

Still, the number of people seeking vaccines has dropped in recent weeks, with an average of about 16,500 starting the process last week, which is down from figures above 80,000 in April. 

See what others are saying: (AP News) (NPR)(The New York Times)

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Derek Chauvin Qualifies for Longer Sentence Over George Floyd’s Murder, Judge Rules

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  • A judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin ruled Wednesday that there were enough aggravating factors in the former officer’s murder of George Floyd that could qualify him for a longer prison sentence.
  • While Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges he faced, Minnesota state law only allows him to receive prison time for the most serious charge of second-degree homicide, which has a max sentence of 40 years but a recommended sentence of 12.5 years for people with no criminal history.
  • The judge ultimately agreed that Chauvin qualifies for longer sentencing because prosecutors had proven that he abused his power as a police officer, acted “particularly cruel” to Floyd, and committed the crime in front of children with at least three other people.
  • Chauvin is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

Judge Cahill Rules on Aggravating Factors

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder of George Floyd, thus qualifying him for a longer sentence.

While the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he was facing, Minnesota law says that he will only face sentencing for the most serious charge, which in this case is second-degree murder.

That charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, but state sentencing guidelines recommend 12 and a half years for someone with no criminal history. Prosecutors asked Judge Cahill for what’s called an “upward sentencing departure,” arguing that there were five factors that should open Chauvin up to a maximum sentence.

In a ruling made public Wednesday, Cahill wrote that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt four of those five factors.

In his decision, Cahill agreed with the prosecutor’s claim that Chauvin had “abused his position of trust and authority” as a police officer and that he “knew from his training and experience” that the neck restraint he used Floyd in “danger of positional asphyxia.” 

Cahill also supported the argument that the former officer had been “particularly cruel” to Floyd, who he wrote “was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge he was likely to die,” adding that Chauvin “remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas.”

The third and fourth aggravating factors that the judge sided with prosecutors on were that Chauvin had committed the crime as part of a group of three or more people and that he perpetrated that crime in front of children.

Notably, Cahill did reject the fifth aggravating factor brought by prosecutors, who argued Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because he was handcuffed and held facedown on the street. The judge said that prosecutors did not prove that argument, writing that Floyd had been able to resist arrest before he was put on the ground.

Additional Charges

The ruling comes just a few days after Chauvin and the three other officers were indicted on federal civil rights charges by a grand jury.

Chauvin was also indicted on a second, separate federal charge related to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017, during which he allegedly held the boy by the neck and hit him with a flashlight repeatedly.

According to reports, if he is convicted, he would likely serve the federal sentence at the same time as his state one. However, the federal charges may impact the pending August trial of the three other officers, who have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Separately, last week, Chauvin’s defense attorney filed a motion for a new trial, alleging misconduct by the judge, prosecutors, and jurors, signaling additional continued litigation.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CNN)

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Teens Attack and Rob 80-Year-Old Asian Man in Northern California

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  • Viral surveillance footage shows an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area being assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police say are teenagers.
  • Police believe the suspects are as young as 16, and at one point, one can be heard in the video giggling from the getaway car as the victim cries for help. 
  • The news comes after the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data showing that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March.

Suspect Laughs at Victim During Attack

Surveillance video going viral on social media captured an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area getting assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police believe are teenagers.

The full video is extremely distressing. It shows the man getting knocked to the ground, trying to fight off his attackers as he cries for help. To make matters worse, at one point, high-pitched giggles can be heard coming from another teen in the background. That person appears to be inside a getaway car nearby.

The victim was robbed of a watch and sustained minor injuries. Police have also said that a vehicle similar to the one used in this case was spotted at a strong-armed robbery in a nearby San Leandro area less than two hours later, where another victim was robbed of her purse.

Police believe the suspects are as young as 16.

Surge of Crimes Against Asians in U.S.

This is just the latest violent attack against an Asian person making headlines since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, reports emerged regarding two Asian women who were attacked with a hammer in Times Square by someone demanding they remove their masks. Two other Asian women were recently stabbed while waiting for the bus in downtown San Francisco.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data Thursday saying that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March — with Chinese people as victims in 44% of these acts.

Vancouver Sees Massive Influx of Anti-Asian Hate

While anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the U.S., the situation may be worse in Canada, specifically in Vancouver. Around 42% of people in Vancouver are of Asian descent and at least 25% speak Chinese — making it the most heavily Asian city in North America.

Still, it witnessed a 717% year-over-year surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Bloomberg even dubbed it the Anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, saying more anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in the city of 700,000 people last year than in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.

That’s part of why people all across the city are participating in more organized action to speak out against anti-Asian hate. For instance, several rallies took place in Vancouver Monday to mark the National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism.

See what others are saying: (ABC 7) (Bloomberg) (Forbes)

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