- President Trump has faced widespread criticism for sending federal agents to Portland to crackdown on ongoing protests against racial injustice.
- On Monday, Trump said he wanted to send agents to a number of cities, “All run by liberal Democrats,” including Chicago and New York.
- Administration officials have said deployments to Chicago are already in the works, though they are to deal with gun violence.
- Illinois officials initially rejected the plan, but yesterday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supported help from the feds as long as it was a partnership between them and local officials, unlike in Portland.
Portland as a Test Case
As violence clashes between protestors and federal law enforcement agents continue to shake Portland, President Donald Trump is threatening to send feds to more U.S. cities, despite widespread objections from numerous mayors.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals to Portland in order to respond to the protests against racial injustice that have been ongoing for over 50 days since the death of George Floyd.
The move reinvigorated the protests, which had largely died down before the arrival of the federal agents. As a result, state and local leaders in Oregon have accused the federal agents of escalating the violence and demanded that they be removed.
Numerous leaders across the country have also condemned the move and questioned its legality. Some have called the deployment of the federal officers to Portland a political stunt for Trump’s own political gain as he falters in the polls heading into the November election.
However, Trump and his administration have remained steadfast in their decision, and according to a DHS official who spoke to Bloomberg on Tuesday, even more agents have been deployed to Portland as the clashes have grown.
Other critics and experts have also expressed concerns that what is happening in Portland is just a test case, and that Trump is simply trying out these tactics there before moving on to other cities.
“My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists,” Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon told USA Today. “With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’
Trump Threatens to Send Feds to More Cities
Regardless of the political incentives, the idea that Portland is just a trial-run seems to become more and more realistic.
On Monday, reports began circulating that DHS was making plans to deploy about 150 federal agents in Chicago this week. Later that day, Trump himself told reporters he was considering expanding the deployments.
“I’m going to do something,” he said. “Because New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these, and Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”
On Tuesday, an administration official told Bloomberg that a formal announcement on more deployments is expected to be made at some point this week. Meanwhile, preparations are already being made to send officers to Chicago.
However, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the plan, rather than being sent to crack down on protests, the feds are being deployed to Chicago to focus on gun violence which has surged in the city over the last year.
While no official public announcement has been made by the Trump administration, state and local leaders in Illinois have still pushed back against the alleged plan, with many top officials also seeming to indicate that this is already something in the works.
During a press conference Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker slammed the move.
“This is a wrong-headed move on the part of Donald Trump, on the part of Homeland Security,” he said. “I have put a call into the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. He has refused to call us back.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to prevent them from coming, and if they do come, we’re going to do everything we can from a legal perspective to get them out,” he added.
Those remarks also appeared to echo similar ones made by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot the day before.
“Our democracy is at stake, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let anybody – even if their name is Mr. President – bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take on our residents,” she told reporters. “That’s not going to happen in Chicago. And I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to stop them.”
Also on Monday, Lightfoot, along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the mayors of several other cities, wrote a letter to the administration rejecting the deployment of federal forces in their cities, and demanding they be withdrawn.
“We write to express our deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials,” the mayors wrote. “The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism.”
“Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes,” the letter continued. “The President and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder.
But in a press conference Tuesday, Lightfoot also said that she welcomed a federal partnership to crack down on gun violence, though she reiterated that the federal deployment cannot mirror that of Portland’s.
“What I understand at this point, and I caveat that, is that the Trump administration is not going to foolishly deploy unnamed agents to the streets of Chicago,” she said. “We have information that allows us to say, at least at this point, that we don’t see a Portland-style deployment coming to Chicago.”
“Unlike what happened in Portland, what we will receive is resources that are going to plug in to the existing federal agencies that we work with on a regular basis to help manage and suppress violent crime,” she added. “I’ve been very clear that we welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship.”
DHS Officials Speak Out
However, it is not just mayors that have voiced their opposition to the deployments. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed News reported that interviews they conducted of 17 DHS employees who requested anonymity “reveal that many at the agency disagree with the show of force.”
“This administration’s utterly transparent fearmongering of sending federal officers out against peaceful protesters in Portland and Chicago has no purpose other than to support Trump’s reelection bid,” one employee said.
“It is blatantly unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the agency and the career civil servants who work here.”
Others also told the outlet that the move harms the public’s perceptions of the DHS, thus hampering its effectiveness, with one employee saying the deployments “absolutely hurts the reputation of the agency. Most people have no clue what we do, but now they will have this ham-fisted response in their mind as they think about CBP.”
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (USA Today) (The Wall Street Journal)
SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Police in Two Qualified Immunity Cases
The move further solidifies the contentious legal doctrine that protects officers who commit alleged constitutional violations.
SCOTUS Hears Qualified Immunity Cases
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police in two separate cases involving qualified immunity, the controversial legal doctrine that shields officers accused of violating constitutional rights from lawsuits.
The topic has become a major flashpoint in debates over police reform and curbing police violence since the protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the summer of 2020.
On one side, supporters of qualified immunity claim it is necessary to ensure that police can do their jobs without worrying about frivolous lawsuits.
However, opponents argue that judicial interpretations of the doctrine over time have given police incredibly broad legal immunity for misconduct and use of excessive force. Under a previous Supreme Court ruling, in order for officers to be held liable, plaintiffs have to show that they violated rights “clearly established” by a previous ruling.
In other words, officers cannot be held liable unless there is another case that involves almost identical circumstances.
As a result, many argue the doctrine creates a Catch-22: Officers are shielded from liability because there is no past precedent, but the reason there is no past precedent is because officers are shielded from liability in the first place.
An Ongoing Debate
Critics argue that the two cases the Supreme Court saw Monday illustrate that double bind, as both involved accusations of excessive force commonly levied against police.
In one case, officers used non-lethal bean bag rounds against a suspect and knelt on his back to subdue him. In the other, police shot and killed a suspect after he threatened them with a hammer.
The justices overturned both lower-court rulings without ordering full briefing and argument because of the lack of precedent. The court issued the decisions in unsigned orders with no dissent, signaling they did not even see the cases as close calls.
Advocates for qualified immunity claim the decisions signal that the current Supreme Court is not open to changing qualified immunity, and the most likely path for opponents of the doctrine is legislation.
While Democrats in Congress have made numerous efforts to limit qualified immunity, including most recently in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed by the House earlier this year, all those attempts have been blocked by Republicans.
At the state level, dozens of bills have been killed after heavy lobbying from police unions. As a result, it remains unclear what path proponents for reform have at this juncture.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.