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NBC Removes “VOTE” Sign From Demi Lovato’s Billboard Performance

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  • After getting backlash over her new anti-Trump song “Commander in Chief,” Demi Lovato clapped back at people for trying to silence her, saying she did not care if it ruined her career. 
  • She performed the song at the Billboard Awards Wednesday in front of a sign that said “VOTE,” but NBC edited out the sign from the version it aired.
  • According to TMZ, which obtained the footage, sources said that because the song was a criticism of Trump, having “VOTE” in the background would signal for people to vote against him.
  • Many called it censorship, noting that NBC did this the same day it agreed to host Trump’s town hall at the exact same time Biden’s town hall was set to air on ABC.
  • That decision caused #NBCBlackout to trend on Twitter, with many calling for boycotts of the network, some denouncing the move, and others asking it to air the town hall at a different time.

Billboard Awards Performance

NBC faced renewed boycott calls Wednesday night after editing out a “VOTE” display during singer Demi Lovato’s performance of her new anti-Trump song at the Billboard Musc Awards.

The discrepancy was first reported by TMZ, which obtained and released the original footage. In it, the message played on the video board behind the singer while she delivered the final few verses of her ballad “Commander and Chief.”

In the version that aired on NBC, which hosted the event, the network zoomed in so only Lovato sitting at the piano could be seen in the frame.

The song, which Lovato dropped earlier in the day, takes aim at Donald Trump with lyrics like, “Commander in Chief, honestly/ If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep/ Seriously, do you even know the truth?/ We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying/While you line your pockets deep/ Commander in Chief/ How does it feel to still be able to breathe?”

Ahead of the release, Lovato posted a picture of the song’s cover art on Instagram, and encouraged people to vote.

While plenty of people responded to the post by praising her and thanking her for using her platform to denounce the president, many of the top comments came from people criticizing the singer. 

“Someone doesn’t know how the gov works,” one user wrote. “This is why you don’t listen to celebs on who to vote for… they don’t even have high school educations.” 

Lovato addressed the backlash on her Instagram story by sharing a screenshot of her response to someone who commented on the post.

“You do understand as a celebrity, I have a right to political views as well? Or did you forget that we aren’t just around to entertain people for our entire lives.. that we are citizens of the same country and we are humans with opinions as well?” she wrote.

“I literally don’t care if this ruins my career,” she continued. “This isn’t about that. My career isn’t about that. I made a piece of art that stands for something I believe in. And I’m putting it out even at the risk of losing fans. I’ll take integrity in my work over sales any day.”

Source: Demi Lovato

NBC Backlash & #NBCBlackout

NBC has not said why it chose to remove the “VOTE” sign from its broadcast of Lovato’s performance, but sources told TMZ that the network, “pulled the plug on the ‘VOTE’ message because the song itself was a slam on Trump and the ‘VOTE’ message was a call to vote against him.”

Following the news, many users took to social media to slam the move, arguing that NBC’s decision amounted to censorship.

Others also condemned the network for seeming to censor Lovato on the same day it agreed to host Trump’s town hall at the exact same time former Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to hold his own on ABC.

Both candidates are set to hold competing events Thursday night to replace what was originally supposed to be the second presidential debate, which was canceled last week after the president refused to take part in the virtual debate requested by the Commission on Presidential Debates following his positive coronavirus diagnosis.

The Commission, for its part, said it would not have an in-person debate because Trump and his team were not being transparent about the president’s health. Instead, Biden’s team organized the ABC town hall in Philadelphia to answer voter questions that will air at 8 p.m. ET.

Shortly after, Trump’s team entered into talks with NBC about hosting a similar event in Miami, and on Wednesday, the network officially announced the plans.

The decision brought significant backlash, and prompted #NBCBlackout to trend top on Twitter Thursday morning, with many users calling for a boycott of NBC and its affiliates.

Others also accused the network of rewarding Trump for refusing to debate his opponent safely by essentially giving him a platform for another rally while detracting views from Biden’s town hall.

Letter to NBC Executives

In a letter to Comcast and NBCUniversal executives, over 100 top celebrities, producers, and showrunners echoed that sentiment and criticized the decision to broadcast Trump’s town hall at the same time as Biden’s.

“This is not a partisan issue,” the letter stated. “This is about the political health of our democracy.”

“President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission,” it continued. “By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.”

The letter, which was signed by prominent actors like Josh Gad, John Hamm, Aubrey Plaza, and Kumail Nanjiani among others, concluded by requesting that the town hall be broadcast at a different time. 

NBC has yet to respond to the demands, and as of Thursday afternoon, the network appeared to be going ahead with Trump’s town hall as scheduled.

See what others are saying: (Yahoo) (The Hollywood Reporter) (TMZ)

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Bodycam Footage Shows Adam Toledo Wasn’t Holding Gun When an Officer Shot Him

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  • Chicago officials released body camera footage Thursday which showed that 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police last month, had put his hands up in the air right before the officer opened fire.
  • The graphic video showed the officer, who has now been identified as Eric Stillman, yelling at Adam to stop as he chases him through an alley.
  • The teenager obeyed and stopped by a fence, where he can be seen holding what appears to be a gun behind his back. Stillman ordered him to drop it, and then shot him a split second after Adam raised his empty hands in the air.
  • The footage prompted renewed outrage, protests, and calls for an investigation. A lawyer for the Toledo family called the killing “an assassination,” while Stillman’s lawyer defended the officer, and claimed he acted appropriately.

