Tear gas must never again be used on crowds of people like LMPD did in 2020 protests

By |2023-02-07T07:25:18-05:00February 7th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

It’s been two and a half years since the height of the 2020 protests. For over 100 days in 2020, thousands of protestors took to the streets to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman murdered in her own home by the Louisville Metro Police Department—and countless others who have suffered at the hands of LMPD. Instead of seeing us as a community seeking accountability, LMPD treated us like a threat. They tear gassed us, exploded flash bangs in our faces and fired pepper balls into our chests, our heads. Night after night, officers surrounded us, assaulted us, and placed us in handcuffs. All to keep hiding the truth about Breonna Taylor: that LMPD killed her while executing a warrant based on a lie.Mayor Fischer talked a lot about supporting the protestors, but when it came time for action, he was nowhere to be found. He knew we were getting tear gassed and shot at by LMPD officers in the streets.More:Louisville police under Shields: How the department is different & what is still the sameMore:Breonna Taylor shooting: A 2-year timeline shows how her death has changed usWe experienced LMPD's chemical weapons a few times during the protests at Jefferson Square Park, also known as Injustice Square, in response to Breonna Taylor’s murder. The Louisville Metro Police were dressed in riot gear and had sticks. They marched toward us, unprovoked and well before curfew or even dusk. One of them pushed Rep. Attica Scott down as we were standing there. As she went to get medical care, they started to fire chemical weapons directly at us.We saw people hit in the face and upper body. Our fellow peaceful protesters fell to the ground, and as pepper balls hit us they burst to create more chemicals. We choked and our eyes watered. It was terrifying. It was like a war zone.Our story is far from unique. In fact, a group of people sued the City of Louisville over LMPD’s use of tear gas in July 2020. The mayor even apologized for doing it. But then when it came time to do something about it, he refused. LMPD still has the same tear gas supplies that they used that summer. And despite a few changes to its Standard Operating Procedures, LMPD still has far too much freedom to use tear gas on whole crowds of people.Editorial:Hiring a new police chief must be a transparent process and include the communityIt’s not that Louisville needs these kinds of weapons to prevent violence at protests. Thousands of people protested during the Occupy movement in 2010. Countless people protested against ICE. The Women’s March drew many of us out into the streets. But those people were never tear-gassed. They were never beaten with batons, or shot with pepper balls.A disregard for Louisville’s Black and brown residentsWe all know why that is, even if it’s uncomfortable to say: Black people, and allies of Black people, are always treated as more of a risk. This type of targeted violence shows a disregard for Louisville’s Black and brown residents, and a culture of animosity toward the communities LMPD has pledged to serve.Louisville is increasingly out of step with other cities. Although numerous other jurisdictions – including Indianapolis, Indiana, St. Louis, Missouri, Charlotte, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio – banned tear gas or other so-called “crowd-control” weapons following their use during the 2020 protests, Louisville continues to resist change.  And that’s even after Louisville has been sued multiple times—including in a class action lawsuit—for violating our constitutional rights by assaulting demonstrators with tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls.For Subscribers:Louisville mayor, Metro Council held secret calls on pandemic, Breonna Taylor protestsMayor Greenberg's promisesLouisville can be different. Mayor Craig Greenberg has promised that his administration shares our frustrations with some of LMPD’s operations and lack of transparency. And he’s acknowledged that we need to immediately address these long-standing problems, building trust with the community that LMPD serves and making sure that our voices are heard.We have demanded, time and again, that the Louisville Metro Government respect our right to take to the streets in protest and that LMPD must be banned from using chemical munitions and military tactics against those they have pledged to protect.  Mayor Greenberg, you say you want to improve our trust in LMPD and in your administration. Now is the time. You cannot say you value us but allow your police department to tear gas us for demanding justice. You cannot say you want us to trust the LMPD but allow them to shoot us, blind us, or terrorize us for no reason.Mayor Greenberg, your administration stands at a precipice: you can make the right choice for the sake of public safety and accountability, and begin to fulfil your promise to address Louisvillians’ concerns about the indiscriminate and unchecked violence of LMPD.  Chemical munitions can be banned from use on community members, as they should always have been.Or you can continue your predecessor’s shameful legacy and cement the fact that the City of Louisville refuses to hold LMPD accountable and refuses to account for the violence it inflicted on residents in 2020 and beyond.One way or another, we will know where you stand.Khalilah Collins is an adjunct professor with Jefferson Community & Technical College and the University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work. She is committed to developing students who will become active citizens that understand the value of community engagement.Shameka Parrish-Wright is a long-time community organizer, successful project and campaign manager and social justice activist. She is formerly homeless, formerly incarcerated, and was the child of an incarcerated person.

