- Congressman Bobby Rush said security footage from his office in Chicago showed police officers “lounging,” popping popcorn, making coffee, and sleeping while businesses in the surrounding area were looted.
- Rush said he was informed that a burglary had taken place at his office on June 1, but security footage from that night showed at least a dozen officers, including three supervisors, “relaxing” in his workplace.
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown condemned the officers and promised to hold them accountable and investigate the incident.
- However, Chicago police union President John Catanzara called the press conference “despicable” and claimed that the police had entered the office after the looting was over.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said Thursday that security footage showed at least a dozen Chicago police officers drinking coffee, making popcorn, and sleeping on furniture in his office as nearby businesses were looted during protests over the killing of George Floyd.
Rush, a long-time congressman famous for co-founding the Chicago Black Panther Party, made the announcement at a press conference alongside Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who displayed stills of the video, which has not been released to the public.
At the conference, Rush said he was notified that his campaign office had been burglarized during an outbreak of civil unrest two weeks ago.
But when he reviewed the security footage from the incident, Rush said he saw the officers, including three supervisors, “lounging” in his office with their feet rested on his desks and one officer asleep on his couch.
“They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight and within their reach,” Rush said.
“They were in a mode of relaxation and they did not care about what was happening to businesspeople, to this city. They didn’t care. They absolutely didn’t care.”
Mayor Lightfoot Responds
Following Rush’s remarks, Mayor Lightfoot condemned the police and apologized to the congressman.
“That’s a personal embarrassment to me,” she said. “I’m sorry that you and your staff even had to deal with this incredible indignity.”
“Their conduct will confirm the perception that too many people on the South and the West Side were left to fend for themselves,” she continued. “That police don’t care if Black and brown communities are looted and burned.”
Lightfoot later promised that the incident would be “thoroughly” investigated and that the state’s attorney and U.S. attorney will review the case. She also said that all officers involved would be identified and that she wanted “the strongest possible action” to be taken.
“I can tell you one thing for certain, not one of these officers will be allowed to hide behind the badge and go on and act like nothing ever happened,” she said. “Not anymore. Not in my city, not in your city.”
Police Officials Respond
Police leadership also castigated the officers and said they would hold them accountable.
“This kind of conduct means that if you sleep during a riot, what do you do on a regular shift when there’s no riot? What are you doing when there’s no crisis?” said Police Superintendent David Brown. “I’m not playing with you that I mean what I say when I say we’ll hold you accountable.”
“Move, get out of the way, but we are going to uphold the nobility of this profession. This conduct is not representative.”
Brown’s remarks were also echoed by First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio, who called the officers’ actions “completely indefensible.”
“We had 120 officers injured that night that they sat there,” he said. “We had 167 vehicles damaged or completely destroyed the night these officers sat there, and countless businesses damaged and looted at the same time that these officers sat there,”
“The same time that these 13 officers were popping popcorn, taking a nap, relaxing inside this office, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other officers on State Street as we got pelted with rocks from rioters.”
However, Chicago police union President John Catanzara called the press conference “despicable,” and claimed that police leadership had incorrect information.
Catanzara asserted that, based on the light outside the windows in the images, it was early morning and the looting that had taken place in the area was over by the time the officers arrived. He said that they were simply tired and bored from guarding the office all night.
“It’s disgusting that they would challenge the honor of those (officers) that were in the office that night, as if they would stand there and let people die,” he said. “The rioting was done. The whole mall was looted on Sunday.”
Mayor Lightfoot said the footage shows that the officers first entered the office at 1 a.m. on Sunday, June 1, and remained there for four to five hours.
The Chicago Police Department has yet to comment but announced that it was launching an internal investigation into the occurrence in a statement posted to Twitter Thursday.
See what others are saying: (The Chicago Tribune) (NBC) (CNN)
Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”
- Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot.
- So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Florida Requires Proof of Residency
Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.
Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it.
According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers.
Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited
Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north.
“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)
Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”
- Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
- Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
- Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.
Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017.
Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony.
“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”
Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.
“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”
What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”
Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing.
“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”
“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”
Nation Impressed by Gorman
“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”
Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration.
Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation.
Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.