- On Wednesday, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus offered to resign following his department’s handling of the in-custody death of 27-year-old Carlos Ingram Lopez in April.
- The three officers involved that case resigned last Thursday.
- The details of that death were not made public for two months, with them only coming to light after a Tucson City Councilmember raised concerns.
- Now, Mayor Regina Romero is proposing a series of reforms, including immediate public notification of in-custody deaths, a community safety pilot division featuring mental health professionals, and an overhaul of the community police advisory board.
Latino Man Dies in Police Custody
Carlos Ingram Lopez died in Tucson police custody on two months ago, however, details of his death weren’t made public until this week, prompting outrage from the community.
In fact, details only came to light after Tucson Councilmember Lane Santa Cruz refused to participate in a city council meeting on Tuesday without addressing Lopez’s death.
“I will not participate in the Mayor & Council meeting today because of the tragedy and death of one of our community members at the hands of Tucson police officers,” she wrote on Facebook. “I do not take my responsibilities as a council member lightly, and I cannot, in good conscience, sit by and conduct business as usual without addressing this tragedy.”
What followed was a number of responses, including outrage from Mayor Regina Romero for reportedly not being informed of Lopez’s death earlier. The fallout even led to Police Chief Chris Magnus offering to resign.
The incident started when Lopez’s grandmother called the cops to her home around 1:00 a.m. on April 21, claiming that Lopez was drunk, naked, and running around the house. When police arrived, they found Lopez in a distressed state and chased him into a garage.
According to Tucson PD, the three officers who responded to the scene were Jonathan Jackson, Samuel Routledge, and Ryan Starbuck. They reportedly wrestled Lopez to the ground, handcuffed him, and held him face down for 12 minutes.
Now-public footage shows Lopez crying out for his grandmother, pleading for water, and saying he couldn’t breathe. Reportedly, police also placed a mesh spit hood over his head.
Ultimately, Lopez became unresponsive after those 12 minutes, Magnus said. Police then gave him the overdose reversal drug Narcan, believing he had overdosed. According to Magnus, they performed CPR on Lopez, but a short time later, he was pronounced dead on the scene.
An autopsy released Wednesday revealed that Lopez had died from a combination of sudden cardiac arrest involving cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.
On June 18, Jackson, Routledge, and Starbuck resigned.
Why It Took Two Months to Learn Details
After Santa Cruz demanded Lopez’s death be addressed, Romero reportedly watched bodycam footage of the encounter and canceled the city council meeting that same day.
The next day, at a press conference, Romero and the Tucson Police Department publicly released that body cam footage.
“As mayor and as a mother, I am troubled and outraged by what happened,” she said.
“In the video we see a person who is clearly distressed, asking for water, asking for help, asking for his nana,” she added. “Now, we must center the conversation on police accountability and transparency.”
“These officers would have been terminated had they not resigned. I absolutely would have supported that decision.”
At the news conference, Magnus echoed that statement and said all three of the officers involved violated multiple department policies during the arrest.
“All employees have the right to resign at any time,” he said. “However, the files of these officers reflect that the department would have terminated them had they not resigned.”
Still, Magnus refused to discuss what those violations were or provide additional detail, promising to address them in a forthcoming report.
Despite that, Magnus said none of the three officers involved had met established mental health training standards for interacting with individuals he described as having an “excited delirium.”
Currently, the county attorney’s office is reviewing findings from an internal investigation, but it’s yet to make a determination about any possible charges. Magnus said he has also reached out to the FBI and asked them to conduct an independent investigation.
As to why it took two months for the Tucson Police Department to release the details of Lopez’s death, Magnus said he believes it was an error resulting from an unfortunate overlap in timing with coronavirus safety measures.
“This notification should have taken place, but I am confident that there was no purposeful or calculated effort to withhold this information,” he said. “I’ll remind you that this incident took place at the start of the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I believe the notification process to the public could have been missed, at least in part, due to some of the chaos that was going on during that period.”
“But nonetheless, public notification should have happened, and we have put steps in place to assure that going forward any in custody is immediately brought to the public’s attention,” he added.
Police Chief Offers to Resign, Mayor Proposes Reforms
At that news conference, Magnus also offered to resign, though it is unclear if Romero or the city council will accept his resignation.
“To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager, which they can accept or handle as they view appropriate,” he said.
If Magnus does resign, he’ll follow a string of police chiefs who’ve now lost their jobs. In Atlanta, Police Chief Erika Shields resigned following the death of Rayshard Brooks. In Kentucky, Steve Conrad was fired as police chief after officers with the Louisville Metro PoliceDepartment killed a restaurant owner in a shootout that didn’t involve him. In Richmond, William Smith was forced to resign as police chief after being asked by Mayor Levar Stoney.