Ex-Louisville officer gets probation for using excessive force during Breonna Taylor protest

By |2023-02-07T07:25:20-05:00February 6th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Related News and Opinion February 6, 2023 February 6, 2023 February 6, 2023 February 3, 2023 February 2, 2023 IL file photo A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer who pleaded guilty last fall to a misdemeanor charge of using excessive force in 2020 has been sentenced to two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. Katie R. Crews, 29, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was sentenced last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Crews’ sentence was less than the maximum penalty she could have received, but more than her attorneys and prosecutors had asked for. The maximum penalty associated with the charge is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, but attorneys for both sides had asked the judge for one year of probation. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Beaton said he “reluctantly” agreed to a sentence that did not include prison time for Crews, calling the case “extremely difficult,” according to a report from Louisville news station WDRB. Crews had been indicted in March 2022 on a felony charge of using excessive force — a charge that carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. According to her October 2022 plea agreement, Crews had been working as a Louisville Metro Police Department officer on June 1, 2020, when she, along with other Louisville officers and National Guard members, were sent to break up a crowd at a gas station. Crews then approached a nearby barbecue restaurant and began firing nonlethal pepper balls, the agreement says. Crews intentionally fired a pepper ball at someone who was standing in the doorway of the restaurant, hitting that person in the shoulder, the agreement says. That person, identified in the plea agreement as M.M., was not behaving aggressively and did not pose a threat to Crews or to others, the agreement says. Per Louisville Metro Police policy, officers should only shoot pepper balls at a person if that person is actively aggressive, the agreement says. According to an Associated Press report on Crews’ October 2022 plea hearing, after M.M. was shot with the pepper ball, her uncle David McAtee — the barbecue restaurant’s owner — took out a gun and fired out the restaurant’s door. Crews, who is white, and other officers then switched to live ammunition and McAtee, who was Black, was fatally shot in the chest by a National Guard officer. The episode happened on a night when protesters were gathering in Louisville’s streets to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT who was killed by police executing a drug search warrant at her home. As part of her plea agreement, Crews no longer works as a Louisville Metro Police officer and has forfeited her Kentucky law enforcement certification. Crews also agreed not to work in any law enforcement job, including as a civilian or military police officer, sheriff’s deputy, jailer or correctional officer. “This former Louisville police officer abused her authority as a law enforcement officer and violated the victim’s civil rights,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a news release issued Jan. 30. “This sentence makes clear that law enforcement officials are not above the law.” Clarke works for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Louisville officers and two National Guard officers were later cleared in a criminal probe into McAtee’s death. That probe found that the officers were justified in their use of deadly force because McAtee had fired at them first, the Associated Press story said. Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Op/Ed When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – Law Enforcement Today