Officer Bodycam Footage Made Public

Body camera footage released by Chicago officials Thursday showed that Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy killed by police last month, had his hands up when he was fatally shot.

The footage, which was released as part of a report by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), showed officers chasing Adam, who was Latino, through an alley in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village during the early hours of March 29.

The officer ordered Adam to stop. The teenager complied and halted by the side of a fence, holding what looks like a gun in one of his hands behind his back. The policeman yelled at him to drop it and show his hands.

Adam turned and lifted his empty hands, and the officer fired his weapon, striking the teenager once in the chest. The policeman is then seen administering CPR and asking him, “You alright? Where you shot?” while blood poured out of his mouth.

The COPA report published Thursday also identified the officer who shot Adam as 34-year-old Eric Stillman, who is white, and whose lawyer said he had been put on administrative duties for 30 days.

Stillman’s lawyer also argued that the shooting was justified, as did John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“He was 100% right,” Catanzara said. “The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second.”

Renewed Backlash and Protests

Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney obtained by Adam’s family, said they are looking into taking legal action against Stillman. 

“If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his arms in the air, it’s an assassination,” she said at a news conference Thursday. 

Ortiz acknowledged the bodycam footage did appear to show Adam holding something that “could be a gun,” but argued the video must be independently analyzed to confirm.

“It’s not relevant because he tossed the gun,” she said. “If he had a gun, he tossed it.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois also echoed Ortiz’s demands on Thursday, calling for a “complete and transparent” investigation.

“The video released today shows that police shot Adam Toledo even though his hands were raised in the air,” said Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.

“The people of Chicago deserve answers about the events surrounding this tragic interaction. The anger and frustration expressed by many in viewing the video is understandable and cannot be ignored.”

Hours before the video was released, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleaded for calm in the city, where anti-police protests have taken place in the weeks following the shooting.

“We must proceed with deep empathy and calm and importantly, peace,” she said. “No family should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments, much less be placed in the terrible situation of losing their child in the first place.”

Some businesses in downtown Chicago boarded prepared for violence ahead of the video’s publication by boarding up their windows. City vehicles stood by to block traffic.

However, the demonstrations that took place Thursday were small, peaceful, and spread out over several parts of the city. Organizers said they plan to hold more protests Friday.

See what others are saying: (The Chicago Sun-Times) (The New York Times) (The Chicago Tribune)

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Eight Dead in Indianapolis Shooting

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  • Eight people were killed and several more were injured after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx Ground Facility in Indianapolis late Thursday.
  • The gunman took his life after opening fire. Authorities have not identified his motive yet. 
  • According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2021, there have been 147 U.S. mass shootings, defined as verified incidents with four or more gunshot victims.
  • President Joe Biden released a statement calling gun violence “an epidemic in America,” adding, “We should not accept it. We must act.”

Eight Killed in Shooting

Eight people were killed and several others have been wounded after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx Ground Facility in Indianapolis late Thursday.

The gunman killed four people in the parking lot then four people inside before taking his own life, according to local officials. Authorities have identified the gunman and are searching his home, but have not disclosed any potential motives.

“There was no confrontation with anyone that was there,” Deputy Chief Craig McCartt of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said during a press conference. “There was no disturbance, there was no argument. He just appeared to randomly start shooting.”

Several witnesses told local outlets they initially thought the gunshots were engines backfiring or another type of mechanical noise until they saw the gunman. Some said they heard him shouting indistinctly before opening fire. The investigation is still in very early stages and victims have not yet been identified. 

The facility employs 4,500 team members. It is unclear how many were working at the time of the shooting. FedEx released a statement expressing its condolences to the victims and their families. 

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis,” the statement read. “Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”

Gun Violence in the U.S.

This tragedy follows a recent string of mass shootings in the U.S., including in Atlanta, Colorado, Southern California, and Texas. According to the Associated Press, this is at least the third in Indianapolis this year. 

The Gun Violence Archive has logged a total of 147 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2021. The organization defines mass shootings as reported and verified incidents with at least four gunshot victims.

Several politicians have released statements about the shooting, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who said this pattern “must end.”

“Yet again we have families in our country that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence,” she said. “There is no question that this violence must end, and we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones.”

President Joe Biden also released a statement saying that, “Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation.”

“Gun violence is an epidemic in America,” Biden added. “But we should not accept it. We must act.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett echoed those remarks in a news conference. 

“The scourge of gun violence that has killed far too many in our community and in our country,” he said.

“Our prayers are with the families of those whose lives were cut short,” he added on Twitter. 

Hogsett is among 150 U.S. mayors who recently signed a letter asking the Senate to take up gun legislation, including expanding background checks.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video

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  • Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
  • Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
  • Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
  • If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Viral Video

A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.

Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood. 

The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.

“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”

The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.

The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk. 

It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”

“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”

Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home

After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”

In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.

As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”

Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”

Pentland Charged

Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.

“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”

On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC News) (Huffpost)

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