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Police Officers Join Protesters Marching Against Brutality In Some Cities

However, high mistrust toward law enforcement remains high – and violent police responses to protesters are hardly helping the situation.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) Opinion – As unrest continues to seethe across the United States in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops, police chiefs across the country have been conveying a simple message: “not my department.”

Law enforcement officials have been expressing their verbal support for the ongoing protest movement against police brutality and solidarity with the anti-racist aims of the movement.

However, law enforcement officials’ outreach attempts have been greeted with skepticism from community members who allege that police are seeking to use PR to cover up ongoing allegations of police brutality, violence, and discrimination.

In Camden, New Jersey, police helped carry a banner reading “Standing in Solidarity,” and even could be seen mouthing the slogan “no justice, no peace.” Camden County Police Chief Joe Wysocki has also forcefully denounced the killing of George Floyd, telling community members: “I think we watched a murder unfold on video.”

In Fargo, North Dakota, an officer clasped hands with organizers of a demonstration while holding aloft a sign that read, “We are one race… The HUMAN race.”

In Phoenix, Arizona, Police Chief Jeri Williams said on Friday:

“While I don’t know all the circumstances of his death, I’ve seen the video, I too, like most of the country and other chiefs around the country, are absolutely outraged with what I saw.”

Like many of the other chiefs, Williams has faced a storm of protests in recent years over the extremely violent actions of the Phoenix Police Department. In 2019, police shot at 15 people, 12 of whom were killed. In 2018, Phoenix cops were involved in 44 shootings in which 22 people died.

Later, she issued a chilling message that journalists and local media covering protests to stop reporting and capturing images if police order them to do so.

In Kansas City, Missouri, images went viral of two police officers— a white male and a Black male— holding up a sign reading “end police brutality,” drawing praise from social media users.

Local resident Erica Batton was one among many who responded to the image with skepticism, tweeting:

“I want to point out that they’ve been threatening protesters with pepper spray for the last 2 days here. A video went viral of a KC cop coming up to a black man’s car with his gun drawn for not using a turn signal a few days ago. This is a nice pic but just a snapshot.”

By Saturday, police in Kansas City violently broke up a protest using tear gas and less-lethal rounds. Participants in the march claim that the march was entirely peaceful until the actions of the police.

While in Ferguson, Missouri – the flashpoint of massive unrest several years ago following the killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown – police drew cheers and applause after “taking a knee” for nine and-a-half minutes in memory of George Floyd.

The amity between the police and the community was shattered on Saturday night clashes developed and police used tear gas to break up the protests. As a result, protesters besieged a Ferguson police department, forcing police management to evacuate non-essential personnel from the building.

And in New York, several members of the NYPD – mostly Black –  have taken to social media to denounce the apparent murder of George Floyd, describing the act as “inhumane” and calling Floyd’s killer, now-former Officer Derek Chauvin, as an “enemy.”

But in dramatic video clips from protests in New York City, the sympathizing officers’ colleagues appeared intent on violent confrontations with the people they allegedly serve.

In one video from Friday, an unarmed young woman could be seen being violently thrown to the ground and called a “stupid f*cking b****” by NYPD personnel.

In another video, an NYPD sports utility vehicle could be seen driving through a crowd of protesters.

As police departments across the country use baton charges, mounted cops, K9 units and less-lethal weapons including tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades on protesters and journalists alike, the large gulf separating statements and actions has been clear.

With unrest in the United States reaching the highest level it’s witnessed in decades, it remains to be seen whether the expressions of sympathy from chiefs of police and individual “good cops” are sufficient in terms of addressing the frayed social fabric and grave mistrust resulting from routine abuses committed against civilians by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

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Pope Francis Becomes First Pope To Endorse Same-Sex Civil Unions

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Pope Francis has become the first Catholic pope to openly endorse same-sex civil unions. The comments were made in “Francesco,” a new documentary about his life that recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival.

The film features a series of new interviews where the pope discussed some of the issues that were most important to him, including the environment, poverty, racial and income inequality, and discrimination.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” Francis says in the new interview.

This is not the first time that Francis has spoken on this issue, but it is the first time that he has publicly discussed it as a sitting pope. When he was serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. Francis is now the first pope to advocate same-sex civil unions.

The Rev. James Martin, who advocates for LGBT Catholics, praised the comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

“The pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Of course, there are also plenty of more conservative leaders in the Catholic Church who were critical of the pope’s comments.

Ed Mechmann, director of public policy at the Archdiocese of New York, said in a blog post that the pope has “made a serious mistake.”

It is also important to note the distinction between same-sex civil union and marriage. Marriage is seen as an institution of the church, although it is a tradition that has been practiced under a variety of different religions.

Fewer people these days are identifying as religious, and even fewer as catholic, but many still get married in churches out of a sense of tradition. Some of the more conservative churches still want to refuse to formally recognize a same-sex civil union as a “marriage,” and wish to separate these into two classifications.

