- Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association and Police Benevolent Association said three NYPD officers were intentionally poisoned at a Shake Shack.
- Authorities claimed one or more Shake Shack employees put a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, in the officers’ milkshakes.
- But hours later, law enforcement officials said they found “no criminality,” after learning that a cleaning solution left in the machine accidentally made its way into the shakes.
- Many are now outraged at authorities for rushing to make false accusations that portrayed them as victims before conducting a proper investigation.
- Authorities have now started deleting their initial statements and their later clarifications about finding “no criminality,” but it’s unclear if a new statement is on its way.
Police Announce Intentional Poisoning Incident
The killing of George Floyd reignited widespread frustration with law enforcement agencies across the country, but fear felt by the police themselves seemed to be a topic of conversation Monday when three NYPD officers were believed to have been poisoned.
Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association, published a safety message noting that three officers were “intentionally poisoned by one or more workers” at a Shake Shack in Manhattan.
The statement from the association’s president Paul DiGiacomo continued with, “After tasting the milk shakes they purchased they became ill, making it necessary for them to go to an area hospital. Fortunately, our fellow officers were not seriously harmed.”
It then went on to note that police across the country are “under attack by vicious criminals who dislike us simply because of the uniform we wear,” adding “Emboldened by pandering elected officials, these cowards will go to great lengths to harm any member of law enforcement.”
To deal with all this, DiGiacomo warned officers to be vigilant and not buy food from places they aren’t familiar with.
Around the same time, Patrick Lynch, the city’s Police Benevolent Association president, issued a similar statement warning officers to use caution. “When New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated at a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment,” he said.
But in that statement, Lynch specifically claimed the three officers who went to Shake Shack discovered that, “a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages.”
The reports were met with a ton of different responses online. Fox News host Sean Hannity shared the news on Twitter and according to The Guardian, Donald Trump Jr. said in a now-deleted tweet, “Where are the Democrats who are denouncing NYPD officers getting poisoned on the job? Their silence is deafening.”
Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren even chimed in, calling it, “Despicable but not surprising. The war on cops has been reignited and the Left is complicit.”
On top of that, there were others calling for a boycott of the burger chain and demanding that those responsible be prosecuted. Some even called this incident attempted murder, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor.
Still, others doubted the story altogether, calling the police liars.
@NYCPBA are liars. The policemen probably discovered a clump of ice cream in their milkshakes and every restaurant has to maintain stringent disinfection requirements due to COVOD19, ergo the smell of bleach. If a store DOESN’T smell like disinfectant, you shouldn’t go in.— GeauxTigers516@🏠 (@GeauxTigers516) June 16, 2020
Shake Shack eventually addressed the situation, saying that they were “horrified” by the reports and were working with investigators.
No Criminality Found By Shake Shack Employees
But NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted early Tuesday, that after a thorough investigation “it had been determined that there was no criminality by shake shack’s employees”
At that time, Shake Shake shared the tweet and added that it was still working to get a full picture of what happened.
Later Tuesday morning, the Detectives’ Endowment Association reiterated the chief’s statement, tweeting, “Although the investigation is still ongoing, at this point NYPD investigators have found ‘no criminality’ in how these officers got sick. Initially, it was reported that whatever toxic substance made the officers ill was intentionally placed in their drinks.“
“Evidently, however, the toxic substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way into the officers’ shakes. If so, we are all relieved to hear that this was not an intentional attempt to harm our officers and are pleased to report they will make a full recovery.”
It followed that up with a thank you message to NYPD personnel and Shake Shack for their cooperation, adding, “The fact remains, please stay vigilant, stay safe and always be aware of your surroundings.”
The Police Benevolent Association also published a similar update underneath their initial statement a few hours later.
Outrage Over False Accusations
This major update was quickly met with a slew of different reactions. There were some who found the explanation unbelievable.
Accidentally? How does cleaning solution accidentally get in just 3 shakes, only 3, which just happened to be given to 3 Officers?— Zebra78610 (@zebra78610) June 16, 2020
Ok, so did this substance “accidentally” make its way into ONLY the officers beverages, or were other customers sickened as well?— Chris Primavera (@ChrisPrimavera) June 16, 2020
Something is not adding up.
But now that police said it wasn’t an intentional attack, a lot of people were furious at them for rushing to judgment in their previous statements. Some were angry that they falsely accused Shake Shack employees of a crime. Others called for an apology and for the original statements to be removed.
This is not an apology or a retraction.— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) June 16, 2020
Then take down that URGENT message accusing the employees of an intent to poison. Also, apologize and take responsibility. Damn.— Mina ⁷ #AGUSTD2 (@minaeveryone) June 16, 2020
One internet user said the false claim shows a “concerning-increased paranoia among law enforcement will only lead to more mistakes.”
