Pressure mounts on Trump to 'set a good example' and wear mask

Republican leaders as senior as Pence and McConnell, and conservative hosts at Fox News, have shifted their message on masks while Trump continues to resist wearing one.
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GOP senators propose replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as federal holiday
A pair of Republican senators have proposed replacing Columbus Day on the federal government’s list of official holidays with Juneteenth. Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) made the proposal Wednesday as an amendment to a bill sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.) that would recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Johnson objected to...
Tesla crushes coronavirus delivery expectations, stock soars
Shares of Elon Musk’s electric car company, which have already tripled this year, soared another 9 percent on Thursday after the company blew past Wall Street’s second-quarter delivery expectations. Telsa said it delivered 90,650 vehicles in the quarter, down just 4.9 percent from the year earlier period, despite factory shutdowns due to the coronavirus. Analysts...
Man’s penis reattached nearly a full day after he cut it off — and it works
The patient has regained full use of his organ.
McDonald's hits pause on reopening dining rooms as coronavirus cases rise
McDonald's is hitting pause on its plan to reopen its dining rooms for three weeks as states across the country block restaurants from reopening because of rising cases of Covid-19.
West Indies cricket legend Sir Everton Weekes dies aged 95
The cricket world is in mourning after West Indies cricket legend Everton Weekes died at the age of 95.
De Blasio delays ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural in front of Trump Tower
"It has been postponed due to scheduling change," a City Hall spokeswoman told The Post.
Severe thunderstorm winds in Texas derail 86 cars on train, cause 'significant' damage
A severe thunderstorm that blasted through west Texas on Tuesday was so powerful that it caused dozens of cars on a freight train to derail and "significant" damage throughout the area, according to officials.
American among airlines set to receive cash infusion from US government
American Airlines and four other carriers are set to receive an infusion of cash from the government, the Treasury Department announced Thursday.
Nick Cordero has a '99% chance' of needing a double lung transplant, wife Amanda Kloots says
Nick Cordero's wife Amanda Kloots says the hospitalized Broadway star has a "99% chance" of needing a double lung transplant.
Paul McCartney, other stars urge U.K. government to support the live music industry impacted by COVID-19
Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones are amongst the more than 1,500 musicians who have signed an open letter to U.K. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden demanding support for the live music industry that has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Supreme Court rejects Texas Democrats' request to speed up consideration of vote by mail case
The US Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request from Texas Democrats to expedite a case concerning access to vote by mail in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Midsommar has a deeply trans narrative hiding in plain sight
Dani, the protagonist of Midsommar, finds herself in a strange world that just makes sense to her on some visceral level. | A24 The 2019 horror movie isn’t overtly about trans identities. But it depicted my journey perfectly. For most of my life, I never quite knew what to do around men. My confusion ended up being a bit of a problem — because for most of my life, people were pretty convinced I was a guy. (Spoiler: I wasn’t.) I spent almost all of junior high and high school avoiding athletic pursuits because I didn’t particularly like the forced camaraderie and lewd locker room talk from guys in the showers afterward. I struggled with typical male social codes, and I never quite felt like I had a firm grasp on being the guy in a romantic relationship. Awkwardness and confusion are basically universal across all adolescent experiences, and struggling to understand unspoken social codes is so often true among kids across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. But my awkwardness went beyond that. I viewed manhood as a unique burden to carry, a boulder to push up a hill each and every day. I figured all men felt this way. We are all wondering, I assumed, if it would be easier and better and lighter to be a woman, but, alas, we were not blessed as such and had to continue trudging along. What I know now is that, no, not every other guy was thinking about how hard it was to be a man. They weren’t thinking about how being a woman would be preferable. Today, I understand those thoughts as expressions of gender dysphoria and my own trans feminine identity, because every trans person I’ve talked to has described some variation on that level of discomfort with their assigned gender at birth. That discomfort was signaling something I didn’t know how to listen to at first — I simply wasn’t a man, and the burden I shouldered wasn’t one I had to bear. But it was hard to find fictional representations of this journey to self-realization despite the ubiquity of stories about girls who