What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Political headwinds and frequent shootings challenge plans from Baltimore’s young mayor to improve public safety. With at least 194 homicides this year, various city officials have been willing to try nearly anything to curb violence. In the middle of the fight is 37-year-old Brandon Scott, who successfully campaigned for mayor on a platform that emphasized “reimagining” public safety to rely less on police. His entrenched rivals on the right aren’t surprising. But it’s mounting pressure from the left, Scott’s base, that challenges his way forward. As City Council president, Scott successfully lobbied for cuts to the police budget. So when, as mayor, he proposed increasing it by $28 million, once-supporters became outspoken critics. “The mayor is no longer an ally,” Rob Ferrell, senior organizer with Organizing Black, a part of the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs, said bluntly. “He is the target.” In partnership with Baltimore Magazine, The Trace’s J. Brian Charles reports on how one of the country’s youngest mayors has grappled with meeting activists’ demands — and following through on his own pledge — to change public safety in the political landscape that followed George Floyd’s murder by police.

Washington State law enforcement confused by police reform bills. This week, nearly a dozen state laws that aim to improve public safety went into effect, including bans on chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and neck restraints. Car chases are restricted, officers can be sued more easily in some cases, and there’s a new requirement for police to exhaust de-escalation tactics before resorting to other means. Many officials and police agencies across the state are pushing back. Some told the Associated Press that they’re struggling to understand the particulars of the laws. Representative Jesse Johnson, a Democrat who sponsored some of the bills, acknowledged that some clarifications would be necessary, but added that it’s not uncommon to tweak sweeping new legislation during its implementation. “We have to create new policies, because what we were doing before was not working,” he said. “A lot of the pushback we’re getting is because it’s a paradigm shift.”

Following an armed highway standoff with police, Rise of the Moors sues. Earlier this month, a group of heavily armed, self-described militia members entered a nine-hour standoff with police in Massachusetts when a state trooper approached their two vans, parked on a highway shoulder. Ten of the men arrested that day, primarily on gun charges, sued in a federal court, claiming the state’s prosecution infringed on their Second Amendment rights. The suit also makes a defamation claim against several media outlets. The Rise of the Moors is a group of African-American people who say they are sovereign citizens not subject to U.S. laws. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the group as part of an ideologically fluid movement that includes more than 25 groups loosely unified by their rejection of federal and state governing authority.

A Parkland survivor opens up about his QAnon-supporting father, who believes the shooting a hoax. Bill, who spoke to Vice News under a pseudonym for his protection, lost nine classmates when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, killing 17. But in his final semester there, one marked by immense grief as the last class of survivors prepared to graduate, he also witnessed his dad slip into the online world of conspiracy theories, an experience he shared on a Reddit support thread for family members and friends of QAnon believers. Bill says that his dad now believes the shooting wasn’t real, a popular talking point among QAnon supporters. “It started a couple months into the pandemic with the whole anti-lockdown protests,” Bill told Vice News. “His feelings were so strong it turned into facts for him… He turned to the internet to find like-minded people, which led him to QAnon.”

Data Point

15 — the number of states that have made legislative changes to use-of-force guidelines since May 2020. It’s also the number of states that have introduced a requirement for officers to intervene when a fellow officer uses excessive force. [Pew Stateline]