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Protests Erupt After Wisconsin Police Repeatedly Shoot Black Man in Back

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  • A now-viral video that began circulating Sunday shows the moment when Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot in the back by police as his neighbors and children watched.
  • It is unclear what started the incident. Police say they responded to a “domestic incident,” but nearly half a dozen eyewitnesses say Blake was trying to break up a fight between two women and police allegedly tried to taser him before they shot him.
  • Blake is alive and in critical condition, according to his family.
  • Protests broke out Sunday night and continued Monday, with demonstrators and police clashing violently.
  • Some people set fires and launched projectiles at police who responded by firing tear gas. Many also vandalized cars, businesses, and government buildings.

Jacob Blake Shot in Video

Protests have broken out in the town of Kenosha, Wisconsin after a highly graphic video went viral Sunday showing a Black man being critically injured when he was shot in the back multiple times by police.

In the 20-second video, which appears to be taken from across the street, at least four officers can be seen standing on a sidewalk next to an SUV with passersby just feet away. A man, who has since been identified as 29-year-old Jacob Blake, is seen walking around the front of the car, and at least two officers follow him with their guns drawn while numerous people yell.

When Blake opens the driver-side door of the car, one of the officers grabs the back of his shirt before firing multiple rounds into his back. Witnesses scream as they watch what is unfolding before them. In total, seven shots can be heard in the video, but it is unclear how many officers fired.

It is also unclear what caused the incident and prompted such a forceful response. In a press release issued Sunday evening, the Kenosha Police Department said that the officers were dispatched just after 5 p.m. “for a domestic incident and were involved in an officer-involved shooting.”  

According to the police department, the officers on the scene provided immediate aid, and Blake was taken to a local hospital where he remained “in serious condition.”

Blake’s family has since said he is in stable condition. On Tuesday, his father told the Chicago-Sun Times that he is paralyzed from the waist down, and doctors do not yet know if the injury is permanent.

Unclear Provocation

The police have not provided any more information or responded to media requests for comment regarding how the incident started or what happened leading up to Blake being shot.

However, according to Kenosha News, at least a half dozen witnesses said that Blake had tried to break up a fight between two women outside a house on the street. Witnesses added that police had “attempted to use a taser” on Blake “prior to the shooting.”

After that, they heard gunshots ring out. Some witnesses also told Kenosha News that Blake was unarmed, but the outlet reported that it is unclear whether he had a weapon.

Notably, one man named Raysean White, who claims to be the one who filmed the video, also told reporters that he first noticed a disturbance when he heard a group of women arguing across the street from his apartment.

After that, White said he saw Blake pull up in his car and tell his son, who was outside, to get in the car because he was going to go inside. White stepped away from his window, but when he looked out again minutes later he said he saw that police were “wrestling” with Blake. He started recording after they tased him.

White said he heard police yelling at Blake to “drop the knife” but added, “I didn’t see any weapons in his hands. He wasn’t being violent.”

In a statement Monday, attorney Benjamin Crump announced that he had been retained by Blake’s family. Crump has represented the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others.

His statement appeared to back up some of the witness accounts.

“Blake was helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew their weapons and tasered him,” Crump said in his statement. “As he was walking away to check on his children, police fired their weapons several times into his back at point blank range. Blake’s three sons were only a few feet away and witnessed police shoot their father.”

“Their irresponsible, reckless, and inhumane actions nearly cost the life of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident,” he continued. “It’s a miracle he’s still alive.”

However, on Monday, Madison 365 reported that it had obtained audio from the call first dispatching police to the scene. In that recording, the caller said Blake was not supposed to be at her house and that he had taken her keys and refused to give them back.

About a minute into the call, the dispatcher said that Blake was leaving and that the person who had called in the complaint had hung up. Roughly five minutes after the initial call, police said shots had been fired.

Protests Breakout

Almost immediately after the incident, a crowd started to gather at the place where Blake was shot.

Videos uploaded to social media showed protestors yelling at the police. Fires were set in the streets, and some police cars were damaged.

According to local reporters, city vehicles were set on fire along, as was a used car dealership, and local businesses were vandalized and looted.

