(TMU) — Police in Colorado have caused an uproar after they barged in on a peaceful protest demanding justice for unarmed 23-year-old Black man Elijah McClain and began using physical force including pepper spray as they dispersed the crowd.
Officers with the Aurora Police Department could be seen marching into the calm Saturday protest clad in full riot gear before brutally breaking it up. In footage from the event, a group of protesters who maintain social distance can be seen holding signs and watching as some violinists performed during dusk.
The violin vigil was a tribute to the fact that McClain, who was brutally killed during an arrest last August, was a skillful violinist who was known for putting on small concerts for cats and dogs at the community animal shelter during his lunch breaks. The violin vigil included six-time Grammy nominee Ashanti Floyd from Georgia, and Lee England Jr. from New York City, and was meant to conclude the day’s events.
In video of the event shared online, the tranquil event appears to be proceeding normally before the police abruptly appeared at the lawn outside the Aurora Municipal Center. Suddenly, the violinists’ music is interrupted by the sound of the crowd crying “No!” as police begin manhandling and attacking the crowd.
In one recording, a woman pleads with the police to stop as the officers clad in full tactical gear including helmets, bulletproof vests, and gas masks prepare to remove the protesters from the public park by force.
Protesters peacefully refused to comply with the orders to disperse while forming a human chain around the violinists to protect them from the Aurora Police Department onslaught.
Attendees allege that at some point police used, or threatened to use tear gas – a chemical weapon banned from war by international treaties – against the protesters. However, an APD spokesperson denied the allegation while admitting to the Cut that “there was pepper spray deployed.”
Peaceful gathering to honor the life of #ElijahMcClain turned in a hostile “unlawful protest”. @AuroraPD antagonized peaceful protestors and put people in harm and used teargas to dispurse people attending a vigil. Shameful! pic.twitter.com/HtWS3mxFc2
— Carlos Espino (@CarlitoPlanet) June 28, 2020
The events on Saturday began without any incident during the afternoon as local organizations led a rally and march from a park between APD headquarters and the Aurora Municipal Center. Student groups also led a separate rally and march that would have ended with the violin vigil in Aurora’s City Center Park.
Marchers walked without incident behind a banner that read, “Justice for Elijah McClain, murdered by Aurora police.”
Despite the lack of any violent incidents or unrest, however, police had a strong presence – leading some in the crowd to chant, “Why are you in riot gear? We don’t see no riot here.”
At around 8:30 p.m., however, the police began initiating aggressive tactics against the crowd. Carlos Espino, who attended the event, told the Cut that cops “quickly started moving in on just all protesters, getting them to move away and step back.” At that point he saw a “smoke plume in the air” that he believed to be tear gas. Others claim that the smoke, which Espino said had a strong chemical odor, may have been from smoke bombs.
When protesters were finally forced into a parking lot, the violinists continued performing while some singers broke into song to defiantly, yet peacefully, resist the officers’ aggression. However, police continued to charge the crowd.
Three people were eventually arrested for violating lawful orders after warnings were given.
The police had issued a statement Saturday noting that while they support a peaceful protest, they would be vigilant about the presence of alleged “outsiders” with violent goals. Organizers saw the warning as ominous and seeking to justify in advance the police repression that took place.
“The Aurora Police Department has responded by circulating rumors of a `violent threat´ in order to intimidate organizers and attendees and to justify mobilizing a militarized police response to crack down on protesters,” a local chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation said in a statement quoted by New York Times.
The altercations of Saturday evening are likely to result in further anger and mistrust toward Aurora police.
The Aurora community held a vigil with live music in honor of Elijah McClain and the cops decided to come in and use f****** tear gas on them…APPARENTLY WE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO MOURN THE LOSS OF AN INNOCENT LIFE!!! #AbolishThePolice pic.twitter.com/oDDeuEZyY9
— Laur (@lsimon210) June 28, 2020
McClain’s death at the hands of Aurora police had only led to small protests over the last 10 months but came under renewed attention following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop on May 25.