By |2023-02-06T04:26:48-05:00February 5th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The following article has been written by Mike Simonelli. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer. Before the four videos capturing the deadly beat down of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five former Memphis police officers (POs) were released to the public, Memphis Police Chief, Cerelyn Davis warned they were “about the same if not worse’’ than the video showing four white Los Angeles POs beat Rodney King on a California street back in 1991. Nichols family attorney, Mr. Benjamin Crump concurred, stating “It is going to remind many people of Rodney King.” CNN political commentator Van Jones spoke about how the Rodney King incident inspired him to be an activist attorney. Seal of the Memphis Tn. Police Department Despite the fact that all five of the officers involved in not only beating but killing Nichols are black, the usual suspects are intent on using his death as yet another excuse to label policing as systemically and institutionally racist. For those people, the saying that “If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail” is apropos. They see everything involving the police and blacks as racist. Op/Ed: Police Are Not Brutal Racists In their tainted view, none of it ever has to do with a violent criminal making the officer fear for their life as Michael Brown did to Ferguson PO Darren Wilson, an otherwise good officer making an honest mistake during a split second life or death scenario as Brooklyn Center PO Kim Potter had with Daunte Wright, or on a very rare occasion such as this one – rogue officers betraying the badge. Echoing then President Obama’s inflammatory comments regarding the 2016 justified deadly shooting of Alton Sterling, President Biden said of Nichols death, “We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people.” Feguson Missouri Police Patch The president’s attempt to portray five black officers brutally beating a black man to death as an example of racism exposes the myth that has been repeatedly pushed in the war on police. Oddly though, this hyper focus on racism only applies one way, as evidenced in the 2017 deadly police shooting of Justine Damond. The sole talk of racism in that case was concerns that Minneapolis PO Mohamed Noor wouldn’t receive a fair trial because he was black. More recently there have been no allegations of racism when an unarmed white Daniel Vallee was shot by two black Louisiana deputies, nor when unarmed 12-year-old Thomas Siderio was shot in the back by a Latino Philadelphia PO. With zero evidence race was involved in Nichols death nor the other incidents politicized to paint the police as racist merely because the subject killed was black – such allegations should be considered lies and the incidents reexamined. But instead of focusing on them through a racial lens as was originally done, they should be viewed through the perspective of a trained officer. He resisted arrest, grabbed at an officer’s duty belt, then (unsuccessfully) sued hoping for a $1M payout Starting with the atrocity at hand, any officer examining all four videos undoubtedly keyed in on the fact that what those five thugs did to Tyre Nichols is not taught in any police academy or training manual. From the way they first approached Nichols’ vehicle to their field goal kicks to his head as he was held down and the haymakers to his face as he was being held up – those were not the actions of trained police professionals. Officers are taught: to immediately gain control over the subjects’ hands; use the minimum amount of force necessary to effect the arrest; to escalate up the use of force continuum according to the perceived threat; deescalate the situation as soon as appropriate; and the golden rule – the fight is over once the handcuffs are on. Every one of those rules were broken as the officers appeared more intent on using Nichols as a punching bag then handcuffing him. copyright free stock photo By contrast, look at how officers followed their training in these incidents that were manipulated to incite dangerous anti-police rhetoric: Eric Garner – In 2014 when told by NYPD officers he was under arrest for selling loose cigarettes, Garner refused to comply. PO Pantaleo used a department authorized takedown to bring the larger 6’3” 350 pound man to the ground. As Garner continued to resist, PO Pantaleo used a compliance hold on him as a black supervisor looked on. Garner was not beaten, Tased, pepper-sprayed, nor hit with an asp. Tragically, with his multitude of health problems (heart disease, severe asthma, diabetes, and obesity) Garner suffered a heart attack afterward in the ambulance and died soon later. Alton Sterling – In 2016 two Baton Rouge POs confronted Alton Sterling after he threatened a passerby with a gun. Sterling refused to be arrested, fought off the officers’ attempts to handcuff him and was unaffected by the Taser. After the officers wrestled Sterling to the ground, only when Sterling physically tried to access the gun seen outlined in his pocket did PO Salamoni use deadly force. Louisville police move to fire two more officers in Breonna Taylor case – even though they’re not charged with a crime Breonna Taylor – In 2020 Louisville POs conducted a “knock and announce” warrant at her residence. They used no force until after being shot at by Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend. Sgt. Mattingly sustained a gunshot wound to his leg which he nearly bled to death from. Reasonably fearing for their lives, the officer’s returned fire in the direction of the gunfire. Sadly, Breonna Taylor was fatally hit. The officers in these incidents used the least amount of force possible and only escalated that force indirect response to the actions of the subjects they were dealing with during the lawful performance of their duties. Police critics have to go back to 1991 to find a suitable comparison to Nichols because since then there has been a massive improvement in policing directed at treating people of all races with courtesy, professionalism and respect. And the results speak for themselves – an average law abiding American of any color is substantially more likely to be struck by lightning than unjustifiably killed by a law enforcement officer. Tyre Nichols was one such person because he wasn’t dealing with officers, he was struck down by five perps with badges. About the author:Mike Simonelli is a retired US Army officer with 30 years of military service who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; an active police officer in New York for 23 years; the Suffolk County PBA Sgt-at-Arms and holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from American Military University.  His book on policing can be found at www.jdfinformation.com.

‘Bad Apples’ or Systemic Issues?

By |2023-02-05T06:24:01-05:00February 5th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