find themselves falling down rabbit holes into worlds where nothing makes sense. These stories presented a sojourn in Wonderland or Oz or Narnia as a brief pause in a growing girl’s life, not as an unending puzzle that existed into adulthood. And then I saw Ari Aster’s 2019 folk horror dramedy Midsommarwhen it was releaseda year ago. I finally saw myself. And I’ve been thinking about the film ever since. The popular reading of Midsommar says it’s a scary, funny breakup movie A24 Dani’s boyfriend, Christian (left), is just the worst. Midsommar follows a young American woman named Dani (Florence Pugh) who travels to far northern Sweden to attend a midsummer festival with her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), and his grad school dude colleagues. She’s not particularly welcome on the trip — the guys mostly invited her to join them because they felt bad for her after she suffered a family tragedy — and she feels increasingly disconnected from Christian. As members of the group (and a comparable group of Brits) begin to disappear, one by one, under mysterious circumstances, Dani finds herself more and more drawn to the society of the mysterious Harga people. By the end of the film, she has made her choice between the land of her birth and the new family she has found. She has also set her boyfriend on fire. One reason Midsommar works so well is that you can watch it and draw any number of different interpretations. It’s scary, but not particularly so. It’s funny, except when it’s deadly serious. It’s a fairy tale, except it’s also a harrowing depiction of grief and trauma. The film blends all of these tones together in a way that feels straight out of folklore. The cause-and-effect relationships between events in the movie feel suggested more than confirmed. The predominant read of Midsommar — one that Aster himself has more or less advanced — is that it’s a metaphorical depiction of a relationship in crisis entering a tailspin and plummeting to the ground below. Dani and Christian shouldn’t be together, and the story of the film tracks her slow realization of that fact and his slow realization of just how unhappy she is. When Midsommar begins, he’s a passive-aggressive jerk who can’t seem to break up with her but clearly wants to. When it ends, she’s finally free but at great personal cost. For a lot of people, Midsommar plays like a kind of weird romantic comedy — the perfect date night movie for a heterosexual couple longing to test the strength of their bond. The movie’s depiction of a broken relationship between two people who don’t yet realize their relationship is broken is extremely believable. It’s all but certain to provoke conversation about the strength of your own romantic relationship if you’re in one, the bad breakups lurking in your past, and the ways that codependency can curdle into abusive behavior. But none of those reasons are why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Midsommar for the past year. Midsommar captured my trans experience perfectly without trying to capture my trans experience A24 Finally Dani gets to be just one of the gals. The first time I saw Midsommar was an almost emotionally overwhelming experience. I laughed, I cried, I became so overcome by Bobby Krlic’s score in the film’s final moments that recalling it even now makes me mist up a little. Something at the film’s center hit me as hard as any movie ever has. At first, I assumed it was the way in which Aster has my number. His carefully composed, diorama-like shots are perfectly staged to make you wonder what’s lurking just off-screen, and his camera explores the village of the Harga with a detached precision when Dani first arrives. Its movement grows more fluid the longer she’s there, to indicate how much she’s begun to feel at home here at the ends of the Earth. I also tend to love stories that filter a genre idea through interpersonal drama, and the rupture between Dani and Christian was nothing if not interpersonal drama. Add the structure of a folk horror tale — wherein at least one person from modern society finds themselves lost in a bygone world where people still follow the old, pagan ways (usually involving human sacrifice) — and you have something potent and powerful. Aster’s 2018 film Hereditary was another favorite of mine (and another film that can sustain a trans reading, incidentally). But my reaction to Midsommar was deeper, more substantial. Figuring out why I reacted so strongly was figuring out why Midsommar rapidly went from being one of my favorite films of 2019 to one of my favorite films of all time. But reconsider the very premise of the film: Dani travels to Sweden with her boyfriend and his male friend group. She is an outsider, an interloper. They bring her along somewhat grudgingly, seemingly aware that Dani will only get in the way of them having a good time when they want to kick back and get high or ogle hot Harga girls. In other words, Dani is a buzzkill. There are plot reasons for her buzzkill status. Midsommar opens with her losing her entire family in a gruesome murder-suicide — but Aster shoots early scenes where she’s with the group of guys in such a way that she is removed from them, detached. (A notable early shot takes great pains to show her reflection in a mirror but not her physical presence, in the same room as Christian and his friends but not really.) The guys keep assuring Dani