Police in Aurora were responding to a call of a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms while walking down the street. McClain’s sister later told Denver7 that he would sometimes wear an open-face ski mask because he “had anemia and would sometimes get cold.”
McClain, a certified massage therapist and self-taught violin player, was running an errand when officers tried to detain him.
As #Aurora municipal security forces lost patience with how long it was taking to illegally evict us from the #ElijahMcClain violin vigil, they began deploying chemical agents directly into protesters faces and at protesters that were fleeing while attempting to make arrests pic.twitter.com/ElDeu8Q4LD
— dula lipa (@dulapalooza) June 28, 2020
Police claim that McClain, who was unarmed and often listened to music as he walked home, allegedly refused officer commands to stop walking before “a struggle ensued” and the small-framed young man allegedly fought back as officers tried to take him into custody. Officers allege that he tried to take one of their guns.
“I have a right to stop you because you’re being suspicious,” an officer is heard on a body camera recording telling McClain.
In the meantime, officers used a carotid hold – a chokehold that cuts off the flow of blood to the brain – against the young man. When he attempted to roll over to vomit, officers screamed at him to “stop resisting!”
“If you keep messing around, I’m going to bring my dog out here and he’s going to bite you,” an officer told McClain.
McClain’s body eventually went limp. One officer asked, “Are you OK?” However, he wasn’t asking McClain, but the officer who was pressing his body weight down on the young man’s body.
“Yeah, I’m good,” the officer responded.
Aurora Fire Rescue then injected McClain with a large dose of ketamine in an attempt to sedate him, which police later called “a standard medication routinely utilized to reduce agitation.”
McClain suffered cardiac while en route to the hospital before he was later declared brain dead, and eventually taken off life support.
The haunting last words of Elijah McClain, transcribed from police video, have been widely shared since his death. He said:
“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”
Three officers were eventually placed on leave but District Attorney Dave Young allowed them to return to the force on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to charge them.
Last Thursday, Governor Jared Polis ordered prosecutors to reopen the investigation.
Akon Finally Breaks Ground On His Futuristic $10 Billion Solar Powered “Crypto City”
The rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon has been making significant progress on his development plans in Africa, which involve the creation of a futuristic city that runs on clean energy and cryptocurrency.
In January of last year, Akon revealed that his agreements with Senegal President Macky Sall were going forward, and a few months later it was announced that the engineering and consulting firm KE International was awarded a $6 billion contract to build the city. The company previously said it had already received $4 billion from investors for the first two phases of Akon City’s construction, giving the project a price tag of at least $10 billion.
The project goes much further than just this one city and it has already begun to make an impact across the continent. In the short time since the deal was finalized last year, a large number of solar street lights, and solar home lighting units, have been installed across 14 African countries, according to Akon Lighting Africa.
The effort was made possible by a private-public partnership model and a well-established network of partners including SOLEKTRA INT, SUMEC, and NARI.
Phase 1 of construction on the city is expected to be completed in 2023, and will include roads, a hospital, residences, hotels, a police station, a waste facility, a school, and a solar power plant. The entire city is expected to be finished around 2029. The city’s economy will be facilitated by Akon’s cryptocurrency “Akoin,” which runs on the Stellar blockchain. Stellar is a crypto ecosystem that includes its own cryptocurrency XLM, and also allows for the development of other projects, such as decentralized exchanges and additional currencies like Akoin. Banks around the world have also been considering using the Stellar blockchain for stablecoin deployment.
Akon believes that cryptocurrency is the solution to the corruption problems that create widespread inequality in Africa because the blockchain provides a record that would make corruption extremely obvious if it were to take place. With an independent cryptocurrency, governments are unable to print money and devalue the currency, and the control of the money is decentralized.
In an interview with TMZ last year, Akon compared the vision that he has for the city with the fictional “Wakanda” from the movie Black Panther.
“This movie literally made an idea of what Africa could really be. It’s just ironic that I was already working on this before the movie came out, but it’s something that helped me a lot when I was trying to explain to explain to people what I was trying to do,” Akon said.