On Wednesday, the city of Memphis remembered the life of Tyre Nichols, a young man who was beaten by at least five Memphis police officers and died three days later. Stories like this are terrible, they’re relentless, and they renew one of the most contentious debates in the nation: Are there deep and systemic problems with the American police?How we answer that question isn’t based solely on personal experience or even available data. It often reflects a massive partisan divide, one that reveals how we understand our relationships with the institutions we prize the most — and the least.Every year Gallup releases a survey that measures public confidence in a variety of American institutions, including the police. In 2022, no institution (aside from the presidency) reflected a greater partisan trust gap than the police. A full 67 percent of Republicans expressed confidence in the police, versus only 28 percent of Democrats.Why is that gap so large? While I try to avoid simple explanations for complex social phenomena, there is one part of the answer that I believe receives insufficient attention: Our partisanship tends to affect our reasoning, influencing our assessments of institutions regardless of the specifics of any particular case.Here’s what I mean. The instant that a person or an institution becomes closely identified with one political “tribe,” members of that tribe become reflexively protective and are inclined to write off scandals as “isolated” or the work of “a few bad apples.”Conversely, the instant an institution is perceived as part of an opposing political tribe, the opposite instinct kicks in: We’re far more likely to see each individual scandal as evidence of systemic malice or corruption, further proof that the other side is just as bad as we already believed.Before I go further, let me put my own partisan cards on the table. I’m a conservative independent. I left the Republican Party in 2016, not because I abandoned my conservatism but rather because I applied it. A party helmed by Donald Trump no longer reflected either the character or the ideology of the conservatism I believed in, and when push came to shove, I was more conservative than I was Republican.But my declaration of independence wasn’t just about Trump. In 2007 I deployed, relatively late in life, to Iraq as a U.S. Army judge advocate general, or JAG. Ever since I returned from my deployment, I’ve been gradually shedding my partisanship.The savagery of the sectarian infighting I saw in Iraq shocked me. I witnessed where mutual hatred leads, and when I came home I saw that the seeds of political violence were being planted here at home — seeds that started to sprout in the riots of summer 2020 and in the Trump insurrection of 2021.As American polarization deepens, I’ve noticed unmistakable ways in which committed partisans mirror one another, especially at the far edges. There’s even a term for the phenomenon: horseshoe theory, the idea that as left and right grow more extreme they grow more alike. When it comes to the partisan reflex — the defense of “my people” and “my institutions” — extreme partisans behave very much like their polar opposites.And make no mistake, respect for police officers has long been vital to the very identity of conservative Americans. Men and women in uniform are ours. They’re part of our community, and — as the Blue Lives Matter flags in my suburban Nashville neighborhood demonstrate — we’ve got their backs. (Mostly, anyway. Lately, the Capitol Police and the F.B.I. do not feel that same support.)There are good reasons for respecting and admiring police officers. A functioning police force is an indispensable element of civil society. Crime can deprive citizens of property, hope and even life. It is necessary to protect people from predation, and a lack of policing creates its own forms of injustice.But our admiration has darker elements. It causes too many of us — again, particularly in my tribe — to reflexively question, for example, the testimony of our Black friends and neighbors who can tell very different stories about their encounters with police officers. Sometimes citizens don’t really care if other communities routinely experience no-knock raids and other manifestations of aggression as long as they consider their own communities to be safe.Shell casings are marked at the front door of the apartment of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot during a no-knock raid by police officers in Louisville, Ky., in 2020.Louisville Metro Police Department, via Associated PressAt this point you might be asking: When is the left reflexively defensive? What institutions does it guard as jealously as conservatives guard the police?Consider academia. Just as there is a massive partisan gap in views of the police, there is a similar gap in views of higher education. According to a 2022 New America Survey, 73 percent of Democrats believe universities have a “positive effect” on the country, while only 37 percent of Republicans have the same view.Yes, this is in part a consequence of anti-intellectual strains on the right and among right-wing media. And this conservative mistrust of higher education (and secondary education) is causing it to turn its back on free speech and instead resort to punitive legislation, such as Florida’s recently passed “Stop Woke Act,” which a federal court called “positively dystopian” and unconstitutionally “bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints.”But that’s not the whole story. The nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression — of which, full disclosure, I was once president — has tracked over 900 incidents since 2001 where scholars were targeted for termination or other penalties for speech that was protected by the First Amendment or by conventional principles of academic freedom. In 2021 alone there were 111 attempts to penalize professors for their speech, and almost 70 percent of those attacks came from the left.I spent years litigating campus free speech in court. It was frustrating to file successful case after successful case — often challenging policies that existed in campuses across the country — only to be told time and again that there was no systemic problem with free expression on campus, that these were merely isolated incidents or a product of youthful overenthusiasm, of kids being kids.No one should pretend for a moment that there is any kind of moral equivalence between university censorship and fatal police violence. The stakes on the streets are infinitely higher than the stakes in the classroom. But there is still a common problem: Our repeated assumptions that those on our team might make mistakes or overstep, but those on the other team are deliberately malevolent.I should know. I used to fit that partisan mold. As a conservative, I could clearly see the problems in American universities. After all, it was my tribe that disproportionately faced penalties and discipline. When it came to the police, however, I was skeptical. I knew there were some bad apples. But was there a systemic problem? I was doubtful.I have since changed my mind, but it took shedding my partisanship and applying my principles to allow me to see more clearly. Fundamental to my worldview is the belief that human beings possess incalculable worth, but that we are also deeply flawed. No person or institution can be completely trusted.Thus powerful people and powerful institutions must be held accountable. If you combine authority with impunity, then corruption and injustice will be the inevitable result. If I could see this reality clearly in institutions on the left, why couldn’t I see it on the right?The police, after all, possess immense power in American streets, often wielded at the point of a gun. Yet the law systematically shields them from accountability. Collective bargaining agreements and state statutes provide police officers with greater protections from discipline than almost any other class of civil servant — despite the fact that the consequences of misconduct can be unimaginably worse. A judge-made doctrine called qualified immunity provides powerful protections against liability, even when officers violate citizens’ civil rights. Systemic police corruption and systemic abuse should not have been a surprise.The Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin subdues George Floyd during an attempted arrest in 2020.Darnella Frazier/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesHow do we fight past our partisanship to become truly curious about the truth? For me, the answer started with the first principle of my conservatism: Human beings possess incalculable worth. If that is true, and my neighbors and fellow citizens are crying out about injustice, I should hear their voices and carefully consider their claims.My initial inability to see the truth is related to the second principle, that human beings are deeply flawed. I had no trouble applying that principle to my opponents. But it also applies to those I generally admire. It applies to police officers. It applies to me.The lesson I’ve taken has been clear: Any time my tribe or my allies are under fire, before I yield to the temptation of a reflexive defense, I should apply my principles and carefully consider the most uncomfortable of thoughts: My opponents might be right, my allies might be wrong and justice may require that I change my mind. And it may, in all likelihood, require that I do this again and again.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