she’s fine, she’s part of their group, they’re excited to have her. But she can tell from their tone of voice how little they actually mean that. The filmmaking betrays their true feelings by isolating her. Thus, Midsommar is a movie about a woman who hangs out with a bunch of guys, never quite feeling welcome, or like any of them understand her. She’s always out of place, disconnected from what’s happening, even as they laugh and celebrate jovially around her. Cis women can certainly have this experience when hanging out with their boyfriends’ pals, but male group dynamics typically shift to avoid seeming too bro-y (for good or for ill) when they know a woman is present. For whatever reason, the guys Dani goes to Sweden with don’t shift their behavior in similar ways. What Dani goes through is almost a universal experience for trans women before they come out. They’re in the party but not of it, always feeling like there’s some joke they’re just not getting. What’s more, the moment Dani starts to find acceptance from others is when she finds herself spending time with the Harga women. After an entire movie of trying to make sense of Christian’s moods, she finds herself competing for the title of May Queen with the other women of the village. Her face shines with happiness and abandon, and when one of the other girls starts talking to her in Harga (a language invented for the film), Dani finds she can just naturally speak it. It’s an incredibly cathartic moment. She displays an ease she’s never felt before, and it carries through the rest of the movie, as she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the Harga’s lifestyle and rituals. But Midsommar has quietly been building to this catharsis all along. Around the film’s midpoint, Dani bears witness to a particularly horrifying ritual, and where others who’ve traveled to visit the Harga object in terror, Dani stares dead ahead at what’s happening right in front of her, seemingly unfazed. On some level, she’s on the Harga’s wavelength. On some level, she belongs there. Folk horror is always about the inevitable clash between modernity and the ancient, pagan ways, but Aster layers atop that idea some gender commentary that feels particularly pointed. Dani can never find a way to connect with all of the men she’s joined on this trip to Sweden, but she can connect to the women she meets in a village on the other side of the planet. They just know each other, and in being known, Dani finally feels the rush of knowing what home is. I don’t mean to suggest that Midsommar is an intentional trans allegory. Aster has said that he views Dani as a bit of a proxy for himself within the film, which is interesting on a “guy tries to imagine what’s going on in a woman’s head” level (Aster is very good at doing this, where many male directors aren’t). But the movie has plenty to say about bad relationships and tribalism and depression and a whole host of other things. As with all truly great films, there’s so much going on inside of Midsommar that you could spend weeks and weeks discussing it with friends and unearth more takes with every new conversation. And yet ... when Dani discovered she could speak to the other women in the village, I felt, deep inside of me, the sensations I had felt the first few times the women I knew saw me and knew me for who I really was. I felt the way I now feel every week when I gather on Zoom with some of my best trans woman friends to talk about what’s going on in our lives. There is an immense power to being seen and to being known, a power that many cis people don’t even realize they have possessed since the moment of their birth. I still have many friends who are men, but now, I feel like I understand better how to relate to them. I no longer feel like there’s a secret language I cannot speak. To feel lost in your country of origin and stagger about looking for a home is to experience a deep emptiness at your very core. And then, one day, somebody speaks your name, and a whole secret world spreads out all around you. That world had been there all along, hiding. All it took were the right words, the right glance, the right knowledge to unlock its secrets. And once you’ve found them, you need never go back. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
Watch the moment a former sanitation worker finds out he got accepted to Harvard Law
Rehan Staton, a 24-year-old former sanitation worker, was ecstatic when he found out he was accepted into one of the world's top law schools. Raised by a single dad who worked endless hours to provide for him, Staton struggled in high school and was even told by one teacher he needed to be in special education classes. He told Vladimir Duthiers his co-workers inspired him to follow his dream, and credited the people "on the bottom of the hierarchy" for lifting him up.
Indiana mother charged after family’s pit bull mix kills infant son
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Trump says economy is ‘roaring back’ after record jobs report
WASHINGTON — President Trump returned to the White House briefing room on Thursday to celebrate the nation’s falling unemployment rate, describing it as “spectacular news for American workers and American families.” “Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back. It’s coming back extremely strong,” the president told reporters, promising to “vanquish” the coronavirus which...