The city’s crypto-economic system will also solve many problems specific to the developing world, like instantly calculating conversation rates for currencies, which is often an obstacle because there are so many different regional currencies and methods of trade. In some cases, people even use prepaid cellphone minutes as a currency because it is easier to use and exchange than traditional currencies. Akon says that the Akoin wallet will allow users to trade between cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, and cellphone minutes instantly without having to go through a major exchange using Atomic Swap technology. The app will also teach users to become more familiar with the technology in general.
Florida Man Uses Stimulus Check to Start Thriving Home Garden to Feed His Community
When millions of people across the United States received their federal stimulus checks to help them cope with the devastating economic repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, most people spent their checks on basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage, utilities, and other basic necessities
However, one man from East Tampa, Florida, decided to use his funds to invest in a much more long-term project: building his own garden at home and using it to help provide food for himself. He’s now teaching his community about the massive benefits of food independence.
Michael Chaney, who goes by the nickname “Spirit Mike,” has long been interested in gardening. It wasn’t until the pandemic struck and local supermarkets were struck by the crisis that he was able to muster the self-motivation and time to fully pursue what began as a hobby and now has turned into his passion.
When he received his first stimulus check, he immediately used the funds to purchase some pots and start growing his first tomato plant. He also spoke to seasoned gardeners at the nearby A Land of Delight Natural Farm to pick up some materials and advice that would enable him to begin growing his own food, he told local radio station WMNF.
Now, Chaney is growing not only tomatoes but also collard greens, ghost peppers, mustard greens, strawberry guava, eggplants, onions, papaya, cashew apples, sugar cane, lemon, yucca, and lettuce, among other plants on his .3 acres of land.
“I do biointensive gardening, which means planting as much as you can in a small space,” Chaney told Atlanta Black Star. “I specifically picked these types of fruits [dwarf plants] because they grow fruit fast.”
Chaney derives the most pride from his moringa trees, which he values for its high viamin C content and celebrated medicinal properties as well as its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant qualities.
“That is the Michael Jordan and the Kobe Bryant together,” Chaney told WMNF with pride.
“If you were stranded somewhere and all you have his this and water you would not only survive, you would thrive,” Chaney added. “I don’t work out. All I did was add this to my diet and add flax seed fiber and I lost 65 lbs.”
Chaney also has nine chickens that he purchased for only $3 per chick.
“My aim is to make my food cost zero,” he explained. “So, my food scraps go into the soldier fly larvae bin, they eat that and produce more larvae. Those larvae get fed to the chickens. The chicken produces eggs, I sell the eggs and eat the eggs; life is good.”
Chaney made sure to meticulously plan his garden so that actually managing it and ensuring its success would be much easier.
“It’s very important that you plan your garden. Do your research before you put a dollar down because you want your dollar to go as far as it can,” Chaney said.
He is now upholding the garden – which he has named New World Growers – as an example of community self-determination and food independence at a time when food insecurity is sharply on the rise.
Edward Snowden Applies For Russian Citizenship As He Announces He’s About To Be A Dad
U.S. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has announced that he is going to be a dad and that he has applied for Russian citizenship due to the coming change in his life. Snowden said the move is to prevent separation from his unborn son.
Snowden and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders, he said on Monday. Snowden’s wife, Lindsay, is expecting a child in late December, the RIA news agency said, citing his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Reuters reported.
Snowden fled the U.S. and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor. Snowden exposed various capabilities by the NSA by revealing various extensive privacy violations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently found one such program was unlawful and that the U.S. intelligence directors who publicly defended it had lied to the public. The court determined that the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden to return to the U.S. to face criminal charges on espionage brought against him in 2013.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love, including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.”
Russia has already granted Snowden permanent residency rights, his lawyer said last month, a requisite step towards Russian citizenship.
Snowden’s wife recently publicly announced her pregnancy last week in a photograph posted to Instagram. “A long time in the making,” she wrote. “Our greatest collaboration coming soon.” Snowden said; despite applying for Russian citizenship, he hopes to one day return to the U.S. to reunite his family.