LeBron James Keeps the World Watching

By |2023-02-04T12:32:12-05:00February 4th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

LeBron James sat in the visitors locker room at Madison Square Garden with ice on his 38-year-old knees and 28 more points to his name after his Los Angeles Lakers beat the Knicks in overtime. James’s teammate Anthony Davis teased him about how close he was to breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s N.B.A. career scoring record, then about 90 points away.Suddenly, James remembered something. His mother, Gloria James, was set to go on vacation soon. She might miss his record-breaking game.He called her on speakerphone, with a dozen attentive reporters close by. He asked when she was leaving, reminding her every once in a while, lest she disclose too much, that reporters could hear the conversation. Eventually, he looked around, sheepishly, and said he would call her later.“I love you,” he said. Then, just before he ended the call, he added: “I love you more.”It was typical James: He brings you along for the ride, but on his terms, revealing what he wants to reveal and no more. It is perhaps the only way someone who has been so famous for most of his life could survive the machine of modern celebrity.As he has closed in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points, the very idea of what it means to be a star has shifted since James scored his first two points on Oct. 29, 2003. And James has helped define that shift. He has risen above the din of social media celebrities and 24-hour news cycles, buoyed by the basketball fans who love him or love to hate him.James, at age 38, is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s N.B.A. career scoring record while playing with the energy of a much younger version of himself.Ashley Landis/Associated PressHe has been a selfie-snapping tour guide for this journey, with a portfolio that now extends well beyond the court. He has a production company and a show on HBO. He’s acted in a few movies and received some good reviews. His foundation has helped hundreds of students in his hometown Akron, Ohio, and a public school the foundation helps run there, the I Promise School, focuses on children who struggle academically. His opinions are covered as news, given far more weight than those of almost any other athlete.“Hopefully I made an impact enough so people appreciate what I did, and still appreciate what I did off the floor as well, even when I’m done,” James said in an interview. “But I don’t live for that. I live for my family, for my friends and my community that needs that voice.”Basketball Is the ‘Main Thing’In early 2002, James was a high school junior and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. News didn’t travel as quickly as it does now. Not everyone had cellphones, and the ones they had couldn’t livestream videos of whatever anyone did. Social media meant chat rooms on AOL or Yahoo. Facebook had yet to launch, and the deluge of social networking apps was years away.“Thank God I didn’t have social media; that’s all I can say,” James said in October when asked to reflect on his entry into the league.As a teenage star, he was spared the incessant gaze of social media and the bullying and harsh criticism that most likely would have come with it.But social media, in its many changing forms, has also helped people express their personalities and share their lives with others. It lets them define themselves — something particularly useful for public figures whose stories get told one way or another.James began thinking about that early in his career.His media and production firm, now called the SpringHill Company, made a documentary about James and his high school teammates titled “More Than a Game” in 2008. It also developed “The Shop,” an HBO show James sometimes appears on with celebrity guests, including former President Barack Obama and the rapper Travis Scott, talking like friends in a barbershop.James has built a portfolio of movies and television shows that have expanded his influence beyond basketball.Coley Brown for The New York TimesJames likes to say that he always keeps “the main thing the main thing” — meaning that no matter what else is happening in his life, he prioritizes basketball. He honors the thing that created his fame.He led his teams to the N.B.A. finals in eight consecutive years and won championships with three different franchises. He was chosen for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award four times, and he has dished the fourth-most assists in N.B.A. history.James’s talent meant it didn’t take long for him to become the face of the N.B.A. He has mostly embraced that, capitalizing on an era when sports fandom was no longer about sitting down to watch a game so much as it was about catching small bites of the most compelling moments.“People’s interest in athletes moves very quickly, especially with the N.B.A. season,” said Omar Raja, who in 2014 founded House of Highlights, an Instagram account for viral sports moments, because he wanted to share clips of the Miami Heat during James’s time playing there with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.“LeBron’s Instagram stories would do as well as his poster dunks, and you were like, ‘This is crazy,’” Raja said.House of Highlights reposted two videos from James’s Instagram stories in May 2019. One showed James and a former teammate dancing in a yard. Another showed James and friends, including Russell Westbrook, smoking cigars. Both videos outperformed anything that happened in the playoffs.‘I Wish I Could Do Normal Things’James has used his fame to further business opportunities and build his financial portfolio. He has used it to both shield his children and prepare them for growing up in his shadow.He has used it for social activism, most notably in speaking about Black civil rights and racism. That began in 2012, when he and his Heat teammates wore hooded sweatshirts and posted a group photo on social media after the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager who was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed in Florida. The Heat decided to transfer some of their spotlight to the national conversation about racism that emerged.James wearing Eric Garner’s words “I Can’t Breathe” at a pregame warm up in 2014. Garner, a Black man, died after the police in New York put him a chokehold.Michelle V. Agins/The New York TimesBlack N.B.A. players have a long history of speaking out or demonstrating against racism and discrimination: Abdul-Jabbar and the Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell were vocal about the racist dangers they faced in the 1960s and ’70s. But what made the actions of James and his teammates stand out was that the superstar athletes of the ’90s and early 2000s — Michael Jordan, most notably — had often shied away from overt activism.What James chooses to talk about (or not talk about) draws notice.In 2019, when a Houston Rockets executive angered the Chinese government by expressing support for Hong Kong, James was criticized for not speaking out against China’s human rights abuses. James said he did not know enough to talk about them, but some skeptics accused him of avoiding the subject to protect his financial interests in China.And in 2020, when protests swept the country after the police killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were Black, the N.B.A. made social justice part of its ethos. James used many of his news conferences that season to discuss racism and police violence against Black people.The attention to James’s words separates him from others, as does the attention to his life.“I don’t want to say it ever becomes too much, but there are times when I wish I could do normal things,” James said Thursday while standing in an arena hallway in Indianapolis about an hour after the Lakers beat the Pacers there. A member of a camera crew that has been following him for the past few years filmed him as he spoke.“I wish I could just walk outside,” James said. “I wish I could just, like, walk into a movie theater and sit down and go to the concession stand and get popcorn. I wish I could just go to an amusement park just like regular people. I wish I could go to Target sometimes and walk into Starbucks and have my name on the cup just like regular people.”He added: “I’m not sitting here complaining about it, of course not. But it can be challenging at times.”James grew up without stable housing or much money, but his life now is not like most people’s because of the money he has made through basketball and business (he’s estimated to be worth more than $1 billion), and because of the extraordinary athletic feats he makes look so easy. Once in a while, as when he’s on the phone with his mother, he manages to come off like just another guy.James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, in 2018.Phil Long/Associated PressAnother example: In October 2018, during his first Lakers training camp, James gave up wine as part of a preseason diet regimen. He was asked if abstaining had affected his body.“Yeah, it made me want wine more,” James said, relatably. “But I feel great. I feel great. I did a two-week cleanse and gave up a lot of things for 14 days.”James had also quit gluten, dairy, artificial sugars and all alcohol for those two weeks, he said.What was left?“In life?” James said. “Air.”There to See HimThe past few seasons have been challenging for James on the court. He is playing as well as he ever has, but the Lakers have struggled since winning a championship in 2020.They missed the playoffs last season and are in 12th place in the Western Conference, though they have played better recently. James, his coaches and his teammates all insist that he spends more time thinking about how to get the Lakers into the playoffs than about breaking the scoring record.Still, Madison Square Garden, one of his favorite arenas, buzzed on Tuesday night. Because of him.Celebrities, fans and media came to watch him, just as they did when he was a constant in the N.B.A. finals.He taped a pregame interview with Michael Strahan courtside. Then he went through his pregame warm-up, shooting from different spots on the court, working against an assistant coach, who tried to defend him. He took a few seconds to dance near the 3-point line as he waited for someone to pass the ball back to him.He was in what he’s made into a comfortable place: the center of the basketball universe.