Joe Biden outraises Donald Trump in fundraising for second straight month
Donald Trump still likely has a significant cash-on-hand advantage heading into the final four months of the election.
Dean Cain responds to Time editorial calling for cultural re-examination of superheroes: Police are heroes
A recent and controversial Time Magazine article calling for a cultural reckoning of the depiction of superheroes amid the national debate over law enforcement makes claims that are "totally untrue" and reveals the left's "cancel culture" agenda, actor Dean Cain said Thursday.
What the fall of the 'girlboss' reveals
Many hoped that female founders and CEOs would create friendlier work environments for women, writes Marie Solis. But in some cases, the same old power dynamics and problems of inequity emerged instead.
Tips to stay safe this 4th of July
CNN contributor and Biology Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Erin Bromage shares tips to stay safe this 4th of July weekend.
Yankees, Mets are steps behind Red Sox in ticket refund policy
While the Yankees and Mets may very well perform better on the field than the Red Sox in this truncated 2020 season, the New York duo currently trails its neighbor to the north in a vital category: Customer service. The Yankees and Mets both updated their 2020 ticket policies on Wednesday, granting refunds or (their...
COVID-19 vaccine sees early positive results
Pfizer and BioNTech reported encouraging signs in early clinical trials of a possible COVID-19 vaccine. The small study triggered stronger immune responses in recipients. More than 15 different possible vaccines are being tested on people worldwide. Dr. David Agus joined "CBS This Morning" with the latest on the global vaccine effort.
‘The Old Guard’ Trailer: Watch Charlize Theron Kick Some Serious Butt in Netflix Thriller
Supervillains are no match for Theron's immortal mercenary.
Top lawmakers demand answers on Russia bounty intelligence
Two top Trump administration officials are standing by how they handled U.S. intelligence indicating Russia offered bounties to Taliban-backed militias to kill American troops in Afghanistan. CBS News' Olivia Gazis explains how the intel process works, and the answers lawmakers are demanding.
Justices keep hold on secret Russia investigation material
The Supreme Court is denying Congress access to secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation through the November election
Trump, in video message, vows to stop ‘lawlessness’
President Trump, in a video message on Thursday, vowed to stop “lawlessness” and to continue to protect monuments and statues across the nation after many were vandalized and destroyed in recent weeks.
Beethoven for pandemic times: How Opus 132 is journey through illness and healing
Beethoven's A-minor String Quartet chronicles the composer's illness and recovery. Nearly 200 years later, it's a sonic window into our coronavirus world.
Andrea Petkovic shades Novak Djokovic amid tour backlash
Andrea Petkovic is simply calling it as she sees it. On Monday, tennis star Eugenie Bouchard posted a collection of photos from June’s Volvo Car Open, the biggest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America that recently took place in Charleston, S.C. in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. “Had such an enjoyable week in Charleston....
Coronavirus could still spark US financial crisis, Fed warns
The coronavirus pandemic could still plunge the US into a financial crisis even though the economy has started to get back on track, a Federal Reserve honcho warns. With infections spiking in several states, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard fears the virus could spark a damaging wave of bankruptcies without “more granular risk management...
Antonio Brown posts video of workout with Russell Wilson
This may have been more than a photo op. Antonio Brown shared a video on Instagram of himself catching a deep pass from Seahawks star Russell Wilson in San Diego and wrote: “Who would like to see this on Sundays?” It may not just be a dream. Michael Silver of the NFL Network has reported...