In the wake of delays around Lopez’s death, Romero has proposed a series of reforms for the city. Among other things, police would be required to immediately inform the mayor, city council, and community of any in-custody death.
Romero also now plans to create a new community safety pilot division, which would integrate mental health professionals and drug-dependency specialists as support services.
Additionally, she plans to expand the role of the city’s community police advisory review board to handle internal investigations—not just external public complaints.
See what others are saying: (AZ Central) (The New York Times) (KGUN)
China Imposes Retaliatory Sanctions on US Officials Over Xinjiang Criticisms
- The U.S. imposed sanctions on Chinese officials last week over the treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
- The decision was the latest escalation during a time of heightened tensions between the two nations over policies in Hong Kong, the trade war, and questions about sovereignty in the South China Sea, among other matters.
- In response, China announced retaliatory sanctions against U.S. officials, including Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
- However, what exactly the Chinese sanctions will do is currently unclear as officials haven’t given specifics yet.
Sanctions and Counter Sanctions
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were sanctioned by China on Monday over their involvement in criticizing the nation’s actions in Xinjiang. Two other American officials faced sanctions as well for interfering in “China’s internal affairs,” as characterized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The Chinese sanctions were in retaliation over earlier sanctions the U.S. placed on Chinese officials last Thursday. The U.S. was able to do this following the passage of the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act last month. That law allows the U.S. to place sanctions, in line with the Global Magnitsky Act, on officials who are involved in the ongoing repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
When the law was passed in mid-June, China warned that if the U.S. actually imposed any sanctions they would do the same in retaliation. after Thursday’s announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated, “We urge the US to immediately rescind its wrong decision and stop making any remarks or moves that interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s interests. The Chinese side will firmly fight back if the US obstinately pursues such agenda.”
Despite China’s threat, the U.S. imposed sanctions on certain Chinese officials and organizations involved in Xinjiang on July 9. The sanctions include freezing the assets these officials hold in the U.S., as well as restricting the ability of the officials and their immediate family members’ to enter the U.S.
In a statement on July 9, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote, “The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith.”
Out of the four named individuals in the sanctions, one stands out: Chen Quanguo. Chen is the Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang and part of the Politburo and the highest-ranking Chinese official to ever be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. He first received infamy for his actions while doing the same job in Tibet from 2011-2016.
The Treasury Department named three other individuals who would have their assets frozen for helping Chen set up the surveillance and detention families in Xinjiang.
Additionally, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB) was also sanctioned by the Treasury Department, and the State Department added that officials who worked with the XPSB were also liable to have themselves and their families denied entry into the U.S.
When speaking about the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, “The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world.”
However, these sanctions will likely end up being largely symbolic because these officials don’t travel to the U.S. in the first place. It’s also believed that their assets aren’t based in America but in China.
Even as a symbolic act, it still made China upset. On Monday, the country imposed its own sanctions against the four U.S. officials in retaliation, including the aforementioned Senators Cruz and Rubio.
Cruz was likely placed on this list for his work as part of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Two other officials part of that committee were also named, including Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Sam Brownback, a lawyer who also serves as the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.,
Rubio was likely named over his co-sponsorship of the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act. Interestingly though, China avoided issuing sanctions on the other co-sponsor, Sen. Robert Menedez (D-NJ).
As far as what these sanctions will actually do, that’s a little unclear. So far, China hasn’t given any specifics as to what the penalties would be.
These recent sanctions are just the next step in ongoing tit-for-tats between the two countries. There’s an ongoing trade war, tensions over how Hong Kong is being treated by the mainland Chinese, issues over the sovereignty of the South China Sea, and major problems with how the Chinese are treating ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The problems in Xinjiang are so bad, that there are pundits and experts calling it a cultural genocide.
Even outside of the US, China has increasingly been pressured to change course over Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Al Jazeera) (NPR)
San Francisco Lawmaker Proposes CAREN Act to Make False, Racist 911 Calls Illegal
- San Francisco City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced an ordinance this week called the CAREN Act, which would make false, racially discriminatory 911 calls illegal.
- The acronym stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. It is named after “Karens,” a nickname for white women who throw unwarranted fits in public.
- These fits often appear racially motivated and have led to “Karens” calling the police on people of color.
- California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has also introduced a similar piece of legislation that would outlaw these calls throughout the state.
Why the “CAREN” Act?
A lawmaker in San Francisco has introduced an ordinance that would outlaw making false, racially discriminatory 911 calls, dubbed the CAREN Act.
City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the ordinance. In a tweet announcing the act on Tuesday, he called racist 911 calls “unacceptable.”