Writers festival: Conductor Teddy Abrams discusses creativity at Rancho Mirage event

By |2023-02-04T20:23:34-05:00February 4th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, COVID-19|

When a talk is titled "Rock Star Conductor," the bar's already been set quite high. But the Friday morning conversation between music critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim and Louisville Orchestra and Britt Festival Orchestra music director Teddy Abrams at the Rancho Mirage Writers Festival couldn't have been titled more appropriately.Abrams, a 35-year-old Bay Area native who began playing piano at age 4 and then clarinet in elementary school, studied conducting under San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas at 12, attended Laney College and Foothill College during his teens and graduated with a Bachelor of Art from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 18.Fonseca-Wollheim started the conversation asking about a musical he's creating based on a 2017 composition inspired by the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. Abrams said his interest in musical art is "exploring as much as possible" without adhering to the expectations of the labels such as conductor, composer and instrumentalist."I've always felt passionate about composing because it's the ultimate exercise in exploring your own creativity. I wouldn't trust a conductor that's never composed anything," Abrams said. "If you've never been through the process of trying to translate the sounds you hear onto a page, then I don't think you're getting the full experience when you go and engineer that process as a conductor."He described himself as a "byproduct of a very Western European hierarchy of art" and challenged the indoctrination in music education presenting composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart as top-tier. He labeled these famed composers as "standards" because that's what most aspiring classical composers look to when starting out, however, he doesn't think old-school figures like Bach should get in the way of modern composers' creativity. "It's hard to nurture what your own voice might be," Abrams said. "Other genres of art suffer from this too, but our brethren in the pop music world are less bound by this. There's more of an expectation in that world that each generation gets to express something new or isn't necessarily compared in opposition to what came before. It's allowed to be a new way of creating music during each decade and moment."Abrams highlighted the vibrant history of the Louisville Orchestra going back to its founding in 1937 by composer Robert Whitney and former Louisville mayor Charles Farnsley to be the "most important commissioning orchestra in the world" and a $5 million donation by the Rockefeller Foundation led to 160 albums by "standard" composers and others discovered in South America and the U.S."It's such a beautiful image of what American cities can do and be," Abrams said. "One of the reasons I work in Louisville is because it can matter what you do to people there. We've tried to create the same inspiration for that plan back in the '40s to be the center of new music, but do it in a way that makes sense for the 21st century."As Louisville suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed by police when they raided her home with a 'no knock' warrant in 2020. Abrams said the city was "torn apart in so many ways.""I have always suggested that artists are some of the most capable people in healing," Abrams said. "They're the best people to hold up mirrors and say 'Here's a reflection of who we are" and 'But here is a dream of what we could be.' If you have a city without artists like that, it's soulless. I thought it was an amazing opportunity to attract those people. Our city has been through the ringer, we've had our challenges, but if we're to be better and find ways of connecting and caring about each other, we need to attract artists there because they start the process and inspire others to do it."But what impact do an orchestra's donors have on the decisions on the creative direction and what music is included in an annual program? Abrams said putting a city's name in an organization means providing a service to that community but added 95% of orchestras aren't selecting music based on donors making specific requests."When I'm talking to a person that can give money to a medical or educational cost or give money to the arts, I am trying to express a vision where the orchestra matters in our community," Abrams said.Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at brian.blueskye@desertsun.com or on Twitter at @bblueskye. 