Jeffrey Epstein Associate Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested
Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who was accused by many women of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday in New Hampshire, the FBI said. Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m., said…
How Tammy Duckworth Could Boost Her Chances With Biden
Tammy Duckworth is up for a big promotion: Joe Biden’s advisers are vetting her to be his running mate. In the meantime, she’s focused on protecting the promotion of another lieutenant colonel.The senator from Illinois, who lost both her legs as a helicopter pilot in Iraq and was awarded the Purple Heart, has placed a hold—Senate-speak for preventing a vote—on hundreds of military promotions, she told me. She’ll maintain that hold until she gets written confirmation from President Donald Trump’s defense secretary, Mark Esper, that he won’t block the anticipated promotion of Alexander Vindman, the lieutenant colonel who testified in the House hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment. The White House dismissed Vindman from his position on the National Security Council two days after Trump was acquitted in the subsequent Senate trial. (He’s since been reassigned to the Pentagon.) But Duckworth worries that kicking Vindman out of 1600 Pennsylvania won’t be enough for Trump, whose score-settling has been a running feature of his presidency. And she may be betting that attacking Trump as a failed commander in chief could win her some attention as Biden’s running-mate search draws to a close.[Read: Kamala Harris’s very open secret]Duckworth isn’t seen as a likely Biden pick at the moment. She’s not particularly well known, and doesn’t have some politicians’ natural smoothness in interviews and other appearances. That sort of camera readiness is more important than ever in a pandemic campaign, given how much of voters’ exposure to the vice-presidential nominee will come via TV appearances on Zoom. Biden’s running mate will also face a high-stakes debate with Mike Pence, whose years as a radio host and politician made him more agile in the 2016 VP debate than his political opponents like to claim.Duckworth is working hard to boost her VP chances, helped along by events—starting on June 1, when law enforcement violently dispersed protesters so that Trump, escorted by Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could march across Lafayette Square and be photographed holding up a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church. She blasted that action as a “misuse” of the military, prompting Milley to call her a week later, ahead of a video statement in which he apologized for appearing in the photo op. “He did what military leaders were supposed to do and what this president does not do,” Duckworth told me. “He took responsibility for the mistake that he made. He said it was his mistake and he should not have done it, and he regrets that he did that.”[Read: This is how Trump wants to be seen]Now Duckworth says that Trump is proving “incompetent” in his response to Russia reportedly paying the Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers. When we spoke yesterday, she’d just come from a briefing about this in the Senate. I asked whether what she heard put her at ease. “Not at all,” she said. The officials whom the administration sent to the Senate said that they hadn’t been involved in briefing the president, leaving them unable to offer many answers. “I won’t say there was blood on his hands, but I want to know why he stopped investigating this,” Duckworth told me, referring to Trump’s apparent failure to follow up on intelligence agencies’ findings about the bounties. I asked her how she’d feel if she were deployed right now, and read this news. “I would be proud of my service for my country, but I would be absolutely appalled that my president was not watching out for me and my troops,” she said.Traditionally, active service members and veterans skew Republican. Trump clearly believes that’s the natural order of the world, and earlier this week tweeted that any Republican who doesn’t support him must not support “a new & powerful Military.”Duckworth is eager to counter the idea that the military is monolithic, and she jumped on Trump’s announcement Tuesday night that he will veto the upcoming defense-authorization bill because it includes an amendment to rename military bases that honor Confederate officers.[Read: It really could be Warren]“He cares more about dead traitors than he does about money for training, than he does about money for military families, than he does about fixing the military housing issue, than he does about making sure that our troops have enough equipment to do their jobs?” Duckworth said. “He cares more about preserving the legacy of dead traitors than he does about making sure that our troops get a pay raise, while we have soldiers and marines in harm’s way right now, downrange?”Duckworth likely hopes these recent events might earn her a closer look as a potential vice president. Biden is clearly disturbed by the reports about the Russian bounties, accusing Trump of an “absolute dereliction of duty.” On Tuesday, at a press conference he held in Wilmington, Delaware, he was visibly angry as he relayed a story about his wife asking him what he would do if he’d found about this when his late son, Beau, was still serving in the National Guard. “What are those parents thinking out there?” Biden said. “What are those sons and daughters, husbands and wives?”Duckworth served in the National Guard before being elected to the House in 2012. In 2016, on the same night Trump won the presidency, she was elected to the Senate, flipping back the seat that had been Barack Obama’s. Coincidences like that often resonate with Biden. And there are some obvious political upsides to picking a woman whose mother was a Thai immigrant and whose father can trace his roots to the Revolutionary War—not to mention a veteran who gave her legs in service to the country and is now the mother of two young daughters.Duckworth insisted that her vocal critique of Trump has nothing to do with the VP selection process. She’s always been outspoken: Back in January, a Republican congressman claimed that Democrats who criticized the strike that killed an Iranian general were “in love with terrorists.” She responded: “I left parts of my body in Iraq fighting terrorists.”