Meanwhile, plenty of people slammed figures like Lahren, Hannity, and Trump Jr. for sharing the false reports even after the chief clarified that there was no intention to poison the officers. Lahren then later issued an update saying she’s happy to hear this but, “Our officers are still under attack and need to be concerned for their safety every single day, especially in this anti-cop climate. I pray for their safety.”
Though in a later tweet she noted that she wants to be updated on this situation because “the whole thing doesn’t seem quite right.”
Authorities Delete Statements
Eventually, the Detectives’ Endowment Associated removed their initial “Urgent Message.” The City’s Police Benevolent Association did the same hours later, also deleting their update about finding “no criminality.”
Without explanation, the DEA also deleted one part of its three-part statement, which explained that “the toxic, substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way,” into the shakes.
At this time, it’s unclear if authorities are planning to release a new statement.
Regardless, this situation seems to have heightened the distrust people have in New York officers. For many, this looked like another instance of officers lying and trying to make themselves look like victims.
Just last week, many were outraged after the state’s police union head demanded the public, “Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect.” Audio from the union official’s speech was eventually edited over a supercut showing officers using excessive force during protests. So now with this incident, many in the community are feeling renewed frustration with law enforcement.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (New York Magazine) (Fox Business)
Meta Reinstates Trump on Facebook and Instagram
The company, which banned the former president two years ago for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, now says the risk to public safety has “sufficiently receded.”
Meta Ends Suspension
Meta announced Wednesday that it will reinstate the Facebook and Instagram accounts of former President Donald Trump, just two years after he was banned for using the platforms to incite a violent insurrection.
In a blog post, the company said the suspensions would be lifted “in the coming weeks” but with “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
Specifically, Meta stated that due to Trump’s violations of its Community Standards, he will face “heightened penalties for repeat offenses” under new protocols for “public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest.”
“In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation,” the blog post continued.
The company also noted its updated protocols address content that doesn’t violate its Community Standards but “contributes to the sort of risk that materialized on January 6, such as content that delegitimizes an upcoming election or is related to QAnon.”
However, unlike direct violations, that content would have its distribution limited, but it would not be taken down. As a penalty for repeat offenses, Meta says it “may temporarily restrict access to […] advertising tools.”
As far as why the company is doing this, it explained that it assessed whether or not to extend the “unprecedented” two-year suspension it placed on Trump back in January of 2021 and determined that the risk to public safety had “sufficiently receded.”
Meta also argued that social media is “rooted in the belief that open debate and the free flow of ideas are important values” and it does not want to “get in the way of open, public and democratic debate.”
“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” the tech giant added.
Meta’s decision prompted widespread backlash from many people who argue the former president has clearly not learned from the past because he continues to share lies about the election, conspiracy theories, and other incendiary language on Truth Social.
“Trump incited an insurrection. And tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.) tweeted. “He’s shown no remorse. No contrition. Giving him back access to a social media platform to spread his lies and demagoguery is dangerous. @facebook caved, giving him a platform to do more harm.”
According to estimates last month by the advocacy groups Accountable Tech and Media Matters for America, over 350 of Trump’s posts on the platform would have explicitly violated Facebook’s policies against QAnon content, election claims, and harassment of marginalized groups.
“Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to reinstate Trump’s accounts is a prime example of putting profits above people’s safety,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson told NPR.
“It’s quite astonishing that one can spew hatred, fuel conspiracies, and incite a violent insurrection at our nation’s Capitol building, and Mark Zuckerberg still believes that is not enough to remove someone from his platforms.”
However, on the other side, many conservatives and Trump supporters have cheered the move as a win for free speech.
Others, like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) also asserted that Trump “shouldn’t have been banned in the first place. Can’t happen again.”
Trump himself echoed that point on in a post on Truth Social, where he claimed Facebook has lost billions of dollars both removing and reinstating him.
“Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution! THANK YOU TO TRUTH SOCIAL FOR DOING SUCH AN INCREDIBLE JOB. YOUR GROWTH IS OUTSTANDING, AND FUTURE UNLIMITED!!!” he continued.
The question that remains, however, is whether Trump will actually go back to Facebook or Instagram. As many have noted, the two were never his main platforms. Twitter was always been his preferred outlet, and while Elon Musk reinstated his account some time ago, he has not been posting on the site.
There is also the question of how Truth Social — which Trump created and put millions of dollars into — would survive if he went back to Meta’s platforms. The company is already struggling financially, and as Axios notes, if Trump moves back, it signals to investors that he is not confident in the company.