Across America | | phillytrib.com – The Philadelphia Tribune

By |2023-02-04T23:01:50-05:00February 4th, 2023|Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Ex-officer involved in 2020 protest shooting avoids prisonLOUISVILLE, Ky. — A former Louisville police officer blamed for instigating a deadly shooting during the 2020 protests over the death of Breonna Taylor was sentenced Monday to two years of probation.Katie R. Crews, 30, pleaded guilty last year to one count of using excessive force during a curfew crackdown in 2020 that ended with the fatal shooting of restaurant owner David McAtee. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton called Crews' actions "incredibly dangerous" and doubled a one-year recommended probation period to two years.Beaton said he was reluctant to allow Crews to avoid prison time, but was told that McAtee's family had given their blessing to the recommended sentence."None of us should minimize this," Beaton said during the hourlong hearing Jan. 30. Crews was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, and she can no longer work in law enforcement.Also Monday, lawyers for McAtee's family announced the settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit. The suit filed against Louisville Police, two National Guard members and Crews was settled for $725,000, said attorney Steve Romines.The Associated PressSt. Louis to pay $5.2 million after 2017 mass arrestsST. LOUIS — The city of St. Louis will pay nearly $5.2 million to settle claims by people who were arrested during a protest in 2017 over the acquittal of a police officer in the shooting death of a Black man, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.According to a proposed class action settlement filed last week, the city agreed to pay $4.91 million, or about $58,500 per person, to 84 people who were protesting in downtown St. Louis.The lawsuit claimed the protesters' rights were violated when they were caught in a police "kettle" as officers surrounded and arrested everyone in the area. Three people who filed individual lawsuits settled from $85,000 each.They were protesting after former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the Dec. 20, 2011, shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.Protesters said police surrounded more than 120 people who officers said did not follow dispersal orders. Several people claimed police used excessive force and indiscriminate pepper spray, including against bystanders who were not protesting.The city denied any wrongdoing as part of last week's settlement. A city spokesman declined comment.The Associated PressWhite supremacists who attacked Black DJ sentencedSEATTLE — Four white men with white supremacist ties were sentenced in federal court in Seattle for a 2018 assault on a Black DJ at a bar in the suburb of Lynnwood. Judge Richard Jones sentenced the men to varying prison terms, the Daily Herald reported in late January.Jason DeSimas, of Tacoma, will serve four years. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors and the defense recommended just over three years. Jason Stanley, of Boise, Idaho, had the same plea deal. Jones sentenced him to four years, as well.Randy Smith, of Eugene, Oregon, got 3½ years in prison. And Daniel Dorson, of Corvallis Oregon, got 2⅓ years.All four were previously convicted of committing a hate crime and making false statements. The man they attacked, Tyrone Smith, said outside the courthouse that his life is forever changed.The judge also ordered the defendants to pay nearly $171,000 in restitution to cover lost wages and medical bills. He called the attack that of a "modern day unhooded KKK."Smith said the defendants' actions changed him from an outgoing person who DJ'ed for his friends for fun, to someone who struggles with anxiety and uses a cane.On Dec. 7, 2018, DeSimas and others traveled to Lynnwood on the way to visiting the site of a Whidbey Island cabin where Robert Jay Mathews, the neo-Nazi leader of the violent hate group The Order, died in a gunfight with federal agents on Dec. 8, 1984. It has become a far-right holiday, known as Martyr's Day."As we can all see, it's been a long road for me," Smith said. "But I had enough courage to come down and make sure this process was handled and justice was actually served."On Dec. 7, 2018, DeSimas and others traveled to Lynnwood on the way to visiting the site of a Whidbey Island cabin where Robert Jay Mathews, the neo-Nazi leader of the violent hate group The Order, died in a gunfight with federal agents on Dec. 8, 1984. It has become a far-right holiday, known as Martyr's Day.That night, DeSimas attended a gathering with other white supremacist sympathizers, prosecutors said. Shortly after midnight, about a dozen of them went to the Rec Room Bar and Grill. Some wore jackets with patches indicating their white supremacist beliefs and some had similar tattoos, including some depicting swastikas, prosecutors said.At some point, Stanley messed with Smith's DJ equipment. Smith pushed him away. In response, DeSimas and others surrounded Smith, using racist slurs while kicking, punching and stomping on Smith, prosecutors said. Witnesses who tried to intervene were also attacked.The men then left the bar and went to Whidbey Island, where they attended the Martyr's Day event.Federal prosecutors indicted the men in December 2020. Citing insufficient evidence, Snohomish County prosecutors declined to charge six other men who were at the tavern the night of the attack.DeSimas wrote in a letter to the judge that he was "ashamed" of his actions, saying he no longer shared the views he previously held.Dorson wrote in a similar letter that he was "disgusted by the fear I took part in creating."Nick Brown, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, said seeking consequences for the attack was a high priority for the Justice Department and the FBI.Rick Collodi, the FBI's special agent in charge of Seattle's field office, said the defendants tried to conceal their actions, but the truth came out."The four defendants admitted to being members of a white supremacist group," Collodi said. "While they have the right to believe what they want, they do not have the right to commit a crime."