[Read: James Mattis denounces President Trump, describes him as a threat to the Constitution]“I feel that I have a unique role to play, in terms of those who are in the Senate, to call out the president when he’s not doing his job as commander in chief,” Duckworth told me. She also has a duty, she said, to remind her colleagues that members of the armed services aren’t all conservative old white men. As the Baby Boomers who have been in leadership roles retire, the military is undergoing important generational and demographic shifts.“It’s Gen Xers who are now flag officers. Millennials are now mid-career. They’re now company commanders,” she said. “They’ve only ever served with women serving to their left and to the right. They came of age after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Today’s members of the armed services look and think, Duckworth argued, much more like her than like Milley or James Mattis or John Kelly. And that’s why she was especially upset about the involvement of the military in the response to protests last month. “Many of them have family members probably who were there, and they showed up and did their job anyway,” she said, “which speaks to the professionalism of our military—something this president does not seem to exhibit himself in his personal conduct.”On Tuesday, Biden said his potential vice-presidential picks include “a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian.” On Biden’s list, only Duckworth and Harris, whose mother was Indian, fit the latter description. Biden also said to expect the process to keep going for a few more weeks. “I can’t guarantee you August 1, but it will be in early August,” he said. “Several weeks before the convention.” That scaled-down convention is scheduled to start August 17.
Coronavirus patient suffers 4-hour erection from blood clots
A coronavirus patient in France suffered a four-hour erection due to a blood clot that may have been triggered by the illness, doctors have warned.
Trump claims new jobs numbers show economy is 'roaring back' from coronavirus
"The crisis is being handled," the president said.
Perfect for summer vacation this year: 7 California RV parks good for beginners
In a COVID-19 world, camping and RVing might be the hottest vacation trend of the summer.
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Pool season
Review: 'The Outpost' is a visceral depiction of combat but little else
"The Outpost," directed by Rod Lurie and based on the book by Jake Tapper, depicts 2009's Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan.
These composers are likely to score big with Emmy voters
Ludwig Goransson, Nicholas Britell and others jump from film scores to television, and the Emmys are better for it
‘Canada’s Drag Race’ Judge Brooke Lynn Hytes Teases New Spinoff: “It’s Going to Pop Off”
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How to Listen: A classical music series to open our ears in a COVID-quieted world
Ecstasy and excess, rhythm and repetition, gender and ethnicity. Lyricism, protest, healing. Critic Mark Swed's series on the ideas embedded in every note.
The violent end of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, explained
City crews dismantle the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” area outside of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct on July 1, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. | David Ryder/Getty Images Seattle’s police-free neighborhood started experiencing violence, but locals still don’t trust the police. Seattle protesters’ experiment with a police-free community and protest space has ended. On Wednesday, dozens of officers from the Seattle Police Department arrested more than 30 peopleandcleared out the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), at Mayor Jenny Durkan’sorder. The mayor’s executiveorder came in response to a wave of nighttime violence in the four-block area, including four shootings and several alleged sexual assaults. Police have cleared #CHOP to Pike @KING5Seattle— Michael Crowe (@MichaelReports) July 1, 2020 Katie, a nonbinary person who protested in the neighborhood before and after CHOP was established, said they sobbed when they saw police clearing it out Wednesday morning. “I’m glad that people were able to see what a space like that could be,” they told Vox. “I had some complaints about it but it was beautiful to see.” Durkan praised the mostly peaceful protest in a statement Monday, yet signaled that it was time for protesters to leave CHOP because of the late-night violence. “[O]ver the last month thousands of people, including families, have visited the area and shown their support for the messages of equity and change,” read the statement. “Unfortunately, that message has been undermined by the violence in the area. The area has increasingly attracted more individuals bent on division and violence, and it is risking the lives of individuals.” Drone footage of the Police clearing Cal Anderson Park this morning.