The CAREN Act stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, but its name bears much more weight. A “Karen” is an Internet nickname for white women whose privilege and entitlement leads to loud complaints, threats of legal action, calling supervisors, and often, calling the police. The unjustified outrage of Karens has been documented in countless viral incidents, and in many cases, they show a clear prejudice against people of color.
One video that went viral in May has been pointed to as a prime example of this. In that clip, Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York, called the police on a Black man named Christian Cooper. Both were in Central park at the time when the man asked her to put her dog on a leash, as she was required to do in that area.
However, that confrontation escalated when she desperately told a 911 operator that she was being threatened when she was not. Many felt her instinct to weaponize her white privilege and make a false claim could have had serious consequences considering the fact that Black Americans are more likely to face police brutality and die in police custody. She has since been charged with filing a false report after much public outrage.
While videos of this nature have often gone viral, this incident came at a cultural tipping point. Not long after it made its way across the Internet, another story received national attention: a video of George Floyd being killed by police officers in Minneapolis. This sparked a movement of people confronting systemic racism and police brutality, and since then, more “Karen” videos have spread online in an effort to hold people accountable for their racist behavior.
What the Ordinance Does
While filing a false police report is already illegal, Walton is pushing for more to be done to stop people from calling the authorities on people of color for no real reason. The CAREN Act would make it illegal to fabricate a report based on racial and other kinds of discrimination.
“Within the last month and a half in the Bay Area, an individual called the police on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood and a couple called the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his own residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights,” he said in a statement.
This is not the only proposal of its kind. California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has introduced a similar ordinance. His proposed legislation, AB 1150, would make state that “discriminatory 911 calls qualify as a hate crime, and further establish civil liability for the person who discriminatorily called 911.”
“AB 1550, when amended, will impose serious consequences on those who make 911 calls that are motivated by hate and bigotry; actions that inherently cause harm and pain to others,” Bonta said in a statement. “This bill is incredibly important to upholding our values and ensuring the safety of all Californians.”
Catholic Church Granted at Least $1.4 Billion in PPP Loans
- An analysis from the Associated Press found that the Catholic Church received at least between $1.4 and $3.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid.
- The report identified 3,500 loans the Church received from the Paycheck Protection Program, but leaders have previously stated that as many as 9,000 bodies of the Church received funding.
- However, government data only shared who received loans over $150,000. Smaller churches that received under that amount were not on the list, meaning the Catholic Church could have collected even more than records show.
- Usually, religious groups would not be eligible for funding from the Small Business Administration, but the Church allegedly spent a good chunk of money lobbying so that there would be an exception for the PPP.
Catholic Church Receives Billions in PPP Funds
While houses of worship and religious organizations are usually ineligible for federal aid from the Small Business Administration, an exception was made for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to keep American businesses afloat as the pandemic shut the country down.
The AP found records of 3,500 forgivable loans for Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, and other ministries. That number, however, is likely higher.
The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference has claimed that 9,000 Catholic bodies received loans. Government data only shared loans over $150,000, so smaller churches who got less were not on the list, meaning the Church may have pocketed even more than $3.5 billion.
“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor told the AP. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”
According to the AP, the Archdiocese of New York received $28 million just for executive offices. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City received $1 million. Diocesan officials in Orange County, California received four loans worth $3 million. The AP’s analysis suggests that the Catholic Church and its entities were able to retain 407,900 jobs with this loan money.
“These loans are an essential lifeline to help faith-based organizations to stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi told the AP.
How Did the Church Get Aid?
Like many businesses throughout the country, churches had to shut their doors as large gatherings became unsafe as the coronavirus’ spread continued. Masses were canceled or moved online and celebrations for the Easter holidays were dropped, causing the Church to to fall behind financially.
While its global net worth is not known, the Catholic Church is considered the wealthiest religious organization in the world. It is also one of the most powerful groups of any kind, with an estimated 1.2 billion followers all over the planet. According to the AP, its deep pockets and far-reaching influence helped it receive federal aid.
The Catholic Church lobbied heavily to make sure religious groups were allowed to receive money from the PPP, the AP says. Their report found that the Los Angeles archdiocese spent $20,000 lobbying Congress to include “eligibility for non-profits” in the CARES Act, the legislation that formed the PPP. Records also show that Catholic Charities USA spent another $30,000 in CARES Act lobbying.
With its wealth and power, the Catholic Church is also plagued with controversy and scandal. For years, there have been reports that the Church has covered up for priests and other leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse. Many entities of the church have had to shell out large sums of money in legal fees and settlements.
The AP found that around 40 of the dioceses that have paid out “hundreds of millions of dollars” to related compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings received loans. These loans totaled at least $200 million.