Several reports and social media posts also claimed that some individuals threw bricks, Molotov cocktails, and other projectiles at police. One video claimed to show a police officer being knocked unconscious after being struck in the head with a brick.

After a while, the demonstrators started marching, with hundreds reportedly congregating and chanting outside the Kenosha County Public Safety Building around 10 p.m.

Around the same time, the city declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew until 7 a.m. the next day. A public safety alert also suggested that 24-hour businesses close “due to numerous arm robberies and shots fired calls.”

Protesters at the Public Safety Building were met with police in riot gear armed with rubber bullets. The officers reportedly tried to push them back and eventually fired tear gas to disperse them.

Some people targeted garbage trucks that had been used to block traffic, breaking their windows and setting them on fire. Around midnight, many moved to a courthouse where some reportedly set a fire and used spray paint while others could be seen breaking into a nearby government building, shattering the glass doors and windows.

According to reports, police demanded that the protesters disperse. They then deployed tear gas again before forming a riot line and moving people out of the area.

The protests continued Monday, and Gov. Tony Evers announced that the National Guard had arrived in the city to help local authorities deal with the unrest. He did not say how long they would stay for. Kenosha County also set another curfew starting at 8 p.m. Monday and ending at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Reportedly, the demonstrations started peacefully Monday evening with a crowd of several hundred gathering outside the courthouse. However, as the curfew neared, riot police showed up, and the protesters became more and more agitated and began throwing water bottles at police, setting off firecrackers, and starting fires.

Police responded by firing projectiles and then deploying tear gas after they did not disperse. The crowd eventually moved from the courthouse, and as the march split off, some people reportedly began smashing streetlights, ripping down street signs, breaking car windows at a dealership, and set fires to buildings.

Others also looted stores, with some outlets reporting that the looting continued into Tuesday morning.

Response

While protests continued on the ground, many people took to social media to condemn the incident and the police involved.

“This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable,” Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden said in a statement. “Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us.”

Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter and the chief executive of the King Center, also expressed her outrage on Twitter.

“We shouldn’t have to see one more video of a Black human being brutalized and/or gunned down by police in a clear case of excessive or unwarranted force,” she wrote. “Anybody who doesn’t believe we are beyond a state of emergency is choosing to lack empathy and awareness.”

Many local leaders in Wisconsin condemned the actions of the police and called for change. In a statement on Twitter, Evers said that he and his wife “stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country.”

“And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites,” he added. 

“I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”

However, on the other side, a number of people accused those who spoke out against the shooting of jumping to conclusions without full information, including Pete Deates, the president of the Kenosha Police Association, who specifically took aim Evers’ remarks in a statement of his own.

“Governor Evers’ statement was wholly irresponsible and not reflective of the hardworking members of the law enforcement community, not to mention the citizens of the City of Kenosha,” he said.

“As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident. We ask that you withhold from passing judgement until all the facts are known and released.”

On Monday morning, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced in a statement that it would be investigating the incident and that the officers involved had been placed on administrative leave.

The department’s investigative unit will continue to review the evidence and turn a report into the prosecutor within 30 days, the statement said. From there, the prosecutor will decide whether or not to press charges against the officers.

Blake’s Past Record

Also on Monday, social media users began circulating an Associated Press report which stated that online court records “indicate Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake on July 6 with sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. An arrest warrant was issued the following day. The records contain no further details and do not list an attorney for Blake.”

While the outlet did say its still unclear “whether that case had anything to do with the shooting,” according to the audio accessed by Madison365, the dispatcher did tell the officers that a warrant was out for Blake’s arrest relating to those charges.

Others also started pointing to an article published in 2015 by the Racine County Eye regarding a criminal complaint involving a man named Jacob Blake, who was 24 at the time.

While the name and age match up, there has been no verification that the man mentioned in the article is the same Jacob Blake, and according to reports, those charges did not show up on the circuit court website.

According to the Racine County Eye, the Jacob Blake identified in the complaint was charged with “one felony count of resisting arrest causing a soft tissue injury to a police officer and one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct.”

The complaint alleges that Blake pulled a gun on another man at bar, was asked to leave, and then “pointed the gun through the window at patrons inside the bar” before walking away.