#SeattleProtests #CHOP— Converge Media (@WWConverge) July 1, 2020 The violence at CHOP shows the difficulty in trying to create a police-free neighborhood, especially without investments in community anti-poverty efforts, out of what was primarily a protest space. It also highlights the pervasiveness of certain forms of violence — like violence against women, which some residents told Vox was commonin the neighborhood (a nightlife hot spot in the city) even before CHOP was established. Those previous incidents were not subject to a national media microscope. While Durkan and the Seattle Police Department used the recent violence as justification to move in and retake the area from protesters, some people who live in the area worried about the SPD’s return. “I feel marginally more dread than the early parts of the protests,” local Capitol Hill resident John McCartney told Vox. “People here seem angrier, but there also seem to be fewer protesters.” What we know about the violence during — and before — CHOP’s existence The “autonomous zone” idea for the protest area began as a meme after SPD vacated the nearby East Precinct building on June 8 following eight straight days of police clashes with protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. But protesters very quickly seized on the idea of creating a sustained occupation-style protest in the area, working with city personnel to block off street traffic in a six-block radius around the precinct. In the first week of CHOP’s existence, people who were spending a lot of time at the protest told Vox they felt safe there. “Talking with my friends and talking with a couple of people on the ground, I keep hearing people say, ‘I never felt this safe walking in the city,’” Carla, a woman who had been regularly hanging out in the area, told Vox in mid-June. “The knowledge that the police aren’t there [has created] this feeling that this is a space that belongs to everybody.” Noah Riffe/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images One of the entrances to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington on June 14, 2020. But what initially started as a local curiosity, drawing residents and families from the surrounding area, eventually took a turn for the worse. Over the past nine days, the area saw four shootings, two deaths, arson, and several alleged sexual assaults. According to FBI data, there were 34 homicides reported in 2018 in all of Seattle. “It’s been a terrible week for the area,” said Justin, the publisher of who has been covering the goings-on within CHOP since its inception. “But these kinds of violent spikes do come in waves. And we’ve seen this before in other parts of the city.” Vox spoke with 13 local residents and protesters on background — most of whom have taken part in the protests against racism and police violence that preceded CHOP, and also spent time in and around CHOP — about what’s been happening in the neighborhood over the past week and a half. Locals paint a muddled picture of an area where confusion — and fear of far-right counterprotesters — often reigns. One person who works a block away from CHOP and asked to remain anonymous to protect her privacy, said her car was vandalized while she was at work last week, which she attributed to her left-wing political bumper stickers. Since then, management from her employer have escorted her to her car every night after her shift is over. In speaking with locals, a tale of two CHOPs emerges, daytime CHOP and nighttime CHOP. During the day, there’s more of a community feel, with neighbors out and about inside CHOP while protests are ongoing. But most of the people who spoke with Vox didn’t feel safe walking at night in the area, especially in the past week and a half. But that’s not necessarily a unique feeling in the area, which is a popular bar and entertainment district within the city. The type of violence has changed since CHOP was established, one local explained: In their accounting, it went from drunk white bar patrons (often men)causing havoc on Friday and Saturday nights, along with the occasional police response to a homeless person in the area, to the type of violence that has taken place inside CHOP recently. “Like a lot of nightlife districts, it is not a comfortable place for female-presenting folks to be out at night,” said McCartney, who was the only local willing to be quoted by name for this story. Several women and trans people speaking on background confirmed his statement to Vox. In August 2017, for example, a trans woman was allegedly assaulted by a group of male patrons at a bar in the neighborhood. At the same time, McCartney said, there’s a real riff between people who have lived in the area for a while and the tech workers who have moved in recently. “I feel a lot of the current ‘it’s not safe’ stuff comes from either people who aren’t living in the neighborhood itself or from affluent new arrivals, or from business owners.” CHOP featured a seemingly unstructured organizing format, similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement of the early 2010s. Protest organizers declined to speak with Vox, as they also did for a previous story from mid-June. It’s also been difficult for journalists and the public to pin down exactly who is in charge at CHOP, and there was no central group issuing public statements. But organizers from Washington Youth for Climate