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At Least 15 Women Accuse Redskins Staff of Sexual Harassment

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  • At least 15 women have accused Washington Redskins staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse during their time working for the team. Others accused top employees of creating a hostile work environment.
  • The allegations include derogatory remarks about physical appearances, unwanted flirtation and touching, and other actions that belittled female staff members.
  • While team owner Dan Snyder was not named in accusations of sexual harassment, he was pointed to as fostering a toxic workplace culture.
  • The team has hired an attorney to conduct a thorough review of the matter. Snyder has condemned the reported conduct, and the National Football League says they will meet with the team’s attorneys after the review is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings.

Allegations of Sexual Harassment

At least 15 women have accused Washington Redskins staffers of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, according to a Thursday report from The Washington Post

All the women are former employees of the professional football team. Fourteen of the 15 who spoke chose to remain anonymous as they had signed nondisclosure agreements with the team. When The Post asked if they could be released from those agreements to speak on the record for their story, the Redskins declined. The Post spoke with 40 current and former employees and reviewed text messages and internal company documents in their investigation.

The report details derogatory remarks, unwanted flirtation, verbal abuse, as well as a culture that cultivated and encouraged toxic behavior and the belittlement of women. Emily Applegate, one of the women who came forward, said female employees were encouraged to wear tight-fitting clothes “so the men in the room have something to look at.” 

“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” Applegate said. She worked for the team throughout most of 2014 and 2015 and claimed that she and other female staffers frequently cried on the job from the distress the harassment caused. 

The allegations stem from 2006 to 2019. Team owner Dan Snyder was not specifically named when it came to sexual harassment, though he was pointed to when it came to the team’s hostile workplace. Other higher ups on the team were named, and three are no longer with the Redskins. 

Who Was Involved?

Larry Michael, senior vice president of content and the team’s radio announcer, retired on Wednesday. Seven former employees accused him of talking about the appearances of female staffers in sexual ways. According to the accounts of these former workers, he suggested one female staffer was sleeping with other employees, said one staffer had a “tight ass,” and would often talk about how attractive he found his female colleagues to be. 

Alex Santos and Richard Mann II were the club’s director and assistant director of pro personnel. They were both fired last week. The Post alleges that Santos would make remarks about female employees’ bodies and asked if they were romantically interested in them. He was also accused of flirting with female employees in front of other staff members, and in one case, allegedly pinched a woman’s butt in front of multiple people.

The Post received texts where Mann told a female employee that there was an ongoing debate among men working for the team about whether or not she had plastic surgery to enhance her breasts. He told her to not “be mad” and that it was a compliment. In another text exchange, he told a female employee that he was going to give her an inappropriate hug. 

“And don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else,” Mann wrote. 

The three men declined to speak to The Post for their story. The report also claims Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, sexually harassed women and encouraged them to wear revealing clothing. He left the team in 2018 after it was discovered he had sold access to the team’s cheerleaders. 

Mitch Gershman, the team’s former chief operating officer, was also accused of berating female workers. He left the team in 2015. Applegate specifically accused him of harassment, but Gershman said he does not even remember who she is. 

“I thought the Redskins was a great place to work,” he told The Post. “I would apologize to anyone who thought that I was verbally abusive.”

A Toxic Workplace at the Redskins

According to The Post, the team has one human resource staffer for 220 employees. That staffer also had administrative responsibilities. 

One former female employee told The Post that “there’s no HR” and no “reporting process.”

As for the allegations of a toxic culture, Snyder allegedly berated top executives, including Greene. Snyder allegedly forced Greene, who was a cheerleader in college, to do cartwheels after one meeting. 

“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment…and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne told The Post. In 2003, she was briefly the team’s vice president of communications. Before this, she was an assistant press secretary in the Clinton administration. 

Payne said she did not experience any sexual harassment herself, but noted that given the company’s culture, it’s no wonder the women who did may have been reluctant to report to HR.

The Team’s Response

“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” the team told The Post. “While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”

This is the second time this month the Redskins have made headlines for addressing controversy. Last week, the team announced that they will be changing their name and logo, which has repeatedly come under fire for being racist. No new mascot or name has been revealed yet. 

For the allegations they are currently facing, the team has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”

“We’re trying to create a new culture here,” the team’s new coach Ron Rivera told The Post. “We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going as opposed to where we’ve been.”

Snyder initially refused to comment to The Post for their Thursday story. On Friday, he issued a statement saying that the reported conduct “has no place in our franchise or society.”

“This story has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach Rivera earlier this year,” he added.

This came shortly after the National Football League released a statement condemning the behavior outlined in The Post’s report. 

“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment,” the league said. The NFL plans on meeting with attorneys after the team’s review of the matter is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings. 

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (USA Today) (CNN)

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Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates

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  • Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 
  • A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
  • That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.