Louisville’s mayor answers questions about first month in office – WHAS11

By |2023-02-04T05:31:48-05:00February 4th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

Mayor Craig Greenberg talks about one of his campaign promises and how he is waiting for the DOJ investigation "like everybody else." LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite being just a month into the job, the stakes are high for Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg as he's leading a city on the cusp of a decision that could radically impact the future of its police department and its people. In a one-on-one interview, WHAS11 asked about the pending federal investigation, campaign promises and the moment almost a year ago when his life was put in danger. We started with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report, where the community awaits the findings to be released from a patterns or practices investigation into the city and Louisville Metro Police (LMPD) in the wake of Breonna Taylor's death. [embedded content] WHAS11: "When's the last time you've talked to the feds? Have they voiced any intentions of giving you a few months in office first before dropping the report?" Greenberg: "I don't know when the DOJ report will be issued, I'm waiting like everybody else. "What I can tell you is that Chief Villaroel and myself are actively working every day to make reforms and to lead a transparent, accountable and well-performing organization -- regardless of when the DOJ report comes out." WHAS11: "When's the last time you and the [Interim Police Chief] spoke with DOJ officials, because there has to be some level of you guys being prepared for when the report comes down, right?" Greenberg: "I have not spoken, nor has the chief spoken with anyone from [the] DOJ in weeks." WHAS11: "Is there a reason for that, particularly?" Greenberg: "No, I mean they are going about doing their investigation. I don't know if they are done with all their interviews [or with] city investigatory work. I hope they are because I want to get the report, so we can move forward as a community. We'll know hopefully in the near future, we'll know when you know." [embedded content] One of Greenberg's top public safety plans introduced during his campaign is a proposal where LMPD would be required to disable confiscated guns before sending them over to Kentucky State Police (KSP), where they're frequently put up for auction. The Mayor met with both Democrats and Republicans in Frankfort this week for an introductory conversation. WHAS11: "Have you made any headway, have you introduced that proposal to them?" Greenberg: "We are working on it. The state of Kentucky has some very unique and stringent laws when it comes to anything involving firearms, so we're working through that. It's unfortunately more complicated and more difficult than I thought, but we're working through that. We're going to have some announcements in the near future."     It was just three nights ago, when Mayor Greenberg was face-to-face with mothers grieving the loss of their children to gun violence. WHAS11: "How often when you're comforting mothers like that, do you think back to the moment you were put in danger at the campaign office that day [almost a year ago]?" Greenberg: "Every time, just thinking about how fortunate I am to have survived and to still be here." Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users. Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Family of Amir Locke files wrongful-death lawsuit in Minneapolis | Reuters

By |2023-02-04T05:31:51-05:00February 4th, 2023|Breonna Taylor|

Feb 3 (Reuters) - The family of Amir Locke, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police during a no-knock raid on an apartment last year, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officer who fired the fatal gunshots.The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Minnesota on behalf of the parents of the 22-year-old Locke, was announced on Friday by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and other lawyers representing the family.It accuses the officer, Mark Hanneman, of violating Locke's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, among other claims. The family is seeking compensatory, special and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, according to the complaint."Our hearts are broken, and there is nothing in the world that will make that better," his parents, Karen Wells and Andre Locke, said in a statement. "We now fight for justice in his name and hope meaningful change will be his legacy."Latest UpdatesView 2 more stories

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