Justice, who have been active on CHOP’s front lines since its establishment denounced the police clearing Wednesday morning. “We feel that the handling of CHOP’s dispersal, such as calling in officers wearing riot gear and using pepper spray on demonstrators, was completely unethical and unnecessary,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement to Vox. Of particular concern for locals has been the recent spate of gun violence in the area. There have been four shootings in CHOP since its inception, and a shooting Sunday evening left one person dead and another hospitalized. “It’s clear that there is gun violence associated with CHOP,” said Justin. “There are young people with weapons. There are very well-trained volunteers with weapons. There’s just a lot of guns in the area.” But local residents won’t necessarily feel safer with police back in control of the neighborhood Most of the people who spoke with Vox took part in the eight days of intense — and often violent — protests that preceded the abandonment of the East Precinct building and the establishment of CHOP. They largely don’t view the police as protectors of the area and worry about potential retaliation now that police are seemingly back. One local woman who spoke to Vox on condition of anonymity had become frustrated with CHOP violence over the past 10 days, especially the latest shooting. But she also said the police likely aren’t the answer to the neighborhood’s violence problem. “The police aren’t what make me feel safe or unsafe; I certainly didn’t feel safe when they were tear-gassing the neighborhood and shooting rubber bullets at us as we marched,” she said. “But if the police presence can disperse the people that have gathered and made camp here who are perpetuating violence, then yes, I’ll feel safer. But that’s not a guarantee.” Another pointed out that the Seattle Police Department has been under federal oversight since 2012 following several incidences of violence against the community. One example cited in the case was the death of John T. Williams in 2011 when an SPD officer was overheard shouting a racial slur about a Latino man. Mayor Durkan, who was a US attorney at the time, led the investigation. CHOP wasn’t the first organized protest against SPD violence either. In 1965, community leaders in the city’s central district, which borders Capitol Hill, began following police patrols around the neighborhood to observe and record their handling of the local Black population. Called “freedom patrols,” they drew both praise and criticism, though police mistreatment of the city’s Black population extended back decades. In 1938, three Seattle police officers beat a Black man, Barry Lawson, to death. They were subsequently convicted of second-degree manslaughter before being pardoned by the governor in 1939. What can future organizers learn from CHOP? CHOP was not the first organized protest space to experience violence. While the Occupy movement a decade ago didn’t see any killings like CHOP, both saw several allegations of sexual assault associated with the protests. According to the Seattle alt-weekly the Stranger, a CHOP medic intervened to stop a sexual assault in progress inside a tent at Cal Anderson Park, where many protesters had been camping. That all raises questions about how such dedicated protest spaces can maintain safety — without replicating the abusive powers of the police system. “The ‘community center block party’ vibe ended after the first week,” said one local woman. “This reminds me of NYC during Occupy Wall Street almost to a ‘T.’ Except here people are getting killed.” The issue, she said, is that she felt the protests shifted away from police violence and Black Lives Matter into more of an anarchist message. “The people with the loudest voices are all sharing the same ‘fuck capitalism/establishment/burn it all down’ rhetoric. The camp and the early infrastructure is similar,” she said, saying that the lack of clear leadership hurt efforts to make the area safe. “Sure, burn it all down, but have a plan. The lack of a central voice, the lack of a plan, and the elevation of people who don’t even live here, are very similar.” A centralized power structure isn’t necessarily needed — Occupy protesters in New York created a de facto security team of volunteers that would de-escalate conflicts. In CHOP,there were armed and organized security volunteers, according to several people who spoke with Vox. ButJustin pointed out that many businesses in the area ended up hiring armed security guards to patrol property in the area anyway. “When you look at that and you start thinking, maybe in a year from now, we’re going to really wish that we didn’t defund [the police],” he said. “But [instead] we did reform and that we kept these assets and resources within the city instead of having guns for hire communities to guard buildings.” What CHOP (or Occupy) didn’t have was the type of long-term investment in anti-poverty and community-building programs that activists say is the counterbalance to defunding the police. Part of the issue, according to Justin, is that, despite coverage to the contrary, including from Vox, CHOP was never set up to be a true police-free neighborhood. It was, above all else, a protest. “I don’t think it’s fair as a laboratory for [a police-free neighborhood],” said Justin. CHOP “also lacks so many other investments and so many other resources that you’d have to have to make that world work that it’s just not fair to measure it that way.” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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