Racist Snapchat Group

Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 

A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”

That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”

Screenshot of group chat message via KXAS

At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.

According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”

That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.

Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.

“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.

District Responds

After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.

The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”

The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

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What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause

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  • The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
  • The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time. 
  • The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
  • Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. 

CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.

The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.

Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”

That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe. 

What Happens From Here?

Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”

Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.

When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”

In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. 

What If I Had A J&J Appointment?

Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day. 

If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.

For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.

Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (NBC News) (The Washington Post)

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Minnesota Protests Continue for a Second Night Over Police Killing of Daunte Wright

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  • Protests continued in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Monday over the death of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer who allegedly thought she was using her Taser.
  • Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators violating the 7 p.m. curfew, as well as others who threw projectiles back at the officers. Several incidents of looting were reported, though law enforcement officials said they were minimal.
  • That same evening, police officials identified the officer involved in Wright’s death as Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, prompting many experts to flag numerous reasons an officer with her experience should have known not to confuse her weapon with a stun gun.
  • Wright tendered her resignation on Tuesday, as did Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.

Second Night of Demonstrations 

Demonstrators clashed with police for the second night in a row Monday after an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Much like protests the day before, the events reportedly started out peaceful, with hundreds attending a vigil on the street where Wright was killed. Hundreds more gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

The situation started to escalate after 7 p.m. when the curfew instituted across all four Twin City metro-area countries went into effect. According to reports, police began to warn people that they were in violation of the curfew, and shortly before 8 p.m., officers began firing rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades. 

Some protesters reportedly retaliated by throwing water bottles, fireworks, and other projectiles. Later, police in riot gear pushed groups of demonstrators who had regrouped away from the police station.

Looters also broke into several businesses at a strip mall close by, including a Dollar Tree, where flames were reportedly later spotted, though law enforcement officials described the looting as limited.

During a press briefing just after midnight, officials said that 40 people had been arrested at the Brooklyn Center protest.

Officer Identified

Late Monday, state officials identified the officer who fatally shot Wright as Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force. BCPD Chief Tim Gannon had previously said that the officer, who he refused to name, had intended to use her Taser, but accidentally used her gun.

Many social media users and experts questioned how someone with 26 years of experience could mix up a Taser and a gun, including one retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, who told The New York Times, “If you train enough, you should be able to tell.” 

The Times also noted that it is not common for officers to mix up their Tasers and guns, that most police forces — including BCPD — use a variety of protocols to prevent this from happening

Tasers are usually designed with specific features to distinguish them from guns, such as bright color-coating and different styles of grips. According to The Times, the BCPD manual cites three different pistol models as standard-issue, all three of which “weigh significantly more than a typical Taser.”

Those pistols also have a trigger safety that can be felt when touching them, while the Tasers do not. The outlet additionally noted that BCPD protocol requires officers to wear guns on their dominant sides and Tasers on the opposite to prevent exactly this kind of confusion.

Beyond that, Potter’s actions may have violated department policy even if she had used her Taser because the manual says it should not be used on people “whose position or activity may result in collateral injury,” including those “operating vehicles.” 

It also says that officers should make “reasonable efforts” to avoid using the stun gun on people in the “head, neck, chest and groin,” but Wright was shot in the chest. 

On Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that Potter and Chief Gannon have resigned from the force. The resignations come after Brooklyn Center leaders dismissed the city manager, a decision that could potentially give Mayor Mike Elliot the ability to fire the chief or officers in the department.

The resignations also come amid reports that Potter had been involved in another police-involved shooting in 2019, where she had been “admonished by investigators for allegedly attempting to conceal evidence after a police shooting that left a 21-year-old autistic man dead,” according to The Daily Beast.

Misinformation Spreads

As more information comes out surrounding the traffic stop that led to Wright’s death, several pieces of misinformation have also continued to spread on social media.

Most of the false information centers around the warrant for Wrights’ arrest that prompted police to attempt to detain him.

According to reports, court records show that a judge issued the warrant earlier this month after he missed a court appearance for two misdemeanor charges he was facing from last June for carrying a pistol without a permit and running from officers. 

Notably, Wright does have a number of past charges filed against him, including two for attempted sale of Marijuana and aggravated robbery. Despite claims by many social media users, those charges were for separate incidents, and the warrant was specifically for failing to appear in court for the June charge.

There has also been a viral video circulating Twitter and TikTok claiming court records show that the hearing notification was sent to the wrong address, seemingly in reference to a piece of mail that had failed to be delivered in his court records.

The mail, however, was actually for a different case and is not connected to the notification for the hearing he missed. While that video is incorrect and county officials maintain that they did send him notification, Wright’s public defender, Arthur Martinez, told reporters his client had never received the notice and that the court had not informed him either.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Minneapolis Star Tribune) (The Daily Beast)

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