On the other hand, Trump’s lawyers formally petitioned Meta to reinstate him, which could indicate that this goes beyond just a symbolic win and is something he actually wants. Additionally, if he were to start engaging on Facebook and Instagram again, it would immediately give him access to his over 57 million followers across the two platforms while he continues his 2024 presidential campaign.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (Axios) (The New York Times)
Meta Encouraged to Change Nudity Policy in Potential Win For Free The Nipple Movement
The company’s oversight board said Meta’s current rules are too confusing to follow, and new guidelines should be developed to “respect international human rights standards.”
Rules Based in “A Binary View of Gender”
In a move many have described as a big step for Free The Nipple advocates, Meta’s oversight board released a decision Tuesday encouraging the company to modify its nudity and sexual activity policies so that social media users are treated “without discrimination on the basis of sex or gender.”
The board—which consists of lawyers, journalists, and academics—said the parent company of Facebook and Instagram should change its guidelines “so that it is governed by clear criteria that respect international human rights standards.”
Its decision came after a transgender and nonbinary couple had two different posts removed for alleged violations of Meta’s Sexual Solicitation Community Standard. Both posts included images of the couple bare-chested with their nipples covered along with captions discussing transgender healthcare, as they were fundraising for one of them to undergo top surgery.
Both posts, one from 2021 and another from 2022, were taken down after users reported it and Meta’s own automated system flagged it. The posts were restored after an appeal, but the oversight board stated that their initial removal highlights faults in the company’s policies.
“Removing these posts is not in line with Meta’s Community Standards, values or human rights responsibilities,” the board said in its decision,
According to the board, Meta’s sexual solicitation policy is too broad and creates confusion for social media users. The board also said the policy is “based on a binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies.
“Such an approach makes it unclear how the rules apply to intersex, non-binary and transgender people, and requires reviewers to make rapid and subjective assessments of sex and gender, which is not practical when moderating content at scale,” the decision continued.
Free the Nipple Movement
The board stated that the rules get especially confusing regarding female nipples, “particularly as they apply to transgender and non-binary people.”
While there are exceptions to Meta’s rules, including posts in medical or health contexts, the board said that these exceptions are “often convoluted and poorly defined.”
“The lack of clarity inherent in this policy creates uncertainty for users and reviewers, and makes it unworkable in practice,” the decision said.
The board’s recommended that Meta change how it manages nudity on its platforms. The group also requested that Meta provide more details regarding what content specifically violates its Sexual Solicitation Community Standard.
For over a decade, Meta’s nudity policies have been condemned by many activists and users for strictly censoring female bodies. The Free the Nipple movement was created to combat rules that prevent users from sharing images of a bare female chest, but still allow men to freely post topless photos of themselves.
Big names including Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Florence Pugh have advocated for Free the Nipple.
Meta now has 60 days to respond to the board’s recommendations. In a statement to the New York Post, a spokesperson for the company said Meta is “constantly evaluating our policies to help make our platforms safer for everyone.”
See What Others Are Saying: (Mashable) (The New York Post) (Oversight Committee Decision)
Amazon Labor Union Receives Official Union Certification
The company already plans to appeal the decision.
Amazon Labor Union’s Victory
The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday certified the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) Staten Island election from April, despite Amazon’s objections.
After Staten Island staffers won the vote to unionize by 500 votes in the spring of 2022, Amazon quickly filed a slew of objections, claiming that the ALU had improperly influenced the election. Amazon pushed for the results to be overturned.
Now, the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed Amazon’s allegations and certified the election. This certification gives legitimacy to the ALU and puts Amazon in a position to be penalized should they decide not to bargain with the union in good faith.
“We’re demanding that Amazon now, after certification, meet and bargain with us,” ALU attorney Seth Goldstein said to Motherboard regarding the certification. “We’re demanding bargaining, and if we need to, we’re going to move to get a court order enforcing our bargaining rights. It’s outrageous that they’ve been violating federal labor while they continue to do so.”
Negotiate or Appeal
Amazon has until Jan. 25 to begin bargaining with the ALU, or the online retailer can appeal the decision by the same deadline. The company has already announced its plan to appeal.
“As we’ve said since the beginning, we don’t believe this election process was fair, legitimate, or representative of the majority of what our team wants,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel, said in a statement.
This win comes after two recent defeats in ALU’s unionization efforts. The union lost an election at a facility in Albany and another in Staten Island.
ALU’s director Chris Smalls told Yahoo! Finance that he is unconcerned about these losses.
“For us, whatever campaign is ready to go, the Amazon Labor Union is going to throw their support behind it, no matter what…We know that it’s going to take collective action for Amazon to come to the table,” he told the outlet. “So, for us, it’s never unsuccessful. These are growing pains, and we’re going to fight and continue to grow.”