For most people, equality under the law and legal recognition of the union is what is most important, but recognition by the church will still be important for members of the LGBT community who identify as catholic.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization of LGBT Catholics, said that the pope’s comments are “historic.”

“At the same time, we urge Pope Francis to apply the same kind of reasoning to recognize and bless these same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church, too,” he said in a statement.

Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.

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Man Tried To Steal Every Newspaper In Town To Hide Story About Him Stealing Election Signs

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It was like something out of a movie or a cartoon. An Iowa man attempted to steal every newspaper in his small town, just so his neighbors couldn’t see that he was listed in the police blotter for stealing election signs. Unfortunately for him, his outrageous plot to cover up his local act of election interference backfired, because the case ended up making national headlines.  

Peter De Yager got a small mention in the September 2nd edition of the Dickinson County News and he wasn’t happy about it. De Yager had recently pleaded guilty to stealing a Joe Biden election sign from a neighbors yard, so his name was listed in the crime roundup section of the paper. Just three sentences were dedicated to De Yager on the third page of the paper, but he seemed determined to keep news of his arrest private. 

After the issue featuring De Yager was released, the staff at Dickinson County News began getting reports that entire stacks of papers had gone missing from numerous locations around town.

Dickinson County News staff writer Seth Boyes told As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong that a delivery driver was the first to notice that something was wrong.

“He told us that there were no papers anywhere along his route that day. And he also happened to mention that there was one location, at least, that told him they had some footage of a guy stealing all the papers on their on their security cameras. So from that point, I started making some calls,” Boyes said.

De Yager is a well-known businessman in the area, and a regular customer at many of the stores that he stole from, so he was identified immediately. In fact, one of the store owners recognized De Yager and didn’t even call the police, but just confronted him the next time that he came into the store. 

Boyes said the staff at the newspaper also figured things out pretty quickly.

“I got to thinking about why anyone would want to take all the papers. And it did occur to me that we’d run that police blotter, what we call the Sirens, in that week’s edition. It was kind of a long shot, we thought, but, you know, maybe it was,” he said.

As Boyes pointed out, most news is distributed on the internet these days, and print editions are more commonly sent to the homes of subscribers.

“The paper is not only available online, but subscribers get the paper directly mailed to the residents. So stealing papers out of the racks is going to have an effect, but not as large an effect as one would think,” Boyes said.

Only one of the stores, a Jiffy station, decided to press charges, while the other locally-owned stores simply accepted an apology and a repayment. 

“We went around to the various convenience stores, and some of them opted not to press charges if he agreed to come in and pay for the papers,” Spirit Lake Police Lt. Daren Diers said.

De Yager pleaded guilty to theft and trespassing for taking about $20 worth of newspapers from the Jiffy gas station, and has paid the other convenience stores back for the papers that were taken.

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Rudy Giuliani Caught With Hands In Pants In Hotel Room Scene With “Borat’s Daughter” In New Film

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Rudy Giuliani is among the high profile figures who were pranked for Sasha Baron Cohen’s new Borat sequel, and so far his encounter is the most embarrassing. Cohen and Maria Bakalova, the actress who portrays Borat’s daughter in the film, brought Giuliani into their prank by posing as conservative TV journalists.

They conducted an interview with Giuliani where they were extremely agreeable and after the interview, Bakalova went back to a nearby hotel room with him for a drink. The room was rigged with hidden cameras, which recorded Giuliani untucking his shirt and reaching into his pants.

Once he began to reach into his pants, Borat runs into the room and shouts, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Just after the incident, Giuliani called New York City police to report the incident, claiming that he was the victim of a scam or a set up.

Giuliani described the encounter to the New York Post, saying that, “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive. This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

Giuliani said that he later realized that it was Sacha Baron Cohen and was relieved that he didn’t fall for their prank, although he seems to be the only one that thinks that.

“I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me,” he said.

Of course, the encounter made Giuliani look very creepy, but no laws were technically broken because Bakalova is 24-years-old and initiated the encounter. They were also interrupted before Giuliani got the chance to do anything illegal.

The plot of the new film revolves around Borat’s quest to give his daughter to a powerful US politician as a gift. As with the last film, Borat encounters a variety of different Americans in his travels, and their interactions are intended to illustrate a sort of culture shock that he is experiencing, while also satirizing the cultures of both America and Kazakstan.

However, due to the overwhelming success of the first film, Borat’s face was very easy to recognize for most of the people who he attempted to prank, so he needed to get creative and don disguises so his targets would feel more comfortable and let their guard down.

In one scene, he wears a very realistic Donald Trump disguise and crashes the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, while Mike Pence is giving a speech.

In the scene, which is shown in the trailer, Cohen is seen running through the conservative convention wearing the Trump mask, and carrying an unconscious woman over his shoulder. He bursts into the room where Pence is speaking and shouts “Micheal Paenis I brought that girl or you.” Mike Pence looked directly into the crowd, glaring at Cohen.

The new film will be available to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers on Oct. 23.

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