Police tracked the suspect down and “conducted a high risk traffic stop” where they ordered him to “put his hands out the window of the vehicle.”

However, according to the report, “Blake exited the SUV and started walking toward officers and ignored commands to get down on the ground. Officers forced Blake to the ground and ordered him to put his hands behind his back. When Blake refused to comply, K9 Dozer was deployed to force the defendant into compliance.”

A number of notable conservative figures brought up this alleged incident as well as the warrant issued last month to undermine the protests in response to Blake’s shooting.

Right-wing journalist Andy Ngo mentioned both the record and the unconfirmed incident in a tweet that was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.

Far-right commentator Steven Crowder made similar remarks in tweets and on an episode of his podcast Louder With Crowder aired Monday.

“Jacob Blake is a violent felon with a history of assaulting police officers and a CURRENT warrant for his arrest for both domestic abuse and sexual assault,” he tweeted. “He was shot while refusing to comply and potentially endangering officers lives. Remember #TheTruth”

Earlier in the day, Crowder also claimed in a tweet that, “The Jacob Blake shooting was completely justified.”

Others, including Lakers star LeBron James, have emphasized that what happened leading up to Blake’s shooting is unknown, especially because the officers were not wearing body cameras, and that his actions did not pose an immediate threat or justify excessive force from police.

“If you’re sitting here telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman, or to detain him, before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here and you’re lying not only to me, you’re lying to every African American, every Black person in the community,” James told reporters Monday.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) (The Wall Street Journal)

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North Carolina County May Be Without Power for Days After Substation Attacks

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Tens of thousands have been left without power as temperatures drop.


Power Outage Prompts State of Emergency

Two power substations in Moore County, North Carolina were attacked on Saturday and sustained heavy damage from gunfire. The damage has left about 40,000 people without power as the temperatures fall. 

Response to the crisis has been swift. A state of emergency was declared Sunday afternoon, an emergency shelter powered by a generator has been opened, and local schools have canceled classes for Monday. 

Local authorities have partnered with state and federal agencies in an effort to find those responsible for the attack. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation as well as the FBI have joined the investigation

The Sheriff of Moore county, Ronnie Fields, said the attack was “targeted” while speaking at a news conference Sunday night.

It wasn’t random,” he told reporters. “The person, or persons, who did this knew exactly what they were doing.”

A representative from Duke Energy, the owner of the substations, informed the public that the damages are significant and will require complete replacement of key parts. Unfortunately, the company will not be able to reroute power as they have during storms. The representative said that, because of this, people in Moore County may be without power until Thursday. 

Investigation Into Perpetrators

As of now, authorities don’t know who is responsible. Sheriff Fields told the press that no group has taken credit for the attack. The investigation is ongoing.

“An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said in a tweet Sunday night.

On social media, many have speculated that the attack was an effort to stop a local drag show from being performed. The show had reportedly garnered a significant number of protesters and a police presence. The power cut out Saturday evening shortly after the show had started. 

Sheriff Fields reported Sunday night that, so far, no connection has been found between the attack and the drag show. 

See what others are saying: (AP News) (CNN) (Axios)

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Adderall Shortage Sparks Fears of Opioid-Like Crisis

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Experts specifically have expressed concerns that the lack of legal Adderall will force people to turn to black markets as they did when the supply of opioids was cut off.


Ongoing Shortage

Public health experts watching the ongoing Adderall shortage in the U.S. have raised concerns about the possibility that it could cause a major health crisis.

In mid-October, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that there was a nationwide shortage of immediate-release Adderall. The agency specifically noted that Teva Pharmaceuticals, which is the biggest manufacturer of the drug, was “experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays.”

Since then, the FDA has also reported that there are other manufacturers experiencing similar problems as well. In statements to the media, Teva has explained that the supply disruptions were triggered by a combination of a since-resolved labor shortage on its packing line this summer, as well as increased demand for the drug.

Adderall prescriptions have skyrocketed over the last two decades. From 2006 to 2016, the prescription of stimulants more than doubled in the U.S., and those numbers have grown since the pandemic. According to figures from the data analytics firm IQVIA, from 2019 to 2021, Adderall prescriptions alone rose by about 16%, surging from 35.5 million to 41.2 million.

Experts say the big spike over the last few years has been driven by the fact that more people are seeking these drugs to help cope with stress and distraction. Telehealth regulations that were relaxed during the pandemic also made it much easier for people to get diagnosed and prescribed in shorter periods of time.

A growing number of new start-ups have been taking advantage of lax rules, flooding social media — and specifically TikTok — with advertisements telling people to get ADHD meds if they feel distracted or tired. Many professionals say these apps pose issues because they are designed for such quick diagnosis so it can be hard to tell if ADHD is actually the problem people who present those symptoms are dealing with.

The resulting effect has been renewed speculation that stimulants are being overprescribed — a factor some believe could also be driving this shortage.

Additionally, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, so it is highly regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning there are caps on how much each company can produce so they can’t just ramp up production to make up for the backlog. It is also difficult for pharmacies to just pivot and start carrying new brands because of the regulations on this drug.

Potential Crisis

Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University and faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab, worries all these elements could create the perfect storm for a full-blown crisis.

In an interview with Rogue Rocket, he outlined two overarching concerns.

 “One is that you have lots of people who had access, sort of regular access to medication that they may not now have access to, and there are individual-level risks that sort of cascade from that,” he said. “Insomnia, depression, in some instances, you could even see suicidal ideation. So all of these are kind of, you know, health risks that result from rapid tapering or discontinuation, discontinuation of taking Adderall.”

“What is an even bigger concern or, an equally important concern, is that lots of people without access to the pharmaceutical supply will turn to the illicit market and counterfeit Adderall is readily available on the illicit market and other forms of unfettered means. Specifically, methamphetamine is available, widely available on the illicit market 24/7. You know, there’s no shortage in that market,” he continued.

Beletsky explained that there are a number of harms that can come as a result of people turning to the black market — and there is first-hand evidence of this from the opioid crisis. As he noted, opioids were also widely criticized as being overprescribed, and so when access was cut for prescription opioids, people turned to illegal markets and there was a massive spike in the use of heroin, counterfeit opioids, and fentanyl contamination.

“The public health, sort of population-level concern is that we might see similar patterns here where lots of folks are being pushed into the market and they’re, you know, it’s the Wild West. Counterfeit Adderall oftentimes does have methamphetamine,” he stated. Counterfeit Adderall can also be cross-contaminated with other dangerous drugs like fentanyl.

“Methamphetamine is even cheaper than counterfeit Adderall pills, and so the concern is that folks might start smoking meth and even injecting meth, which is, you know, increasingly common,” Beletsky continued. “It would be a huge public health disaster if thousands or even millions of people started taking methamphetamine in or trying to replace this pharmaceutical supply.”

Prevention Options

Beletsky pointed out a number of tools the FDA has at its disposal to address the possible crisis and clear up the shortage, including encouraging other competitors to create new sources of production, as well as encouraging the importation of Adderall from abroad.

However, while the agency would have the power to fast-track these actions to skirt regulatory hurdles, so far, they have not taken any of these steps. In response to questions as to whether the FDA will intervene and speed up the process, a spokesperson told Rogue Rocket  that the agency “evaluates all its tools and determines how best to address each shortage situation based on its cause and the public health risk associated with the shortage.”

When asked when the FDA thinks the shortage will be resolved, the spokesperson said it is “expecting the supply issues to resolve in the next 30-60 days.”

But Beletsky said he does not buy that timeline.

“I’m afraid that they may be over overly optimistic given the scale of the problem,” he told Rogue Rocket. “My guess is it’s going to take months to resolve. And I hope that, you know, most folks are able to kind of make do and not start kind of purchasing alternatives from the illicit market.” 

The professor emphasized that the current shortage is a symptom of broader problems with America’s overall system for drug regulation that goes beyond the FDA and centers on the powers granted to the DEA. 

Unlike the FDA, the DEA is a law enforcement agency, and Beletsky notes it has a long history of focusing on controlling the supply of these kinds of drugs rather than ensuring there is adequate access for the people who need them.

As a result, the DEA has very little control over both the legal and illegal markets for controlled substances. Because of this, people lack proper access to the prescriptions they need while the massive, unregulated black market is thriving.

Beletsky argued it is imperative that we use this latest shortage as yet another wake-up call to highlight the need for rethinking how drug access is structured in America.

“I think that it’s really important to highlight the failures of the DEA in this context, because the DEA, much more than the FDA, is responsible for finding that balance between access and control,” he said. “I think that we really need to reevaluate the role of the DEA in our drug regulatory system. And the FDA, on the other hand, probably could use additional authority.” 

“When it comes to essential medicines, we really need much more authority for governmental regulation to step in and sort of help to stabilize access to these particular medications, as well as many others.” 

How to Seek Help

Beletsky noted that there are several steps people who need Adderall can take until the shortage clears up.

“I think it’s important to note that there are other alternatives in the pharmaceutical supply that are not in shortage,” he explained. “And so talk to your provider about what additional tools may be available, you know, other stimulants that you can […] try to kind of bridge the gap.” 

“I think it’s also important to note that if you do turn to, you know, folks are turning to buying Adderall or other alternatives on the illicit market, it’s really important to test that supply, especially for fentanyl.”

For more information on obtaining test strips and other harm reduction tools, Beletsky recommended visiting Next Distro or finding your local harm reduction agency, which can be done on the National Harm Reduction Coalition website.

For those suffering the impact of the Adderall shortage, The Washington Post has a guide with helpful tips and ideas from professionals.

See what others are saying: (WIRED) (The New York Times) (Axios)

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Senate Approves Respect for Marriage Act, Clearing Path for Finalization

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The bill was passed 61-36 with bipartisan support from 12 Republicans and is expected to be approved by the House next week.


Respect for Marriage Act

The Senate passed a landmark bill Tuesday that will codify the right to same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law.

The legislation, called the Respect for Marriage Act, was passed in a bipartisan vote of 61-36 with 12 Republicans bucking pressure from many of their colleagues and powerful conservative groups.

The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. While it will not require all states to allow for same-sex marriage, it does mandate that they recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages performed legally in states that do allow them.

Furthermore, the proposal contains a provision that Republican supporters insisted on, which clarifies that religious nonprofit organizations do not have to provide goods or services for same-sex marriages and that the federal government is not authorized to recognize polygamous marriages, among other measures.

Lawmakers introduced the bill after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, stirring concerns that the high court could come after other basic rights. In his decision to overturn Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas said he believes the court should reconsider Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case that established gay marriage.

Many Republicans initially opposed the Respect for Marriage Act, claiming it was not necessary because Obergefell was still in place, and accused Democrats of trying to pull off a political stunt ahead of the midterms.

The accusations prompted the bipartisan group of Senators driving the push to postpone a vote on the matter until after the elections. 

“I feel like we were told in pretty clear terms that we would have some people support only if the vote came after the midterms,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wi.), who led the effort, told Rogue Rocket after the decision in October.

An earlier version of the bill passed the House this summer, though the changes to the language of the policy require the lower chamber to vote on it again.

That passage is all but assured as Democrats still hold the House and the last version was approved with a broad bipartisan majority that included 47 Republicans. President Joe Biden, for his part, applauded the Senate vote and said he looks forward to signing the bill.

Shift in Opinion

Other proponents of the bill also cheered its passage in the Senate, which just two decades ago would have been unimaginable, and not just because of Republican opposition.

Democrats, too, have only more recently shifted to support same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights more broadly. President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed DOMA into law, and President Barack Obama first voiced his support for same-sex marriage while running for his second term in 2012. 

The transformation in public opinion has happened relatively fast, especially when compared to other civil rights movements. When Clinton signed DOMA in 1996, gay marriage had the support of just 27% of the public. Now, polling shows seven in ten Americans support legal recognition.

Still, the Republican party appears to lag behind the times, with 70% of senate Republicans having opposed the Respect for Marriage Act. 

“This is a great example of politicians following public opinion rather than leading it,” Sasha Issenberg, author of “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage,” told Axios

“Now it’s Republicans who are torn between placating some of their loudest activists and taking a position that aligns with where general-election voters are.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Axios)

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